ROBERT BOYLE, FOUNDER OF MODERN CHEMISTRY AND DEFENDER OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

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by Bill Nugent
Article #102

 
The Honorable Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was born into a wealthy Irish Protestant family and educated at some of Europe’s finest universities. Early in his life he rejected the commonly held doctrines of medieval scholasticism.

Scholasticism is essentially an amalgamation of the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, the Bible and the early Christian writers.¬† It has elements of Christian teaching but it is smothered by ancient Greek Pagan ideas and methods. Those who believed in scholasticism, called ‘schoolmen,’ relied heavily on the deductive logic of Aristotle and did little practical observation or inductive experimentation on nature.

Boyle was a diligent student of the Bible (God’s first book) and he experimented on nature (God’s second book). Boyle, like so many other pioneers in science, stripped off the layer of Aristotelian deductionism that had stifled advances in science. Boyle and other scholars who rejected scholasticism were called “the invisible college.”

The invisible college was formally organized as the Royal Society in 1645. Robert Boyle was one of its founders. It was roughly equivalent to what we today would call a think tank. By the mid 1600s the Royal Society of scientists was composed largely of Puritans.

Puritans were Bible believing fundamentalists who sought to purify the church of England. The fact that Puritans were the leading scientists goes to show the compatibility of the Bible and scientific inquiry. As I’ve stated in several DTF articles, the Bible gives the theological and philosophical foundation for the rise of modern science.

Modern, inductive science is based on the presupposition of theregularity principle. The regularity principle, also called the inductive principle, is the idea that the universe is governed by physical laws that are uniformly true throughout the universe. The Bible describes God as a moral lawgiver and Bible believing Christians rightly assumed that God governs the physical universe by uniform physical laws. The moral lawgiver also gives physical laws. A scientific experiment done on a small sample will hold true throughout the universe. This is how Francis Bacon, a Bible believer, first formulated the scientific method.

Boyle carried out extensive experiments on air, vacuum, combustion and respiration. In his book “The Sceptical Chymist”(pub. 1661) he criticized popular theories of matter and defined chemical elements. He formulated “Boyle’s Law” regarding volume and pressure of gas which is still held as valid today. Even his theory having to do with transmutation of elements, once derided as alchemy, has been proven right by nuclear physics. He is largely regarded as the founder of modern chemistry yet he also made many important contributions to physics.

Boyle was a humble Bible believing Christian who actively evangelized. He funded mission work and Bible translation. In his will he left a bequest for the establishment of the “Boyle Lectures” which was essentially a “Defending the Faith” lecture series carried on after his death.

Robert Boyle’s life work is another example of the explosion of scientific knowledge that occurred in post-reformation Europe. As a result of the Protestant Reformation the Bible was translated into the languages of the people throughout the continent of Europe. The Pagan ways of looking at the world were rejected. Bible believing Christians made the overwhelming majority of scientific breakthroughs in the 1600s which is when the foundations of the major branches of science were laid.

The fact that the Bible provides the true philosophical framework for the rise of modern science is just one more witness to the fact that the Bible can be trusted as reliable in all areas. The Bible is revelation of truth from God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Oh! I did it again! I strayed into the realm of offering evidence for young earth! I brace myself for the withering fire.

 



(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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