The history of the crust of the earth was explained by Lyell as due to a process of slow development, in order to effect which he called in no cataclysmic agencies, no mysterious forces differing from those operating at the present day.
His reactionary and retarding ideas as a special creationist and his advocacy of the cataclysmic theory of change exerted a baneful influence until overthrown by the uniformitarianism of James Hutton (1726-1797) and Charles Lyell (1797-1875) and the evolutionism of Darwin.
In philosophy Agassiz was distinctly a disciple of Cuvier and supporter of the doctrine of special creation, and to a more limited extent of cataclysmic extinctions.
Lyell marshalled all the observations he could collect in support of this principle, teaching that the present is the key to the past, and arraying all obtainable evidence against the cataclysmic theories of Cuvier.
Together with these statements in our sources are still mingled fragments of the more ordinary cataclysmic, apocalyptic conceptions, which in spite of much ingenious exegesis, cannot be brought into harmony with Christ's predominant teaching, but remain as foreign elements in the words of the Master, possibly brought back through his disciples, or, more probably, used by Jesus uncritically - a part of the current religious imagery in which he shared.
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