Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | February 6, 2013

13. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 3

Boyle Biography - Tiner

Robert Boyle (1627–1691) was a world-famous chemist and physicist who believed in a Creator, specifically the God of the Bible. He is recognized as the father of modern chemistry. This post continues the look at Boyle’s life and convictions that was begun in these two recent posts:
11. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 1
12. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 2

Those posts surveyed Boyle’s scientific achievements and Christian beliefs and used selections from his extensive writings to demonstrate his unwavering belief in the Creator.

Boyle’s Apologetics
Boyle was active in Apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) as indicated by the title of one of his papers: Some Considerations about the Reconcileableness of Reason and Religion, with a Discourse about the Possibility of the Resurrection.

In his will he left money to found the Boyle Lectures, an annual lecture series to defend the Christian religion. His intent for them was to prove the truth of Christianity and to answer difficulties and challenges raised by unbelievers. He excluded internal controversies among Christians.

Here is the relevant text quoted from Boyle’s will endowing the lecture series. He bequeathed money to pay a scholar to

“…preach eight sermons in the year for proving the Christian religion against notorious Infidels, viz. Atheists, Theists, Pagans, Jews, and Mohometans, not descending lower to any controversies, that are among Christians themselves; these lectures to be on the first Monday of the respective months of January, February, March, April, May, September, October, November, in such church, as my trustees herein named shall from time to time appoint.
SECONDLY, to be assisting to all companies, and encouraging of them in any undertaking for propagating the Christian religion to foreign parts.
THIRDLY, to be ready to satisfy such real scruples, any may have concerning these matters, and to answer such objections or difficulties, as may be started, to which good answers have not yet been made.”

Clearly Boyle believed the Christian faith could be robustly defended intellectually. He did this himself during his lifetime and made financial provision for its continuance after his death.

The Boyle Lectures began in 1692, the year after Boyle died, and continued fairly regularly until 1905, except for a 20-year gap 1781-1801. After 1905, there were lectures in 1935 and 1965. In 2004 the Boyle Lectures were revived and have since occurred annually.

Ireland's Boyle's Law postage stamp

Ireland’s Boyle’s Law postage stamp

In Boyle’s day, just as in our own, many believed that a scientist could not be a Christian. In 1690 Boyle wrote on the “great and deplorable growth of irreligion, especially among those that aspired to pass for wits and several of them too for philosophers [scientists].” Against them were those who through “well-meaning but ill-informed zeal, had brought many good men to think that religion and philosophy [science] were incompatible.”
(From The Christian Virtuoso: Shewing that by Being Addicted to Experimental Philosophy, a Man Is rather Assisted than Indisposed to Be a Good Christian, 1690)

Boyle sought to resolve this divide through his writings and by funding the Boyle Lectures on apologetics. By his scientific work he strove to demonstrate that the world uncovered through scientific study testified to its Creator. Boyle believed that the design and operation of the natural world pointed to a Master Designer whom he recognized to be the God of the Bible. This is Boyle’s Argument from Design.

Boyle argued that just as the order and complexity inherent in a clock demanded a clockmaker, so the marvels of the world demand a Creator. Here is Boyle’s Clock Argument in his own words:

“I see in a curious clock how orderly every wheel and other part performs its own motions, and with what seeming unanimity they conspire to show the hour and accomplish the other designs of the artificer, I do not imagine that any of the wheels, &c., or the engine itself, is endowed with reason, but commend that of the workman who framed it so artificially, so, when I contemplate the actions of those several creatures that make up the world, I do not conclude the inanimate pieces, -or the vast engine itself, to act with reason or design, but admire and praise the most wise Author who, by his admirable contrivance, can so regularly produce effects to which so great a number of successive and conspiring causes are required.”
(From A Requisite Digression Concerning Those that would Exclude the Deity from Intermeddling with Matter)

Boyle pointed to the existence of extremely intricate structures as evidence of “workmanship” by a Workman:

“I am apt to think there is more of admirable contrivance in a man’s muscles than in (what we yet know of) the celestial orbs; and that the eye of a fly is – a more curious piece of workmanship than the body of the sun.”
(From A Disquisition about the Final Causes of Natural Things)

Boyle concluded that the marvels of the universe compelled a rational observer to believe in a Creator:

“The vastness, beauty, orderliness, of the heavenly bodies, the excellent structure of animals and plants; and the other phenomena of nature justly induce an intelligent and unprejudiced observer to conclude a supremely powerful, just, and good author.”
(From Robert Boyle, Works, vol. IV, p. 25.)

Boyle believed design arguments for the existence of God were sound and convincing and were the best arguments to use with a rational, open-minded person. The essence of the Argument from Design is that complex designs require a Designer. Such information as is contained in the designs can only come from an intelligent Agent. Boyle knew this creative Agent to be the God of the Bible.

Therefore…
Robert Boyle was one of the greatest scientists of the 17th century. He was convinced of a Creator and was a passionate student of Scripture. For Boyle, creation required a Creator–the God of the Bible. Boyle would not have been duped by the evolutionism that deludes so many intellectuals today. How foolish is the arrogance and hubris of today–where man thinks he is so advanced and despises the wisdom of previous generations regarding the existence of a Creator!

Belief in a Creator is common sense based on looking at what has been created, just as
Paul the Apostle (Romans 1:18-23),
President Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Franklin,
Sir Isaac Newton,
John Calvin,
Dr. Werner von Braun,
George Washington Carver,
Johann Kepler,
Blaise Pascal,
Robert Boyle,
and innumerable others have argued. These men believed in a Creator and Intelligent Designer. None would have been fooled by the evolutionism that hoodwinks so many today. Throughout history the vast majority of mankind has known that there must be a Creator.

Boyle believed in the Creator and honored his written Word. Today’s intellectuals would do well to pay heed to one whose scientific discoveries far exceed those of most scientists today. Boyle has earned credibility and respect for his opinion.

The next post will evaluate Boyle’s Thought.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the thirteenth installment in the Famous Thinkers series highlighting great men of the past who believed in the Creator.
Read the prequels:
1. Famous Thinkers – Former U.S. President Supports Intelligent Design
2. Famous Thinkers – Scientist Supports Intelligent Design
3. Famous Thinkers – Mathematician Supports Intelligent Design
4. Famous Thinkers – Theologian Testifies for Creation
5. Famous Thinkers – Rocket Scientist Supports Intelligent Design
6. Famous Thinkers – Botanist Supports Creation
7. Famous Thinkers – Botanist Supports Creation 2
8. Famous Thinkers – Astronomer Is a Creationist
9. Famous Thinkers – Mathematician Is a Creationist
10. Famous Thinkers – Mathematician Is a Creationist 2
11. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 1
12. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 2

Read the sequel which concludes the discussion of Robert Boyle:
14. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 4

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday February 6, 2013 A.D.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)

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