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Catastrophism a theory that was presented by Lyell and later expanded upon by Cuvier. It is one of the most important theories that help the creationist one's worldview. Catastrophism, the theory that suggests that major landforms of today were formed by major catastrophes formed in the past. Even though there have been many theories that suggest other cases or mass extinction such as the asteroid putting all dinosaurs into extinction. All these theories have a problem due to the gap in the fossils record and the limiting dinosaurs fossils that have been found. Due to these problems, most of all this issue leads to the fact that there must have been some major catastrophe. This major catastrophe also indicates the fossils of dinosaurs that have been scattered all around the world. Even this theory is not accepted by the entire scientific community it is the only logical theory that gives a good example of the fossil record.

History of Catastrophism

Georges Cuvier

Catastrophism a doctrine that the Earth's history has been dominated by major catastrophes. Rather than everything being formed over millions of years old. This theory was formed in the 17th and 18th centuries. A British theologian Bishop James Usher used the ages of the people of the Bible to calculate the age of the earth. His calculation implied that the earth went through major catastrophes. [1] It also explains the the differences in the fossil forms encountered in successive strategic levels for repeated catastrophic events to occur. This doctrine is also most notably associated with Georges Cuvier. There was also one 20th century expansion of Cuvier’s view that put in effect the which began the neo catastrophic school which started to explain that everything happens through evolution. [2]

Cuvier Evidence of Extinction


Cuvier was an anatomist that would challenge the social norm of extinction. He was not the first person to speculate this, but he was the first person to provide evidence. This evidence was necessary for establishing extinction through a natural process. Cuvier's evidence was studying elephants. What he discovered was the fossils of the elephants differed from the bones of living elephants. The more he researched the more differences that were discovered. The differences they were discovered was the Asian elephants and Indonesian elephants and other elephants differed from cuvier's fossil elephants. Based on all the fossil evidence that Cuvier found is ultimately suspected that there were periodic episodes of mass extinctions that did occur. [3]

Evidence of Catastrophism

There was a report in 2002 that an overflow of water formed a gorge within three days. This is proof that there must have been a major flood that formed the grand canyon. If a gorge can be created in three days through rapid flow of water then the Grand Canyon must have been formed through a major flood to be formed.[4]

Another major evidence for Catastrophism was the mass extinction in the fossil record. For more than three decades it has been debated by evolutionist for the asteroid of dinosaur extinction. Even though this theory has become a lot more popular scientists have had a hard time to explain the lack of dinosaur fossils. Evolutionists are now not sure what to believe because of the extensive gap in the fossil record which is clearly indicating that there had to have been a mass extinction.

How Creationists would explain the disappearance of dinosaurs in the fossil record above the Cretaceous layer is by explaining the Global Flood. The Global flood is the main go to the point because it explains the fossil layers in the geological column. There have been many dinosaur footprints and body fossils that have been round in and below the Cretaceous layer. This basically indicates that when the flood waters rose the animals would have sought higher ground. Also, the footprints that have been seen today indicate that it was typical uphill climbing. Due to the water rising at such a high rate and also the indication of uphill climbing this must have been a big factor of why the bigger dinosaurs went extinct. Also, the rock later about the Cretaceous layer are consistent finding expected in the waning half of the flood year and the post-flood time. The fossils that were including there were mammals and birds as well as reptiles and amphibians.[5]

Catastrophism vs Uniformitarianism

Catastrophism is a theory that the earth's features are mostly accounted by violent catastrophic events. This means that species that went extinct were killed off by a large natural disaster. Culver and other scientists believed that most major features on land were formed by major catastrophes.

Uniformitarianism is an idea that was started by James Hutton. This was a theory that states that most features of the earth's surface were formed by slow ongoing geological processes.

The main difference between this two ideas is that one states that major features that we see today were formed by major catastrophic events such as the flood. Also, catastrophism has more proof then uniformitarianism does. On the other hand, Uniformitarianism says that everything was formed through slow gradual processes. Which doesn’t add up because these are just guesses, not facts?



Catastrophism was the most accepted in the 18th Century. It also taught that the geological strata was the primary result of catastrophes such as the flood. But during the last 50 years an enormous amount of information has been discovered to prove Noah's Flood and biblical views. [7]


Catastrophism OR Uniformitarianism


  1. Author Unknown “Catastrophism” Web. Published Unknown.
  2. Author Unknown "catastrophism-geology" Web. Published Unknown.
  3. Dominic Corsini "catastrophism-definition-theory-cuvier" Web. Published Unknown.
  4. Author Unknown"scientists-coming-to-grips-with-catastrophic-geology" Web. scientists-coming-to-grips-with-catastrophic-geology, Published June 26,2010.
  5. Author Unknown"closing-in-on-k-t-boundary-dinosaur-extinction" Web. closing-in-on-k-t-boundary-dinosaur-extinction, Published June 16,2011.
  6. April Koch "theories-of-geological-evolution-catastrophism-vs-uniformitarianism" Web. Published Unknown.
  7. Author Unknown"catastrophism-versus-uniformitarianism” Web. catastrophism-versus-uniformitarianism, Published, Unknown.