Kelvin Essay

“Thomson’s view on the recent age of the world have been for some time one
of my sorest troubles, (pg. 107)” This quote is used to collaborate the
author’s idea that Darwin was deeply opposed to Kelvin’s calculations about
the ago of the earth. The author further backs up this idea by using another
quote in which Darwin calls Kelvin an “odious spectre, (pg. 107).” It is
then stated that Darwin did eventually compromise with Kelvin’s calculations.

Gould uses a quote from the last edition of the Origin to make the statement
more concrete. Darwin’s reasons for compromising with Kelvin’s theory are
then explained in the following paragraphs. Gould discusses Darwin’s distress
as his leading supporters in England, Wallace and Huxley, didn’t agree with
him. He uses a quote by Wallace to show this: “if Kelvin limited the earth to
100 million years, then natural selection must operate at generally higher rates
than we had previously imagined, (pg. 107).” Using several examples to back up
the fact that Huxley wasn’t standing behind Darwin further promotes this.

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Building upon the previous ideas, Gould goes on to display Darwin’s distress.

Britain’s leading geologists tended to follow Wallace and Huxley; therefor
they went along with Kelvin’s calculations and theories. In the book Gould
says, “They stated that Kelvin had performed a service for geology, (pg.

108).” The author concludes by showing how geologists finally rebelled against
Kelvin, and his more rigid estimate of 20 million years. Topics are changed and
a discussion of the challenge imposed on Kelvin develops. The author states the
various parts of Uniformity, and how Kelvin managed to work his way around it.

He shows how Charles Lyell, the creator of Uniformity, cleverly implied that, to
be a scientist, one had to accept uniformity. Kelvin worked around this by fully
accepting uniformity and even basing his calculations upon it. He just attacked
the false side of Lyell’s view of uniformity.


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