The rise of neo-catastrophism and the case for a possibility

Dr. Horst Friedrich

In the post-"Enlightenment" and post-French-Revolution era Catastrophism had become the undoubted paradigm and "leitmotiv" of geology, which was still upheld in the second half of the 19th century by great geologists like d'Orbigny and Prestwich. Only after 1830 Catastrophism was slowly replaced by Lyell's "Doctrine of Uniformity" which, however, today has to be classed, from the viewpoint of the "science of science", as a highly suspect thesis, more ideology than science. For this reason we are observing a slow return to Catastrophism ("Neo-Catastrophism") by some prominent members of our geological Establishment. Quite evidently the answer to the problem, if mankind's past has been non-cataclysmic or riddled with violent upheavals of nature on a regional or even global scale, is of the greatest consequences for considerations pro or con Diffusionism. Part of this problem is the question if we have to reckon with pre-cataclysmic advanced civilizations on our planet, which may have later been annihilated by great upheavals of nature. This is e.g. postulated by the great non-mainstream Establishment geologist Prof. A. Tollmann of Vienna, Austria.

It is shown that from epistemological considerations we have indeed to regard the existence of "antediluvian" advanced and possibly worldwide active civilizations a realistic possibility. The inferences of such a scenario for the Isolationism-Diffusionism controversy would tend to regard Isolationism as a highly unrealistic world view.