Charles Lyell, Father of Geological uniformitarianism: Unbiased Scientist or Snake Oil Salesman?

Often when reading textbooks and watching television portrayals of modern geology, you get the idea that Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin were simply open-minded gentlemen who came across their interpretations of geology or biology through honest and unbiased research; despite the ravings of narrow-minded religiously motivated catastrophists. Those bible crazed catastrophists, who constantly tried to force their scientific views to fit the stories of Moses and such, couldn’t really have been considered objective in their approach to the evidence. Could they?

Thank goodness that open minded and objective men like Lyell won the day and gave us his accurate picture of the geological record, and once again modern science triumphs over religious fanaticism! At least that’s the way they always tell the story.

Too bad it isn’t true.

In fact, according to modern evolutionary geologists and paleontologists, it not only isn’t true, but the exact opposite of the popular media and textbook myth is. Listen to Steven J. Gould, past paleontologist for the Chicago Museum of Nat’l History and highly respected evolutionary writer;

“In fact, the (biblical) catastrophists were much more empirically minded than Lyell. The geological record does seem to record catastrophes…In order to circumvent this literal appearance, Lyell imposed his imagination upon the evidence…” S.J. Gould, “Catastrophes and Steady State Earth”, Natural History, 84, Feb. 1974, 15-17.

And again, same author, different article;

“To many scientists (of the 19th Century) natural cataclysm seemed as threatening as the reign of terror…Contrary to popular myths, Darwin and Lyell were not the heroes of true science , defending objectivity…Catastrophists were as committed to science as any gradualist, in fact, they adopted the more objective view…” S. J. Gould, Evolutions Rapid Pace”, Natural History, 86, No.5, April-May 1977, 12-16.

Nor is Gould alone in his opinions, listen to Derek Ager, former president of the British Geological Association;

“Uniformitarianism triumphed…Catastrophism became a joke…But I would like to suggest that, in the first half of the last century, the catastrophists were better geologists than the uniformitarians.” Ager, “The Nature of the Stratigraphic Record”, 1993, 67-68

Or Warren Allmon in the popular magazine, Science;

“As is now increasingly acknowledged, however, Lyell sold geology some snake oil. He convinced geologists that because physical laws are constant…it necessarily follows that all past processes acted at their present rates…this extreme gradualism led to numerous unfortunate consequences, including the rejection of sudden catastrophic events in the face of positive evidence for them…” Allmon, Science 262, October 1993, 122.

What? Modern scientists, free from religious restraints (except those of secular atheism) rejecting obvious evidence in order to maintain a scientific bias?

Listen to David Raup, ardent evolutionist and former dean of Science at the Chicago Field museum of Nat’l History and holder of the Chair of the Dept. of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago;

“In the 19th Century, the combination of Lyellian geology and Darwinian biology did promote a conventional wisdom that the earth and life evolved by very gradual processes moving at uniform rates…This misunderstanding has been caused in part by the geologists themselves; the 19th Century idea of uniformitarianism and gradualism still exists in popular treatments of geology…in museum exhibits…lower level textbooks…it is still even taught in secondary school classrooms, and you can hardly blame the creationists for having the idea that the conventional wisdom in geology is still a non-catastrophic one.” Raup, David, in” Scientists confront Creationism”, 1983, pp. 152-3.

No, you really can’t blame them…we have the same problem with our textbooks here in Republic….and every where else I have checked also…lol.

Charles Lyell wasn’t beyond fudging numbers in order to under cut the Mosaic flood story. When given the yearly erosion rates for Niagara Falls, Lyell reduced the rate from at least 3 feet per year to one,in order to make the falls appear older than the book of Genesis would allow. Contrary to “common knowledge”, Lyell had a real problem with the Old Testaments treatment of history, and his main objective in geology was trying to dissuade people from believing the bible. He and Darwin shared a common dislike of the biblical world view. As Darwin noted in his Journals;

“Lyell is most firmly convinced he has shaken the faith in the Deluge (Noah’s Flood) far more efficiently by never having said a word against the bible than if he had acted otherwise…I have lately read Morely’s “Life of Voltaire”, and he insists strongly that direct attacks on Christianity (even when written with the wonderful force and vigor of Voltaire) produce little permanent effect; real good seems only to follow the slow and silent side attacks.” Darwin, Charles, in Gertrude Himmlefarb’s, ” Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution”,1967, pg. 387.

Charles Lyell was far more concerned in attacking the common man’s faith in the bible then in recording and interpreting an accurate view of geology. It appears he was theory laden, and burdened by philosophical bias, and he wasn’t the least bit interested in being open or out front about it. The father of the modern view of geology was a snake oil salesman.

And the hundreds of millions of years imposed by Lyell on the geological record disappear into nothingness, they never existed and the evidence for them has been shattered…except in every text-book ever printed. The evidence for them is gone;

“In fact, many geologists now see rare, short-lived events as being the principal contributor to geological sequences…the periods of relative quiet contribute only a small part of the record.” (Raup, ibid.)

I.e., Lot’s of rock, little time. The faith in the millions of years that Lyells’s erroneous view supported will continue to be enforced, because Darwin and Dawkins atheist worldview demands it.

Maybe it’s a better idea to build your life and worldview on the teachings of Moses and remember the words of the one Christians believe to be the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. He said;

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, will be like a wise man who builds his house upon the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Or, you could continue to believe in the view of millions of years and slow and gradual biological change, from dead matter to men, found in your textbooks. The earth is 4.5 billion years old and this was proven by giants of science like Charles Lyell.

At least, that’s what they told you.

Have a great day.



About notmanynoble

woodcutter from Washington State
This entry was posted in It's a Young Earth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Charles Lyell, Father of Geological uniformitarianism: Unbiased Scientist or Snake Oil Salesman?

  1. TONY says:

    Fantastic article, Mark. The quotes you have provided are telling and effective. Why do we continaully dismiss and ignore the philosphical underpinnings of the naturalistic religion of evolution? A great read and simply put.

    In Christ,



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