You don't know G_____! (Gould)

From: allenroy (
Date: Tue Sep 23 2003 - 02:29:27 EDT

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    Michael Roberts wrote:

    >You have misunderstood both Ratsch and Gould in your desire to keep in with
    Ellen White's revelation...

    Have I, misunderstood Gould? The following comes from:
    CATASTROPHISM: Systems of Earth History
    by Richard Huggett (a non-Creationist)
    Edward Arnold (pub), 1990
    (the page number follows each paragraph)

    It is imperative that the uniformity of law and the uniformity of process be not
    mistaken for testable
    theories about the Earth. They are rules of practice and nothing more. Stephen
    Jay Gould drives this
    point home with his customary cogency: “You can't go to an outcrop and observe
    either the constancy of nature's laws or the vanity of unknown processes. It
    works the other way round: in order to proceed as a scientist, you assume the
    nature's laws are invariant and you decide to exhaust the range of familiar
    causes before inventing any unknown mechanisms. Then you go to the outcrop.
    The first two uniformity's are geology's versions of fundamental principles -
    induction and simplicity - embraced by all practicing scientists both today and
    in Lyell’s time. (Gould, S.J. 1987: Time’s arrow, time's cycle. Myth and
    metaphor in the discovery of geological time. Harvard University Press. p.
    120) p24

    Actualism versus non-actualism [gradualism]

    Gould argued that both the uniformity of law and the uniformity of process are
    assumptions shared by all scientists, but this is not strictly true. Granted,
    both uniformitarians and catastrophists [of the 18th and 19th Centuries]
    fervently supported the principle of uniformity of law. ... But while
    uniformitarians held staunchly to the principle of uniformity of process,
    catastrophists were equivocal about it, generally agreeing that present
    processes should be used to explain past events whenever possible, but, unlike
    the uniformitarians, being quite prepared to invoke, if necessary, causes which
    no longer operate. p24-25

    But the equating of actualism with uniformitarianism and the confounding of
    actualism with gradualism results from misconceptions about Lyell’s system. A
    number of revisionists, including Reijer Hooykass, Stephen Jay Gould and Martin
    J. S. Rudwick, have managed to set the record straight, but their message seems
    not to have got through to practicing geoscientists. p37

    The message is clear. It runs as follows: Lyell adopted four uniformity's - the
    uniformity of law, the uniformity of process (actualism), the uniformity of rate
    (gradualism) and the uniformity of state (steady-statism). The first two are
    usually regarded as procedural rules practiced by all geoscientists; the last
    two are substantive claims about the empirical world. Lyell’s system of strict
    uniformitarianism was founded upon these four assumptions. The first
    assumption, and to a lesser degree the second, he shared with the
    catastrophists; the third and fourth were the mainstays of his particular vision
    of the world. p37

    There can be little doubt that Lyell, the arch-uniformitarian, is the hero of
    most nineteenth-and twentieth-century geologists. The reason for the general
    acceptance of his uniformitarian ideas is, according to conventional wisdom,
    that by ignoring the strictures of biblical chronology (which forced geologists
    to invoke a catastrophic past to account for the short history of the Earth) and
    instead proclaiming that Earth history was very much longer than six thousand
    years, he was able to demonstrate that the slow and steady operation of present
    processes could explain the apparently enormous changes which the Earth had
    evidently suffered in the past. However, Gould argues that conventional wisdom
    is wrong, and that Lyell won wide support for his thesis because of two ploys.
    The first was the ploy of setting up, and then destroying, the straw man of a
    six thousand year old Earth. During the second half of the eighteenth century a
    great debate began in geology over the age of the Earth. Archbishop James
    Ussher had, around about 1650, dated Creation to towards the end of October in
    the year 4004 BC. This date was assumed to be definitive, and was widely
    accepted. ... Even before Lyell wrote his Principles, geologists - Huttonians
    and catastrophists alike - had found it almost impossible to reconcile a six
    thousand year old Earth with evidence they saw in the field. They could not see
    how the Earth could grow, and its surface be shaped, in so short a space of
    time; nor could they see how fossils fitted into the biblical account of Earth
    history. Gould claims that by 1830, no serious scientific catastrophist
    believed that catastrophes had a supernatural cause, or that Archbishop Ussher’s
    reckoning of the date of the Creation was correct. p85-86

    Nevertheless, it was necessary for Lyell to demolish these notions because they
    were widely held among laymen and were advocated by some geologians. It was not
    Lyell’s fault, explains Gould, that later generations took his straw man to mean
    that uniformitarianism was science, catastrophism was not. To be sure, the
    early catastrophists believed that natural processes could not have wrought the
    changes or brought about the structures which exist as part of the earth's
    surface; but by the first half of the nineteenth century relatively few
    catastrophists really believed that the features of the Earth's surface could be
    explained simply by invoking the wrath of God. p86

    The uniformitarians did not triumph over the catastrophists because they
    advocated a more subtle and less empirical method: they used reason and
    inference to supply the missing information that imperfect evidence cannot
    record. In short, Lyell carried his case with words, not with hard facts. p87

    The second of Lyell’s ploys was to slip by two substantive claims with two
    methodological statements which must be accepted. The two methodological
    statements were the uniformity of law and the uniformity of process
    (actualism). The two substantive claims, which in Lyell’s thesis were cloaked
    by the methodological statements, were the uniformity of rate (gradualism) and
    the uniformity of state (steady-statism). It is important to stress here that
    Lyell’s claims are definite suppositions about the empirical world which may or
    may not be true; they are not methodological presuppositions. Therein, as we
    have already seen, lies the basis of the different geological system conceived
    by the catastrophists and the uniformitarians. p87

    “We do adhere to Lyell’s two methodological uniformity's as a foundation of
    proper scientific practice, and we continue to praise Lyell for his ingenious
    and forceful defense. But uniformity's of law and process were a common
    property of Lyell and his catastrophist opponents - and our current allegiance
    does not mark Lyell’s particular triumph.” (Gould, 1987, 177 [see above]) p87

    -------end quote-----------

    Creationists and Evolutionists alike hold to the necessary presuppositions of
    uniformity of law and uniformity of process in order for geologists to derive
    empirical data and scientific evidence. These presuppositions are not derived
    from science but from the philosophical foundations they begin with.


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