Questions about radiometric dating
The second is that the rates of the physical processes in question are variable and knowledge of them was incomplete.In the late 1800's physicists, armed with a more advanced physics than that available to Descartes, made new estimates of the age of the Earth and the Sun.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 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.
If you asked the same question of an educated European in AD 1900 you would have received a quite different answer.In this period a number of comprehensive cosmogonies were proposed.These were long on armchair speculation and short on substantive supporting evidence.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.
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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.