Lord Kelvin

William Thompson, Lord KelvinWilliam Thompson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) was a physical scientist of the same stature as Newton and Faraday before him. All three were Bible-believing Christians. The future Lord Kelvin was an infant and teen-age prodigy and then held the chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow for 54 years. The number of his contributions in physics and mathematics, as well as practical invention, was enormous. He established the scale of absolute temperatures, so that such temperatures are today given as so many “kelvins” (formerly “degrees Kelvin”). He established thermodynamics as a formal scientific discipline and formulated its First and Second Laws in precise terminology. He was the first scientist to adopt and use the concept of “energy” (literally, the capacity to do work).

Lord Kelvin was a strong Christian, opposing both Lyellian uniformitarianism and Darwinian evolution. His calculation of the maximum possible age of the earth at 100 million years, an age far too brief for evolution, ed to an extended controversy with Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s Bulldog.” Modern evolutionists like to ridicule this calculation, which he based on terrestrial heat flow and the cooling of the earth, by noting that Kelvin did not know about heat from radioactivity. But when radioactivity was discovered, Kelvin did consider it, and showed that it would not be at all adequate to meet the need for an earth old enough to allow evolution.

Lord Kelvin also made studies that later enabled Samuel F. B. Morse to invent the telegraph. He supervised the design and laying of the first Atlantic cable. This, in addition to all his other contributions, led the Queen to invest him with a knighthood and later to elevate him to the peerage. He held 21 honorary doctorates.

Yet with all these honors, he always remained a humble Christian. He firmly believed the Bible and supported its teaching in the schools of England. In a famous testimony that he gave in 1903, Lord Kelvin made this unequivocal statement:

With regard to the origin of life, science…positively affirms creative power.

Excerpted and revised from Men of Science, Men of God by Henry M. Morris. Copyright 1982, 1988 by Henry M. Morris. Used by permission.

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