Who said, "The present is the key to the past"?


Scottish geologist James Hutton first expressed the idea that "the present is the key to the past" in 1785, thus beginning the geological theory of uniformitarianism. The concept was further expanded and popularized by geologist Sir Charles Lyell in 1830.

Uniformitarianism is the idea that the natural laws and processes currently at work in the universe have always operated in the same way. The concept "the present is key to the past" is a key tenet of uniformitarianism. Based on this concept, Hutton sought to prove that geological formations came about as a result of constantly repeating cycles of geological processes.

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