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Deep time is the idea, held to be credible by natural researchers since the early 19th century, that the Earth is millions or billions of years old, rather than the few thousand that young Earth creationism claims.
The concept was first formally proposed by James Hutton, a Scottish geologist, in 1788. Hutton and his various contemporaries challenged the then-standard concept of a 6,000 year old Earth by studying the geological strata and stating he could find no rational "beginning of time", if layers were consistently formed, a basis of Lyell's Uniformitarianism. The continuing process whereby rocks are eroded and new sedimentary rocks form out of the remains of older eroded rocks was previously known. Hutton however observed further this process takes so long that the Earth must be much older than a few thousand years.
Evidence for deep time includes:
- Geological strata
- Geological formations, like canyons cut by rivers, and the Triassic Cliffs cut by the sea.
- Fossil records, though there is large dependence on the geological strata, for fossils to "prove" an age of the Earth.
- Radiometric dating systems, which use the constant rate of radioactive decay of unstable nuclides in the Earth's crust to place the age of the Earth at 4.5 billion years.
- Dating of the Sun and Moon
- Dating of the formation of our Solar system
- Evidence for the age of the Universe
- Age of the Earth
- Branches of science you have to ignore to believe in Young Earth Creationism
- Lower limit on the age of the universe
- Radioactive decay
- Scientific method
- The incontrovertible evidence for common descent
- 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe — a "side by side" rebuttal.
- Deep Time: A History of the Earth -Interactive Infographic
- Working Group: The Archives of Deep-Time Sciences