The doctrines which come to us (i.e., in the Catholic Church) have such a high antiquity that we have trouble finding the earliest date of their existence, and we have yet to deal with the fact that, whenever they were believed, they were likewise claimed to be continuous with earlier beliefs. This body of doctrine, then, must be assumed to be apostolic, or at least the burden of proof is on those who would claim otherwise.
Given this degree of antecedent probability, we must - in all honesty - treat this body of doctrine with an attitude of confidence and not skepticism, faith and not criticism. In a similar vein, it is likewise reasonable to interpret the previous history of a doctrine by its later development. We must also keep in mind that each of these doctrines is merely one part in a cohesive body, and solid evidence for even one of them must make us look more positively toward the others, and our acceptance of one must lead us to ask why the rest should not be accepted as well, for a series of probable proofs amounts to a greater certainty as a whole.
Thus, when a doctrine comes to us recommended by strong presumptions of truth, we are bound to receive it unsuspiciously. The objections of a particular denomination against these ancient Catholic doctrines, then, amounts to a stain upon this denomination rather than a charge against the one and only representative of the Apostolic Church.
The exacting standards of the modern 'scientific method' cannot be so easily applied to the study of history, since in matters of history we do not have the facts before us at all, but must use tradition, analogy, logic, and authority to recover them. Antecedent probability, then, may have a power in history that it could never have in the pure sciences. We see this also in criminal trials, where a man can be convicted based upon a high degree of probability, even if his guilt has not been proven in the strict sense.
If we do find some degree of silence on certain doctrines in the early Church, this can often be explained by external constraints. And often the silence of history is later accounted for and put to rest, as documents are discovered or verified. But putting all this to the side, taken as a whole, this proof is much more abundant than one can imagine.