Uniformitarianism and The Bible – Nana Yaw Aidoo

Nana Yaw Aidoo

It is essential to remember that there is often a vast difference between the facts in the hands of a scientist and the theories by which he explains these facts. All of the theories of a scientist are not scientific, in that all of their theories are not proved and some of them are of such a nature that they cannot be proved; while some of them are absolutely contrary to evidence. There are also theories, held by some scientists, which are not essential in the interpretation and manipulation of materials. Just because they are held by scientists does not mean that they are scientific. (James D. Bales, PhD.; The Roots of Unbelief, pg. 94).

One theory held by most scientists today and which is used in interpreting most of the facts in the hands of the scientist, is the theory of uniformitarianism or uniform continuity. This is the theory that the forces that operate on earth at present are the exact same forces that operated in every age in times past and thus the present is the key to interpreting the past. This theory was first posited in 1785 by a man named James Hutton and was popularized by his disciple, Charles Lyell. According to those who know, this theory is one of the cornerstones of geological science (take note of this when reading materials by scientists in this field).

The theory when applied to the origin of life holds that since living things exist or are produced today not by a supernatural act or a miracle, then at no time in past ages did man come to exist or was man produced by a supernatural act. It is based on this theory that so many scientists and scholars reject the Bible for it claims that miracles occurred in times past when it is so painfully obvious that miracles do not occur today. If this theory is true, then the Bible is false for the Bible stands or falls on the supernatural or the miraculous. It begins with a Supernatural Being called God, who created life on this planet by supernatural acts and ends with the promise that by a supernatural act a Man who died about two thousand years ago will come to take to heaven those who in the course of their lives were faithful to His will. The theory of uniformitarianism is so accepted in scientific thought that it was said by one Edward Clodd that the only heresy in science is the denial of continuity (ibid, pgs. 104-5). In the opinion of this writer the dogmatism as portrayed by Mr. Clodd’s statement, leads to that which British scientist Julian Huxley called “scientism,” which is the position (an erroneous one of course for science cannot define immaterial things such as ethics) that science is the answer to all issues of life.

We do not pretend to have all the answers and we would be foolish to deny that natural laws exist today. This writer has taught science to school kids and knows more than anyone that a ball, which returns to earth when thrown into the skies today, would under the same circumstances not remain in the skies when thrown the next day. He however earnestly contends that this “does not extend to the extreme position that denies creation and the miracles in the Bible.” If we grant that God exists (even the most ardent atheistic evolutionist admits that philosophically this is at least a possibility even if not a necessity), is it strange to think that He would or could intervene in His creation? And if He can intervene in His creation, is it strange to think that He as a supernatural Being would at least act in a supernatural way? If we grant that God exists, then it is beyond ridiculous to deny that He can act supernaturally.

Furthermore, if we grant that God exists, then there are some problems for the uniformitarian as far as miracles are concerned as F. Bettex well noted (ibid, p. 98). The first is that he cannot deny the possibility of miracles.

To maintain that no miracle has ever taken place, that such a thing is impossible, is nothing else than to maintain we know all the forces and laws and possibilities in the universe! For four thousand years we have noted and investigated so thoroughly every single fact in the life of the individual and of the nation, every phenomenon of nature and the universe in general, that we are able to determine what is possible and what is impossible. (ibid, pp. 98-99).

The second problem for the uniformitarian is that he cannot scientifically dispute miracles.

This was acknowledged by the great scientist Tyndall (the scientist who first explained why the sky is blue—Aidoo), who was by no means a believer in the Bible, yet admitted that if there is a God he is almighty, and can therefore work miracles; and that miracles, if there is such a thing, have nothing to do with science, but lie outside her province. Quite true, we say, and would recommend this utterance of a man of the first rank to those of tenth rank who delight in confronting miracles with science… (ibid. p. 99).

Before anyone construes the foregoing quotes as “confirmation bias,” as some “tenth rank” scientists that we are acquainted with delight in doing, we hasten to note that the same problems that uniformitarianism, if it is true, poses to the Bible and its claim of supernatural creation and miracles, also exist for Darwinian evolution. Anyone who can see through a ladder knows that Darwinists take spontaneous generation for granted. It has not been proven and dare I say it cannot be proven. Honest Darwinists admit this fact. Renowned British evolutionist, Dr. G.A. Kerkut, in his famous book, ‘The Implications of Evolution,’ listed on page six the seven non-provable assumptions upon which Darwinian evolution is based. He noted that ‘The first assumption is that nonliving things gave rise to living material, i.e. spontaneous generation occurred’ (as cited by Dr. Bert Thompson in “The Current Digression,” pg. 59). Note that not only is spontaneous generation or abiogenesis an assumption but according to this “first rank” scientist, it is non-provable. That is to say it has neither been observed by scientists nor is it happening today, the claims of “tenth rank” scientists notwithstanding. That being the case,

unless it can be shown today that life is being originated from non-living matter, then one must conclude that life never came from non-life and that evolution could not have taken place…Since it is not true now, the uniformitarian must say that it has never been true. Therefore, evolution itself could not get started without a miracle, without an exception to uniformity; for something must have operated in the past to produce life which is not now operating to produce life…It is clear the evolutionist himself must violate the dogma of uniformity to even get a workable theory of evolution (Bales; ibid, pp. 99-100).

If not, then why not?

Based on the foregoing, we hold, granted God exists (we believe there is enough evidence to believe that He does) that it is reasonable to believe that He can and has intervened in a supernatural way in this world, that the Bible speaks the truth on the issue since it is clearly the work of a Supernatural mind and therefore uniformitarianism is false. One of the proofs of the Bible’s inspiration is its predictive prophecy and one such prophecy is the prediction of the theory of uniformitarianism and it being the basis for the denial of the supernatural. Dr. Bales noted that this fact should at least begin to shake the confidence of uniformitarians in their extreme position (ibid, pg. 102).

Centuries ago Peter wrote to Christians as follows: “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; that ye may stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance; that ye may be mindful of the commandment of us the apostles by the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” We pause here to observe that the Christians would be teaching, of course, that Jesus Christ was coming again to bring salvation to the righteous and to recompense tribulation to the wicked (Heb. 9:27-28; 2 Thess. 1:6-11).

This teaching would be based on supernaturalism for if Christ is coming again it means that He is more than man. For who is expecting that in the natural course of things a man who died two thousand years ago is coming again? If He is coming again he is right with reference to what He taught for He taught that He would come again. And His coming is based on the fact that His first coming was supernatural; that death did not hold Him; that after His resurrection He ascended to heaven; and there He is to remain until the time for His second advent. All this, we say, is based on supernaturalism and constitutes a denial that things have always continued as they are now operating…But scoffers are denying His coming, and Peter said that in their mockery they would ask: Where is the promise of His coming?

On what do they base their mockery and their scoffing question? Peter states the basis for their mockery in the same verse. “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Pet. 3:1-4). Peter continues and teaches, among other things, that they have ignored the evidence for the flood; that the fact that Christ has not yet come is not a sign that He will not come, but is simply a manifestation of the grace of God which gives men additional time in which to repent; and that Christ will come again and that the earth will be destroyed by fire.

The thing, however, with which we are concerned is the reason on which they are basing their denial of His second advent. They deny it because they maintain that things are now as they have always been. “All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation,” this is their reason. “There is no mistake about this rendering. The Greek word arche, meaning ‘beginning’ is there used: so that creation itself is clearly meant to be involved in the continuity of present-day process. H.E. Dana, and Julius R. Mantey, state that the tense of “continue” indicates that perpetuity is implied by it. In commenting on the “static present tense” in Greek, they wrote: “the present tense may be used to represent a condition which is assumed as perpetually existing, or to be ever taken for granted as a fact.” One of the references which they give to illustrate this is 2 Pet. 3:4, “While this use is rare, it is nevertheless fully significant of the genius of the tense. The idea of progress in a verb of being. This use is practically the present of duration applied to a verb of being.”

These scoffers maintain that there has been no supernatural intervention in times past because they assume that the only processes which have ever worked are those which now work. Such miracles are not being wrought now. Thus they were never wrought! There will be no supernatural manifestations in the future for the processes which now work will continue to work for all time to come. They thus extend their doctrine back to include creation itself and forward to include all future events. “Their doctrine of ‘creation,’ therefore, is one which dispenses with God’s interventions, and appeals to present day processes alone, as being perfectly sufficient of themselves to explain the origin and development of everything in nature. In other words, their doctrine is identical with the doctrine of evolutionists.” “See, too how these people are represented as making their statements with the greatest assurance – They do not say that all things continue as ‘they are held to have continued from the beginning of creation, but that they continue ‘as from’ (“they were” in the KJV is a translational addition—Aidoo) that beginning. They admit of no doubt upon the matter. Although they extend Uniformity back to the very beginning of creation, and thus they flatly contradict Genesis, they speak as though they were quoting ‘clear and demonstrative knowledge.’ Thus an illegitimate extension of Uniformity is given out, by these men, as the purest science.” It reaches back through the time of Christ and even embraces creation itself, and thus denies all the supernatural manifestations of the Bible. And, of course, if there was nothing supernatural about Christ’s first coming, He was not what He claimed to be and thus He will not be coming again. (Bales, ibid, pp. 102-104).

That this interpretation of 2 Peter 3 is absolutely correct, we admit of no doubt because first, Christ did not give His promise to come again from creation but whiles He was in the flesh. Yet, notice how these mockers include creation in their scoffing statement (2 Pet. 3:4). Second, the Greek houto diameno, which is translated “continue” in 2 Peter 3:4 according to Strong’s Greek refers to what precedes or what follows (houto) and also to that which stays constant (diameno). Thus, the scoffers are pictured as saying that all observable things are the same as since the advent of time or creation and all things will stay constant as they currently are even into the future. And third, Peter at the time of writing noted that the mockery was yet future; “…there shall come in the last days scoffers…” Dr. Bales further noted;

It is well to call to the reader’s attention the fact that the King James translation, which clearly states this doctrine of continuity, was made in 1611, long before James Hutton, Lyell, and others popularized the doctrine of continuity. “Although no hint of the modern dogma of continuity had then appeared; our translators – with nothing but the inspired Text to guide them – produced the perfect anticipation of modernist unbelief, actually employing the very word ‘continue,’ which so peculiarly characterizes it today.” (ibid, p. 105).

This ought to build our faith in the Bible and confirm in our minds that uniformitarianism as held by Darwinists is a vain philosophy masquerading as science. It is a theory, which is fallacious because of its “extrapolated generality.” Like its counterpart, Darwinian evolution, it begins with and assumes something it cannot prove without a shadow of doubt. Yet it speaks with certainty as if it can. If this is not so, then the evolutionist, as we have already noted, has to deal with the problem that uniformitarianism poses to his dogma. It is interesting that evolutionists give themselves all this leeway and yet are unwilling to grant Bible believers the same amount of freedom.

For us as God’s children however, the most important issue in dealing with Bible minimalists of all stripes ought to be whether or not the Bible is inspired. I maintain that this is the most important issue as far as Christian evidences is concerned and not trying to prove the historicity of the Bible. Seeking extra-biblical historical evidence means that we have to go back in time many thousands of years. And what if we do not find or there does not exist at present historical evidence for a certain Biblical account? Does that mean the Biblical record is false? I believe you can see that such an exercise is only doomed to failure. Extra-biblical historical evidence, though not a bad thing, should not be the focus of God’s children. Elders and preachers need to take note of this and teach verbal, plenary inspiration to the members among whom they serve.

The most common objection to this position is that the skeptic would tend towards belief in God the more if we use extra-biblical historical evidence. To this I say if he is not convinced by the Bible’s claim of inspiration, what makes you think he would be impressed with extra-biblical historical evidence? Besides, are there not external evidences for the inspiration of the Bible? If we can prove that the Bible is inspired, we need not fear any of its critics. If the Bible is inspired (it is—take its prediction of uniformitarianism as a case in point), then its message is true, its history is accurate, the miracles we read on its pages really happened and the God Who is revealed on its pages exists. Let us not be moved by the “…oppositions of science (knowledge—ASV 1901) falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20) but be assured that the Bible is indeed what it claims to be—the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

Works Cited

1. The Roots of Unbelief by Dr. James D. Bales.

2. “The Current Digression” being The First Annual Shenandoah Lectures, 1987 edited by Jerry Moffitt.

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