One of the eminent scientists of the 19th century was a Bible-believing creationist, the BBC agrees.
Peter Crutchley, writing for the BBC’s Religion and Ethics page, asked “Kelvin’s conundrum: Is it possible to believe in God and science?” His answer is a resounding yes, because, as Crutchley describes, William Thomson (better known as Lord Kelvin) never wavered as a creationist through his long, productive scientific life. Furthermore, as Crutchley goes on to say, a number of living scientists maintain that legacy.
Lord Kelvin is a giant of 19th Century science. He was also a devout Christian who found a way of reconciling his science and his faith, but not without finding himself in conflict with his contemporaries including Darwin.
Kelvin was no slouch: “Kelvin himself became a professor at the University of Glasgow in 1846 and in a 53 year career his scientific achievements were many and diverse.” Some biographers focus on his mistakes (as if no scientist today is faultless), but Crutchley rightly emphasizes the successes of this highly-respected scientist who was knighted for his contributions. Kelvin also combated Darwinian thinking by calculating an upper limit on the age of the earth. Crutchley claims this put him at odds with Biblical creationists who found his calculation too long, but Kelvin intended it as an upper limit, not an actual age – a limit far too young for the time Darwin needed.
At the end of the article, Crutchley discusses whether science and religion are in conflict. He gives first mention to the views of atheists like Dawkins and Hawking, but then gives substantial attention to a Christian and supporter of intelligent design:
Professor John Lennox, professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, countered Hawking’s argument in an article published in 2010.
“Much of the rationale behind Hawking’s argument lies in the idea that there is a deep-seated conflict between science and religion. But this is not a discord I recognise,” Lennox said.
Lennox, who has engaged in a number of debates with Richard Dawkins, believes that far from being at odds with science, the Christian faith actually makes perfect scientific sense.
“For me, as a Christian believer, the beauty of the scientific laws only reinforces my faith in an intelligent, divine creative force at work. One of the fundamental themes of Christianity is that the universe was built according to a rational, intelligent design.”
Lennox also referred to Joseph Needham, who wondered why China fell so far behind Europe in scientific achievement. Needham“reluctantly came to the conclusion” that “European science had been spurred on by the widespread belief in a rational creative force, known as God, which made all scientific laws comprehensible.”
Crutchley ended by celebrating Kelvin’s secure scientific legacy, mentioning his crypt in the “scientists’ corner” of Westminster Abbey alongside that of Isaac Newton (incidentally, another creationist).
It was refreshing to see this article, despite a few disagreements we might have (see our biography of Lord Kelvin on this site). One is Crutchley’s use of Francis Collins to argue against the old “warfare of science and religion” hypothesis, since Collins is a theistic Darwin-loving evolutionist who opposes supporters of intelligent design. Another is this statement about Kelvin’s age-of-the-earth calculation, “His estimation for the age of the earth was far too young to satisfy geologists and Darwinists, but too old to satisfy creationists, leaving him caught between religion and science in this instance.” This suggestion that creationists were not satisfied (where is his evidence?) overlooks the strategic ploy Kelvin was using. He was not asserting that the earth was tens of millions of years old, but that it could not be older than that. It was an upper limit. Kelvin was not “caught between religion and science” at all. He was a good debater! Crutchley’s quote from Dr. Andrew Holmes that the calculation “can easily be dismissed” today is a half-truth. While radioactivity was discovered later, complicating the picture, Kelvin’s reasoning from thermodynamics was sound. The untruth part of the statement ignores the great deal of evidence accumulated by modern creation scientists (physicists and geologists with doctorates) who support an upper limit of thousands, not millions of years. Now, 106 years after Kelvin’s death, the evidence for creation is much more substantial. The Bible-Science Association of southern California, for instance, routinely fills some two dozen tables with books and videos of creation evidences at all levels from children’s books to technical treatises, across all scientific fields. There are at least four peer-reviewed creation journals, and many organizations answering evolution and showing the evidence for creation from all directions, from physics to human history, from astronomy to genetics, from philosophy to entomology, covering all the bases.
Other than that, Crutchley did a fair job. Now read our more extended biography of Kelvin that tells the story of his battle with Darwin over the age of the earth, and how it vexed Charlie and his frat boys to the point of desperation. Evolutionists assume Kelvin’s arguments have been dismissed, but what do they do with the even more powerful evidence creationists offer today? They ignore it! They can afford to, because the moyboys now have a century of storytelling, assumption, and momentum, aided by their co-conspirators in the media, to enshrine their old-earth beliefs with the imprimatur of science, leaving the contradictory evidence outside the gate of their walled castle that says “No creationists allowed!” Inside, they wave “millions of years, billions of years” around like a magic wand that can make all their demons disappear and pull rabbits out of naturalistic hats. Given enough time, stuff happens.
The evidence remains strong not just for some undefined designer, however, but for the God of the Bible who made the Earth and its life in six days. The Creator revealed Himself to man and walked among us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, who affirmed the literal Adam and Eve and the Flood of Noah. He proved His authority by rising from the dead. This Savior has been trusted personally by Kelvin, Maxwell, Boyle and many other outstanding scientists cataloged in our scientist biography section. Science and religion are not in conflict. What’s in conflict is naturalism and the evidence.