Catastrophism, however, was more easily correlated with religious doctrines (e.g., the Mosaic account of the Flood) and remained for some time the interpretation of the earth's history accepted by the great majority of geologists. It was systematized and defended by the Frenchman Georges Cuvier , whose position as the greatest geologist of his day easily overbore all opposition. In the 19th cent., it was attacked by George Poulett Scrope and especially by Sir Charles Lyell , under whose influence the contrary doctrine gradually became more popular. Recent theories of meteorite, asteroid, or comet impacts triggering mass extinctions can be interpreted as a revival of catastrophism.
See R. Huggett, Catastrophism: Asteroids, Comets, and Other Dynamic Events in Earth History (1998) T. Palmer, Controversy: Catastrophism and Evolution: The Ongoing Debate (1999).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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