Catastrophism and uniformitarianism are two schools of thought on the history of evolution, though uniformitarianism is the only view that has sound scientific evidence to support it. Catastrophism is the idea that quick, large-scale, catastrophic events created the universe, while uniformitarianism is the idea that the universe was created slowly through natural laws.
Catastrophism was first theorized by Buffon and Joseph Fourier. Both men believed that the Earth was first a hot ball of molten rock that cooled throughout time. These men believed that as the planet cooled, there were volcanic eruptions and other upheavals.
Geologist Charles Lyell challenged the catastrophism theory in 1830 when he theorized that there had been gradual changes over time, which he theorized based on the ideas by James Hutton, a Scottish farmer. Hutton and Lyell believed in uniformitarianism, which suggested slow changes to the Earth, such as rain leading to erosion that would then in turn lead to mountains.
Lyell and Hutton also believed that the processes that alter the Earth are the same throughout time and do not change. This theory of uniformitarianism helped Darwin to discover and interpret the history of the Canary Islands. Darwin applied the uniformitarianism theories to the volcanic rock on the island. The geology studies on plate tectonics have also provided evidence for uniformitarianism.