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The first argument was completely undermined after taking into account the amount of heat generated by radioactive decay.The second depended on highly dubious theories of formation of the earth and moon and plays relatively little role in this compilation. Roman poet Lucretius, intellectual heir to the Greek atomists, believed its formation must have been relatively recent, given that there were no records going back beyond the Trojan War.The Talmudic rabbis, Martin Luther and others used the biblical account to extrapolate back from known history and came up with rather similar estimates for when the earth came into being.

That is the background to the intellectual drama being played out in this series of papers.

He inferred that where the layers are not horizontal, they must have been tilted since their deposition and noted that different strata contain different kinds of fossil.

Robert Hooke, not long after, suggested that the fossil record would form the basis for a chronology that would “far antedate ...

Lord Kelvin and his allies used three kinds of argument.

The first of these referred to the rate of heat loss from the earth and the length of time it would have taken to form its solid crust.

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