Unfortunately, having had his insight, Smith was curiously uninterested in understanding why rocks were laid down in the way they were. "I have left off puzzling about the origin of Strata and content myself with knowing that it is so," he recorded. "The whys and wherefores cannot come within the Province of a Mineral Surveyor."
Smith's revelation regarding strata heightened the moral awkwardness concerning extinctions. To begin with, it confirmed that God had wiped out creatures not occasionally but repeatedly. This made Him seem not so much careless as peculiarly hostile. It also made it inconveniently necessary to explain how some species were wiped out while others continued unimpeded into succeeding eons.
Clearly there was more to extinctions than could be accounted for by a single Noachian deluge, as the Biblical flood was known. Cuvier resolved the matter to his own satisfaction by suggesting that Genesis applied only to the most recent inundation. God, it appeared, hadn't wished to distract or alarm Moses with news of earlier, irrelevant extinctions.