Friday, March 09, 2012

The tape

James Hutton's Theory of the Earth was a revolutionary book, establishing the ideas of uniformitarianism and deep geologic time. It was, however, written in impenetrable prose. Even readers who might have been receptive to his ideas were generally baffled.

Fortunately his younger friend John Playfair wrote up a more lucid account of Hutton's ideas and observations. And in 1830 Charles Lyell carried Hutton's ideas into the mainstream with the first volume of his masterwork, Principles of Geology: Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface by Causes Now in Operation. The next year young Charles Darwin received a copy of Lyell's Principles as he set out on his 3-year voyage aboard HMS Beagle, and the rest is history.

Observe the world before your eyes.

Discover how it works.

Run the tape backwards, even as far as the (apparent) singularity.

And see if one encounters any event that causes the tape to break.

So far, it doesn't.

There are no supernatural interventions.

Except those we invent or adopt to suit our a priori purposes.

Trust the tape.