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Engraving of Robert Boyle

Posted: 21 August 2014

The science and Christian faith of Robert Boyle, one of the founders of modern chemistry (famous, for example, for Boyle’s Law) have been brilliantly discussed on the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time, by presenter Melvyn Bragg and three expert guests.

A pioneering scientist and a founder member of the Royal Society, Boyle’s work was motivated by his strong Christian faith. The programme is especially good at showing how Boyle’s highly influential scientific method arose out of Christian beliefs.

One of the guests, Simon Schaffer, Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge, says that Boyle’s interest was ‘not simply investigating nature because it is made, organised and run by God, but also in showing people that the way nature is organised and runs shows God’s activity in the world.’

According to Schaffer, Boyle believed that ‘any account of nature which doesn’t show what is divine, what is created, what is powerful, is dangerous.’

The relationship of science and faith in the life of Boyle is in strong contrast to modern claims that science and faith are naturally in conflict and have always been so.

Listen to the programme here

Image: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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Photos at the top of this column by:
Taro Taylor and Jon Sullivan