Time Spent With the Harvard Classics: Uniformity Of Change – Charles Lyell

Sir Charles Lyell was born November 14, 1797.  

We have previously discussed Charles Lyell and some of his scientific theories in prior posts.  Please review these for a deeper understanding.

The subject we will discuss here is uniformitarianism.  This is also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity.  It is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the past and apply everywhere in the universe.   Causality or causation are seen as invariable.  Though this postulate is impossible to verify using scientific method, it is a key first principle behind nearly all fields of science.

In geology, uniformitarianism includes the gradualistic concept that the present holds the past and that events occur at the same rate as they always have.  Many geologists have abandoned this a strict theory.  This concept was popularized by Charles Lyell’s 1830 work Principles of Geology.   

Lyell’s uniformitarianism contains four related propositions:

Uniformity of law – the laws of nature are constant across time and space;

Uniformity of methodology – the appropriate hypotheses that explain the geological past are the same that explain today;

Uniformity of kind – past and present causes are the of the same kind and have same energy and produce the same effects; and

Uniformity of Degree –  geological circumstances have remained constant over time.

Charles Lyell’s scientific paper on the Uniformity of Change may be read here:


A brief look at uniformitarianism is found here:



About alohapromisesforever

Writer, poet, musician, surfer, father of two princesses.
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