Contemplating Unification Thought

by Dr. Jennifer P. Tanabe



The Unification Thought Theory of History appears rather different from other theories of history, a fact that should not be too surprising for those familiar with other sections of Unification Thought. And, as with the other sections, this need not necessarily cause us to doubt its validity, but it does seem to cause some difficulty for academics who are asked to address this theory. At the recent ICUS conferences in which I participated in the Unification Thought Committee, both participants who were asked to address the Theory of History spent almost all their time discussing their own theory of history, somewhat to the dismay of the respondent who had hoped they would address the Unification Thought position!

This reluctance to address the Unification Thought theory, however, does not detract from the value of the position. I cannot claim to be an expert on history, in fact it is an area that I must admit not only lack of knowledge but also lack of interest. I long ago realized I had no talent for remembering names and dates of kings, battles, etc., which is what history was made of when I was in high school. My colleague at UTS, Dr. Michael Mickler, on the other hand, is well qualified to judge theories of history. At the Seventh International Symposium on Unification Thought in 1990, he concluded that the Unification Thought theory of history offers a needed corrective to three contemporary approaches to history: (1) anti-historical tendencies within Christian interpretations of history which, while emphasizing God's role in history, ultimately lead to a view of despair; (2) reductionist tendencies within speculative philosophies of history which attempt to reduce all history to a single explanatory law; and (3) the parochialism of contemporary historiography which has moved away from a universal view of history to narrowly defined topics with explanations limited to the particular culture, time, etc. Sounds good to me!

So, now what does the Unification Thought Theory of History actually say? Well, the fundamental premise is theological: God created the world according to certain laws but the first human ancestors fell away from God, breaking God's commandment, and brought about a world of sin. History, therefore, has been sinful history and not God's original plan. However, God has not abandoned sinful human beings but has worked through a history of "re-creation" and "restoration" to re-create human beings in their original sinless form and to restore the world to its original ideal state. The Theory of History is thus the section of Unification Thought which really addresses the results of the human fall and the course of restoration; the other sections focus almost entirely on the ideal.

The second feature of this theory of history is the claim that history is governed by laws. While this is not a new idea, to date no theory of history has succeeded in specifying laws of history that have real explanatory power. For example, Marx's historical materialism has been shown to be false by events in recent history. Isaac Asimov's laws of "psychohistory" hold true only in the realm of science fiction, alas! Reductionist views which attempt to find a single universal law or principle guiding history fail to explain the complexity that is evident in human history. Unification Thought, on the other hand, has a multitude of laws which operate singly and together to predict complex patterns in history.

Finally, the Unification Thought view of history clearly explains the origin, direction and goal of history. As mentioned above, the origin of history is the creation and fall of humankind, and the goal of history is the realization of the ideal world of creation. However, while the goal of history is determined, the process of attaining this goal is not determined, but rather depends on human responsibility.

Now, let us look at each of these features in more detail. The first point is basically the same starting point as in all theories of Unification Thought: the existence of God. For historians who deny God's existence this will surely be a stumbling block. But, I challenge such people to compare their final view of history with what Unification Thought has to offer. I believe that both in terms of explanatory power and in the hope that this view offers us for our future, Unification Thought is worthy of consideration. In other words, the Unification Thought view is actually more successful than other theories in explaining history, which is surely an important criterion in choosing a theory. Additionally, the view of history offered is one that provides real hope for the future, explaining that history to date has been full of war, suffering, and evil because of the human fall, but that this will not continue. Instead, a new history in which the ideal original world will be established, in which all people and God will be happy. If you were asked to choose between that future and the future promised by others, which would you choose?

The second feature is that history is governed by laws. In the Unification Thought theory there are two types of laws: Laws of Creation and Laws of Restoration. The texts on Unification Thought detail seven laws of each type. The Laws of Creation are (1) the Law of Correlativity, (2) the Law of Give-and-Receive Action, (3) the Law of Repulsion, (4) the Law of Dominion by the Center, (5) the Law of Completion through Three Stages, (6) the Law of the Period of the Number Six, and (7) the Law of Responsibility. The Laws of Restoration consist of (1) the Law of Indemnity, (2) the Law of Separation, (3) the Law of the Restoration of the Number Four, (4) the Law of Conditioning Providence, (5) the Law of the False Preceding the True, (6) the Law of the Horizontal Appearance of the Vertical, and (7) the Law of Synchronous Providence. Also, the Laws of Repulsion, Indemnity and Separation work together to change the direction of history (see diagram) and are known collectively as the Law of Turning or the Law of the Struggle between Good and Evil. Now the usual reaction to this list of laws is, why so many? Indeed, when faced with the task of lecturing on the theory of History it can be quite a challenge to present fourteen laws without losing sight of the forest in the trees. But, again, if there were only one or two laws, would that really be sufficient to explain the complexities of human history? I don't think so. While initially it may seem overly complicated, a theory of history with multiple, interacting laws is necessary to describe reality in all its complexity.

The next problem with the laws is, where do they come from? Now, anyone familiar with Divine Principle should be able to recognize these laws fairly easily. However, that does not provide enough of a basis for philosophers of history. Dr. Lee has responded to such questions by detailing how the Laws of Creation are developed from the Theory of the Original Image and Ontology, and further explains that the Laws of Restoration are not entirely different from the Laws of Creation but are those laws the other way round (see Unification Thought Supplementary Materials).

This leads to a question raised recently by a student at UTS: why do we need two types of laws? My response came quite clearly. There are two types of laws because of the fall. The Laws of Restoration would not have been necessary had there been no fall. In fact, those laws will no longer be required after restoration is accomplished. From that time on history will follow the original pattern and only the Laws of Creation will operate. Why do we need Laws of Creation? Because history, whether fallen or original, operates according to laws. The Laws of Creation are those which were originally intended to guide human history, and human history will not stop after restoration is complete, but rather will continue developing eternally as the original world develops. I am happy to realize that the original ideal world is not a static place where there is no more history because everything has been accomplished. After the fallen, sinful history is over, human history will be just at the beginning, and that history will be much more exciting and enjoyable. Perhaps even I could become interested in history then!

My conclusion is that if we are to accept a law-governed view of history, and since it makes more sense to assume that since everything else God created operates according to laws and principles that history would too, then these laws should be consistent with our understanding of God and creation. Unification Thought is always consistent in this way, and so again, for those who find the assumption hard to accept in a particular section, you just have to read the whole book to understand!

The final feature of this view of history is the clarification of the origin, direction and goal of history. Unification Thought presents a deterministic view of the goal of history, i.e. that the ideal world of creation will be realized. However, the process by which that goal is achieved, meaning how, when, where and by whom, depends on human responsibility. Critics of Unification Thought have often protested that this is still determinism and how can you maintain free will for human beings and at the same time claim that God's ideal must be established. Such scholars are claiming the right of human beings to have the freedom to choose to be evil, sinful and selfish! And, in some sense, Unification Thought recognizes that right, but nonetheless states that eventually good leaders will succeed in turning the course of history back to the original direction. At that point people have the freedom to choose the course of goodness and development of the ideal, or to continue living according to selfish desires. Unification Thought does not say when the ideal will be realized, only that history will reach that turning point, based on the operation of the laws of history.

Thus, the Unification Thought claim that a world of goodness will be established is not based on faith alone. The laws of history provide the mechanism by which this is to be accomplished. And this mechanism depends for its fulfillment not just on God's activity but also on human responsibility. For God can prepare good people to play important roles in history, but they must fulfill their own portion of responsibility in order to succeed in that mission. Similarly, when a good leader appears the people must choose whether or not to follow and change history for the better.

People will always be free to choose, that is part of the nature God gave us. The problem has been that we have not really had a choice in the past. It reminds me of elections in the former Soviet Union: people were free to vote -- for one Communist or another Communist. Guess what, they all voted for Communists! So, should we conclude that they would never choose representatives of any other political position? Similarly, I believe that when people have a real choice between living in God's ideal world and the evil world of sin that we cannot assume that they will all choose to stay in the world of sin. Perhaps we should examine our own hearts on this point, and see which history we are choosing to make for ourselves and our children.

So the problem is not the laws, or the control by some creator, but our fallen nature. This is well in illustrated Isaac Asimov's fictional accounts of a world governed by the laws of "psychohistory." Asimov, a renowned scientist and atheist, realized that while human beings have selfish motives (fallen nature) there is no way to establish an ideal society. In his book, Foundation's Edge, he presents three possibilities: a world in which the leaders are expert in the material, technological, physical aspects of life (Hyung Sang); a world in which the leaders are experts in the power of the mind (Sung Sang); and a world in which all elements are somehow united into one living organism with group consciousness, but supervised by robots. The conclusion of course is that none of these is ideal. My conclusion? Asimov has understood so much of the truth of the way the world operates, but without knowing God and the reality of the human fall he can never find the solution.

Unification Thought thus appears to me to be such a great truth, combining the knowledge that has been gained through scientific endeavor with an understanding of God and God's purpose for creation. The view of history is surely an example of how this great truth can be applied to all areas of life, explaining the past and giving us hope for the future. If the Unification Thought theory of history is true, we can restore the sinful past by following the Laws of Restoration and create the ideal by following the Laws of Creation. Let's give it a try!


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