EvoWiki is now a project of the
We are moving all content to RationalWiki.
See the for details! .
Uniformitarianism is an assumption about geological processes according to which past geological processes are essentially of the same nature as present ones. It is in contrast to catastrophism. Uniformitarianism was devised by geologists James Hutton and Charles Lyell. Lyell, in his 1830 book Principles of Geology, wrote up four concepts of uniformitarianism:
- Uniformity of law - natural laws are invariant in space and time
- Uniformity of process - the present is the key to the past; if possible, past patterns should be explained by presently observable processes (not, for instance, terrible catastrophes)
- Uniformity of rate - all geological change is in small, steady, slowing accumulating steps (no sudden large events)
- Uniformity of state - no long-term directionality exists in Earth history
Of Lyell's four concepts, only the first is accepted today. Large and violent geological changes are definitely known to have occurred. It is therefore a mistake to assume, as many critics of uniformitarianism do, that uniformitarianism means only tranquil processes. Many geological events, such as formations of mountain ranges, were not tranquil at all. However, uniformity of natural law is a fixed assumption among geologists, and, while the past may not always be the same as the present, it is generally held that the present displays the features of the same processes as in the past.
Young-earth creationists, being wedded to the catastrophist assumption of a worldwide flood, oppose uniformitarianism. Some cite 2 Peter 3:3-7 as a Biblical warning against uniformitarianism and rejection of the worldwide flood. They hold that the present gives us no clue as to the past; only the Bible's account as to the past is reliable.