The debate between Catastrophists and Uniformitarians has been mostly about what should be considered to be the normal workings of nature--and which the abnormal.

Uniformitarian thinking, as expressed in the early 19th century by Lyell, and his supporters, was--to some extent--a reaction to early Catastrophism.

These men argued that the geological processes operating at the time were no different than those that had always been operating on earth. They believed the process of accumulating deposits and various kinds of erosion were consistently uniform over time, which amounted to millions of years. They were early Gradualists.

Their belief was based on evidence filtered through a special kind of faith and that form of extrapolation logic that can say 'I'm alive today and was alive last month and 20 years before that. Based on that trend, I'll be alive next month and 20 years from now.'

Although at times the opposite seems to be true, this belief in the earth's endless uniformity has always been based on a strong underlying religious assumption whose impact is not always acknowledged. The Judeo-Christian tradition assumes that a single force, God, created the earth--one time--and that it remained as created until covered over--one time--by the biblical deluge, which then receded just as miraculously as it came. Supernatural power over natural materials. God was viewed as THE only force acting directly on the globe as a whole.

As the debate in the 18th and 19th century shows, consciously or unconsciously, any other assumptions and inferences had to line up with that core assumption--even among those who professed that religious belief had been stripped out of their evidence system. Geological evidence was read through unascknowledged assumptions that way.

Ultimately, the uniformitarian conclusion was that there were no earth-bound mechanisms that could justify belief in a world-wide catastrophe.

On top of that, there was, and is, the underlying belief that (God') laws of nature were and are regular and unchanging, as is God.

And, strangely enough, that leads to another unacknowledged assumption: there is no catastrophe that is not willed by God.

That quickly leads down a blind alley into circular thinking. Since it's assumed that (God's) catastrophes--large and small--have always existed to make a moral point to an immoral audience, then without a moral point to be made there cannot be a catastrophe, in the past, present or future.

Science is young and religion is ancient.

Inherently religious assumptions still pervade science today--with the possible exception of the field of quantum mechanics or, depending on your point of view, primarily in the field of quantum mechanics.

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