UNIFORMITARIANISM AND CATASTROPHISM Definitions: Uniformitarianism - The belief that all geological formations have come about as the result of slow and gradual processes over long periods of time. It holds that the processes which we see at work today are the same as have always been at work and account for everything that we see in geology. Rejected is any idea of catastrophic events being responsible for any geological formations. Based on this philosophy the age of the earth is measured in millions of years. "The present is key to the past." Castastrophism - The belief that catastrophic events have been responsible for many geological formations that we observe in the earth today, and that these catastrophic events resutl in rapid production of geological formations. Based on this philosophy, the age of the earth is measured in thousands, not millions, of years. "The past is the key to the present." A Brief History Throughout the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth, many scientists and theologians supported the Flood theory of geology, the belief that the Genesis flood was a primary agent in forming the present day surface of the earth. Flood geology was challenged in the nineteenth century by Georges Cuvier. He advanced the theory that while the surface deposits of the earth were laid down by Noah's flood, the major fossil strata were the result of a series of great floods that were separated by long periods of time and that occurred long before man was created. Cuvier's theory was the accepted theory among geologists for about 30 year. Cuvier's theory was replaced by the theory of uniformitarianism which was popularized by Charles Lyell. He believed that the geological processes we see at work today have been at work from the beginning and adequately explain everything that we see in the earth. He completely rejected the idea of catastrophic events as having had any role in creating the geological formations that we see today. This view ruled the day by 1840, which is the year that degrees in geology were first made available in universities. Peter's Prophecy 2 Peter 3: 3-7 "The past is the key to the present (and future)."