"the past has made the present what it is, but things did not have to turn out this way. Institutionally and ideologically, materially and morally, we need not have ended up where we are. Human decisions were made that did not have to be made, some of which turned out to be deeply consequential. Patterns were established, aspirations justified, expectations naturalized, desires influenced, and new behaviors normalized that need not have taken hold. Within the constraints imposed and the opportunities afforded by biological realities, the human past is not a product of any autonomous, impersonal social, economic, ideological, or cultural 'forces'—rather, such forces are themselves the cumulative, aggregate product of countless human decisions and actions, sometimes institutionalized, politically protected, and enduring and sometimes not, which in turn affect and constrain other decisions and actions."
Brad S. Gregory, The unintended Reformation: how a religious revolution secularized society (Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012), 12.