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In an address to the British House of Commons in 1948, Winston Churchill famously contended that “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” This was the tweaking of a George Santayana conclusion which begins: “Those who cannot remember the past.” While Santayana emphasized the lack of remembrance, Churchill pointed to the failure to learn as the cause of repeating past mistakes. In both instances the immediate contexts lament fallout from unlearned lessons of human conflicts. In Santayana, the idea reinforces his aphoristic antiwar position that “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” while Churchill’s is informed by the horrors of World War II. In either phrasing, the message is clear: we ignore the lessons of history, especially in the context of conflict, to the peril of repetition.

World War II is arguably the worst human conflict in history, as judged by its casualties. At least 85 million people, about 3% of the world’s 2.5 billion inhabitants at the time, perished as a direct result of the war. But human lives were not the only things of value lost in that war. Also lost were such intangibles as honor, integrity, innocence and even God – priceless ingredients that separate humans from our animal neighbors and help us make sense of a world that often seems senseless.

Revolutions - WWII - Motion - Questioning - Underpinnings

The scientific/intellectual revolutions that preceded WWII had already set in motion European questioning of its religious underpinnings. But it was the war, whose epicenters were in Christian Europe, that would later accelerate the unapologetic secularism on the continent. After the human carnage and suffering from the war, there would be no satisfying Christian explanations for a war that pitted European Christian nations against one another and the world.

One unfortunate, or rather unfathomable, consequence of the war was how the Adventist...
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