A catastrophe is an event of great magnitude that is accompanied by devastating consequences. The term catastrophism is used in two different contexts. On the one hand, it is a scientific theory belonging to the field of geology and, on the other hand, it is a personal attitude.
The Catastrophism Theory
In the 19th century, the French scientist Georges Cuvier claimed that changes in nature occur as a result of some type of catastrophe, whether floods, glaciations, climate change or other transformations.
These natural phenomena of great impact bring consequences, such as the extinction of species, migrations, etc. This theory was based on scientific observations such as the comparison of fossil remains. At the same time, the theory of catastrophism was opposed to the Christian view, because according to the Bible, great catastrophes are produced by divine intervention.
Based on the studies carried out by Cuvier, geologists analyzed the terrestrial layers and considered that the catastrophic thesis was erroneous, since the transformation processes that took place over time were progressive and uniform. Therefore, catastrophism and uniformism are two opposing theories that try to explain how geological transformations occurred.
In other words, both theories explain Earth’s history.
In the 20th century a new paradigm was developed , neocatastrophism. This new vision is a synthesis of the two previous ones, as it explains terrestrial evolution from the interaction between catastrophic phenomena and a uniform process of geological transformation.
a fatalistic attitude
When a person believes that everything can go wrong or that at any moment some tragic phenomenon can occur that endangers humanity, it can be said that this person is catastrophic. This type of idea has no rational foundation, as it is simply a way of understanding life. It is important to say that catastrophism has a dose of fatalism and pessimism. In this sense, the vitalistic and optimistic individual is the antithesis of the catastrophic.
Finally, it should be noted that some religious groups and other pseudoscientific currents claim that, in the near future, there will be great catastrophes that will change the course of humanity. Apocalyptic visions were very popular during the Middle Ages, especially during the Black Death in 1348, as the death of millions of people was explained as a divine punishment and not the logical consequence of a contagious disease .