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The second is that the rates of the physical processes in question are variable and knowledge of them was incomplete.
The chronicle of this great change can be broken into five periods; ran from AD 1600-1700.
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.
There were various attempts to estimate the Earth's age, working back from sedimentation rates and other geophysical phenomena.
The attempts produced estimates from about 100 million years up to several billion years. The first is that the geological history was still being reconstructed.
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.In the 1700's belief in a 6000 year old Earth crumbled.Attempts to calculate the age of the Earth from physical considerations yielded estimates that ranged from 75,000 years (Buffon, 1774) to several billion years (de Maillet, Buffon).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.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.