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Can Historical Evidence Prove Anything? The Adequacy of History as Evidence in Christian Apologetics

Wang Yen

            Christianity is essentially a religion founded on historical fact. God’s Word and works manifested through Israel and ultimately in Christ took place in the historical realm. But some challenge the objectivity of history and thus its adequacy as evidence of religious truth, including Christianity that claims revelation of religious truth in human history through the incarnation. For the evidential apologists whose line of arguments rests on historical evidence,[1] they have a larger stake in this controversy. If the objectivity of history is proved to be non-existent or impossible to attain, their whole system of apologetic based on the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection, which proves his divinity and in turn proves the Bible (which was authenticated by Jesus whose divinity has been proved) as the Word of God,[2] will inevitably fall to the ground. Therefore, it is vital for the evidentialist to answer the challenge to the objectivity of history, and thus its adequacy as evidence, before he sets out to marshal historical evidence for the truth-claim of Christianity.

To the objection to the objectivity of history, Geisler and Brooks respond:

Some say that historians never record what really happened because they can only see an event from their own perspective. But the very assertion, ‘All statements about history are relative,’ if it is true, is itself a relative statement because it is a statement about history. But if it is relative, then it is not objectively true; it is just a subjective opinion about historical studies. If there are claims that it is objectively true, we find such claims contradicting the assertions. The objectivity of history is inescapable. Why else would historians be constantly rewriting history books if they did not think they could come closer to an ideal 100 percent objective accuracy?[3]

But the problem of the objectivity of history has not been resolved with such a simple response.[4] Perhaps the objector might point out (and rightly so) that Geisler and Brooks’ argument is a straw-man tactic, for the assertion, ‘all statements about history are relative,’ is not the logical entailment of the proposition, ‘historians never record what really happened because they can only see an event from their own perspective’. The crux of the problem lies in Geisler and Brooks’ confusion of the phrase ‘statements about history’, which results from their confusion of the definition of history. The word history is itself ambiguous. It refers to both the past events which are studied and the study of the past events itself.[5] According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the word ‘history’ is used in these three senses: 1. Branch of knowledge dealing with past events, political, social, economic, of a country, continent or the world. 2. Orderly description of past events. 3. Train of events connected with a person or thing; interesting or eventful past career. The first two senses refer to the record and study of past events, whereas the third sense refers to the past events which are studied. Such an ambiguity is perhaps what gives rise to Geisler and Brooks’ confusion. According to Shotwell:

The same name is given to both the object of the study and to the study itself. The confusion is unfortunate. Sociology, we know, deals with society; biology with life; but history deals with history! It is like juggling with words.[6]

But they are not absolved from their straw-man tactic, which is a result of jumbling up these two senses of the word ‘history’ in one phrase, ‘all statements about history’. Based on these two senses of ‘history’, the corresponding senses of the phrase, ‘all statements about history’ are: 1. Everything that is said about the past events is relative, i.e. all statements about past events are relative or historical record or the study of past events is relative or all statements of historical record are relative[7]. 2. Everything that is said about the study or record of the past events is relative, i.e. all statements about historical record or all statements about the study of past events are relative. Note the distinction between ‘statements of historical record’ and ‘statements about historical record’. The preposition of in the former phrase is an ablative of source indicating the origin of ‘the statements,’ i.e. the statements are from the historical record. It also means that the statements are within the historical record. But the preposition about in the latter phrase indicates that the statements are something concerning the historical record and therefore are not within it. For the sake of clarity in this discussion, let’s refer to the first sense as history1 and the second as history2: History1 = the statements about past events or historical record or the study of past events or the statements of historical record

History2 = the statements about historical record or the statements about the study of past events.

            Note that the proposition, ‘all statements about history are relative,’ will logically follow the proposition, ‘historians never record what really happened because they can only see an event from their own perspective,’ only when the former proposition means ‘history1, or historical record, is relative’. If it means ‘history2, or the study of historical record, is relative,’ then it is not a logical entailment of the latter proposition. One might argue that if historical record is relative, the statement about it or the study of it must also be relative, and therefore, if history1 is relative, history2 must also be relative. Here, again, we must beware of the ambiguity of the phrase ‘the study of,’ which also has more than one sense. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, ‘study’ (as a noun) has six senses. The two senses that are relevant to our discussion at hand are 1. Devotion of time and thought to getting knowledge of, or to a close examination of, a subject (i.e. the methodology of knowledge or the action of acquiring knowledge), and 2. Something that attracts investigation; that which is (to be) investigated ( i.e. the content of the knowledge). In our discussion, what the author means by the phrase, ‘the study of history,’ is actually the ‘means of acquiring the knowledge of history’ and not ‘the content of the knowledge of history’. Therefore, if historical record is relative, it does not necessarily mean that the study of it, in the sense of its methodology, is also relative. One could well study relative materials with non-relative methodology. Therefore, if historical record is relative, it does not follow that statements about it are also relative.

set

Proposition 1(P1)

Proposition 2 (p)

Is p the Logical entailment of P1?

1

Historians never record what really happened

Statements of historical record are relative (History1is relative)

Yes

2

Statements about historical record are relative (History2 is relative)

No

Here is how Geisler and Brooks are confused: when someone says, ‘historians never record what really happened,’ what he means is, ‘history1 is relative,’ or ‘all statements of historical record are relative,’ but when Geisler and Brooks charge him of making self-defeating assertion by pointing out that this (‘all statements about history are relative’) is also a statement about history (or more precisely, what they actually mean is, a statement about historical study or historical record,), this is a straw-man argument because ‘all statements about historical record are relative’ (history2 is relative) is what they stuff in the mouth of the person they charge (due to their confusion of the two senses of ‘history’) but never the logical implication of his assertion, ‘historians never record what really happened’. What can be deduced logically from his assertion is ‘all statements of historical record are relative.[8] Therefore, the charge of self-defeat is not justified.

            If the challenge to the objectivity of history cannot be summarily dismissed with the charge of being self-defeating, how should we respond to this challenge? We need to take a closer look at this important issue concerning the objectivity of history.

Is There Objectivity in History?

            The objectivity of history has been an issue of great controversy especially in the arenas of historiography, philosophy of history, political science and sociology, and especially in the last two centuries. It is beyond the scope of this study to survey the historiography—history of history —since the beginning of history[9]. However, a survey of the history of the secular relativistic historians in the twentieth century, especially in relation to the secular scientific historians in the nineteenth century, will be relevant in tracing the development of the thoughts of various important historians and philosophers of history on the objectivity of history. Before that, let us consider the issue of the status of history among all human inquiries.

The Status of History among All Human Inquiries

 

            Historically, history has been relegated to an inferior position in the branches of human knowledge. In the ancient time, Aristotle regarded history as inferior to poetry and in turn much inferior to philosophy.[10] Similar attitude can be found in Jane Austen, ‘I can read poetry and plays, and things of that sort, and do not dislike travels. But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. Can you?’[11]

            History is a discipline marked by disputes. Historians are still arguing whether the Middle Ages began only with Mohammed and Charlemagne, disputing the relationship of Protestantism and capitalism, and the reasons for the fall of Rome.[12]

            Bebbington thinks that history is presented in the form of arguments or theses that anticipate attacks and objections because the historians are always adducing fresh evidence for their disputes. He disagrees with the Dutch historian G. J. Renier who believes that the essence of history is its narrative form. He contends that telling a story is different from telling a history in that the former is not concerned with its factuality—whether it is true, but the latter is.[13] On whether history is a science or an art, Collingwood contends that the analysis of history and science in epistemological terms is identical, and they should not be separated as two different kinds of knowledge.[14]

            Is the problem of objectivity peculiar to history? Is it not a fact that no human inquiry can be free from some elements of subjectivity? Israel Scheffler points out the dilemma between certainty and coherence in any inquiry. We are caught between either thinking that some of our beliefs are unmistakably true of reality (certainty) or thinking that we are free to define truth according to a system of consistent beliefs (or, for that matter, any sets of consistent beliefs) that we have chosen as criteria.[15] This is an epistemological dilemma that faces all sciences, philosophy and in fact all theories. 

            In the face of such dilemma, are we to retreat to nihilistic scepticism?

A Survey of the History of the Secular Relativistic Historians in relation to the Secular Scientific Historians

Secular Scientific Historians

            In the nineteenth century, philosophy of history was influenced by the philosophical positivism of the time. Historians and philosophers of history in this period attempted to apply scientific analyses to the study of history[16]. History was regarded as science in this period.[17] This view of history was introduced by J. B. Bury, Lord Acton’s successor as Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge in his Cambridge inaugural lecture, entitled ‘The Science of History’ in 1902.[18] 

The nineteenth century was a great age for facts. ‘What I want, said Mr. Gradgrind in Hard Times, ‘is facts… facts alone are wanted in life.’ Nineteenth-century historians on the whole agreed with him. When ranke in the 1830s, in legitimate protest against moralising history, remarked that the task of the historian was ‘simply to show how it really was (wie es eigentlich gewesen)’, this not very profound aphorism had an astonishing success… The positivists, anxious to stake out their claim for history as a science, contributed the weight of their influence to this cult of facts. First ascertain your facts, said the positivists, then draw your conclusions from them.[19]

The positivists believed that the two tasks of the historian were to establish facts about the past and explain them. The conclusions about the past are objective because both the establishment of the facts to be explained and the explanation of the facts are governed by empirically validated laws. The establishment of the facts of history can be objective in that according to empirical laws, to arrive at a conclusion about the past requires that the events in question must have occurred. Such objectivity is also possible for the explanation of the historical facts established in that explanation is deducible from the conditions of the facts being explained through empirical laws. Therefore, if disagreements happen at all, they are caused by errors in understanding relevant empirical laws, and not by different value judgements.[20]

            The theory of the scientific historiography governed by empirical laws is seen working in concrete form in the Marxist historiography and the application of the Freudian psychoanalytic theory to history.[21] Influenced by the Hegelian dialectics, Marx and Friedrich Engels maintained that history was governed by natural laws. Therefore, they believed that the future could be predicted based on these natural laws. In the Marxist’s scheme, these ‘natural laws’ are materialistic and economic.[22] In the Freudian scheme, they are psychological. The psychoanalytic theory was employed as scientific method of interpreting history. Such method has been applied to historical figures like Moses, Jesus and Benjamin Franklin.

A good example is Feldman’s psychoanalytic treatment of Benjamin Franklin, in which his thunderbolt experiments leading to the development of the lightning rod are related to the ‘windbreak’ (the expulsion of flatus or intestinal gas from his anus), and in which it is asserted that his ‘venture into the science of odours (osphresiology)' forms a proper climax to the lifelong efforts of Franklin to control his own anal-erotic drives.[23]

            In Great Britain, the positivist view of history saw its expression in the empiricist philosophy of John Locke to that of Bertrand Russell. For the empiricist, subject and object of knowledge can be completely distinguished in that the subject passively receives the object of knowledge —sensory data.[24] Rejecting the idea of innate principles, or primary notions, koinai ennoiai, which were imprinted in the souls in its very first being, John Locke maintained that human knowledge was derived solely from experience through sensation (our senses that perceive the external world) and reflection (the operations of our mind that perceive our internal world). The process of reception of sensory data is passive, and facts are separated from their conclusions.[25] In short, the positivist historian is more interested in the facts of history than their interpretations[26], as Carr so vividly describes:

The facts are available to the historian in documents, inscriptions and so on, like fishmonger’s slab. The historian collects them, takes them home, and cooks and serves them in whatever style appeals to him. Acton, whose culinary tastes were austere, wanted them served plain.[27]

British historian Henry Thomas Buckle, drinking deeply from the fountain of Auguste Comte, the founder of positivism, claimed that the ‘iron laws’ of human conducts which govern human history could be discovered through inductive and statistical methods.[28]

Secular Relativistic Historians/ Historical Idealists[29]

            The positivist approach to the understanding of history was challenged by the relativistic historians in the twentieth century:

            Wilhem Dilthey—In Germany, Dilthey challenged the idea that there were no essential differences between the various branches of human knowledge, which include the natural sciences and history. He maintained that history, as a branch of the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) rather than the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften), should adopt a different methodology from the natural sciences. While the natural scientists approach their subject matter from the outside because the objects of their study are distinct from them, the human scientists cannot maintain this distinction because they are studying the other human beings, and thus they have a closer identification with their subject matter and are to ‘relive’ or ‘rethink’ the past through the process of Verstechen. Unlike the natural sciences, history deals with unique and unrepeatable events. Therefore, it defies any regularity and generalisation of universal laws. According to him, the historian must enter into the inner life and thought processes of the past if he were to really understand the past. Dilthey’s philosophy of history also exerted its influence in the Great Britain.[30]

            Benedetto Croce—Inspired by his German masters, Italian historian Benedetto Croce postulated the idea of ‘contemporary history’—seeing the past through the spectacles of the present. In agreement with Dilthey’s distinction of history from the natural sciences, he maintained that history is an art instead of science, and thus should be approached artistically. He also agreed with Dithey in his emphasis on reliving the past in the process of historiography. He repudiated Ranke’s idea that it was both possible and desirable for historians to set aside all subjective involvement and personal interest. Merely reproducing the past events was to him a chronicle and not history. Croce was highly influential also in France and Great Britain, and exerted a profound influence on the American historian Charles A. Beard and the Oxford philosopher and historian R. G. Collingwood[31]

            Charles A. Beard—Beard, an American historian who had been deeply influenced by Croce, raised an eleven-point argument in refutation of Ranke’s positivist philosophy of history in his paper, ‘That Noble Dream’. In agreement with Dilthey and Croce, he viewed history as different from science; and in agreement with Croce, he emphasised the pragmatic value of history in the light of present concern. He argued that history is not objective because the subject matter of the historian cannot be passively observed as an experiment is observed by a scientist. Besides, the process of selection, arrangement and imposing structures on facts renders it subjective.[32] Below are eight of his arguments against the objectivity of history:[33]

The subject matter of history is not directly observable

1. Historical accounts are fragmentary

2. Historical methodology is selective in nature

3. Structures are imposed on historical facts in the process of historiography

4. Historians are not value-free

5. Historians do not have a neutral world-view

6. Every historian is a product of his time

7. The selection and arrangement of materials is subjective to the historian

            R. G. Collingwood—Collingwood, Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford, whose contribution to the philosophy of history is highly regarded, joined the rank in opposition to the positivist view of history. Rejecting the philosophies of history of Sprengler, Toynbee, Comte and Marx, he maintained that history was different from natural phenomena in that it involved human beings with reason and free will. He also distinguished between the outside and inside of an event. The former refers to ‘everything belonging to it [an event] which can be described in terms of bodies and their movements,’ while the latter refers to the part that ‘can only be described in terms of thought.’[34] Thus, he also distinguished between actions and events. An action is the facet of the past that has an inner side whereas an event has merely the outside—the physical. According to Collingwood, the primary task of the historian is to get into the inner side of the event by ‘re-enacting’ it in his mind. However, he believed that a historian should neither focus only on the past events (the outside), nor only on his thought about the past events (the inside). He has to focus on both. And, to him, all history is actually history of thought. Historical facts are no brute facts because in the process of reconstructing the past, the historical facts have already been tampered with by the process of selection and interpretation.[35]

            George Macaulay Trevelyan—Opposed to the positivist view of history as science, He refuted the lecture of J. B. Bury’s (his predecessor as the Professor of Modern History at Cambridge), entitled ‘The Science of History,’ in his ‘Clio, a Muse.’ He argued that history was more of a literary activity instead of solely scientific, as claimed by J. B. Bury. He contended that though scientific method of collecting data and weighing evidence should be adopted in historical study, history is fundamentally different from science in its function. While the functions of science are directing utility in practical fields and deducing the laws of cause and effect, history’s main function is educational.[36]

            Carl Becker—This American historian even went so far as to say that history did not exist and was actually created by the historian. He contended that historical facts did not speak for themselves, and that their meanings were imposed by historians.[37] His pragmatic philosophy of history is adamantly against the positivist historicism. He expressed his regret over the failure of the century-long expert historical research to prevent the World War.[38]

The Implication of the Controversy over the Objectivity of History on the Evidentialist’s Case

            In the light of the dispute between the positivist and the relativist (idealist), how should we answer the challenge to the objectivity of history in the last two centuries? Lest we are too overwhelmed by the preoccupation to defend one of these positions or some middle grounds between them, it is important to keep in perspective the purpose of the evidential apologist involving in this controversy in the light of his obligation to answer the challenge to the objectivity of history, and thus its adequacy as evidence, before he earns his right to marshal historical evidence for his case.

            First of all, it is important to determine what is at stake for the evidentialist in this controversy. It depends on how we interpret the phrase, ‘history is not objective.’ If by this one means that we cannot be certain of the factuality of anything in the past—whether it happened, and if it is true, then the entire argument of the evidentialist crumbles, for we cannot be certain if the resurrection really took place. If by this one means that though we can be certain of the factuality of certain past events, we still cannot be certain of their correct interpretations, then the argument of the evidentialist will also be undermined because the resurrection, though happened, proves nothing. Perhaps some may even say that both the factuality of historical events and their interpretations cannot be certain.                 

Three possible interpretations of, ‘history is not objective,’ and their implications:

set

Interpretation

Implication

1

We cannot be certain of the factuality of any past events, i.e. we cannot be certain whether they happened at all

We cannot be certain if the resurrection really took place

2

We cannot be certain of the correct interpretation of any past events even when we can be certain that they really happened

The resurrection, though happened, proves nothing.

3

We cannot be certain of both the factuality of any past events and their correct interpretations

We cannot be certain if the resurrection happened and it proves nothing at all

In the light of these interpretations of the objection, the obligation of the evidentialist, if he wants to retain the ground in marshalling historical evidence, is to reduce these propositions ad absurdum. This is achieved by proving the possibility of being certain of the factuality of at least some past events, and that it is possible to arrive at correct conclusions of at least some past events. Having proved these, the evidentialist, however, has not done his job yet. There is one more step. He must also prove that the resurrection of Jesus is one of the past events whose factuality and interpretation can be certain of.

            Once the two steps mentioned above are accomplished, the evidentialist will have already successfully defended the adequacy of historical evidence to prove his case (i.e. to use the line of argument of Montgomery or Geisler mentioned in footnote 1) and thus has earned his right to argue from historical evidence.[39] This also means that the evidentialist does not have to be concerned about answering all the questions pertaining to the dispute between the positivist and the relativist over the objectivity of history. Albeit their importance, especially in the fields of historiography and philosophy of history[40], many of these questions do not have any bearing on the evidential apologetics. For example, much of the philosophical crossfire between the positivist and the relativist has been centred on the question of whether it is possible to discover natural laws that govern human history in such a way that the future world events can be predicted as a certain chemical reactions are predicted by scientific laws.[41] But this issue has no bearing on the evidentialist’s case. Whether history is governed by natural laws or not, the factuality of Jesus’ resurrection and its correct interpretation are not at stake. Objectivity does not necessitate ‘iron laws’. Therefore, the evidentialist does not have to be involved in all the disputes over the objectivity of history. His job is done if he has adequately defended the objectivity of history to the extent that sufficiently proves the resurrection and its correct interpretation.              

            ‘What specific objections to the objectivity of history are pertinent to the adequacy of historical evidence for the case of Jesus’ resurrection?’ ‘Have these objections removed the ground of the evidentialist?’ Questions like these will be dealt with in the next section.

An Evidentialist’s Answers to the Objections to the Objectivity of History

            In this section, the author will attempt to answer the objections to the objectivity of history (mostly raised by Charles A. Beard) by drawing some of the best defences from scholars like Norman Geisler, Ronald Nash, John Warwick Montgomery, Paul Feinberg and E. H. Carr; as well as using some of his own observations. However, it is important to point out from the outset that by objectivity, the author does not mean absolute objectivity, a view which none of the above-mentioned writers subscribe to. Neither does the author deny or intend to deny the presence of some elements of subjectivity in historiography. In fact, if by objectivity what one means is absolute objectivity, none of the human inquiries, including the natural sciences, qualify the status of objectivity.

The subject matter of history is not directly observable

Beard argued that the historian could not observe his subject matter as a chemist observed his test tube. The historian must deal with his subject matter through ‘the medium of documentation’.[42]Dray points out that historical inquiry is different from scientific inquiry in that in science, the inquiry is conducted ‘in the presence of its object’, therefore, ‘it may make sense to claim that we can know, through sense perception, more than can adequately be expressed in language,’ whereas in history, ‘the objects of historical inquiry are past and gone. What is present to the historian’s senses is only evidence for them.’[43] Geisler points out that there are two reasons why the historian is unable to observe his subject matter directly: 1. What the historian has are only records, but not the original events. Therefore, the historian needs to reconstruct the past. 2. Unlike a scientific theory, experimentation to test a historian’s reconstruction is not possible.[44] The barrier of time, is said to be standing between the historian and his subject matter. Bebbington claims that ‘even the recent past is beyond our reach. Uncertainty surrounds events near to us in time that have taken place in the full glare of public attention.’[45] He goes on to illustrate his point:

The assassination of President Kennedy, for instance, occurred when a large number of witnesses was [sic] within sight and sound. Security men from several agencies who were on the spot attempted to discover who was responsible. Millions of dollars have since been spent in an intensive effort to establish whether or not there was a conspiracy to murder the president. Yet the broad outline of what happened and even such basic ‘facts’ as how many bullets were fired remain topics of debate. Investigation may have led to convergence of view on some aspects of the assassination, but it has multiplied disagreements over others. Even the eyewitness testimony does not end discussion. That is why when the press calls for a public enquiry ‘to get at the facts’ in order to settle some controversy it is crying for the moon. Facts take place once for all and cannot be recovered afterwards in their full integrity.         [46]

Below is William Lane Craig’s understanding of the implications of the problem of lack of direct access:

1. Historical facts exist only in the mind. He alludes to Becker who said that the historical facts that a historian had were the historians statements about the event, and not the event itself. Becker argued that as soon as the event is forgotten by everyone, the historical fact would no longer exist. The two implications:

1.1 Facts have no meaning—it is the historian who imposes meaning.

1.2 History is the product of the historian—his biases, personality, interest, values and etc.

2. There is no way to test for truth in history—because there is no predictability and repeatability.

This has lead to scepticism about the truth of history.

If history is unobservable, this leads to two questions: 1. How can we be certain if anything really happened in the past at all? 2. How can we know if the whole story is not an elaborate fabrication, fiction or dream?[47]

            In response to this objection, Craig argues that ‘it is just patently false that the historian always works with indirect data and the scientist with direct.’[48] He points out that the scientist often lacks direct access while the historian often has direct access. In theoretical sciences like physics, direct access is not always possible. Black holes, quarks, neutrinos are theoretical entities postulated for the explanation of the physicist’s observation. The historian does not always depend on previous historical records. Archaeological data gives the historian direct access to his object of study. Though the event is past, but the evidence can be present here to our senses.[49] Nash[50] reminds that many fields of sciences do not allow the scientists to have direct access to their subject matters: the astronomer has to perceive the heavenly bodies through telescope. The Biologist has to be mediated by microscope. 

Geology is analogous to history in its inaccessible to the past. Geology is the reconstruction of the past of the earth, while history is the reconstruction of the human past.[51]

If one were to argue that historical records are marred by the personal filtering of the eyewitnesses or historiographer, argued Geisler, the same could be said of the fossil imprint that is marred by the natural processes.[52] R. K. Harrison contends that since the development of the sciences of linguistics, sociology, anthropology, numismatics and archaeology, history no longer relies on mere subjective literary sources.[53]

Craig argues that the Lincoln’s assassination makes a difference in history no only as long as it retains in the memories of people. It is still a historical event and would still make an impact in the U. S. history whether one remembers it or not. So, history does not only exist in the mind.[54] He also contends that the statement, ‘facts have no meaning,’ is absurd. Meaning is inherent in facts. To describe a fact is to give it a meaning. Even the relativist implicitly believes this, as can be seen in three ways: 1. Common core of indisputable historical facts. 2. It is possible to distinguish between history and propaganda. 3. It is possible to criticise poor history. Example, Imanuel Velikovsky’s attempt[55] to rewrite ancient history on the basis of world-wide catastrophes caused by extra-terrestrial forces.[56]

For the tests of historical truth, Craig suggests:

1. systematic consistency—logical and fits all the facts of experience

2. Hypothetico-deductive method—invent a hypothesis to provide a systematic framework to explain all the facts, then deduce from the hypothesis conditions that would confirm or disprove his hypothesis. Then check to see which conditions exist, scientist by experiments and historians by evidence.[57]

As for the argument that history is not repeatable and thus cannot be tested in experimentation, Geisler argues that history can be repeated in the sense of the recurrence of similar patterns of events, by which the historian makes comparison with the past.[58] In geology what we have is only reconstruction of the past events, not the past events themselves. The test of the reconstruction by repeating the processes of the past by experimentation parallels the limited sense of the repetition of history. 

But where do the meanings of a certain facts come from? Do they ‘emanate’ from the facts, or are they assigned to the facts by the historians? Geisler denies that meaning can emanate from the facts because they are objects. According to him, only subjects (i.e. minds) can emanate meanings, ‘unless we assume that all objective facts are really little minds transmitting meaning or transmitters through which some other minds or Mind is communicating’. It is along this line that he argues that facts speak, though not for themselves, ‘but for the Mind (God) who is speaking through them.’ And therefore, he believes that one must invoke the theistic world-view, because it is only in the context of a theistic world that objective interpretation of facts is possible. He contends that, ‘if there is an absolute Mind from whose vantage point the facts are given absolute or ultimate meaning, then there is an objective interpretation of the facts which all finite minds should concur is the ultimate meaning.’       [59]

The historian’s need of imaginative understanding for the minds of the people with whom he is dealing

The relativist contends that history is not objective because of ‘the historians need of imaginative understanding for the minds of the people with whom he is dealing, for the thought behind their acts.’[60] This can be traced back to Collingwood’s emphasis on entering into the ‘inner side’ of history which ‘can only be described in terms of thought’ through ‘re-enactment’ of the past; Croce’s emphasis of ‘reliving’ the past; and Dilthey’s contention of ‘rethinking’ and ‘reliving’ the past through the process of Verstechen (understanding). Collingwood contends that historical inquiry is different from science in that a scientific event is ‘discovered by perceiving it’, and the search for its cause is ‘by assigning it to its class and determining the relation between that class and others.’ Whereas in historical inquiry, ‘the object to be discovered is not the mere event, but the thought expressed in it.’[61] 

            Carr[62] provides three examples to illustrate how the historian’s need of imaginative understanding for the minds of the people of his subject matter hinders the complete openness of the historian and thus detracts from its objectivity. The first example concerns the medieval history. Carr attributes the weakness of the nineteenth-century historians on medieval history to their repulsion for the superstitions and barbarities characteristic of the period. Such repulsion hampers imaginative understanding of the people in that period. The second example is about the Thirty-Year War.  The third example comes from his own works on the (former) Soviet Union. He says that the problem for an English-speaking-country historian writing a history about the (former) Soviet Union or the (former) Soviet Union about an English-speaking country is their misunderstanding and suspicion about each other. Such prejudice will vitiate objective understanding of the people (and thus the events that are inseparable from the people) that they are studying as they will always appear negative and bad in their eyes. Therefore, Carr concludes that ‘history cannot be written unless the historian can achieve some kind of contact with the mind of those about whom he is writing.’[63]      

Historical accounts are fragmentary

               In history, what we have are not the original events, but fragmentary documents about the original events. Even complete documentation covers only a small fraction of the events. Also, not everything in the documents is pure facts, they are a mixture of facts and the historian’s interpretations. Thus, historical events can only be reconstructed from fragmentary accounts. The reliability of such reconstruction is therefore much doubted.[64]

 

inner circle—fragmentary documents
outer circle—complete documentation
The compound outside the rectangular—portions of the
documents that are interpretation rather than facts

               In reply, Geisler[65] argues that the fragmentary nature of historical record does not undermine its objectivity just as the fragmentary geological data does not undermine the objectivity of geology. He points out that sometimes the scientists’ reconstruction of a man is based on only partial skeletal remains. ‘Like a puzzle, as long as one has the key pieces he can reconstruct the rest with a measurable degree of probability.’[66] For Geisler, the crux of the matter lies in one’s worldview. A worldview, analogous to the scientist overall theoretical framework that provides explanation for a certain data, provides the basis of filling in the gaps between the facts. Thus, in a theistic world-view, the fragmentary data is being fit into an overall coherent system.        

Historical methodology is selective in nature

               Though we may hold to the ideal of the complete separation between facts and interpretations, but that does not exist in reality. Given that we do not have access to all the data, and that we cannot just reproduce everything in our historiography, our preconceived idea actually influences the selection of facts we interpret and present in our writing, consciously and unconsciously. This selection, be it conscious or unconscious, is already a subtle form of interpretation. The factors that influence the selection of a historian include ‘personal prejudice, availability of materials, knowledge of the languages, personal beliefs, social conditions’[67] and etc. 

               In this case, the objector fallaciously assumes that the involvement of selection by the historian is necessarily subjective. Again, it could be, but must it be? In fact, selection and judgement is inevitable in all legal decisions and criminal investigations. But we will not dismiss these as subjective and unreliable merely on the basis of its involvement of selection and judgement. The reason being that ‘the selection of facts can be objective to the degree that the facts are selected and reconstructed in the context in which the events represented actually occurred.’[68] Again, Geisler argues that, one’s world-view factors in to provide an overall framework that suggests the original connection. He explains:

The objective meaning of historical events is dependent on knowing the connections that the events really had when they occurred. But the events are subject to various combinations depending on the structure given to them by the historian, the relative importance placed on them, and whether prior events are considered casual or merely antecedent. Hence, there is really no way to know the original connections without assuming an overall hypothesis or world view by which the events are interpreted… Once that system is known, it is possible by fair and representative selection to reconstruct an objective picture of the past.[69]

Structures are imposed on historical facts in the process of historiography

               The historian’s judgement is needed in imposing structures and orders to his facts. The concept of ‘industrial revolution’ is not intrinsic to the historical data but is a judgement drawn from the concept of the historian.[70] Geisler[71] explains how this imposition of structures happens in the attempts of reconstruction of original events in the process of historiography: due to partial knowledge of the past, the historian needs to fill in the gaps by providing continuity to the fragmentary historical data he has to achieve his reconstruction. This process can be liken to the evolutionist scientist’s reconstruction of a dinosaur or an alleged ape-man on the basis of a few pieces of different bones. We are well aware that such gap-filling can at times be very speculative and unreliable.

               Moreover, the historian often shapes his historical materials in a coherent and intelligible structure that highlights a certain themes or messages that he tries to convey. And this very structure that gives history meaning is already an ‘interpretative structure’. Thus the vantage point of history is actually a non-objective ‘interpretative structure’.      

               However, such interpretative structure is only needed if one wants to know the causal connections and relative importance of the historical event. Even without this interpretative structure, the facticity and sequence of the events can still be known.

Historians are not judgement- and value-free

               ‘To call certain central European towns by their German or by their Slavonic names is to take sides in territorial disputes that have stoked the fires of enmity in central Europe for a millennium.’[72] Geisler[73] notes that when a historian employs words like murders, oppression, massacre and justice, he has already made some moral value-judgements. Without moral judgement, it is impossible to describe Jesus and Hitler, and the difference between them. This renders history less than objective because every historian’s choice of words reflects his own subjective value-judgement.

               In response, it should be noted that to render a historical record subjective on the basis of the inevitability of the historian’s value-judgement is perhaps an unfair assessment. There is an unwarranted assumption here: value-judgement is none other than subjective. Of course value-judgement could be subjective, but must it be? Perhaps some might think so, but this is not true of those who believe in the existence of absolute moral principles. Paul Feinberg illustrates the possibility of objective moral value-judgement with the example of the Holocaust:

It can be substantiated that some 6 million Jews died under German rule in the second [sic: Second] World War. Let me suggest two mutually exclusive interpretations. First, these events may be interpreted as the actions of a mad man who was insanely anti-Semitic. The deaths were murders, atrocities. Second, it might be asserted that Hitler really loved the Jews. He had a deep and abiding belief in heaven and life after death. After reviewing Jewish history, Hitler decided that the Jews had been persecuted enough, and because of his love for them he was seeking to help them to enter eternal blessedness. If no necessity exists between events and interpretation, then there is no way of determining which meaning is correct. We would never be justified in claiming that one holding the latter view is wrong. This is both repugnant and absurd. There must be an empirical necessity that unites an event or fact with its correct interpretation.[74]

Therefore, we should not dismiss history as subjective merely on the basis of the necessity of value-judgement because objective moral value-judgement is possible. 

Every historian is a product of his time or Historians do not have a neutral world-view

               Henri Pirenne points out that the factors that mould the point of view of a historian include social, religious, and national environments. His historiography cannot be free from prejudice as he himself is already moulded by the prejudices of his time.[75] Carr[76] reminds that even the very words a historian uses, like ‘democracy, empire, war, revolution,’ are not devoid of current connotations. Some point out that this problem is not as insurmountable as it appears to be, and it can be avoided by using words in the original historical setting. But Carr apparently thinks that this ‘resolution’ is not satisfactory: ‘Ancient historians have taken to using words like polis and plebs in the original, just in order to show that they have not fallen into this trap. This does not help them. They, too, live in the present, and cannot cheat themselves into the past by using unfamiliar or obsolete words.’[77] But this is an non-sequitur and unfair assessment that does not prove his case. Because by avoiding contemporary terms and using words in the original historical settings, the current connotations can be avoided. One wonders why Carr could not see this. Carr is probably right in saying that using words in the original will appear to those who live in the present as ‘unfamiliar or obsolete’. But he cannot assume that they do not understand these ‘unfamiliar or obsolete’ words. For there might be students who might have some knowledge of that particular historical setting. Even if this is not the case, the problem can be resolved easily by clearly defining the meanings of the words in the original settings in the historian’s works. His example on the French revolution is a better one to prove his case:

The names by which successive French historians have described the Parisian crowds which played so prominently a role in the French revolution—les sans-culottes, les peuple, la canaille, les bras-nus—are all, for those who know the rule of the game, manifestos of a political affiliation and of a particular interpretation. Yet the historian is obliged to choose: the use of language forbids him to be neutral.[78] 

He also points out that the changing scene of the present has actually revised historians’ attitude towards the past. For example, the change of political climate in the Europe has reversed the British historians’ assessment of Frederick the Great. Likewise, the change of the balance of power within the Christendom has brought new appraisal to historical figures like Loyala, Martin Luther and Cromwell.

In response to the objection of lack of neutrality, Craig argues that:[79] 1. The objection is a confusion of act of knowledge with content of knowledge. Whether there is sociological or cultural factors, that is secondary, the most important thing is if it accords with evidence. Here Barrow’s critique of Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions can be used for history:

Kuhn, by contrast, regards laws of Nature as an ever-changing creation of the scientist’s mind…This is the most radical and general view that one could take about the subjectivity that is introduced into our study of Nature by our human intellectual tendencies: having recognised that there is a sociology of science it concludes that there is nothing more to science than its sociology.[80] [emphasis mine]

Likewise, the same could be said of history. In fact, Maurice Mandelbaum applies this similar line of reasoning to history.[81] 2. Such objection is a confusion of formulation of a hypothesis with testing of a hypothesis. How the hypothesis is derived is secondary to how it is tested, so long as it is tested by objective evidence. The chemical structure of the Benzin molecule was discovered by a chemist from a dream of a snake holding its own tail. 3. Unconscious influence could be surfaced by making plain one’s point of view. To recognise one’s point of view and the point of view of others.  

Conclusion: What Kind of Objectivity Do We Have in History?

            Some philosophers of history have a very loose view of objectivity of history. For instance, W. H. Walsh thinks that a subject matter can be considered objective if it warrants acceptance by all who seriously investigate.[82]

Bebbington’s understanding of the elements of objectivity and subjectivity in history:[83]

1. There are no indubitable facts.

2. The historian, however, does not have the freedom to interpret something totally divorced from the facts.

3. In statements of details, the historian presents more of facts; in general statements, he presents more of his ideas and interpretations. For example, the description of a battle is likely to be more factual than an assessment of which side won.

4. No history is solely factual or subjective. It is somewhere in between the continuum of two poles of factuality and subjectivity.   

Sir Karl Popper says that there is no historical fact in the sense of what it actually happened in the past. What we have is only historical interpretations. And every generation has its own right to rewrite the history from its own frame of reference.[84]

 

Concerning the kind of certainty we have in history, Craig suggests the certainty of probability instead of mathematical certainty for historical knowledge.[85] For Gary Habermas, the presence of the subjective elements in history, instead of driving us to nihilistic scepticism, should lead us to see that:

It is for reasons such as these that the careful application of historical principles, tempered by various sorts of critical analyses, are necessary in order to recognise and offset as much as possible the subjective element. Although such biases can never be completely eliminated, it is still possible to reach sturdy conclusions within the canons of historical research. There is, however, no reason to succumb to a relativistic epistemology of history here.[86]

            Admittedly, there are elements of both objectivity and subjectivity in history. ‘But the question is whether this subjective element need be so predominant that the study of history is vitiated.’[87] To be more precise, have the elements of subjectivity vitiated the evidentialist’s case for the resurrection?’ From the discussion of the objections to the objectivity of history above, we can conclude that the subjectivity of history, though exists, does not remove the ground of the objective historical fact of the resurrection of Christ. This is the line of argument: It has been argued earlier that the evidentialist does not have to prove the absolute objectivity of history for him to retain his ground for marshalling historical evidence for the truth-claim of Christianity. To attain this, he only has to prove the objectivity of history to the extent that sufficiently proves the resurrection and its correct interpretation. And he has to prove the possibility of being certain of the factuality of at least some past events, and that it is possible to arrive at correct conclusions of at least some past events. Having proved these, he must also prove that the resurrection of Jesus is one of the past events whose factuality and interpretation can be certain of. All the above objections only rule out the absolute objectivity of historical events. But they do not rule out the possibility of being certain of the factuality of some past events. And the resurrection of Jesus is one of them. Let me illustrate how the elements of subjectivity and objectivity of history affect our understanding of a historical event. For example, there are certainly elements of subjectivity that shroud the historical record of the father of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman. There are certainly many issues debated by the historians over his life: whether he is a hero or a villain, there will be difference of perspectives from a Malaysian, a Singaporean and a British. Perhaps they will never agree on this. Perhaps the historians are still debating about the effect and interpretation of one of his political speeches or the significance of his foreign policy. These are elements in the historical data of this person that probably will never be agreed on. The indirect access of the historical data, the fragmentary nature of historical accounts, the selectivity of the historians and the value-judgement of the historians are probably factors that contribute to this subjectivity and uncertainty. Those on either side of the dispute, unlike the scientists who may settle their dispute by performing experiments, cannot repeat the historical event in question to prove his case. Thus we must recognise that there are elements of subjectivity in the historical study of Tunku Abdul Rahman that we may never have an answer to, but to move from this and conclude that therefore we do not have any objective history about Tunku is to commit the fallacy of slippery slopes—illegitimate expansion. For at least we know that this person existed, we know his date of birth, his university in Great Britain, the period of his office as a prime minister and the date of his retirement and death. In other words, there are some core facts that cannot be denied despite the presence of subjective elements that cast doubts on many other details. The subjectivity of history is only a threat if we demand absolute objectivity in all aspects of a historical event. Therefore, the subjectivity of history is not a threat at all to the historicity of Christ’s resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was such a public event that whatever subjective value-judgements (except a prior rejection) or selectivity of historians would not affect its historicity. Perhaps one might object, ‘but even if Christ’s resurrection can be proved, it proves nothing because you can never be certain of its meaning.’ In reply, Montgomery says:

When we turn to the unique, nonanalogous event of the Resurrection, used by Jesus and by classical Christian apologists to attest the claim that ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself’ (2 Cor. 5:19), we find a maximally compelling reason to bring God into the picture… The gospel events, if they can in fact be shown to have occurred, require an answer to Jesus’ straightforward question, ‘But whom do you say that I am?’ (Matt 16:5). Now, as then, only one answer will fit the facts. And it should be noted with care that once the facticity of Christ’s resurrection has been granted, all explanations for it reduce to two: Christ’s own (He rose because He was God) and any and every interpretation of the event in contradiction to this explanation. Surely it is not difficult to make a choice here, for Jesus (unlike anyone else offering an explanation of the resurrection) actually arose from the dead! His explanation has prima facie value as opposed to those in contradiction to it, presented as they are by persons who have not managed resurrections themselves. The very fact that a miracle is nonanalogous event offers an even greater reason than ordinarily to let it interpret itself, to seek its interpretation within itself… But when we do go to the One who personally experienced the Resurrection, all gratuitous interpretations of the chariot-of-the-gods, creature-from-outer-space variety evaporate in the light of His own clear affirmation of His divine character, to which the sign of Jonah unequivocally points.[88] 

Can historical evidence prove anything? The answer is certainly affirmative. Though it cannot prove everything, historical evidence is certainly adequate to prove the facticity of Christ’s resurrection. This study does not proceed to examine the evidence for Christ’s resurrection because its purpose is to remove the philosophical objection to adducing historical evidence in support of the truth-claim of Christian. And with this the author thinks that the purpose has been achieved.  

 

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[1] Gary R. Habermas, an evidentialist, in presenting his apologetic methodology, says that, ‘the chief interest of this method is the postulating and developing of historical evidences (one species of propositional data) for the Christian faith.’ [Gary R. Habermas, ‘Evidential Apologetics,’ Five Views on Apologetics, ed. Steven B. Cowan (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 94.]

[2] The author adapts the line of argument of John Warwick Montgomery’s validation of the Christian world-view in relation to Christian philosophy of history to the line of argument to validate the Christian claim God’s revelation in the Bible and in Jesus:‘1. On the basis of accepted principles of textual and historical analysis, the Gospel records are found to be trustworthy historical documents—primary source evidence for the life of Christ. 2. In these records, Jesus exercises divine prerogatives and claims to be God in human flesh; and He rests His claims on His forthcoming resurrection. 3. In all four Gospels, Christ’s bodily resurrection is described in minute detail; Christ’s resurrection evidences His deity. 4. The fact of the resurrection cannot be discounted on a priori, philosophical grounds; miracles are impossible only if one so defines them—but such definition rules out proper historical investigation. 5. If Christ is God, then He speaks the truth concerning the absolute divine authority of the Old Testament and of the soon-be-written New Testament; concerning His death for the sins of the world…’ [John Warwick Montgomery, The Shape of the Past (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1975), 138-139]. Norman L. Geisler also uses a similar line of argument: ‘1. The New Testament documents are historically reliable; 2. These documents accurately present Christ as claiming to be God incarnate and proving it by predicting and accomplishing his resurrection from the dead; 3. Whatever Christ teaches is true; 4. Christ taught that the Old Testament is the written Word of God and promised that his disciples would write the New Testament; 5. Therefore, it is true on the confirmed divine authority of Jesus Christ that the Bible is the written Word of God.’ [Norman L. Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), 353.]     

[3] Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Sceptics Ask (Wheaton: Victor, 1990), 102-103.

[4] By this the author does not mean that such a simple response is all Geisler and Brooks have concerning this issue. Incidentally, Geisler deals with the issue of the objectivity of history more sophisticatedly in his ‘Objectivism and History’, in Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), 285-304. The author only intends to show that this argument is weak.

[5] Ronald H. Nash, Christian faith and Historical Understanding (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 12-13.

[6] James T. Shotwell, An Introduction to the History of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1922), 2-3.

[7] One might object that the author has arbitrarily changed the phrase, ‘all statements about history,’ to ‘all statements of historical record’. Such objection is an unfortunate mistake which could be avoided had the objector followed the author’s line of argument carefully. This is the line of argument: 1. There are two senses of history—past events and historical record or study. 2. ‘All statements about history’ = ‘all statements about past events’ in the instance when history means past events (sense 1). 3. ‘All statements about past events’ = ‘All statements of historical record.’ Perhaps an illustration will clarify this. What happened on 31st August 1957 in Malaya is a past event. ‘Malaya declared its independence from the British on 31st August 1957’ is a statement about that past event, which is also a statement of the historical record of Malaya. Therefore, this equation is not arbitrary.     

[8] One might object that the author’s long line of argument has died the death of a thousand qualifications. But this long line of argument, for from being ‘a thousand qualifications’, is actually a necessary clarification of the use of the precise sense of the word ‘history’ so as to avoid confusion of Geisler and Brooks. 

[9] For a complete survey, refer to John Warwick Montgomery, The Shape of the Past (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1975), 34-113; and his Where is History Going? (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1969), 15-36.

[10] M. Howard Rienstra, ‘History, Objectivity, and the Christian Scholar,’ History and Historical Understanding, eds. C.T. McIntire and Ronald A. Wells (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1984), 72.

[11] Catherine Morland in Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, 1/14, ed. John Davie (London, 1971), 97 cited by David Bebbington, Patterns in History—A Christian Perspective on Historical Thought (Leicester: Apollos, 1990), 1.

[12] Bebbington, Patterns in History, 13.

[13] Ibid., 13-14. Also Cf. G. J. Renier, History: Its Purpose and Methods (London, 1961), 38.

[14] See R. G. Collingwood, ‘Are History and Science Different Kinds of Knowledge?’ The Philosophy of History, ed. William Debbins (Austin: University of Texas, 1965), 32.

[15] Israel Scheffler, Science and Subjectivity (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967), 114.

[16] Montgomery, The Shape of the Past, 79-97.; E. H. Carr, What is History? (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961), 9.

[17] E. H. Carr, What is History? (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961), 9.

[18] Montgomery, The Shape of the Past, 79.

[19] Carr, What is History?, 8-9.

[20] William H. Dray, Philosophy of History ( n.c.: Prentice-hall, n.d.), 23.

[21] Montgomery, Where is History Going?, 19-21.; and also Montgomery, The Shape of the Past, 80-82.

[22] Montgomery, Where is History Going?, 19

[23] Montgomery, The Shape of the Past, 81.

[24] Carr, What is History?, 9.

[25]John Locke, ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,’ in Louis P. Pojman, Philosophy—The Quest for Truth (Belmont: Wadsworth, 1999), 137—40; Carr, What is History?, 9.

[26] Actually, for empiricist like John Locke, interpretations, unless demonstrated or proved to be necessary conclusions of the facts, are not knowledge at all. This is obvious from his categorisation of knowledge and grading of its degree, ‘These two, viz. intuition and demonstration, are the degrees of our knowledge; whatever comes short of one of these, with what assurance so ever embraced, is but faith or opinion, but not knowledge, at least in all general truths. [John Locke, ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,’ in Louis P. Pojman, Philosophy —The Quest for Truth (Belmont: Wadsworth, 1999), 144.

[27] Carr, What is History?, 9.

[28] Ronald H. Nash, Christian Faith and Historical Understanding (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 21.

[29] What Montgomery refers to as ‘the secular relativistic historians,’ Nash refers to as ‘the historical idealists’.

[30] This piece of historical information is from Nash, Christian Faith and Historical Understanding, 31-32; and Carr, What is History?, 20.

[31] From Montgomery, The Shape of the Past, 90-91; Carr, What is History?, 20-21; and Nash, Christian Faith and Historical Understanding, 33-34.

[32] From Dray, Philosophy of History, 22; and Montgomery, The Shape of the Past, 89.

[33] See Norman L. Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), 285-290.

[34] R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956), 213.

[35] From Carr, What is History?, 21-22; Nash, Christian Faith and Historical Understanding, 34-36; and Montgomery, 91-92.

[36] From Bebbington, The Patterns of History, 15; and Montgomery, The Shape of the Past, 88-89.

[37] Carl L. Becker, ‘What are Historical Facts,’ The Philosophy of History in Our Time, ed. Hans Meyerhoff (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1959), 131.

[38] From Carr, What is History?, 21.; and Montgomery, The Shape of the Past, 90.

[39] By this the author does not mean that all objections to the historical evidence have been answered. He is well aware of the fact that there are still objections to the use of historical evidence on other grounds. One of them is the objection on the ground of the impossibility of miracles, which will be dealt with in another chapter. What he means is the objections on the ground of the objectivity of history will have been sufficiently answered once the above-mentioned two steps are accomplished.      

[40] In fact, W. H. Walsh claims that the issue of the objectivity of history is the most important in critical philosophy of history. See W. H. Walsh, Philosophy of History: An Introduction (New York: Harper & Row, 1960), 94.

[41] For example, Carl Hempel says that historical explanation aims at showing that historical events are to be expected with ‘rational scientific anticipation which rests on the assumption of general laws.’ [Carl Hempel, ‘The function of General Laws in History,’ Theories of History, ed. Patrick Gardiner (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1959) 348-49.]. Michael Oakeshott disagrees with Hempel, he argues that history is dismissed the moment historical facts are considered as instances of general laws [Michael Oakeshott, Experience and its Modes (London: Cambridge University Press, 1933), 154.].

[42] Charles Beard, ‘That Noble Dream,’ The Varieties of History, ed. Fritz Stern (Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1956), 323.

[43] Dray, Philosophy of History, 9.

[44] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 286.

[45] David Bebbington, Patterns in History—A Christian Perspective on Historical Thought (Leicester: Apollos, 1990), 11.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Patrick Gardiner, The Nature of Historical Explanation (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 35.

[48] Craig, Apologetics—An Introduction, 141.

[49] Ibid., 142.

[50] Nash, Christian Faith and Historical Understanding, 84.

[51] See R. G. Collingwood, ‘Croce’s Philosophy of History,’ Essays in the Philosophy of History, ed. William Debbins (Austin: University of Texas, 1965), 19.

[52] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 290.

[53] R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 292.

[54] Craig, Apologetics—An Introduction, 143.

[55] See Edwin Yamauchi’s criticism in his ‘Immanuel Velikovsky’s Catastrophic History,’ Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 25 (1973): 134-39.

[56] Craig, Apologetics—An Introduction, 143-146.

[57] Ibid., 146-147.

[58] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 291.

[59] Ibid., 291-292.

[60] Carr, What is History? 24.

[61] Collingwood, The Idea of History, 214.

[62] Carr, What is History? 24.

[63] Carr, What is History, 24.

[64] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 286.

[65] Ibid., 292-3.

[66] Ibid. 292.

[67] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 287.

[68] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 293.

[69] Ibid., 294.

[70] Bebbington, Patterns in History, 11.

[71] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 287.

[72] Ibid., 12.

[73] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 288.

[74] Paul D. Feinberg, ‘History: Public or Private? A Defence of John Warwick Montgomery’s Philosophy of History,’ The Shape of the Past—A Christian Response to Secular Philosophies of History John Warwick Montgomery (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1975), 379.

[75] See Henri Pirenne, ‘What are Historians Trying to Do?’ The Philosophy of History in Our Time, ed. H. Meyerhoff  (Garden City: Doubleday, 1959), 97.

[76] Carr, What is History, 25.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Carr, What is History, 25.

[79] Craig, Apologetics—An Introduction, 148.

[80] John D. Barrow, The World within the World (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988), 336.

[81] See Maurice Mandelbaum, The Problem of Historical Knowledge (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 184.

[82] Walsh, Philosophy of History: An Introduction, 96.

[83] Bebbington, Patterns in History, 12.

[84] Karl Popper, ‘Has History Any Meaning?’ The Philosophy of History in Our Time, ed. H. Meyerhoff  (Garden City: Doubleday, 1959), 303.

[85] Ibid., 147.

[86] Gary R. Habermas, ‘Evidential Apologetics,’ Five Views on Apologetics, ed. Steven B. Cowan (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 95.

[87] William Lane Craig, Apologetics—An Introduction (Chicago: Moody, 1984), 139.

[88] John Warwick Montgomery, Faith Founded on Fact—Essays in Evidential Apologetics (Newburgh: Trinity, 1978), 61-3.

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