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The rise of science produced a major change in attitude.In the pre-scientific world view the issue of the age of the Earth was a theological question.

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.

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 selections and comments here are not a complete exposition of the works of the authors mentioned; rather they were chosen to illustrate and exemplify changing perspectives over time.

In Europe the issue of the age of the Earth was not a serious one prior to the rise of science; the history of the Earth was assumed to be accounted for in Genesis.It was not ruled out, per se, but it was not necessary. In the new science, however, rational explanation was desirable. In 1640 Ussher produced his famous calculation that the Earth was created in 4004 BC.In 1637 Descartes produced a cosmogony that was highly influential for more than a century. It was not in their estimates of the age of the Earth - Descartes retained the biblical date.Notable observations included: ran from about 1780-1850.By the end of the 18'th century it was clear that the Earth had a long and varied history. The major debate was between the catastrophists, e.g., Cuvier, who held that the history of Earth was dominated by major catastrophic revolutions and the uniformitarians, e.g.Descartes, however, attempted to discern a physical history of the Earth.

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