The Reasons for the Uncertainty of History The origins of the histories of the French-speaking countries, as those of all the nations of the world, represent an insoluble mystery for historians and ethnologists. They recognize frankly that the annals of ancient history are very obscure. "History doesn't know the origin of any people" remarked Lenormant (Ancient History of the Orient, p. 234) adding that the farther one attempts to delve into the past, the more obscure it becomes.
What then is the reason? Better than anyone, Paul, "the apostle to the Gentiles," can give us the answer in his epistle to the Romans, written under divine inspiration:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, who hold the truth captive, because that which may be known of God is manifest to them; for God has showed it to them... they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened," Romans 1:18-21.
Unlike the theorems of geometry and mathematics, history, to such an extent as mankind has exposed it, has given us no reliable summary, which has not been corrupted. Its knowledge is not only scanty, but also hypothetical. In the "Preface" of his work entitled Encyclopedia of World History, Mr. Langer recognizes this gap and confirms the fact that a number of historical facts are themselves contested, and so little corroborated, that they could never establish the basis of any definite testimony.
History, therefore, has no point of departure. It ignores that there is a source, or rather it rejects it firmly, as we are going to see. Consequently, having no one definite source from which it can draw its pieces of information with the desired assurance, the historian tends to speak of the "possible" and of the "probable." But this possible and this probable, by the admission of Jubinville "holds a larger and larger place which is increased proportionally as the number of centuries which separate us from the events," The First Inhabitants of Europe, p. VIII.
We live in an age in which man has no fear of considering "obsolete" every work or treatise, or any knowledge that is not the product of the present generation — including the Bible! Thus, history is doubly vulnerable, for not only does it miss necessary clues, but as well, since it refuses to consider the Biblical date of the creation of man, its chronology becomes almost entirely a myth!
History, as historians tell it, depends exclusively on scientific knowledge acquired by men through the ages. To cite an example, bibliography, paleography, archaeology, chronology, paleontology, etc., are some sciences related to history; because their principles change with the course of civilization, history, in turn, remains subject to revision, if not always unexpected, at least sometimes radical.
What is more, history is given an essentially inductive or logical quality, seeing that it goes back through time instead of building up on data from earlier eras, and that it must reconstruct situations based on how things later became, instead of the opposite. By assuming these backward roles, the inductive and conjectural part of history ends up becoming the most important part, and one is thus lost in false reasonings and relying on traditions of men, and "after the rudiments of the world," Colossians 2:8.
Another cause of the inaccuracy of history is surely due to the sometimes overly enthusiastic patriotism of historians, whose accounts are often presented with prejudice and partiality:
"Is there an impartial history? And first, what is history?" writes Anatole France. "How can a historian judge whether a fact is important or not? He judges it arbitrarily," The Garden of Epicure, p. 139.
No one can dispute this fact. Each nation takes pride in its past and its individual contribution to civilization. If it has some pretension to age, it tries to prove that its history dates from a time well before the actual appearance of man! So it is that ancient nations such as Egypt and Persia, whose historical chronologies have inspired those of other nations, have an extravagant system to calculate dates, even though they offer not one historic certainty!
The Bible Challenges History Where, then, is a compass which can guide historians and scholars in their research — the official and infallible source from which they could draw their understanding, a source from which it would be possible to verify the authenticity of their discoveries?
The answer is obvious: The Bible! Unfortunately, it is discarded by nearly every modern expert in the matter of history, under the pretext that its accounts are not only vague and contradictory, but that they belong in the realm of fantasy! Nevertheless, these same experts consider in complete faith the ancient "legends," notably of the Greek world, passed on to us! This paradox is inexplicable!
Thus the scientific world rejects the authority of the Bible. It takes offense even at the idea that the Bible could have been drafted under divine inspiration. This truth affronts and insults it! At most, some consider the New Testament the sacred book of Christians, but the Old Testament — after all — couldn't be but a beautiful anthology of legends or Jewish history. "The Bible is a literary work, and not a dogma," says philosopher George Santayana (Dialogues in Limbo).
If the Old Testament is nothing but a simple history of the Jewish people, don't you think its "authors" would have been able to at least give proof of a little more chauvinism in regard to their country, reporting things a little more advantageously and a little stretched?
The fact that archaeological discoveries regularly confirm the Biblical accounts has no effect at all on the preconceived ideas of the experts. Totally rejecting divine authority, man seeks in any way to discredit the Bible; the historic events that it accounts are seen only in the light of the dogmas of history. In case of contradiction or controversy, the experts always put their trust in history — never in the Bible!
Would it then be reckless to say that historians, in general, do not believe in God? How could they believe in Him if they reject the truth of the events described in the Bible! The Bible is infallible; it is the WORD OF GOD, but men don't understand it. Notice in this regard the response of the illustrious Tallyrand, when asked if he believed in the Bible. He declared that he had two invincible reasons to believe: "First, because I am Bishop of Autun; and next, because I listen to absolutely nothing!" (Varietes, Dec. 20, 1934).
This answer is not only comic: it is especially tragic! For ourselves, we can declare that we also have two invincible reasons to believe in the Bible; but ours are much different than Tallyrand's. First, we are not under the yoke of human doctrines and traditions; next, by the grace of the Spirit of God, we can understand the Bible!