Saturday, March 20, 2010

7 Factors for Testing a Historical Hypothesis

The following is an excerpt from William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith, 3rd Edition, p. 233:
"The process of determining which historical reconstruction is the best explanation will involve the historian's craft, as various factors will have to be weighed. In his book Justifying Historical Descriptions, C. Behan McCullagh lists the factors which historians typically weigh in testing a historical hypothesis:
  1. The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must imply further statements describing present observable data.
  2. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope (that is, imply a greater variety of observable data) than rival hypotheses.
  3. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power (that is, make the observable data more probable) than rival hypotheses.
  4. The hypothesis must be more plausible (that is, be implied by a greater variety of accepted truths, and its negation implied by fewer accepted truths) than rival hypotheses.
  5. The hypothesis must be less ad hoc (that is, include fewer new suppositions about the past not already implied by existing knowledge) than rival hypotheses.
  6. The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beleifs (that is, when conjoined with accepted truths, imply fewer false statements) than rival hypotheses.
  7. The hypothesis must so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2)-(6) that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis, after further investigation, exceeding it in meeting these conditions."
For writings from William Lane Craig on the Historical Jesus, see here. Wikipedia on the historical method. Philosophical papers by C. Behan McCullagh here.


    Lee said...

    Does WLC use this method himself?

    I don't think so... he believes that the 'best' explanation for the stories in the gospels is that Jesus actual rose from the dead.

    I think the idea that they were just stories fits history a lot better :-)


    Bill Covington said...

    Jesus rose from the dead! A historical fact corroborated by over 50 witnesses. Will stand up in all but a kangaroo court.

    Post a Comment

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. By posting your comment you are agreeing to the comment policy.

    Blog Archive