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 The Four Uniformities 

As Stephen J. Gould pointed out some years ago, uniformity has four distinct meanings that are often conflated

Uniformity of Law: This is a basic assumption we make - that natural laws do not change over time. The state of the universe may change, but the laws governing how it works do not.

Uniformity of Process: This is the common meaning of uniformity to geologists - we can understand the relics of past events by realising that they are the result of processes we can observe today. "The present is the key to the past."

Uniformity of Rate: This is the false assumption that the rates of processes we observe to day are the only rates that they occured in in the past.

Uniformity of State: This is the false assumption that the universe has always been in the state that we see it today.

Floods: annual, ten year, hundred year, thousand year...

Sources: Gould, 1965; Gould 1988
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Written by Paul J. Morris
Maintained by Athro Limited Date Created: 1999 Dec 5
Last Updated: 1999 Dec 5