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This paper summarizes debates, among European geologists in the early nineteenth century, about the possible equivalence (or non-equivalence) between the biblical account of Noah's Flood, and new and cumulative evidence for an exceptional watery catastrophe or ‘geological deluge’ in very recent Earth history. The ‘diluvial theory’ deserves to be taken seriously as an attempted explanation of some extremely puzzling physical features (many of them reinterpreted later as traces of a glacial ‘catastrophe’ or Ice Age). The ‘geological deluge’ was eventually recognized as having been far earlier in Earth history than any event recorded by literate human societies. Among geologists,...

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