Uniformitarianism Quotes (9 quotes)
[My Book] will endeavour to establish the principle[s] of reasoning in ... [geology]; and all my geology will come in as illustration of my views of those principles, and as evidence strengthening the system necessarily arising out of the admission of such principles, which... are neither more nor less than that no causes whatever have from the earliest time to which we can look back, to the present, ever acted, but those now acting; and that they never acted with different degrees of energy from that which they now exert.
For deciding what has occurred and even what will occur, we have only to examine what is occurring.
If catastrophic geology had at times pushed Nature to almost indecent extremes of haste, uniformitarian geology, on the other hand, had erred in the opposite direction, and pictured Nature when she was “young and wantoned in her prime”, as moving with the lame sedateness of advanced middle age. It became necessary, therefore, as Dr. Haughton expresses it, “to hurry up the phenomena”.
In using the present in order to reveal the past, we assume that the forces in the world are essentially the same through all time; for these forces are based on the very nature of matter, and could not have changed. The ocean has always had its waves, and those waves have always acted in the same manner. Running water on the land has ever had the same power of wear and transportation and mathematical value to its force. The laws of chemistry, heat, electricity, and mechanics have been the same through time. The plan of living structures has been fundamentally one, for the whole series belongs to one system, as much almost as the parts of an animal to the one body; and the relations of life to light and heat, and to the atmosphere, have ever been the same as now.
Is uniformitarianism necessary?
Mr Hall's hypothesis has its cause for subsidence, but none for the lifting of the thickened sunken crust into mountains. It is a theory for the origin of mountains, with the origin of mountains left out.
Palaeontologists cannot live by uniformitarianism alone. This may be termed the Phenomenon of the Fallibility of the Fossil Record.
Time is in itself [not] a difficulty, but a time-rate, assumed on very insufficient grounds, is used as a master-key, whether or not it fits, to unravel all difficulties. What if it were suggested that the brick-built Pyramid of Hawara had been laid brick by brick by a single workman? Given time, this would not be beyond the bounds of possibility. But Nature, like the Pharaohs, had greater forces at her command to do the work better and more expeditiously than is admitted by Uniformitarians.
With the sole guidance of our practical knowledge of those physical agents which we see actually used in the continuous workings of nature, and of our knowledge of the respective effects induced by the same workings, we can with reasonable basis surmise what the forces were which acted even in the remotest times.