Uniformitarianism has had two separate meanings, both more prevalent in 19th-century discourse:
religious philosophy, Uniformitarianism ("with a capital U") is the belief that the Universehas existed as it is now for an infinite time and will continue to exist for ever. This view is opposed to traditional theological views and modern science.
scientific philosophy, uniformitarianism ("with a small u") refers to the principle that the same processes that shape the universe occurred in the past as they do now, and that the same laws of physics apply in all parts of the knowable universe. This axiomatic principle, not often referred to as an "-ism" in modern discussions, is particularly relevant to geologyand other sciences that operate on a long timescale such as astronomyand paleontology. The leading geologist of Charles Darwin’s era, a Scot named Charles Lyell(1797 – 1875), incorporated James Hutton’s gradualism into a theory known as uniformitarianism. The term refers to Lyell’s idea that geological processes have not changed throughout Earth’s history. Thus, for example, the forces that build mountains and erode mountains and the rates at which these forces operate are the same today as in the past.
*Campbell, Reece; Biology Sixth Edition; Benjamin Cummings, 2002
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uniformitarianism — [yo͞on΄ə fôrm΄ə ter′ē əniz΄əm] n. the doctrine that all geologic changes may be explained by existing physical and chemical processes, as erosion, deposition, volcanic action, etc., that have operated in essentially the same way throughout… … Universalium
Uniformitarianism — U ni*form i*ta ri*an*ism, n. (Geol.) The uniformitarian doctrine. [1913 Webster] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
uniformitarianism — [yo͞on΄ə fôrm΄ə ter′ē əniz΄əm] n. the doctrine that all geologic changes may be explained by existing physical and chemical processes, as erosion, deposition, volcanic action, etc., that have operated in essentially the same way throughout… … English World dictionary
uniformitarianism — noun Date: 1865 a geological doctrine that processes acting in the same manner as at present and over long spans of time are sufficient to account for all current geological features and all past geological changes compare catastrophism … New Collegiate Dictionary
uniformitarianism — the present is the key to the past. The physical and biological factors which link today s variations must have been in operation in the past. Also called Principle of Continuity … Dictionary of ichthyology
uniformitarianism — noun The scientific principle that natural processes operated in the past in the same way that they operate today; used especially in physics, chemistry, biology and geology … Wiktionary
uniformitarianism — noun Geology the theory that changes in the earth s crust during geological history have resulted from the action of continuous and uniform processes. Often contrasted with catastrophism. Derivatives uniformitarian adjective &noun … English new terms dictionary
uniformitarianism — uni·form·i·tar·i·an·ism … English syllables
uniformitarianism — əˌnizəm noun ( s) 1. : a geological doctrine that existing processes acting in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity as at present are sufficient to account for all geological changes compare catastrophism 2. : a philosophical… … Useful english dictionary
Uniformitarianism (science) — Uniformitarianism, in the philosophy of science, is the assumption that the natural processes operating in the past are the same as those that can be observed operating in the present. Its methodological significance is frequently summarized in… … Wikipedia