4 Views of History—a Quick Synopsis
- Cyclical– History just keeps repeating itself – it’s not going anywhere – it’s not heading for a conclusion of any kind; or rather there are many conclusions and then it begins all over again. (Mayans, Aztecs, Hindus, Buddhists – most eastern religions).
- Evolutionary View –History, because of purely natural forces, is evolving. An optimistic evolutionist might say we’re getting better and improving—that humankind is always moving upward. A pessimistic evolutionist would say that it’s all just survival of the fittest and man will live on until something bigger and stronger evolves to take our place, or something smarter and stronger from another planet. The theory of evolution rests on the belief that random forces can create improvements in animals, man, and also the world. Communism is a system of thought based entirely on this idea of history.
- Deterministic–Free will is an illusion. All (every single detail) is determined by God or some kind of supreme power or creative force. There is no chance or free will. Rather every event that is to come is completely inevitable. The future is frozen. This was Albert Einstein’s view and some other classical scientists. Einstein believed this view was the only logical extension to the laws of the universe as he saw them. Einstein resisted the idea of quantum physics because it introduced a random and unpredictable quality into the nature of matter and the universe. But then, of course, he was proven wrong in that belief, and before he died he saw the overwhelming evidence for quantum theory.
- History is a story moving toward a conclusion –This is the basic Judeo-Christian view (say “Joo-DAY-oh”). Like all great stories, history has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has a climax (the cross and resurrection) and is being drawn toward a particular conclusion (the return of Christ) by an author-Creator. There is a protagonist (Jesus) and an antagonist (Satan) and, of course, many characters. God is directing the whole thing, like an author who is telling a tale of great suspense with characters who can actually change stuff. Free will is the genuine gift of God to his creatures, but God is so huge, intelligent, and powerful, that He is able to shape the outcome according to His purposes while incorporating our authentically free decisions into His plans. So that’s why we love books and movies and stories so much–we were created to love them by the author Himself. He loves stories too, and He put us right in the middle of one.
One further note about Einstein’s view: Because of his belief in determinism, Einstein asserted that God could not be a personal being. Einstein believed in a supreme but impersonal intelligence behind the universe but not in a personal, loving God. Though he was Jewish, he rejected the Jewish and Christian belief in a God who cares about and is involved in the affairs of mankind. He thought that if all events were determined (and he was convinced they must be), then God would have to be cruel to have determined so much suffering and evil for the world we live in. You might say, spiritual warfare along with quantum physics were contrary to Einstein’s concept of the universe.