Uniformitarianism--This 9 syllable word is quite a mouthful! However, in the discussion of worldviews, and creation apologetics, it is hugely important to understand. Buckle your seat belts, as we discuss the history of the idea, and its impact on our current culture. Come and see as we review "Our Current Business Model".
Websters New Student Dictionary defines it this way "A geological doctrine that existing processes acting in the same manner as at present are sufficient to account for all geological changes." (Emphasis mine) Two words really stand out in this definition.
Picture by Richard Overman
The first word is "doctrine". Some would be inclined to believe that the word "doctrine" should be reserved only for theology students. However, it is very fitting that this is part of the definition. Uniformitarianism, is THE underlying doctrine of Molecules to Man, or Fish to Philosopher evolution! It allows, proponents of the idea to throw around huge numbers such as millions and billions of years, often called 'deep time'. This is the only way that they can conceive of this supposed slow change through a myriad of mutations and natural selection, to allow change from one animal to another. Ken Ham, the founder and president of Answers in Genesis has said, "In order to convince someone of an impossible process, you need an inconceivable amount of time".
The second word that stood out is the word "all". Yes, these adherents, though not present at the time, have convinced themselves that this is how it must be! But, how can they know this? Since their ranks are filled with many self-proclaimed atheists and agnostics, it is interesting to note that they would have to be, themselves, the very God they deny and doubt, in order to be sure. Now, lets look further into its history.
2 Contributors, but 1 Contribution
Two geologists were huge contributors in the decades leading up to Darwin that cemented the concept of Uniformitarianism and helped to make Darwinian evolution possible--even if only in their minds. These two men were James Hutton and Charles Lyell.
James Hutton has been called 'The Founder of Modern Geology'. He stated clearly in the late 1700s that anything outside of the processes we see today should be discarded. This was an a priori assumption, which, it seems for over 300 years so far, has been happily embraced by generations of geologists inclined toward ensuring that no supernatural explanation can even be considered. Although the word uniformatarianism was created some 30+ years after Hutton first proposed the idea, the philosophy was initially the brain-child of Hutton. It was Lyell who largely popularized the term.
Later, in 1830-33, when Charles Lyell wrote his 3-volume set Principles in Geology, he expanded on the idea, and laid the principles that profoundly affected Charles Darwin. This new philosophy of uniformitarianism was now well entrenched. It would become the cornerstone of future generations of students wishing to leave God out of the discussion. It is also interesting to note that it was not only Charles Darwin that was affected by uniformitarianism. Church leaders were also led astray, and began compromising scripture with concepts like the "gap theory" and the "day-age theory". But, that will be the subject of a different blog.
Let's See It for What it is--the Cultural Connection
When asking "Alexa", "What is a business model?", you will hear and read: "A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value, in economic, social, cultural or other contexts." I've used the term "Business Model", because this term is in my own background, and I'm guessing the background of many reading this blog. We can appreciate the fact that a 'business model' is foundational. One does not want to stray far from the 'business model', since it acts like a compass to keep us going in the desired direction. This critical "doctrine" or dogma can now be clearly seen, and the cultural connection becomes obvious. When 'deep time' is absolutely mandatory for the rest of the story, it is critical that this cornerstone remain in place--therefore making it foundational--just like a business model. As we see uniformitarianism in this light, the a priori assumption becomes clear. Then, and only then, can we begin again to consider another possibility. It is time to reconsider our starting assumptions! It's time to start working on a NEW business model--one that fits the evidence! We find ourselves at a monumental time in human history, and God is calling to Himself a people with Biblical discernment.
Many are convinced that we are at the later end of 'the last days'. Hear the words that come from that last generation: II Peter 3:4 KJV "And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." This last days prophecy seems to be alluding to a philosophy of uniformitarianism! May we who name the name of Christ, see this foundation for the "sinking sand" that it is, and build our hope on a more sure word of prophecy. II Peter 1:19 KJV, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:". We can rest in our more sure word of prophecy.
Picture from savingplaces.org