James Hutton is known as the father of geology. The first
geologists, including James Hutton and James Hall, boosted by the
empiricism of the Scottish Enlightenment, presented the first
challenge to the orthodox religious teaching. Hutton read his Theory
of the earth before the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1785.
Hutton was the Plutonist (a catastrophic geologist) who proposed
the principle of uniformitarianism to argue against Neptunism
(also catastrophic geology). Carried to its logical conclusion,
uniformitarianism overthrew all of catastophism, culminating in
1830 with the publication of Principles of geology by
In 1669, Nicolas Steno was the first person to declare that fossils
didn’t grow in rocks, but he gave up his scientific pursuits
to join the Catholic church and become a priest.
See also in The book of science:
Readings on wikipedia: