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Biblical authority, Creation/Evolution, science

Battling the assumption of uniformitism

Those who hold to an evolutionary perspective on earth’s history do so with at least one major assumption at play:  uniformitism.  Uniformitism suggests that the way things work today are the way they always have through all of history.  The Bible warns us against this in 2 Peter 3:4 where it says skeptics will say that “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation”.  In this same passage Peter warns us that the two major things that “scoffers” will “deliberately forget” are creation and the flood.  Uniformitism shows up in radiometric dating.  The decay rates are observed in the present, and then assumed to have never changed throughout all of history.  They apply this same concept to their interpretations of the geologic column and the fossil record:  slow processes at the same rate as today over millions of years (think Grand Canyon).

How do they know the way they observe things working today is the same as all of history?   Well, honestly, they don’t, they just think they have no other option.  I believe the Bible is a reliable, historical eye-witness account, admissible as additional evidence, and includes three distinct events that very well would have disrupted or altered this assumption of uniformitism.

EVENT 1 – a literal, 6-day creation:  if all life literally popped into existence mid-life cycle, then the starting assumptions of uniformitism would fail.  EVENT 2 – a cursed world following the original sin of Adam and Even:  if death initiated at this point in history, then this would be the starting point of the decay process we measure today.  EVENT 3 – the worldwide flood:  if this major catastrophic worldwide geologic event actually restructured the earth, then slow accumulation fails.

The only way to hold to uniformitism is to actively ignore these three Biblical events.  But if these events happened the way they read, then uniformitism fails.  The ultimate point here is that evolutionary interpretations of radiometric dating, the fossil record, and geologic column do not invalidate Biblical creation.  The truth is we are both in the same boat: unverifiable assumptions about the past.  Two different conclusions, based on two different starting assumptions.  Same evidence, different interpretations.  You decide.

 

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Battling the assumption of uniformitism

  1. I know very little about geology, but hopefully I can still contribute by twisting the conversation toward biological evolution. Your distinction between observational science reminds me of a quote I saw from noted evolutionary biologist and ID critic Jerry Coyne:

    “In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history’s inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike ‘harder’ scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture.”

    Nice photo, BTW.

    Posted by joecoder7 | September 5, 2012, 1:41 am
    • I think it would be a good idea to see what the author himself says about this quote:

      whyevolutionistrue

      Posted September 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      “Yes, I wrote it to show two things: 1. the low esteem in which many scientists hold evolutionary biologists and 2. the difficulties that it takes to verify evolutionary hypotheses involving history. It is of course not meant to suggest that evolution didn’t occur, only that ours is largely (though not solely) a historical science and the reconstruction of history in biology is difficult. It is often more like archaeology than molecular biology.

      It’s been misused by creationists to suggest that I think evolutionary biology itself is laden with errors or not even a science, but of course that’s not what I meant. Historical sciences like evolution and cosmology are of course sciences that make testable hypotheses. Read the part of WEIT that deals with this, talking about how we’ve reconstructed how stars evolve from making static observations”

      You can read more on his website : http://www.whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com

      Posted by Mary Rogers | September 6, 2012, 4:18 am
      • Thank you for this. I was always aware he was never trying to disprove evolution as a science. I believe the quote is merely to show that there is room for interpretation in this type of historical science. I am often told that only creationists see it as observational science vs. historical science. But this is apparently not true. Even evolutionists agree that historical science brings a more difficult set of standards to science.

        Posted by Tim | September 6, 2012, 1:00 pm
      • Most certainly. I check up on Coyne’s blog at least a couple times a month. He’s one of the most prominent anti-ID bloggers there is. He’s also quite intelligent and excellent at translating technical concepts to the layperson. But obviously, there’s much I disagree about. My point in quoting him was to illustrate that the difference between observational and historical science is recognized at both ends of the spectrum.

        > Read the part of WEIT that deals with this, talking about how we’ve reconstructed how stars evolve from making static observations

        I don’t know much about astrophysics, but I’m an old earth creationist and don’t dispute stellar evolution.

        Posted by joecoder7 | September 6, 2012, 4:36 pm

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