Robert Boyle

Robert Boyle (Jan 25, 1627—Dec 30, 1691) is remembered as one of the great early modern scientists. Boyle's law states that for a given amount of gas, the product of its volume and pressure remains constant. To Boyle, this law had only a minor function in one of his least important works. Largely overlooked is Boyle's role as one of the "eminent apologists of the Christian religion."^ [1]^ Compared to Boyle's all but forgotten 17th century efforts in Christian apologetics, such efforts in the 18th and 19th century—common in and to current debates—are scientifically naive, weak, and timid^ [1]^. One of the great ironies of history is that Boyle's apologetical inventions of a mechanical philosophy and a clock-work universe as expressions of God's sovereignty were intended to show humility before God's Works in the same way that Christians show humility before God's Word^[1]^. But these Christian apologetic metaphors of early modern science were later usurped by 18th century diests in order to turn them back upon and attack Christianity itself.^[2]^

Boyle's early life

At age sixteen Boyle and his brother Francis spent a year (1643-1644) in Gevena. ^[3]^

Selected publications

Theological works

  • Some Considerations touching the Style of the Holy Scriptures (1661)
  • The Excellency of Theology compared with Natural Theology (1674)
  • Some Considerations about the Reconcileableness of Reason and Religion (1675)
  • Discourse Of Things Above Reason, inquiring whether a Philosopher should admit there are any such (1681)
  • Of the high Veneration Man's Intellect owes to God, peculiar for his Wisdom and Power (1684)
  • The Christian Virtuoso (1690)

Scientific works

  • New Experiments Physico-mechanical: Touching the Spring of the Air, and Its Effects (1660)
  • Two Essays, Concerning the Unsuccessfulness of Experiments (1661)
  • A Defence of the Doctrine touching the Spring and Weight of the Air...against the Objections of Franciscus Linus (1662)
  • The Experimental History of Colours (1663)
  • A Discovery of the Admirable Rarefication of Air (1671)
  • Animadversions upon Mr. Hobbes's Problematia de Vacuo (1674)
  • An Experimental Discourse of Quicksilver growing Hot with Gold (1676)
  • Disquistitions on the Final Causes of Natural Things (1688)


  1. ? ^1.0^ ^1.1^ ^ 1.2^ Reijer Hooykaas, Robert Boyle: A Study in Science and Christian Belief, University Press of America, 1997, p.xxi
  2. ? John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, 1991, Cambridge University Press, p.13
  3. ? Robert Boyle Reconsidered. Michael Hunter.Cambridge University Press, 2004

Further reading

  • Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer. Leviathan and the Air-pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. Princeton University Press, 1985