Thoughts on Uniformitarianism

Uniformitarianism, also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity, is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformitarianism

Uniformitarianism, in geology, the doctrine suggesting that Earth's geologic processes acted in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity in the past as they do in the present and that such uniformity is sufficient to account for all geologic change.   https://www.britannica.com/science/uniformitarianism

a bit of history

Thanks to the pioneering work of researchers such as William Smith, geologists in the early 1800s were able to swiftly organize rock formations into a single colossal record of Earth's history. Many geologists saw in this record a stormy epic, one in which our planet had been convulsed repeatedly by abrupt changes. Mountains were built in catastrophic instants, and in the process whole groups of animals became extinct and were replaced by new species...

"Catastrophism," as this school of thought came to be known, was attacked in 1830 by a British lawyer-turned-geologist named Charles Lyell (1797-1875). Lyell started his career studying under the catastrophist William Buckland at Oxford. But Lyell became disenchanted with Buckland when Buckland tried to link catastrophism to the Bible, looking for evidence that the most recent catastrophe had actually been Noah's flood. Lyell wanted to find a way to make geology a true science of its own, built on observation and not susceptible to wild speculations or dependent on the supernatural...

Processes such as earthquakes and eruptions, which had been witnessed by humans, were enough to produce mountain ranges. Valleys were not the work of giant floods but the slow grinding force of wind and water. Lyell's version of geology came to be known as uniformitarianism, because of his fierce insistence that the processes that alter the Earth are uniform through time.

The History of Evolutionary Thought

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

But they deliberately forget [ignore] that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 

By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 

2 Peter 3:2-7

In science observations are made with the five senses and patterns are noted. Scientific laws are inferred from these patterns. These laws are then used to make predictions about the future or reach conclusions about the past. That is science, nothing more and nothing less. We can only explain anything based on the operation of these observed patterns. Yet, we haven’t really explained the phenomenon. For example, no one really knows why like charges repel one another or why unlike charges attract one another. It is only a repeated observation, and it is reasonable to assume it will be true in the future and that it was true in the past and that it is true everywhere in the universe.  

[Nobel Laureate in physics, Richard Feynman: "...that it is possible to find a rule, like the inverse square law of gravitation, is some sort of miracle. It is not understood at all, but it leads to the possibility of prediction..."]

A common assumption in science is that existing natural processes are the same processes that brought everything into existence. This is not a conclusion of science but an assumption. The assumption itself is not based on science but is philosophical in nature.

Peter says that in the last days, people will be skeptical about the second coming of Christ because of the prevailing philosophy of naturalism in science (i.e., natural law explains everything from the BEGINNNG of creation). Most of the so-called fathers of science assumed a supernatural cause in creation (a cause outside of natural law). They would say that everything “goes on as it has” since the END of creation. The shift from a source outside of creation to the creation itself as a first cause is fairly recent. Attributing the origin of the universe exclusively to the operation of natural law presupposes that the creation created itself. To allow otherwise would be to consider a supernatural cause, which is not allowed within the framework of modern science. Peter says that in the last days such a mentality will lead to false conclusions regarding:

God's role in creation
God’s past judgment by a great worldwide flood
God’s future intervention in judgment

The prevailing mindset will be that God has not intervened in the past; therefore, He will not intervene in the future. All things continue as they were, in accordance to observed natural laws, without any recourse to the supernatural.

The term “science” and “scientists believe” are used very broadly today. It is important to make a distinction between factual scientific observations and what may be inferred from them in the form of theories based on unstated assumptions, underlying philosophies and worldviews. Some theories can even run counter to basic scientific observations. Examples…

Uncontested, Well Established Scientific Observations
no energy (or matter) is being created or destroyed (1st Law of Thermodynamics)
energy becomes less usable, more disordered with change - entropy is increasing (2nd Law)
prediction: the sun and stars burn out, the universe becomes a homogenous soup

Prevailing Philosophy in Scientism
creation is ongoing and can be deduced from present processes
order is increasing (elements->amino acids->living cell->amoeba->man)
prediction: changing up, not changing down

Note:  Increase of order in a closed system can occur, but it requires two conditions:
1)  an outside source of energy
2)  a PRE-EXISTING intelligent code (builder’s blueprint, DNA, etc.)
(This second condition is often overlooked. )

Although actual scientific observation contrasts with prevalent scientism, it conforms nicely with a Biblical worldview. Example…

Biblical Affirmations
physical creation is not now continuing*
the universe is dying, in bondage to decay**
prediction: the universe will be liberated only by God’s intervention

If God has rested from His creation and is not now involved in the material creation of the cosmos, whatever processes God used are not now observable and are not subject to the scientific method. Scientism insists on an explanation of origins that relies upon natural scientific law, that is, on patterns deduced from present observations.  Scientism, therefore, assumes that the processes of creation are continuing and observable.

*Genesis 2:1-3  Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

**Romans 8:20-21. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.


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