Philosophical Foundations of the Geologic Timescale: Uniformitarianism

Dear hijas,
From our last post in reviewing Dr. John Reed’s book “Rocks Aren’t Clocks: A Critique of the Geologic Timescale”, we saw that evolution is one of the foundations of the timescale. It is not the only one however. The concept of uniformitarianism that was promoted primarily by Charles Lyell in the 1830’s is also essential to the concept of deep time and the resulting timescale. Uniformitarianism used in its fullest sense means: a philosophy and method that allows science to become the arbiter of history. For Lyell, it was a mix of the methodological principle of uniformity (a principle which all scientists accept) with the gradualistic theory of history. This well-regulated past of imaginary vast eons, paved the way for Darwin and his evolutionary ideas, quite different from Biblical history, and contrary to the concepts of God creating and then overseeing the cosmos.

Reed says that “All three ideas–evolution, uniformitarianism, and deep time–are closely connected. Although many people today reject Lyell’s gradualism and are increasingly skeptical of evolution, the timescale and geologic history remain unscathed. But if all three are intertwined, the selective rejection of evolution and uniformitarianism, with no consequences for the timescale, seems schizophrenic.”

Reed then goes on to talk about James Hutton’s role in the idea of uniformitarianism. James Hutton, you remember, a Scottish natural philosopher and early geologist in the 1700’s, was called by some ‘The man who found time’. Reed says, “Hutton knew Genesis had to be discredited to make way for his deistic view of history. So he went straight for the jugular–there is nothing more basic to orthodox Christianity than ex nihilo creation and the end of the world at the final judgment; for the Bible begins with the famous words, ‘In the beginning’ and then moves immediately outside the ‘system of nature’ in the next words, ‘God created.'”
Remember mis hijas, uniformitarianism is not the same as uniformity, but the secularists like to equivocate here and make them say the same thing. They are not the same thing, however, and you shouldn’t confuse the two. ‘Uniformity’ is an essential axiom of science and is the idea that patterns in nature, or more frequently called ‘natural laws’ operate in the same predictable manner over space, time, and for the most part, scale. Because it is a statement about the nature of reality, it is a metaphysical assertion, justified only by Christian theology. ‘Uniformitarianism’, however, assumes that past causes will be natural ones like those observed in the present. This is not a scientific assertion, but a ‘philosophical’ one. Do you see the difference?

I pray that you do see the difference and that you will be able to share that difference with your friends and colleagues. Uniformity is at the heart of science, uniformitarianism is not.

With Love,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas


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