History can be a confusing thing. Hey, now is sometimes confusing enough! But both can sometimes be more understandable if we remember the Coke bottle principles. It's really quite simple.
If you put a standard Coke bottle on a table, there are three positions you can give it:
These principles are widely used in mechanics and statistical thermodynamics, but they can also help us to understand history, economics, social situations, etc.
Most of our experiences in life are more or less with metastable situations. We flow relatively smoothly from situation to situation, without major disturbances. In fact, the regular rhythms of our lives can give us a false sense of security and unchangeableness. This allows us some sense of control and understanding of our futures. It may give us a false confidence in our understanding of the past.
This is because change is not always small and incremental. Cataclysmic events occur: the fall of the Iron Curtain was such an event that has and is contributing to a new world order. The change did not involve a "rolling of the Coke bottle" but rather involved a more fundmental change. The bottle was toppled. The evolution of the internet is another such change.
On a personal level, something like a divorce, death of a person close to you, or other personal trauma can change the rules forever. Such things have been well studied by psychologists and sociologists, and standard stress scales have been developed to measure the potential impact of a wide variety of events.
Cataclysmic, catastophic events usually result in a change of the rules. This means that using the rules from one side of the event to understand the other side is a gross, sometimes tragic error. An investor who behaves in the exact ways that were appropriate 20 years ago may enjoy significantly less success today, if the rules have changed. Of course this caveat (if) is always applicable, and a big IF is always appropriate. Only a fool ignores the possibility that the rules may have changed.
We will now consider the potential impact of cataclysmic, catastrophic events on your world view, because how you view the past may be affecting how you look at the future. Specifically, we want to apply Coke bottle principles to evolution as the explanation of origins paradigm.
It is important to recognize that until a couple of hundred years ago, most people had cataclysmic views of history. There was no necessity to explain even quite implausible events: they just happened. But with the growth of science, this was no longer acceptable. Predictablity and repeatability are the hallmarks of science. Rules rule! To bring order to chaos, scientists adopted a world view wherein catastrophes did not occur. Everything that existed had an orderly, low impact, transition from something in the past. The world was metastable! The Coke bottle might roll around freely on the table, but it must never fall off. Nor could large changes like from standing on its bottom to balancing on its top occur, because this would require other than metastatic changes.
This new scientific paradigm was tremendously successful in the laboratory in explaining all manner of phenomena subject to control and scrutinization. These successes emboldened scientists who were concerned with historical matters to posit a "uniformitarian" theory. This is nothing more than formalizing the Coke bottle metatstatic principle. A simple example of the application of this principle would be the observation that a 20 foot tall cave formation is growing at 1/100 inch in height per year. At this rate it would take 100 years to grow an inch; 1,200 years to grow a foot; and 24,000 years to grow the 20 feet. But this presupposes that "all things continue as from the beginning." That is, that the cave was in a metastable condition for the entire 24,000 years.
For at least 100 years, the uniformitarian principle protected evolutionary scientists from needed critical scrutiny within their own community. Catastrophism was dismissed as a throwback to religious Neanderthals. And under these circumstances, evolution as the theory of origins became deeply ingrained as the dominant scientific paradigm.
However, in the past 50 years, uniformitarianism has become thoroughly discredited. Catastrophism has been so well accepted in the scientific community, that no credible scientist doubts the well established principle that catastrophes have repeatedly shaped our history. But the uniformitarian paradigm is so deeply ingrained, not by rule now, but by habit of thought, that evolutionary scientists are unreliable and unscientific when they speculate about origins. This does not discredit the entire geologic column, but does point up the need for a massive scientific reevaluation of the past, and specifically our ideas about how this or that originated. (And notice that nothing in this questions the validity of the best of evolutionary theory; and its application under metastable conditions.)
As evidence of the continuing baleful effect of the evolutionary paradigm I cite Greg Easterbrook's A Moment on Earth. In his chapter on "The Green Fortress," Easterbrook documents continuing substantial, natural catastrophic events on a worldwide basis. Evolutionary theory and our own anthropocentric myopia blind us to the reality around us. When the Pentagon declassified data showing a probable 80 Hiroshima size events per year, "many astonomers were stunned by the satellite data." (Page 29.) If we are stunned by what is demonstrably happening this year, how reliable are our speculations over thousands, yea millions, of years?
This brings us to some original scientific research that provides strong evidence of a worldwide catastrophe only a few thousand years ago. If the implications of this data prove out, it means that there is a strong probability that the scientific rules about time may have been significantly different a few thousand years ago.
Although carbon-14 data continues to be useful and valuable for many
archeological specimens, since 1965 there has been no systematic collection
of all of this data, worldwide, into an accessible collection. However,
all of the data from 1950 to 1965 was catalogued in a comprehensive index
(no longer being published). The chart below shows the number of
archeological samples submitted for radiocarbon analysis in every laboratory
in the world, for the years cited. Specimens were collected from
every continent, except Antartica, and thus are representative of world
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that this curve breaks at about 50 centuries. A break is a discontinuity and the rules on one side of the break are mathematically different than the rules on the other side. A change in the rules logically has a cause, and since we are dealing with worldwide data, the cause must be worldwide. And it is probable that the cause was catastrophic in nature. (For serious ancient historians, there is a noticeable systematic perturbation in the data from about 3600 to 4000 years ago. A perturbation logically represents a temporary disturbance that doesn't change the rules. This could be something like spinning the bottle temporarily, in our Coke bottle analogy.)
For our purposes here it is sufficent to point out that when the rules change, the rules change. This data documented that the rules changed about 5000 years ago. But what was the nature of that change? All kinds of prejudicial answers might be given, but we'll restrain our speculative tendencies at this time. And simply point out that "evolutionists" typically posit no changes in their rules over very long periods of time. This view is radically at odds with a growing body of facts. It is a legitimate question to ask: when will the evolutionist's paradigm begin to catch up with today's science?
the Christian searcher