Throughout history, religion and science have directly contradicted each other. In the 1840's, religion and science were going through such a period.
Between 1830 and 1833, Charles Lyell published three volumes called "The Principles of Geology." The books popularized an obscure, 50 year old idea called "uniformitarianism" which argued that the earth was shaped by minute changes over an extraordinary period of time (like for instance, erosion). This was one of the first wide-spread, scientific beliefs that directly contradicted a literal translation of the bible.
The result was the beginning of modern liberal Christianity and, in opposition, a fundamentalist revival, called the Second Great Awakening.