But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.
..if you could forget mortality... You could really believe that time is circular, and not linear and progressive as our culture is bent on proving. Seen in geological perspective, we are fossils in the making, to be buried and eventually exposed again for the puzzlement of creatures of later eras.
The deciphering of ancient scripts changed forever the way Europeans were able to imagine the story of humanity, destroying centuries of received authority about the past with repercussions as important for our understanding of time and history as the geological studies of the same period.
The very foundation of our science is only an inference; far the whole of it rests an the unprovable assumption that, all through the inferred lapse of time which the inferred performance of inferred geological processes involves, they have been going on in a manner consistent with the laws of nature as we know them now.
William Morris Davis
Knowledge extends in promontories and bays; or to put it vertically rather than horizontally, the strata from remote to recent never lie so unbroken that we cannot find some line of unconformity where the imagination must make a leap. There are so many horizons, geological and human, where the evidence is missing or incomplete.
The main reason for insisting on the universal Flood as a fact of history and as the primary vehicle for geological interpretation is that God's Word plainly teaches it! No geologic difficulties, real or imagined, can be allowed to take precedence over the clear statements and necessary inferences of Scripture.
Henry M. Morris
I look at the natural geological record as a history of the world imperfectly kept and written in a changing dialect; of this history we possess the last volume alone, relating only to two or three countries. Of this volume, only here and there a short chapter has been preserved; and of each page, only here and there a few lines.
I have devoted my whole life to the study of Nature, and yet a single sentence may express all that I have done. I have shown that there is a correspondence between the succession of Fishes in geological times and the different stages of their growth in the egg,-this is all. It chanced to be a result that was found to apply to other groups and has led to other conclusions of a like nature.
Nature is not evil. The world occasionally shrugs its shoulders, and people get knocked off. The earth, for geological reasons that are well known, is a fairly risky place to live. To be evil, you have to have intent. Any remarkable natural happening in which no human will is employed cannot be regarded as evil.
So far from having a materialistic tendency, the supposed introduction into the earth at successive geological periods of life,-sensation,-instinct,-the intelligence of the higher mammalia bordering on reason,-and lastly the improvable reason of Man himself, presents us with a picture of the ever-increasing dominion of mind over matter.
What is happening now is of a geological and biological order of magnitude. We are upsetting the entire earth system that, over some billions of years and through an endless sequence of groping, of trials and errors, has produced such a magnificent array of living forms, forms capable of seasonal self-renewal over vast periods of time.
With respect to phenomena like mass extinction, somebody might say why worry about it because in a geological perspective mass extinctions aren't so bad, they wipe out some things and then 10 million years down the road we get new and interesting objects.But I tell you mass extinctions are really awful for folks caught in the midst of them.
In science, we take large numbers of disparate facts and reduce them to see patterns. We use the patterns to reduce the amount of information. It's the reason we name species and genera and families in biology. It's also the reason we have names for certain types of geological features and so on in other fields.
All of those broken bones in northern Japan, all of those broken lives and those broken homes prompt us to remember what in calmer times we are invariably minded to forget: the most stern and chilling of mantras, which holds, quite simply, that mankind inhabits this earth subject to geological consent - which can be withdrawn at any time.
They would grow up grappling with ways of living with what happened. They would try to tell themselves that in terms of geological time it was an insignificant event. Just a blink of the Earth Woman's eye. That Worse Things had happened. That Worse Things kept happening. But they would find no comfort in the thought.
Geology is rapidly taking its place as an introduction to the higher history of man. If the author has sought to exalt a favorite science, it has been with the desire that man-in whom geological history had its consummation, the prophecies of the successive ages their fulfilment-might better comprehend his own nobility and the true purpose of his existence.
James Dwight Dana
Geological facts being of an historical nature, all attempts to deduce a complete knowledge of them merely from their still, subsisting consequences, to the exclusion of unexceptionable testimony, must be deemed as absurd as that of deducing the history of ancient Rome solely from the medals or other monuments of antiquity it still exhibits, or the scattered ruins of its empire, to the exclusion of a Livy, a Sallust, or a Tacitus.
The formation in geological time of the human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field is as unlikely as the separation of the atmosphere into its components. The complexity of the living things has to be present within the material [from which they are derived] or in the laws [governing their formation].
The vigorous branching of life's tree, and not the accumulating valor of mythical marches to progress, lies behind the persistence and expansion of organic diversity in our tough and constantly stressful world. And if we do not grasp the fundamental nature of branching as the key to life's passage across the geological stage, we will never understand evolution aright.
Stephen Jay Gould
In the preface to his great History of Europe, H. A. L. Fisher wrote: "Men wiser than and more learned than I have discerned in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave ..." It seems to me that the same is true of the much older [geological stratigraphical] history of Europe.
D. V. Ager
How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will his products be, compared with those accumulated by nature during whole geological periods. Can we wonder, then, that nature's productions should be far 'truer' in character than man's productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher workmanship?
Man, especially in our time, has without hesitation devastated wooded plains and valleys, polluted waters, disfigured the earth's habitat, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydro-geological and atmospheric systems, turned luxuriant areas into deserts and undertaken forms of unrestrained industrialization, degrading that 'flower bed'-which is the earth, our dwelling place.
Pope John Paul II
Palaeontological research exhibits, beyond question, the phenomenon of provinces in time, as well as provinces in space. Moreover, all our knowledge of organic remains teaches us, that species have a definite existence, and a centralization in geological time as well as in geographical space, and that no species is repeated in time.
On the geological time scale, a human lifetime is reduced to a brevity that is too inhibiting to think about deep time. ... Geologists ... see the unbelievable swiftness with which one evolving species on the Earth has learned to reach into the dirt of some tropical island and fling 747s across the sky ... Seeing a race unaware of its own instantaneousness in time, they can reel off all the species that have come and gone, with emphasis on those that have specialized themselves to death.
Only a tiny fraction of corpses fossilize, and we are lucky to have as many intermediate fossils as we do. We could easily have had no fossils at all, and still the evidence for evolution from other sources, such as molecular genetics and geographical distribution, would be overwhelmingly strong. On the other hand, evolution makes the strong prediction that if a single fossil turned up in the wrong geological stratum, the theory would be blown out of the water.
The tendency to variation in living beings, which all admitted as a matter of fact; the selective influence of conditions, which no one could deny to be a matter of fact, when his attention was drawn to the evidence; and the occurrence of great geological changes which also was matter of fact; could be used as the only necessary postulates of a theory of the evolution of plants and animals which, even if not at once, competent to explain all the known facts of biological science, could not be shown to be inconsistent with any.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Paleontologists ever since Darwin have been searching (largely in vain) for the sequences of insensibly graded series of fossils that would stand as examples of the sort of wholesale transformation of species that Darwin envisioned as the natural product of the evolutionary process. Few saw any reason to demur - though it is a startling fact that ...most species remain recognizably themselves, virtually unchanged throughout their occurrence in geological sediments of various ages.
You want fantasy? Here's one... There's this species that lives on a planet a few miles above molten rock and a few miles below a vacuum that'd suck the air right out of them. They live in a brief geological period between ice ages, when giant asteroids have temporarily stopped smacking into the surface. As far as they can tell, there's nowhere else in the universe where they could stay alive for ten seconds. And what do they call their fragile little slice of space and time? They call it real life.
If there is anything in writing that comes easy for me it's making up metaphors. They just appear. I can't move two lines without all kinds of images. Then the problem is how to make the best of them. In its geological character, language is almost invariably metaphorical. That's how meanings tend to change. Words become metaphors for other things, then slowly disappear into the new image. I have a hunch, too, that the core of creativity is located in metaphor, in model making, really. A novel is a large metaphor for the world.
High quality water is more than the dream of the conservationists, more than a political slogan; high quality water, in the right quantity at the right place at the right time, is essential to health, recreation, and economic growth. Of all our planet's activities - geological movements, the reproduction and decay of biota, and even the disruptive propensities of certain species (elephants and humans come to mind) - no force is greater than the hydrologic cycle.
Historical chronology, human or geological, depends... upon comparable impersonal principles. If one scribes with a stylus on a plate of wet clay two marks, the second crossing the first, another person on examining these marks can tell unambiguously which was made first and which second, because the latter event irreversibly disturbs its predecessor. In virtue of the fact that most of the rocks of the earth contain imprints of a succession of such irreversible events, an unambiguous working out of the chronological sequence of these events becomes possible.
M. King Hubbert
The theory of punctuated equilibrium, proposed by Niles Eldredge and myself, is not, as so often misunderstood, a radical claim for truly sudden change, but a recognition that ordinary processes of speciation, properly conceived as glacially slow by the standard of our own life-span, do not resolve into geological time as long sequences of insensibly graded intermediates (the traditional, or gradualistic, view), but as geologically "sudden" origins at single bedding planes.
Stephen Jay Gould
The ordinary naturalist is not sufficiently aware that when dogmatizing on what species are, he is grappling with the whole question of the organic world & its connection with the time past & with Man; that it involves the question of Man & his relation to the brutes, of instinct, intelligence & reason, of Creation, transmutation & progressive improvement or development. Each set of geological questions & of ethnological & zool. & botan. are parts of the great problem which is always assuming a new aspect.
Is the sunrise of Mount Fuji more beautiful from the one you see in the countryside a bit closer to home? Are the beaches of Indonesia really that much more serene than those we have in our own countries? The point I make is not to downplay the marvels of the world, but to highlight the notion of the human tendency in our failure to see the beauty in our daily lives when we take off the travel goggles when we are home. It is the preconceived notion of a place that creates the difference in perception of environments rather than the actual geological location.
Compared to forest or aquatic ecosystems, grassland is unstable. It requires rather precise geological and climatic conditions, and if these conditions are not maintained-if too much rain falls, or too little-it quickly turns into forest or desert, both of which are dominated by woody plants. This instability is reflected in the spectacular but brief careers of various grassland faunas. Humanity, with its dazzling symbioses, preadaptations, and neoteny, is the most spectacular of these-and may well be the briefest.
David Rains Wallace
Individuals are not stable things, they are fleeting. Chromosomes too are shuffled into oblivion, like hands of cards soon after they are dealt. But the cards themselves survive the shuffling. The cards are the genes. The genes are not destroyed by crossing-over, they merely change partners and march on. Of course they march on. That is their business. They are the replicators and we are their survival machines. When we have served our purpose we are cast aside. But genes are denizens of geological time: genes are forever.
All cities are geological; you cannot take three steps without encountering ghosts bearing all the prestige of their legends. We move within a closed landscape whose landmarks constantly draw us toward the past. Certain shifting angles, certain receding perspectives, allow us to glimpse original conceptions of space, but this vision remains fragmentary. It must be sought in the magical locales of fairy tales and surrealist writings: castles, endless walls, little forgotten bars, mammoth caverns, casino mirrors.
Lately we have been getting facts pointing to the "oceanic" nature of the floor of so-called inland seas. Through geological investigations it has been definitely established that in its deepest places, for instance, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, the Earth's crust is devoid of granite stratum. The same may be said quite confidently about the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Could the interpretation of these data be that inland seas were the primary stage of the formation of oceanic basins?
/... /he was asked to march to the front hall and retrieve his backpack. He did so with the energy of a convicted killer on his way to the execution chamber. Harold's backpack was an encyclopedia of boyhood interests and suggested that Harold was well on his way to a promising career as a homeless person. Inside, if one dug down through various geological layers, one could find old pretzels, juice boxes, toy cars, Pokemon cards, PSP games/... /The backpack weighed slightly less than a Volkswagen.
No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make safe and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself, a transgression infinitely more serious than any crime perpetrated by man. The idea that a civilization could sustain itself on such a transgression is an ethical, spiritual, and metaphysical monstrosity. It means conducting the economical affairs of man as if people did not matter at all.
E. F. Schumacher
Additional federal studies are under way to see if any contamination reaches taps or ground water used for drinking, but the program under which they are conducted, the toxic substances hydrology program of the geological survey, is slated to be eliminated under budget cuts proposed by the Bush administration, government officials said... estrogens and similar compounds are increasingly the focus of research by the Environmental Protection Agency and many scientists because of hints that they alter sexual characteristics in fish and other aquatic species.
The survey of more than 100 waterways downstream from treatment plants and animal feedlots in 30 states found minute amounts of dozens of antibiotics, hormones, pain relievers, cough suppressants, disinfectants and other products. It is not known whether they are harmful to plants, animals or people. The findings were released yesterday on the Web site of the United States Geological Survey, which conducted the research, and in an online journal, Environmental Science and Technology.
Grant knew that people could not imagine geological time. Human life was lived on another scale of time entirely. An apple turned brown in a few minutes. Silverware turned black in a few days. A compost heap decayed in a season. A child grew up in a decade. None of these everyday human experiences prepared people to be able to imagine the meaning of eighty million years - the length of time that had passed since this little animal had died.
It is slow, gradual pressure that is the formula for both genius and earthquakes. Life tells us our secrets in these cracks, the way events conspire with each other in hidden grottos. This movement is at times very subtle, over a long time, like plate tectonics. If you don't have the right eyes, you might miss these patterns altogether. Although our lives do not occur in geological scales of time, it is still the gradual pressure and our minute reactions, our habits, that actually speak of our true natures. Our true will and intent is contained in potential within each of us, though in many it is buried very, very deep.
Speciation does not necessarily promote evolutionary change; rather, speciation 'gathers in' and guards evolutionary change by locking and stabilization for sufficient geological time within a Darwinian individual of the appropriate scale. If a change in a local population does not gain such protection, it becomes-to borrow Dawkins's metaphor at a macroevolutionary scale-a transient duststorm in the desert of time, a passing cloud without borders, integrity, or even the capacity to act as a unit of selection, in the panorama of life's phylogeny.
Stephen Jay Gould
I left Caen, where I was living, to go on a geological excursion under the auspices of the School of Mines. The incidents of the travel made me forget my mathematical work. Having reached Coutances, we entered an omnibus to go to some place or other. At the moment when I put my foot on the step, the idea came to me, without anything in my former thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it, that the transformations I had used to define the Fuchsian functions were identical with those of non-Euclidean geometry. I did not verify the idea; I should not have had time, as upon taking my seat in the omnibus, I went on with a conversation already commenced, but I felt a perfect certainty. On my return to Caen, for convenience sake, I verified the result at my leisure.
The messages that DNA molecules contain are all but eternal when seen against the time scale of individual lifetimes. The lifetimes of DNA messages give or take a few mutations are measured in units ranging from millions of years to hundreds of millions of years; or, in other words, ranging from 10,000 individual lifetimes to a trillion individual lifetimes. Each individual organism should be seen as a temporary vehicle, in which DNA messages spend a tiny fraction of their geological lifetimes.
I learned to find equal meaning in the repeated rituals of domestic life. Setting the table. Lighting the candles. Building the fire. Cooking. All those souffles, all that cre¨me caramel, all those daubes and albondigas and gumbos. Clean sheets, stacks of clean towels, hurricane lamps for storms, enough water and food to see us through whatever geological event came our way. These fragments I have shored against my ruins, were the words that came to mind then. These fragments mattered to me. I believed in them. That I could find meaning in the intensely personal nature of life as a wife and mother did not seem inconsistent with finding meaning in the vast indifference of geology and the test shots.
Lyell and Poulett Scrope, in this country, resumed the work of the Italians and of Hutton; and the former, aided by a marvellous power of clear exposition, placed upon an irrefragable basis the truth that natural causes are competent to account for all events, which can be proved to have occurred, in the course of the secular changes which have taken place during the deposition of the stratified rocks. The publication of 'The Principles of Geology, ' in 1830, constituted an epoch in geological science. But it also constituted an epoch in the modern history of the doctrines of evolution, by raising in the mind of every intelligent reader this question: If natural causation is competent to account for the not-living part of our globe, why should it not account for the living part?
Thomas Henry Huxley
An interesting contrast between the geology of the present day and that of half a century ago, is presented by the complete emancipation of the modern geologist from the controlling and perverting influence of theology, all-powerful at the earlier date. As the geologist of my young days wrote, he had one eye upon fact, and the other on Genesis; at present, he wisely keeps both eyes on fact, and ignores the pentateuchal mythology altogether. The publication of the 'Principles of Geology' brought upon its illustrious author a period of social ostracism; the instruction given to our children is based upon those principles. Whewell had the courage to attack Lyell's fundamental assumption (which surely is a dictate of common sense) that we ought to exhaust known causes before seeking for the explanation of geological phenomena in causes of which we have no experience.
Thomas Henry Huxley