Is History “Testable, Repeatable, Falsifiable”

Just a quick response to a skeptic elsewhere online…

A person in a group I am a part of posted the following link as a challenge. I focus on number three in my response:

(Site linked in above graphic)

I responded thus…

Already #3 is an issue. Most of what we as a society determine to be truth, especially from ancient documents that discuss history, is not is testable, repeatable, and falsifiable in scientific terms. For instance:

✦ “What are the distinctive sources for our beliefs about the past? Most of the beliefs we have about the past come to us by the testimony of other people. I wasn’t present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I didn’t see my father fight in the [S]econd [W]orld [W]ar. I have been told about these events by sources that I take to be reliable. The testimony of others is generally the main source of our beliefs about the past…. So all our beliefs about the past depend on testimony, or memory, or both.” (Philosophy for Dummies, by Tom Morris, pp. 57-58)

✦ “In advanced societies specialization in the gathering and production of knowledge and its wider dissemination through spoken and written testimony is a fundamental socio-epistemic fact, and a very large part of each persons body of knowledge and belief stems from testimony.” (The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by Robert Audi [2nd ed.], p. 909)

✦ “But it is clear that most of what any given individual knows comes from others; palpably with knowledge of history, geography, or science, more subtly with knowledge about every day facts such as when we were born..” (The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, edited by Ted Honderich, p. 869)

An example of this is discussed many years ago by CS Lewis, when he writes:

➤ “what Napoleon did at the battle of Austerlitz by asking Mr. Bonaparte to come and fight it again in a “laboratory with the same combatants, the same terrain, the same weather, and in the same age…. You have to go to the records. We have not, in fact, proved that science excludes miracles: we have only proved that the question of miracles, like the innumerable other questions, excludes laboratory treatment” ~ C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1970), 134.

In a more modern/wry example on FB is from a group described thus:

★ “A page for freethinking, rational skepticism toward the myth of Abraham Lincoln’s existence and the stories attributed to him…. Belief in Abraham Lincoln is the most malevolent of all mind viruses.” 

May I also note the lack of anything historically sound in this anti-theist site about Hitler. Their page on Hitler is really bad: “Hitler, atheist or Christian?“. I LOL’ed at the pic of Hitler and Christmas. I bet with a simple google search I can find a Satanist celebrating Christmas. At any rate, I did a final update to a post on my site discussing Hitler and these very subjects:

This site [Truth Saves] is all-in-all really disappointing as a refutation of Christianity.

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