3 laws of relative dating
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.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.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.In short, Genesis was an allegory and not literal 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.
There was no single estimate of the Earth's age in the mid 1800's and no good way to arrive at one.The story of this great change in the conception of the history of Earth is not a simple one.The chronicle of this great change can be broken into five periods; ran from AD 1600-1700.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.