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The rise of science produced a major change in attitude.
During the early part of this period there was a considerable amount of activity by runs from AD 1850 to the present.
There were various attempts to estimate the Earth's age, working back from sedimentation rates and other geophysical phenomena.
The attempts produced estimates from about 100 million years up to several billion years. The first is that the geological history was still being reconstructed.
The great debate was won by the uniformitarians, so much so that the degree of gradualism was overstated and the importance of catastrophes was unduly minimized.
The modern period has been marked by an enormous expansion of the detailed knowledge of the geological history of the Earth and the processes that have acted during that history.
The second is that the rates of the physical processes in question are variable and knowledge of them was incomplete.
In the late 1800's physicists, armed with a more advanced physics than that available to Descartes, made new estimates of the age of the Earth and the Sun.
He would have answered that the Earth was ancient, that there had not been a Noachian flood, and that the species of life had not been fixed over the history of Earth.
In short, Genesis was an allegory and not literal history.
In this period a number of comprehensive cosmogonies were proposed.
These were long on armchair speculation and short on substantive supporting evidence.
The story of this great change in the conception of the history of Earth is not a simple one.