Sir Herbert Butterfield was a British historian and philosopher of history who is remembered chiefly for two books—a short volume early in his career entitled The Whig Interpretation of History and his Origins of Modern Science. Over the course of his career, Butterfield turned increasingly to historiography and man's developing view of the past. Butterfield was a devout Christian and reflected at length on Christian influences in historical perspectives. Butterfield thought individual personalities more important than great systems of government or economics in historical study. His Christian beliefs in personal sin, salvation, and providence heavily influenced his writings, a fact he freely admitted. At the same time, Butterfield's early works emphasized the limits of a historian's moral conclusions, "If history can do anything it is to remind us that all our judgments are merely relative to time and circumstance."
It is not the mere existence of unusual criminals that [has] ravaged our world; for the arrangements of society (whether national or international) ought always to presume that some of these will be lurking somewhere. The gates have been opened to evil in part because of a terrible discrepancy between human ideals and actual possibilities -- terrible heresies concerning the nature of man and the structure of the historical universe. Christianity, even if it cannot persuade men to rise to the contemplation of the spiritual things, embodies principles which may at least have the effect of bringing the dreamers down to earth. Because it confronts the problem of human sin, it can face our difficulties and dilemmas without evasions -- without the fundamental evasiveness of those who believe that all would be well with the world if it were not for a few unspeakable criminals, always conveniently identified with the political enemy of the moment.