History, in all its forms, gets a considerable amount of attention from humanity as a whole. While much of it lays a basis for the culture and society of today, questions arise on how valid or even how truthful it may be. There is a saying; “history is written by the victors”. Even this brings up questions as history is rewritten repeatedly until decades or hundreds of years later it becomes unclear what was fact and what was elaboration by the historians of the time. Crossing cultural lines, using oral histories, and tracking singular events makes it even more difficult to sift through and find what could be seen as the kernel of truth.
Assuming that there is some reality to history, even a simple socially created cultural reality, the question then becomes what are the important parts of history. Was it important that a real Lao Tzu existed and actually met a Gatekeeper who prompted the writing of the Tao Te Ching? On the other hand, is it more important that the message be preserved in such a way as to give basis to Taoism? Setting aside the mystic or divine references in a number of religious texts, the same could be said for whether Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount or Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree. The messages of Discipleship, Enlightenment, and/or Harmony remain much the same stripped of any otherworldly aspirations. They preserve much of the same moral message when applied directly.
This assumes though that the message is the only important part though. In many if not all religions, the process or mindset is as important. The central figure of the text moves from a simple mechanism of teaching to an actuality of expression. If the Buddha did not gain enlightenment and it is simply a poignant anecdote, does this mean that the traditions of meditation, dharma, and rebirth may not play as important a role. If Jesus was simply an allegory or a parable, Salvation becomes very muddy indeed.
Balancing faith and logic has never been an easy task. Scientists and philosophers such as Darwin or Descartes did not go looking for proof that God was a sham; they conducted their work with the idea of opening the universe and understanding the systems that the Divine used to create life and set it in motion. While they looked at verifiable truth, they still held to the faith that there was a higher power or process that permeated all of creation. Physics, math, astronomy were all attributed originally to some divine force. In some cases, especially with mathematics and physics, there are sections of the world where this cultural connection yet remains.
Faith is often described in terms of adherence to a deity or religious system. Some even go so far as to label this religious faith to differentiate it from simple or base faith in humanity as a whole, each other, or that your car will start in the morning. This faith is a trust that people or things will act in a certain manner according to their nature. Combined with belief, the conviction that something or someone is true (or the truth), a core is formed for humanity to deal with the unseen or unknown. This core of faith and belief exerts itself in a multitude of ways including religion, spirituality, and science. Returning to the concept of history, this core of faith and belief stretches across the span of human existence from prehistoric animism to modern humanism. History then becomes the foundation for the creation of culture and society. There is still the question as to whether this foundation is built using actuality, analogy, or some combination of the two.