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An Analysis of the Scientists Associated with the Debate over the Interpretation of the Geological Record: James Hutton, John Playfair, Abraham Gottlob Werner, G. L. Cuvier, and Sir Charles Lyell Humboldt
Word Count: 712
Word Count: 712
The scientists associated with the debate over the interpretation of the geological record were Scottish geologist James Hutton Another Scotsman John Playfair Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory 1802 Abraham Gottlob Werner a German geologist French naturalist G L Cuvier English geologist Sir Charles Lyell Humboldt Uniformitarianism in geology was first advanced by Scottish geologist James Hutton who may be regarded as the originator of the doctrine of Uniformitarianism In his Theory of the Earth Hutton states that changes in the earths surface that occurred in a past geologic time could be referenced with the same causes as changes that are now being produced on the earths surface Huttons theory was further expanded by another Scotsman John Playfair in his Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory Playfair presented Huttons theories in an intelligent and credible way Playfairs simple and eloquent style consisted of a series of chapters clearly stating the Huttonian theory and then stating the facts to support it and the arguments given against it It made little progress however against the teachings of the school of Abraham Gottlob Werner a German geologist and his theory of dynamic geology According to his theory of neptunism the earth was originally an ocean of water from which rocks were borne forming most of the dry land Now Uniformitarianism was overshadowed by the doctrine of Catastrophism the doctrine stated that at certain intervals in the earths history all living things have been destroyed by catastrophes floods or earthquakes and replaced by an entirely different population During these catastrophes the features of the earths surface such as mountains and valleys were formed This interpretation of the earths history was accepted by a great majority of geologists It was systematized and defended by the Frenchman Georges Cuvier He rejected the theory of evolution in favor of Catastrophism whose position as the greatest geologist of his day easily squashed all opposition During the 19th century Catastrophism was attacked by Sir
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