Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 114 (8789 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 09-21-2017 8:20 AM
340 online now:
Aussie, Joe T, Pressie, Stile, Tangle (5 members, 335 visitors)
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: Porkncheese
Post Volume:
Total: 819,207 Year: 23,813/21,208 Month: 1,778/2,468 Week: 287/822 Day: 13/67 Hour: 0/3

Announcements: Reporting debate problems OR discussing moderation actions/inactions


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
1
23456Next
Author Topic:   Why is uniformitarianim still taught?
Tamara
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 89 (87488)
02-19-2004 12:32 PM


I recently fished around the texts on the web, and it looks to me like even in college level texts, uniformitarianism is still taught as formerly. I could not find a good definition of actualism, btw, and gave up, thinking that actualism is just the old uniformitarianism under a new label.

Here is an example.
http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/10c.html

[This message has been edited by Tamara, 02-19-2004]


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 12:36 PM Tamara has not yet responded
 Message 3 by Brad McFall, posted 02-19-2004 12:37 PM Tamara has not yet responded
 Message 4 by MrHambre, posted 02-19-2004 1:00 PM Tamara has not yet responded

  
Tamara
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 89 (87489)
02-19-2004 12:36 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tamara
02-19-2004 12:32 PM


a theory? sheesh!
This particular link actually gives this definition of uniformitarianism:

"Is a theory that rejects the idea that catastrophic forces were responsible for the current conditions on the Earth. The theory suggested instead, that continuing uniformity of existing processes were responsible for the present and past conditions of this planet."

Now it is elevated from a doctrine to a theory! Bah humbug.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 12:32 PM Tamara has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by Minnemooseus, posted 02-19-2004 1:13 PM Tamara has responded

  
Brad McFall
Member (Idle past 2562 days)
Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 3 of 89 (87490)
02-19-2004 12:37 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tamara
02-19-2004 12:32 PM


In the sample you provided it appears the need was to retain some notion of "landscape". I'll stick my tongue out and say that uni still is because there is no clear relation of topography independent of EARTH geography. The nice pics from Mars however have changed my own view of this and instead of arguing cosmologically as I have here awhile back I now can think the same thing in this "landscape" no matter how global economics or a continued ILLUSION of c/e affords transmissions. This is not me lol.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 12:32 PM Tamara has not yet responded

    
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 52 days)
Posts: 1493
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 4 of 89 (87496)
02-19-2004 1:00 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tamara
02-19-2004 12:32 PM


Not sure why Uniformitarianism shouldn't be taught. Do we have any reason to assume that physical constants weren't the same in the past as they are today?

[This message has been edited by MrHambre, 02-19-2004]


The dark nursery of evolution is very dark indeed.
Brad McFall
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 12:32 PM Tamara has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 61 by Bill Birkeland, posted 07-01-2004 2:40 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

    
Minnemooseus
Member
Posts: 3537
From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
Member Rating: 5.6


Message 5 of 89 (87498)
02-19-2004 1:13 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Tamara
02-19-2004 12:36 PM


Re: a theory? sheesh!
quote:
"Is a theory that rejects the idea that catastrophic forces were responsible for the current conditions on the Earth. The theory suggested instead, that continuing uniformity of existing processes were responsible for the present and past conditions of this planet."

I would prefer that uniformitarianism be referred to as a "fundamental principle".

At the time of the birth of the uniformitarianism concept, the viewpoints were strongly polarized between catastrophism and "strict" uniformitarianism. Since then, the concept has become less strict, incorporating the recognition that unusual and extreme events do sometimes happen.

Moose


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 12:36 PM Tamara has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Silent H, posted 02-19-2004 1:25 PM Minnemooseus has not yet responded
 Message 8 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 1:55 PM Minnemooseus has not yet responded

    
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3349 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 6 of 89 (87502)
02-19-2004 1:25 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Minnemooseus
02-19-2004 1:13 PM


Re: a theory? sheesh!
quote:
At the time of the birth of the uniformitarianism concept, the viewpoints were strongly polarized between catastrophism and "strict" uniformitarianism. Since then, the concept has become less strict, incorporating the recognition that unusual and extreme events do sometimes happen.

I was under the impression that what you call "strict" uni, is now being termed "gradualism" due to its insistence that geologic structures were formed slowly, rather than all at once.

And thus uniformitarianism as it is being used now, is sufficiently different than how it was defined in the past, and that elements of gradualism and catastrophism equally fell under modern uni's "umbrella".


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Minnemooseus, posted 02-19-2004 1:13 PM Minnemooseus has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by MrHambre, posted 02-19-2004 1:46 PM Silent H has responded

    
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 52 days)
Posts: 1493
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 7 of 89 (87508)
02-19-2004 1:46 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Silent H
02-19-2004 1:25 PM


Putting the 'if' back in Uniformitarianism
I thought uniformitarianism referred to the general consistency of the processes themselves, like sedimentation or glaciation. I didn't think uniformitarianism proposed that these processes had never been interrupted even once throughout history.

I mean, an upthrust in a geological plate can create mountains that later get eroded away. This has happened many times in the Grand Canyon area, I've read. This doesn't mean that there's no uniformity to the processes of sedimentation or erosion.

[This message has been edited by MrHambre, 02-19-2004]


The dark nursery of evolution is very dark indeed.
Brad McFall
This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Silent H, posted 02-19-2004 1:25 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Silent H, posted 02-19-2004 3:09 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

    
Tamara
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 89 (87512)
02-19-2004 1:55 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Minnemooseus
02-19-2004 1:13 PM


Re: a theory? sheesh!
I think "basic assumption" is a good way to describe it. A theory, no.

You know what my problem with all this is? In the old days, the doctrine was formulated as a counter-argument to biblical catastrophism. Even then, it did not seem very reasonable, but was accepted nonetheless.

Over time, all its pieces fell off, falsified, until we are left with only the blandest assertion, that the natural laws today can be assumed to work many years ago. But the controversy was not about that, and is not about that today. And the term has become a misnomer, that still prompts people who ought to know better to continue to claim that "Uniformitarianism is the doctrine that existing processes acting in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity as at present are sufficient to account for all geologic change."
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~js/glossary/uniformitarianism.html

Here's an analogy. Say you define "cat" claiming that the animal has 4 legs, sharp teeth, hunts mice, and purrs. Over time, you've had to abandon all claims except the one that it has 4 legs. Are you still in good faith when you continue to call it "cat"?

The controversy was/is about whether the historical processes shaping our earth included sudden massive upheavals or not. And clearly they did and do and will. It was obvious 100 years ago, and it is even more obvious today. So... I don't get it. With this term, what we get is confusion and obfuscation and wrong information.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Minnemooseus, posted 02-19-2004 1:13 PM Minnemooseus has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by MrHambre, posted 02-19-2004 2:55 PM Tamara has not yet responded
 Message 11 by PaulK, posted 02-19-2004 3:15 PM Tamara has not yet responded
 Message 15 by Percy, posted 02-19-2004 3:56 PM Tamara has responded

  
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 52 days)
Posts: 1493
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 9 of 89 (87541)
02-19-2004 2:55 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Tamara
02-19-2004 1:55 PM


quote:
the historical processes shaping our earth included sudden massive upheavals
Yeah, so? Does that mean that the laws of physics, the decay rates of elements, gravitational pull, or the rotation of the Earth changed? A volcano or an asteroid does not nullify the consistency of these processes. The assumption of uniformitarianism is the reason we know about such upheavals in the first place.

I agree with the statement, "Uniformitarianism is the doctrine that existing processes acting in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity as at present are sufficient to account for all geologic change." What processes weren't working during the upheavals? Or are upheavals not acting today?


The dark nursery of evolution is very dark indeed.
Brad McFall
This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 1:55 PM Tamara has not yet responded

    
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3349 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 10 of 89 (87546)
02-19-2004 3:09 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by MrHambre
02-19-2004 1:46 PM


Re: Putting the 'if' back in Uniformitarianism
quote:
I thought uniformitarianism referred to the general consistency of the processes themselves, like sedimentation or glaciation.

That is what it is now, and kind of what Hutton had pushed initially. But Lyell, who popularized uni, made the gradual phenomena (sed/glac/meta) look so important (apparently to cast down the possibility of catastrophism) that geology was hobbled in some aspects.

At least that's the way I learned it. Am I wrong?


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by MrHambre, posted 02-19-2004 1:46 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 3:50 PM Silent H has responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 13114
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 11 of 89 (87552)
02-19-2004 3:15 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Tamara
02-19-2004 1:55 PM


Re: a theory? sheesh!
By the same token "catastophism" seems to be largely limited to "Flood Geology" and strange Velikovskyan ideas (Saturn hypothesis anyone ?). It doesn't take much to see that uniformitarianism - especially as actually applied by geologists -is more reasonable than either .

And the only place where I ever see strict uniformitarianism (constancy of rate) is in YEC Young Earth arguments (magnetic field decay, recession of the moon, solar contraction....)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 1:55 PM Tamara has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by MrHambre, posted 02-19-2004 3:33 PM PaulK has responded

    
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 52 days)
Posts: 1493
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 12 of 89 (87557)
02-19-2004 3:33 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by PaulK
02-19-2004 3:15 PM


Cat-astrophism
I'm not aware of any creationist who doesn't believe that gradual, consistent processes account for the lion's share of observable geological features. I also don't know of any evolutionist who would deny that some catastrophes have occurred and continue to occur. Evidently we're not allowed to ask T-girl what her opinion is, so I assume she's just playing devil's advocate.

But what counts as a catastrophe, anyway? Does glaciation count since the process has only happened several times, or is it too gradual to be considered an upheaval? Is continental drift a consistent process, or is it catastrophical since it caused India to crash into Asia?

regards,
Esteban "Manx" Hambre


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by PaulK, posted 02-19-2004 3:15 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by PaulK, posted 02-19-2004 3:43 PM MrHambre has not yet responded
 Message 16 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 4:00 PM MrHambre has not yet responded
 Message 54 by Buzsaw, posted 02-20-2004 7:09 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 13114
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 13 of 89 (87560)
02-19-2004 3:43 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by MrHambre
02-19-2004 3:33 PM


Re: Cat-astrophism
While full Ice Ages are quite rare, we have had other periods of global cooling. So glaciers are probably more "uniformitarian" than, say, earthquakes. And if uniformitaranism can live with huge volcanic eruptions like those that formed the Deccan and Siberian Traps (imagine including BOTH of those in a single year as some YECs would have to !) then glaciation - even to the extent of the Snowball Earth hypothesis is no problem.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by MrHambre, posted 02-19-2004 3:33 PM MrHambre has not yet responded

    
Tamara
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 89 (87563)
02-19-2004 3:50 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Silent H
02-19-2004 3:09 PM


Re: Putting the 'if' back in Uniformitarianism
quote:
geology was hobbled in some aspects

Holmes: That's how I understand it too.
I recently read the argument that uniformitarianism follows Occam's Razor, saying that we should assume uni as the simpler hypothesis and only go to cat if not adequate. I think the argument does not hold. If you see a stratum full of twisted critters obviously squished suddenly in some disaster, uni is not the simpler hypothesis. Nor does it make sense to belabor some crater as the result of gradual volcanic activity for years, until someone dares to go counter the uni doctrine and suggests an impact.... I think Occam's Razor would dictate to hypothesize either cat or uni or both, depending on the evidence.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Silent H, posted 02-19-2004 3:09 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Percy, posted 02-19-2004 4:26 PM Tamara has not yet responded
 Message 18 by Silent H, posted 02-19-2004 5:26 PM Tamara has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 15913
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 15 of 89 (87566)
02-19-2004 3:56 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Tamara
02-19-2004 1:55 PM


You're right, uniformitarianism should not be taught!
Tamara writes:

With this term [uniformitarianism], what we get is confusion and obfuscation and wrong information.

It sounds like you believe uniformitarianism is incorrect, and that it is only taught today because of a bait-and-switch. Let me say at the outset that I agree we should not teach outmoded theories, and that we especially should not teach misrepresentations. But I think I can show you that not only is uniformitarianism not a misrepresentation, but also that it is the most accurate view of the way our world was formed.

First, it is important to understand that uniformitarianism isn't really taught today. I'm sure most people's reaction, including evolutionists, is going to be, "What? Of course of it is! What trick are you trying to pull?"

The reason I say uniformitarianism is no longer taught is because it has become part of the backdrop of modern geology, an assumption so basic, so fundamental, that it isn't even mentioned. The term uniformitarianism only exists as counterpoint to the concept of catastrophism, and since catastrophism hasn't held sway in geologic circles for over a century, both terms are now just part of the quaint history of geology. Uniformitarianism simply never comes up anymore.

Unless you're speaking with Creationists, of course, who are still casting uniformitarianism at evolutionists as if it were a derogatory term.

You believe a bait-and-switch has taken place, that uniformitarianism was once defined in a more acceptable way, but that it gradually changed over time into something that, if people only understood what it really maent today, would be no longer be commonly acceptable. So let's explore the definition of uniformitarianism.

For the original definition I think I would go back to Charles Lyell, author of the Principles of Geology that so influenced Darwin on his voyage aboard the Beagle. Lyell saw a world of only gradual change, and so he defined uniformitarianism as a form of gradualism where no change happened suddenly, placing it in diametric opposition to catastrophism. For Lyell, all mountains were gradually pushed up and gradually eroded away. Sea levels gradually rose and gradually fell. Yes, certainly there was a flood here and a volcano there, but most of the modern world was the result of very gradual change over long periods of time.

Uniformitarianism *does* have a modern definition different from the original. Today we think of uniformitarianism as the belief that the forces acting to shape our planet today are the same ones that shaped our planet in the past. If erosion can shape our planet today, then erosion could shape our planet in the past. If volcanic eruptions can shape our planet today, then they could in the past. If floods can shape our planet today, then they could in the past. If asteroid impacts could shape our planet today, then they could in the past. Modern uniformitarianism most certainly includes catastrophes, and so I'm sure you could have no problem with this definition.

But the question I think you're raising is whether a bait-and-switch tactic has been employed. The answer must be no. The underlying principle of uniformitarianism is that the present is the key to the past, i.e., whatever is possible today was also possible in the past, and that principle hasn't changed. What has changed is the array of forces that we now understand operate on our planet. For example, Darwin, a disciple of Lyell, believed that dinosaurs became extinct over a long period of time due to gradually changing environmental factors. But today we understand that comet and asteroid strikes are very real threats, and most modern theories of the extinction of the dinosaurs include a massive world-wide catastrophe in the form of a comet or asteroid strike near the current Gulf of Mexico about 65 million years ago. This is more evidence that modern geological views, which most geologists would not characterize as uniformitarian because the term simply is no longer properly descriptive, include the possibility of catastrophes.

The controversy was/is about whether the historical processes shaping our earth included sudden massive upheavals or not. And clearly they did and do and will. It was obvious 100 years ago, and it is even more obvious today.

If by "sudden massive upheavals" you mean that mountain ranges have been raised in a year or that a recent world wide flood shaped the modern world, then you are wrong to say "clearly they did and do and will". When geologists first began looking in earnest in the 19th century for evidence of a flood they truly believed had happened, what they instead found was evidence for an earth of great antiquity shaped for the most part by the modest and complementary actions of erosion, sedimentation and uplift. No evidence for anything resembling Noah's flood has ever been identified.

If you don't like the term uniformitarianism then you're in good company. I'll bet most geologists don't like it either.

--Percy

[Correct unforgivable misspelling of Lyell's name. --Percy]

[This message has been edited by Percy, 02-19-2004]


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 1:55 PM Tamara has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by Tamara, posted 02-19-2004 5:58 PM Percy has responded

    
1
23456Next
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2015 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2017