Radiometric dating rock layers
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.
Descartes, however, attempted to discern a physical history of the Earth.
His account was plausible by the immature standards of the Science of his times; however it quite definitely did not match the Biblical account of a completed creation in six days.
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.
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).
In short, Genesis was an allegory and not literal history.In this period a number of comprehensive cosmogonies were proposed.These were long on armchair speculation and short on substantive supporting evidence.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.
The account in Genesis is replete with miracles that do not stand up under rational analysis.