Historievetenskap utan dogmatiska skygglappar

En replik till Tobias Hägerland och Cecilia Wassén

  • Mats Wahlberg


In this article, I clarify and deepen my criticism of methodological naturalism in biblical studies and other historical disciplines. Responding to Tobias Hägerland's and Cecilia Wassén's defense of this methodological paradigm, I make three main points. First, I argue that while methodological naturalism might be a reasonable posture in the natural sciences, the same is not the case in historical studies. The natural sciences study nature – natural mechanisms and laws – which means that supernatural and irreducibly personal causes (such as God) fall outside their purview. When it comes to the study of history, on the other hand, nothing that has impacted human culture in the past is by definition outside of the discipline's sphere of interest. This goes for supernatural as well as natural causes. History is the study of the past, not the study of the natural. Second, I scrutinize Hägerland's and Wassén's claim that methodological naturalism cannot be abandoned because this would complicate the process of testing historical hypotheses, thereby expanding the role of subjective judgment. This line of argument is fundamentally misconceived. If supernatural explanations are possibly true, it would be patently irrational to exclude them from scholarly consideration on the ground that they would complicate the process of testing and adjudicating between hypotheses. Third, I defend N.T. Wright's argument in favor of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus against two interrelated lines of criticism.