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The great debate was won by the uniformitarians, so much so that the degree of gradualism was overstated and the importance of catastrophes was unduly minimized.

The modern period has been marked by an enormous expansion of the detailed knowledge of the geological history of the Earth and the processes that have acted during that history.

The account in Genesis is replete with miracles that do not stand up under rational analysis.

This did not matter; the theological perspective did not require physical rationalization.

These cosmogonies were part of the new emphasis of science in seeking rational explanations of the features of the world. This period was marked by a great deal of field geology rather than grand cosmogonies.

I have chosen instead to provide a chronology of significant works and their authors with a view to providing a sense of how perspectives on Geology changed over time.

If, in the year AD 1600, you had asked an educated European how old the planet Earth was and to recount its history he would have said that it was about 6000 years old and that its ancient history was given by the biblical account in Genesis.

If you asked the same question of an educated European in AD 1900 you would have received a quite different answer.

The physical models were open to question and, in retrospect, were naive. It became quite clear that many areas of the Earth had alternated between being land and being covered by seas, that there had been extensive slow sedimentation, that the mountains had not been created in situ as is but rather had a long history of slow deformation, and that long periods of erosion had shaped the Earth everywhere.

By the early 1800's it was generally accepted that the Earth had a long history. The uniformatarians (Hutton 1788, Lyell 1830) pictured the Earth as being indefinitely old.

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