Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | February 20, 2013

14. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 4

Robert Boyle Chemistry Stamp

Robert Boyle Chemistry Stamp

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 concludes the look at Boyle’s life and convictions that was begun in these three previous posts:
11. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 1
12. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 2
13. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 3

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.

In 2010, ten British postage stamps were issued to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Each first-class stamp featured a famous scientist, selected from over 1,400 eminent Fellows of the Society, including over 60 Nobel laureates. The life-span of the organization was divided into 10 periods of 35 years with a scientist chosen from each 35-year era.

Robert Boyle, one of the founders, was chosen from the society’s first 35 years. His “brainstorm” picture on the stamp above shows the vacuum pump he built to prove vacuums are possible in nature. He used in experiments leading to his discovery of Boyle’s Law.

Boyle’s Thought
Robert Boyle was a visionary genius extraordinare. Not only was he a scientific pioneer in chemistry, physics, and biology, but he also anticipated many of the issues of our day and laid the groundwork for handling them.

He recognized missions as a vital activity of the church and was active in promoting and financially supporting the mission enterprise. He understood the importance of people having the Bible in their native tongues, and he promoted and financed Bible translation projects in many languages around the world.

Most scientists are very poor philosophers, but Boyle understood a key principle: one’s presuppositions or worldview determines one’s explanation of evidence. Everybody has the same physical facts and evidence. The facts are generally not in dispute. Disagreements arise over the interpretation or explanation of the evidence.

Boyle understood the significance and role of starting points or worldviews in determining conclusions from evidence. Boyle did not believe that science led men away from God. (In his day, science was often called “natural philosophy” or just “philosophy.”) He believed it was one’s worldview or presuppositions that determined how one interpreted the physical evidence. Boyle wrote that most atheists

“…do as little understand the mysteries of nature, as believe those of Christianity; and of divers of them it may be truly said, that their sensuality, and lusts, and passions, darkened and seduced their intellects: their immorality was the original cause of their infidelity; nor were they led by philosophy [science] to irreligion, but got and perverted some smattering of philosophy [science], to countenance the irreligious principles they brought with them to the study of it.”
(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's home, collected works, lab equipment

Lismore Castle, Boyle’s collected scientific works, lab equipment

In apologetics, Boyle’s use of the Argument from Design for the existence of God preceded William Paley’s (1743–1805) similar argument by over a century. The argument was not original with Boyle, for Scripture uses it throughout (for example, see Romans 1:18-23).

Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) said in his major work Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 1787) that the argument from design

“…always deserves to be mentioned with respect. It is the oldest, the clearest, and the most accordant with the common reason of mankind.”

Today the argument from design is most often credited to British Christian philosopher William Paley (1743–1805), ignoring both the Apostle Paul, Boyle, and many others. In 1802 Paley published Natural Theology, or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity collected from the Appearances of Nature in which he argued that the complex designs in nature necessitate a Designer. To illustrate the idea, Paley gave what has become known as the Watchmaker Argument:

“In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. … There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. … Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.”

Today most people have heard of Paley’s “a watch implies a watchmaker” argument, but most don’t know that Boyle gave essentially the same argument using a clock. (See Boyle’s Clock Argument.) The teleological argument for the existence of God (i.e., the argument from design) is still one of the best arguments made. It’s used extensively in Scripture (Romans 1:18-23) and is subject to widespread debate today.

Boyle saw in the wonders of nature clear evidence of God’s handiwork. He wrote,

“The next attribute of God, that shines forth in his creatures, is his wisdom; which to an intelligent considerer appears very manifestly expressed in the world, whether you contemplate it as an aggregate or system of all natural bodies, or consider the creatures it is made up of, both in their particular and distinct natures, and in relation to each other, and the universe they constitute. In some of these the wisdom of God is so conspicuous, and written in such large characters, that it is legible even to a vulgar reader: but in many others the lineaments and traces of it are so delicate and slender, or so wrapt up and covered with corporeity, that it requires an attentive and intelligent peruser. So numberless a multitude, and so great a variety of birds, beasts, fishes, reptiles, herbs, shrubs, trees, stones, metals, minerals, stars, &c. and everyone of them plentifully furnished and endowed with all the qualifications requisite to the attainment of the respective ends of its creation, are productions of a wisdom too limitless not to be peculiar to God: … which do all of them deserve that extensive exclamation of the Psalmist, “How manifold are thy works, 0 Lord; in wisdom hast thou made them all. (Psalm 104:24)”
(From Of the Usefulness of Experimental Natural Philosophy)

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.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the fourteenth 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
13. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 3

Read the sequel:
15. Famous Thinkers – Physician Is a Creationist w/ video

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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 20, 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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