My wife and I just got back from a 3,200-mile research trip through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. When we visited the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, we were reminded again of how all secular institutions continue to hold to the principle of uniformitarianism. They like to promote this idea with the saying “The Present is the Key to the Past.” The image below is from an interpretive sign in the Rainbow Forest Museum inside the park.

“The Present is the Key to the Past”-Petrified Forest NP

As I like to say this phrase is logically false because everyone knows that in reality, the past is the key to the present. That is, those things that happened in the past have led to what we see today. This is how history works. The present holds no sway over what happened in the past. Nevertheless, there is scientific truth to the concept of “uniformity” which is not the same as “uniformitarianism.”

Let’s see if we can unpack this by considering some statements from another museum, the Condon Museum in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument located in the Central area of the state of Oregon. I have inserted those statements in the two images that follow. We will look at them one at a time.

1. “The Present if the Key to the Past”-John Day Fossil Beds NM 

In statement number one the circled portion (first paragraph) is a good declaration of a scientific fact, except for the assumption of “millions of years.” That is, that in general scientists do assume uniformity. Christian scientists like Isaac Newton were first to recognize this as a fact. If uniformity were not generally true, the study of what we call science could not exist. Everyone in their daily lives also operates assuming uniformity. If we were able to sit on the chair today, we can expect to be able to sit on it tomorrow. If our car operates on the street today, we can expect it will do so tomorrow as well. This is uniformity and the principles or laws of nature allow for it and are assumed in our daily lives.

Creationist scientists believe in the assumption of uniformity as they do their work. They also believe that God created the universe to operate according to “principles of nature.” They also understand that a God who could create the universe and everything in it could also operate on it outside of these principles. These operations are called “miracles.”

Secularists do not allow for the existence of miracles. They cannot allow for the “divine foot” in the door of their scientific study. Although the evidence is all around them, they also cannot allow for a cataclysmic global Flood because that is presented historically in the Bible, and they philosophically cannot accept the Bible because it is the Word of God. They believe they must reject God to do science.

 2. The Present is the Key to the Past”-John Day Fossil Beds NM 

In statement number two we see how even intelligent people confuse uniformity with uniformitarianism. These authors evidently understand that they are making assumptions about the existence of uniformity in earth history. They know that they were not there when the earth was formed. They reject the concept that someone was there and that someone (God) has provided us with a written history of who did it, when, and some about how it was done. They state “floods, erosion, volcanic eruptions, mountain uplifting, wind and sea currents, continental drift, all occur with varying rates and intensities.” Since the 1800s when the principle of uniformitarianism was largely accepted secularists have recognized more and more in the way of historical catastrophe. A tranquil, slow process of earth’s formation is now dead in secular earth science. However, the idea of a global Flood is not philosophically acceptable. This is because if the Flood as described in the Bible is accepted, they are forced to accept the Creator God. They resist God with all their might.

So, all that is left of “The Present is the Key to the Past” as practically incorporated into secular scientific study today, is that it is applied to the concept of the impossibility of a global Flood.

In summary, uniformity is a fact clearly experienced by all people. Uniformitarianism is a philosophical construct developed in order to reject the need for a Creator and it is not universally applied to earth science as it once was. The two are definitely not the same thing as stated in statement number two above. Finally, most of the geologic surface features of the earth and most of the fossils that are found in the earth are as a result of this one-time cataclysmic event known as Noah’s Flood. Unfortunately, those facts are consistently rejected by those who hold to the false principle of uniformitarianism.

The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. (Genesis 7:20-22)

J.D. Mitchell 

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