catastrophism

[kuh-tas-truh-fiz-uhm]
noun Geology.
the doctrine that certain vast geological changes in the earth's history were caused by catastrophes rather than gradual evolutionary processes.

Origin:
1865–70; catastrophe + -ism

catastrophist, noun
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World English Dictionary
catastrophism (kəˈtæstrəˌfɪzəm)
 
n
1.  an old doctrine, now discarded, that the earth was created and has subsequently been shaped by sudden divine acts which have no logical connection with each other rather than by gradual evolutionary processes
2.  uniformitarianism Compare gradualism Also called: neo-catastrophism a modern doctrine that the gradual evolutionary processes shaping the earth have been supplemented in the past by the effects of huge natural catastrophes
 
ca'tastrophist
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

catastrophism
as a geological or biological theory, 1869, coined by Huxley from catastrophe + -ism.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
catastrophism [(kuh-tas-truh-fiz-uhm)]

A theory holding that changes in the Earth take place swiftly and irreversibly. (Contrast gradualism.)

Note: A belief in Noah's flood is one version of catastrophism.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

catastrophism

doctrine that explains the differences in fossil forms encountered in successive stratigraphic levels as being the product of repeated cataclysmic occurrences and repeated new creations. This doctrine generally is associated with the great French naturalist Baron Georges Cuvier (1769-1832). One 20th-century expansion on Cuvier's views, in effect, a neocatastrophic school, attempts to explain geologic history as a sequence of rhythms or pulsations of mountain building, transgression and regression of the seas, and evolution and extinction of living organisms

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Americans are also burned out on environmental catastrophism.
He branded such catastrophism muzzy-headed voodoo science.
Catastrophism as a rationale to explain the origin of canyons has gone out of style.
And for an encore seems to have no grasp whatsoever of modern geologies acceptance of neo-catastrophism.
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