'In a secular world, which is what most of us in Europe and North America live in, history takes on the role of showing us good and evil, virtues and vices. Religion no longer plays as important a part as it once did in setting moral standards and transmitting values. Congregations at the old mainstream churches have declined sharply. It is true that there are huge evangelical churches out there, but they are as much about entertaining and socializing as religion. The millions who describe themselves as born-again Christians often have, according to surveys, the sketchiest of ideas about what it is they are adhering to. And even those who continue to have faith in a divine being may wonder how he or she can allow such evils as the twentieth century witnessed. History with a capital H is being called in to fill the void. It restores a sense not necessarily of a divine being but of something above and beyond human beings. It is our authority: it can vindicate us and judge us, and damn those who oppose us.'
Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History, p.20.