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He would have answered that the Earth was ancient, that there had not been a Noachian flood, and that the species of life had not been fixed over the history of Earth.

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.

Many authors choose to present the history of a complex subject by breaking it up into major threads and following the history of each thread separately.

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.

The second is that the rates of the physical processes in question are variable and knowledge of them was incomplete.

In the late 1800's physicists, armed with a more advanced physics than that available to Descartes, made new estimates of the age of the Earth and the Sun.

The catastrophists (Cuvier 1812, de Beaumont 1852, Buckland 1836) accepted that the Earth was old; they disagreed with the kind of change and the rate of change that had occurred over that long history.

There was no single estimate of the Earth's age in the mid 1800's and no good way to arrive at one.

Descartes, however, attempted to discern a physical history of the Earth.

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