Difference between history and historical science

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Difference between history and historical science

Postby sepia » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:40 pm

I find it curious, that we don't handle history like evolution. If you want to learn sth. about the evolution of e.g. whales, ask a biologist. They tend to create one theory so that every biologist will tell you the same.

So why do we still have to discuss about miracles by Jesus? Why can't we just go to a historical website, like talkorigins? Is it, that historians just don't care about pseudo-history? Or do they care, but apologists exploit popular misunderstandings of how history works?
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Re: Difference between history and historical science

Postby Masterpiece » Sun Jun 23, 2013 8:27 pm

sepia wrote:I find it curious, that we don't handle history like evolution. If you want to learn sth. about the evolution of e.g. whales, ask a biologist. They tend to create one theory so that every biologist will tell you the same.

So why do we still have to discuss about miracles by Jesus? Why can't we just go to a historical website, like talkorigins? Is it, that historians just don't care about pseudo-history? Or do they care, but apologists exploit popular misunderstandings of how history works?


Rational people don't need to consider miracle stories as a valid stories. Everybody knows that no matter how much stories you've been told about some miracles, it still isn't enough to prove it happened. Even if it did happen, how would we distinguish it from those miracles that didn't happen? I can't (and won't) believe in any miraculous story because if I do, how I would distinguish it from any other story that is false?

History is a wrong tool for proving miracle reports.

"Which is more likely: That the whole natural order is suspended or that a Jewish minx should tell a lie?
-Hitchens
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Re: Difference between history and historical science

Postby Lausten » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:53 pm

I have been following Richard Carrier's work on this recently. For a long time he generally accepted that there once was a man with a name similar to Jesus who said some of the things in the Bible. Then he realized that the history on this is terrible. He also notes that history has come a long way in the last half-century. Our standards of rigor have changed dramatically. What we have now is a lot of people that believe if one book says 5,000 witnessed the resurrection, then that's good, it happened. Carrier and others are working on not only explaining why that's not good enough, but also providing alternative explanations for why that was written and handed down as it was. There are other similar problems people have, like why would someone go to prison, or even be killed for believing in Jesus? Doesn't that say something about the strength of their belief?

I'm hoping the trend in history is toward more accessibility. It is a rather dry science, which is too bad because there are great stories in history. Carrier seems to be good at bringing history to life while maintaining the science.
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Re: Difference between history and historical science

Postby sepia » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:32 pm

I recently saw, that AntiCitizenX wrote in his blog about some rules concerning history:

1. Any given source of information may be forged or corrupted.
2. Relics are more credible than narratives.
3. The more that time transpires before recording an event, the less reliable it becomes.
4. Firsthand information is preferable to hearsay. The more people information passes through, the less reliable it becomes.
5. Original documents are preferable to copies. The more that information is copied, the less reliable it becomes.
6. Original languages are preferable to translations. The more languages information passes through, the less reliable it becomes.
7. Events should be corroborated by multiple, independent sources. The more sources which corroborate an event, the more reliable it becomes.
8. Written information is preferable to oral history. Oral traditions are notoriously unreliable.
9. Unbiased sources are ideal. The more biased the source, the less reliable the account.
10. Human accounts of events that appear to violate the known laws of physics are unreliable.

Source

I find them plausible, but a source is missing.

I myself haven't just problems with the historicity of Jesus. Many biographies are loaded with myths but could be in part real: Marco Polo, Hercules, King Arthur, Siegfried and so on. I saw some documentaries, in which the historicity of Shakespeare and Marco Polo was questioned and the historicity of Hercules was speculated. How do I know, what documentary I should take seriously?
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Re: Difference between history and historical science

Postby Lausten » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:58 pm

I'm not sure that list needs a citation sepia.

I read "That's not in My American History Book" a while back and found a slightly different list. The author had his history book panned by the school system, so he went on a quest to discover how the system works. This was before the problems in Texas. He retells some history, making it interesting and talks about how to consume history.

Most of us don't understand the term "source document". For instance, a copy of the US Constitution on the Internet can still be considered a source document, as long as no one is refuting the quality of the copy. Translation gets tricky when you're talking about dead languages. Mostly what us non-scholars consume are the interpretations of others. That's fine, but when consuming that, these points should still be addressed:

What is the complete source? Is it unedited video or is it words reported by someone who says they were there?
Who was the audience? Was it a speech to their own supporters or were they attempting to win over someone who did not support them? Was it public, or was it something recorded with the agreement it would not be released until after they died?
What was the intention of the source? To get elected? To appeal to prosperity?
What were other opinions of the time, and did this source ever change or contradict themselves?

I'm just doing this from memory, if I can find my notes I'll add to this.
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