Science in Christian Perspective
The Relationship between Science and Scripture
in the Thought of Robert Boyle
David L. Woodall
1917 Carmel Blvd.
Zion, IL 60099
[From Perspectives on Science and
Christian Faith, 49 (March 1997): 32.]
©1997 by the American Scientific Affiliation
The writings of Robert Boyle advance the thesis that Christianity in seventeenth- century England advocated and facilitated scientific development. As a scientist and theologian, he rejected the popular view that the Bible was a scientific textbook and yet believed in the absolute harmony between scientific statements in the Bible and experimental science. Conflicts between the two were explained as either a mistake in science or an incorrect interpretation of Scripture. Boyle followed Calvin's view of accommodation.
There is a connection between the devolopment of modern science in seventeenth-century England and the theological presuppositions of the time1 Based on the assumption that genuine science discredits the Bible, it is popular to propagate a historiography which credits the rise of modern science in seventeenth century England with the demise of biblical authority.2 However, we will discover that scientists like Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, and Bishop John Wilkins not only embraced the new science, but believed it to be in perfect harmony with an authoritative Bible. Rather than driving them away from Christianity, the new science gave them a context in which they could better understand and glorify God. From the writings of Robert Boyle, we will advance the thesis that Christianity advocated and facilitated scientific development. Boyle is a paradigm for such a study because he was both a respected scientist and theologian who wrote extensively in both areas.
The goal of this paper is to describe Boyle's views on the authority of the Bible and the relationship between science and Scripture. We will do so by first identifying his beliefs and accomplishments as a scientist at a time when science was experiencing a radical change. Secondly, we will survey his theological writings concerning the nature and authority of the Bible. Finally, the first two sections will be synthesized in order to describe his views on the relationship between science and Scripture. This analysis will aid in the development of a historiography of Enlightenment thought in England and provide a model for a discussion of the authority of the Bible in matters of science.
Robert Boyle the Scientist
Boyle joined other scientists of his time in rejecting certain traditional Aristotelian scientific concepts. He explained that many of his contemporaries rejected his experiments because of their Amistaken perswasion, that those PhÊnomena are the effects of Nature's abhorrency of a Vacuum, which seem to be more fitly ascribable to the weight and spring of the Air."3 The idea that nature abhors a vacuum" implied a certain animation in nature which caused it to sense a vacuum and move to eliminate it. He called this the "vulgarly received notion of nature" and determined to de-deify nature based on his understanding of the Bible.4 Although he was cautious about the Copernican system in his writings, he clearly embraced the heliocentric views of Galileo.5He advanced the inductive reasoning of Bacon to focus on a philosophy which he called "new, corpuscularian, atomical, Cartesian or Mechanical" that was built on two foundations: "reason and experience. 6 Through detailed experimentation, he proved that the volume of a gas is inversely proportional to its pressure. The mathematical expression of this relationship is called Boyle's law.7
During the explosion of scientific discussion in seventeenth century England, the term "Virtuoso" or the plural "Virtuosi" began to be used. On the one hand, it referred to men of leisure who used their free time to engage in an esoteric examination of nature.8 However, in one of his later works, Boyle used the term in a narrower sense to describe a person who is interested in the investigation of natural science. In The Christian Virtuoso, Boyle explains,
But now, the Virtuosi I speak of, and by whom, in this whole Discourse, I mean those, that Understand and Cultivate Experimental Philosophy, make a much greater and better use of Experience in their Philosophical Researches. Y our Virtuosi have a peculiar Right to the distinguishing Title that is often given them, of Experimental Philosophers.9
Boyle admits that there may indeed be individuals who pass for Virtuosi, yet are atheists (i.e., those who are "Denyers of God"). These people, however, are few in number because the study of science leads a person to "Sentiments of Religion." The Christian Virtuoso is one who is "dispos'd to make use of the knowledge of the Creatures to confirm his Belief, and encrease his Veneration, of the Creator.10 For Boyle, a scientist must approach his work as a Christian; for Christian Virtuosi, science and theology must not be separated.
Throughout his life Boyle was involved in the Royal Society. Beginning in 1645 at Gresham College, Oxford, and chartered in 1660, it involved those who were "inquisitive into natural philosophy, and other parts of human learning; and particularly of what hath been called the New Philosophy or Experimental Philosophy..." 11 John Wallis, a mathematician and theologian, comments on the initial meetings in 1645 by reporting that
our business was (precluding matters of theology and state affairs) to discourse and consider of Philosophical Enquiries, and such as related thereunto; as Physic, Anatomy, Geometry, Astronomy, Navigation, Staticks, Magneticks, Chymicks, Mechanicks, and Natural Experiments...12
Although their primary goal was not the discussion of theology, we must not conclude that their scientific dialogue was separated from their Christian convictions. Thomas Hobbes was not a part of the Society, and Westfall describes the religious works of the Virtuosi as "one long disapproving footnote to Hobbes' philosophy.13 They firmly believed that their scientific endeavors did not jeopardize their Christianity. The two were harmonious.
Boyle as a scientist was on the cutting edge of scientific change and may be properly called "a leader of a scientific revolution.14 However, as a Virtuoso and member of the Royal Society, he remained firmly committed to his Christian convictions.
Robert Boyle the Theologian
The religious affiliations of Boyle are difficult to determine. He has been described as a lifelong Calvinist,15 a Puritan at heart,16 and an Anglican.17 Our goal in this section will be to identify Boyle's views on the purpose and authority of the Bible.
The Bible had long been viewed as a source of scientific information. John Wilkins, a major influence on Boyle, lamented that interpreters often missed the intent of a passage because they believed that "there is not a demonstration in Geometry, or rule in Arithmetic - but it may be found out in the Pentateuch.18 Specific statements concerning the stability of the earth and the motion of the sun were embraced as evidence for a geocentric model of the universe. "The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved" (Ps. 93:1); "the sun knows when to go down" (Ps. 104:19); "the earth remains forever, the sun rises and the sun sets" (Eccl. 1:4-5). The invention of the telescope and the collection of observed data eventually led to a different conception of the purpose of the Bible. Galileo, Kepler, and the Virtuosi began to articulate the view that the Bible was not a textbook on science. The statement of Cardinal Baronius that "the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes" is quoted with approval by Galileo19 Kepler maintained that "you receive no instruction in physical matters [from the Bible]. The message is a moral one...".20 Boyle also realized that the Bible did not address such things as the mathematical relationship between the pressure and volume of a gas. In contrast to Helmont, a contemporary chemist who propagated a divine Chemistry which was derived solely from the Bible, Boyle maintained that the Bible was "design'd to teach us rather Divinity than Philosophy.21 Many of those involved in the new age of scientific experimentation believed that the purpose of the Bible was not to give a quantitative analysis of the natural world. These scientists faced persecution from theologians because they appeared to reject biblical authority by coming to conclusions which were opposed to the statements about the physical world quoted above.
This persecution was unfounded. A survey of Boyle's writings reveals that he had a high regard for the text of the Bible. He refers to "the Truth and "uthority of the Scripture" which atheists and antiscripturists allege to overthrow,22 the Bible "whose prerogative it is to teach nothing but Truth,23the "inspired Philosopher" who wrote Prov. 13:19-20,24 and the inspired poet of Psalm 5.25 He interprets the pasa graphe ("all" or "every Scripture") of 2 Tim. 3:16 as a reference to the whole Scripture and thus concludes that nothing in the acknowledged canonical books lacks the designation of inspiration.26
His position on the text of Scripture is developed in his publication of Some Considerations Touching the Style of the Holy Scriptures.27 His knowledge of the original biblical languages (in addition to Latin, Aramaic, Syriac, French, and Italian) resulted in a great concern for a proper English translation. He argued that some English translations may be obscure because of their misplacement of parentheses (none are found in Hebrew or Greek texts);28 wrong chapter and verse distinctions;29 their mistranslation of the Hebrew conjunction waw;30 difficulty in understanding the various hapaxlegomenon;31 lack of information necessary to acquaint people with the historical particulars of topography, history, rites, opinions, and customs, etc.;32 misinterpretation of the figurative language used by Eastern people;33 and misunderstanding of the context and intended audience of a particular passage.34 As a result, Boyle argues for a freer translation which will deal with the above issues and result in a proper communication of the sense of the Hebrew and Greek texts. This in turn will encourage people to study the text for themselves.35
Boyle was aware of textual problems concerning the Qere and the Ketib of textual criticism,36 the Tiqqune Sopherim (or emendations of the scribes),37 the various Greek lectionaries, and the differences between the Old Testament texts and their citations in the New Testament.38 Although Boyle was not opposed to textual criticism which seeks to identify the original text through the comparison of extant varying manuscripts, he objected to the deliberate changing of words in order to justify the theology of the interpreter. He criticized those who adjust passages to "countenance their Prejudices, and serve their Ends, though they make the Texts never so fiercely fall out with one another.39 This was the tactic of "Modern Critiks" and related rather to "the Truth or the Authority than to the Style of the Scripture.40 It appears that Boyle held to a verbal inspiration of the Bible: truth and authority are found in the words of Scripture, not just in the concepts. Scripture must be translated so that the sense of the words is properly communicated. However, it is not appropriate to change the words in order to read a presupposed theology into the text.
Boyle did work with the text in order to ascertain the reading of the original documents. However, there is nothing in the above roster to indicate that Boyle rejected the truthfulness of these documents. Some scholars suggest that he entertained thoughts in this area based on one unusual statement in his discussion of the style of the Scripture. Boyle does say that "we should carefully distinguish betwixt what the Scripture itself sayes, and what is only said in the Scripture.41 Louis More interprets this statement to mean that "as regards the authority of the Bible, he was not in accord with the dogmatic authority of the religious teaching of his time.42 Likewise, Klaaren suggests that "it was precisely the latter [Boyle's quote] search for the kernel of Scripture, the primitive historical sense, which became so significant in the course of the modern epoch.43 Dillenberger cites this statement as proof that Boyle was not a biblical literalist.44All these statements ignore the following paragraphs in which Boyle explains what he meant in this sentence. Instead of rejecting biblical authority or limiting its truthfulness, he wanted to distinguish between descriptive and prescriptive truth. Descriptive truth accurately presents things as they are whether good or bad; prescriptive truth reflects God's will on what we should or should not do. The Bible is not entirely like the "English Statute-Book" which always prescribes legislation to people. Instead, it gives the accurate description of the lies of the enemy and ungodly men. He elaborates on his statement by explaining that "... many wicked persons and their perverter Sathan are there introduced, whose Sayings the Holy Ghost does not adopt, but barely registers; nor does the Scripture affirm that what they said was true, but that it is true they said it.45 Instead of pioneering a criticism that attacked the authority of the Bible, he desired to counter a specific criticism (vis. the Bible teaches vice because it presents ungodly sayings and examples) by an explanation of the style of Scripture.
Boyle was both a modern scientist and a theologian who held to a conservative view of the accuracy of the entire Bible. Although the Bible was not a scientific textbook, it was still a source of truth. The following section is a study of how Boyle approached the biblical passages which address scientific matters. Did he reject biblical authority altogether, relegate it only to matters of faith and practice (denying authority in areas of science), or did he hold to complete biblical authority?
Robert Boyle on the Relationship between Science and Scripture
It will be our purpose in the following paragraphs to identify Boyle's thoughts on biblical passages which concern science in some way. Specifically, we will examine how he approached texts which seemed to conflict with the new discoveries of science.
In his book, Some Considerations Touching the Usefulness of Experimental Natural Philosophy, Boyle defends the study of experimental science against the attack of several Divines who, for noble motives, "deterre men from addicting themselves to serious and thorough Enquiries into Nature, as from a Study unsafe for a Christian, and likely to end in Atheisme.46 Although he had a zeal for the advancement of Christianity and "had much rather have men not Philosophers then not Christians,47 he argued that one could engage in modern science and yet be a true Christian. His thesis was that the study of science would cause Christians to glorify God more, aid in the understanding of Scripture, and produce an apologetic for Christianity. Using Scripture to support his position, he argued the following points.
(1) God had two main goals in his work of creation: (a) the manifestation of his glory (Ps. 19:1, Prov. 16:4, Rom. 11:36) and (b) the good of human beings who were to subdue creation (Gen. 1:28-29) and use it for their benefit (Gen. 1:14-16; Isa. 45:28). Therefore, the study of creation should lead to a doxology of praise to God. It draws people to God, not away from him.48
(2) The knowledge of science actually aids in the understanding of the Bible. The study of certain animals will lead to a greater comprehension of the biblical texts which speak of the characteristics of these animals (e.g. the serpent of Genesis, the four beasts of Daniel's prophetic vision, and the allusions of Jesus to serpents and doves).49
(3) Three attributes of God are seen in a scientific study of nature. (a) His greatness is seen in the vastness of creation. Even if one discards the calculations of the Copernicans and prefers the more modest computations of the Ptolomeans, one must conclude with the Psalmist, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.50 (b) His wisdom is also seen in creation.
When with bold telescopes I survey the old and newly discovered stars and planets Y when with excellent microscopes I discern Y the unimitable subtility of nature's curious workmanship; and when, in a word, by the help of anatomical knives, and the light of chymical furnaces, I study the book of nature Y I find myself oftentimes reduced to exclaim with the Psalmist, How manifold are Thy works, O Lord! in wisdom hast Thou made them all!51
(c) The goodness of God is revealed when the means of God's sustaining of humankind is comprehended. His benevolence is observed in the development of medicines from creation52 Therefore, the study of science should be urged upon all Christians because it increases piety and praise for the Creator rather than leading to atheism.
Although the Bible is not a scientific textbook, it occasionally addresses scientific topics. Like a telescope, this information extends man's knowledge of the world around him and does not contradict the knowledge gained in the laboratory.53 When a conflict developed between science and the Bible, Boyle explained it as either a mistake in science or an incorrect interpretation of Scripture.
Even when some revelations are thought not only to transcend reason, but to clash with it, it is to be considered whether such doctrines are really repugnant to any absolute catholic rule of reason, or only to something which Y depends upon the measure of acquired information we enjoy.54
Instead of finding error in Scripture based on the discoveries of science, he claimed the "Truth of the History of the Scriptures55 When both are properly understood, there is an absolute harmony between the Bible and science.
If we lay aside all the irrational opinions, that are unreasonably fathered on the Christian religion, and all erroneous conceits repugnant to Christianity, which have been groundlessly fathered upon Philosophy, the seeming contradictions betwixt Divinity and true Philosophy, will be but few, and the real ones none at all.56
Because God is the author of both the book of creation and the book of Scripture, there is "no inconsistency between a Man's being an Industrious Virtuoso, and a Good Christian.57
The critics of the Bible had raised questions concerning the miracles of the Bible (e.g., the floating of the axe head) and theologians stood behind statements which seemed to contradict Boyle's science (e.g., the sun rising). Boyle responded with two arguments. First, there are times throughout history when "the Author of those Laws of Nature" made
the parts of the Universe forget their Nature, or Act contrary to it; And ha's (in summe) vouchsafed to alter by Miracles the Corse of Nature, for the instruction or reliefe of Man (As when the Fire suspended its destructive Operation, whilst the three resolute Jewes with their Protectour walk'd unharm'd in the mid'st of those flames that destroy'd the Kindlers, and as the heavy Iron emerg'd up to the swimming piece of wood, miraculously by Elisha made Magneticall).58
Other miracles acknowledged by Boyle include Peter walking suspended on water, and the perishable manna which lasted twice as long on the Sabbath and remained fresh for ages in the ark.59 At times he explained the miracle in terms of a scientific process (e.g., Elisha's wood became magnetic to attract the iron), and at other times he simply referred to the miracle (e.g., the manna that remained fresh for ages). Concerning the resurrection of the body, he argued that it should be understood in a "more strict and literal sense" in which the omnipotent God watches over the particles of each individual human body and recomposes the same man with the same particles at the resurrection.60 Although Boyle believed in the laws of nature which gave a foundation for experimental science, he had no difficulty believing that God could occasionally perform miracles for the instruction of man.
Secondly, Boyle realized that there are biblical passages which describe physical processes in such a way that they formally contradict the findings of the new science. For example, the statement, "the sun rises" (Eccl. 1:5), could easily be interpreted within a geocentric model of the world. However, when Boyle embraced a heliocentric cosmology, he was constrained to explain how his science harmonized with the authoritative Bible he embraced. He understood the problem and addressed it by explaining that
in most other places of the Scripture, where the Works of Nature are mentioned but incidently, or in order to other purposes, they are spoken of rather in a Popular then Accurate manner, I dare not peremptorily deny, being unwilling to interesse [modern English: "interest" or "to involve the concern of"] the reputation of Holy Writ (design'd to teach us rather Divinity then Philosophy) in the doubtful contentions of Naturalists, about such matters as may (though the History of the Creation cannot) be known by the meer Light of Natural Reason.61
His thoughts may be summarized in three statements.
(1) There are certain revelations about the natural world in the Bible which cannot be discovered by experimentation. These include the creation of the world and the various proceedings of the creation days. They are actual events designed to inform us and to challenge us to study them.62
(2) In other places, God reveals things about the natural world which can be known only by experimentation. These include heliocentric cosmology and information about the size of planets and their distance from the earth. Because the Bible is not a scientific textbook, it mentions these concepts only in passing and does not address them with scientific accuracy. Instead, it conveys them in the way people naturally talk about them. Even modern scientists converse about the beautiful sunset and the brilliant moonlight, knowing full well that the earth rotates and the moon reflects light. It is not an error to speak in the language of appearance.63 For Boyle, the fact that the Bible refers to nature in the language of appearance does not imply that the Bible is in error. Scripture speaks authoritatively in all areas, but it is not the source from which to develop precise mathematical relationships.
(3) The fact that the Bible uses the language of accommodation does not mean that the Bible is in error when it refers to matters of science. Accommodation was viewed from two different perspectives during the time of Boyle. Some believed that God accommodated himself to the wrong beliefs of the people living in biblical times. This was based on the supposition that there is error in the biblical text. Socinus (1539-1604) held this view. Because he did not believe in a conscious existence after death, he dismissed the teaching found in Luke 16:19-31 because it reflected accommodation.
One should deal cautiously with this matter [the state of the dead before the Last Day], just even as Christ himself and the Apostles accommodated themselves to the level of the people as the parable of Lazarus [Luke 16:20ff.] and the rich man teaches. This was not the time to perturb the Jews, as even now is not the time, although Jesus sometimes speaks thus in order that it be sufficiently clear that he will resuscitate only the faithful, John 6 [:38f, 40, 54].64
According to Socinus, the people of Jesus' day believed in conscious existence after death, but they were wrong. Jesus went along with their error (this is what Socinus means by accommodation) so that he would not perturb them.
Calvin also found accommodation in the Bible, but he used the term with a different meaning. According to Calvin, the Bible was written in the language of the common people, not in the language of specialists. God accommodated himself to people by using figures of speech, anthropomorphisms, and the language of appearance. Rather than an acknowledgment of error, accommodation resulted in an authoritative revelation that was perspicuous.
The Anthropomorphites, also, who imagined a corporeal God from the fact that Scripture often ascribes to him a mouth, ears, eyes, hands, and feet, are easily refuted. For who even of slight intelligence does not understand that, as nurses commonly do with infants, God is wont in a measure to "lisp" in speaking to us? Thus such forms of speaking do not so much express clearly what God is like as accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity. To do this he must descend far beneath his loftiness.65
Boyle held to Calvin's view of accommodation which states that because the Bible was given to common people, it often makes statements in the language of appearance. In contrast to the Socinian concept, this does not imply an error in the text. Against the Naturalists who believed in the sufficiency of science as opposed to revealed religion, Boyle defended the reputation of the Bible as a book of truth in matters of science and history66 There is an absolute harmony between the scientific facts gathered by experimentation and the scientific facts stated in the Bible. The Bible remains authoritative in matters of science.
Boyle was willing to accept changes in the scientific community, yet he steadfastly rejected changes in the area of biblical authority. Although he was aware of the growing higher criticism of his day, he endorsed Calvin's view of accommodation and continued to affirm the truthfulness of Scripture in matters of science. Boyle believed that the initial rise of modern science in seventeenth-century England was promoted by Christianity. We agree with Kenneth Radant who concludes that "it is incorrect to simplistically attribute the decline in biblical authority in the West to the rising status of reason coinciding with the coming of age of the scientific revolution.67 May Robert Boyle be an encouragement to Christians today who desire to advance modern science and yet hold tenaciously to biblical authority.
1Charles Webster, "Puritism, Separatism, and Science," in God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, ed. David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 213, concludes that "any truly historical account of the Scientific Revolution must pay due attention to the deep interpenetration of scientific and religious ideas."
2This "Weltanschauung that religion impeded the rise of modern science, and that modern science liberated the world from the clutches of a monolithic, superstitious, intolerant, anti-scientific, all controlling Church" is documented and attacked by Richard Popkin, "Skepticism, Theology and the Scientific Revolution in the Seventeenth Century," in Problems in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 3, ed. I. Lakatos and Alan Musgrave (Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Co., 1968), 1-2f. Richard Westfall, Science and Religion in Seventeenth-Century England (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1958), 11-12, claims that the entrance of Darwinism into Western thought caused such writers as Lecky, Draper, and White in the late nineteenth century and Paul Hazard in the early twentieth century to propagate this view. It has been advanced recently by Lotte Mulligan, "Civil War Politics, Religion and the Royal Society," in Intellectual Revolution of the Seventeenth Century, ed. Charles Webster (London: Duckworth, 1975), 317-339.
3Robert Boyle, New Experiments Physical-Mechanical, Touching the Spring of the Air, and its Effects Made, for the most part, in a New Pnuematical Engine, 1682 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 707:11, 1981), 22 emphasis his. The spelling, capitalization, and italics of the primary sources are retained in each quotation.
4Reijer Hooykaas, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 17. This concept is discussed in Robert Boyle, A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Receiv'd Notion of Nature, 1682, completed in part in 1666, (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 15:11, 1981).
5Louis T. More, The Life and Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle (London: Oxford University Press, 1944), 48.
6Robert Boyle, The Christian Virtuoso, 1690 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 172:8, 1981), 4. By the term "philosophy" (new philosophy, experimental philosophy, etc.), seventeenth century writers mean what we understand by the concept "science" today. By "reason and experience" he means the experience of experimentation and the thinking process involved in the interpretation of the data.
7Mathematically, the law is stated as PV=B (at constant temperature and amount, the pressure exerted on a gas times its volume is always constant, in other words, as the pressure increases, the volume decreases and vice versa). This relationship allows the scientist to calculate changes in volume or pressure by solving the equation
8Walter E. Houghton, Jr., "The English Virtuoso in the Seventeenth Century," Journal of the History of Ideas, 3 (1942): 51-73, 190-219.
9Boyle, Virtuoso, 5-6.
10Boyle, Virtuoso, 7.
11Marie Boas, Robert Boyle and Seventeenth-Century Chemistry (Cambridge: University Press, 1958), 5.
12Cited in Boas, Robert Boyle, 6.
13Westfall, Science and Religion, 20-21.
14Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2d ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 143, and "Robert Boyle and Structural Chemistry in the Seventeenth Century," Isis 43 (April 1952): 26-29, argues that Boyle changed the chemical significance of an element. Boyle is sometimes referred to as the father of modern chemistry, but it is more appropriate to give this designation to Dalton, Lavoisier or Priestly in the eigthteenth century.
15Because of his conversion and education as a youth in Geneva according to J. R. Partington, A History of Chemistry (London: Macmillan, 1961), II, 486.
16Hooykaas, Religion Modern Science, 143.
17Barbara J. Shapiro, Probability and Certainty in Seventeenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 94-101, places Boyle on the Anglican side of the Anglican/Roman Catholic debate over the certainty of Scripture and the authority of oral tradition.
18John Wilkins work, A Discourse Concerning Another Planet. The actual quote was taken from David A. Bass, "Accommodation in A Discourse Concerning Another Planet (1640) of John Wilkins," (master's thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1989), 58.
19Stillman Drake, Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957), 186.
20Quoted in Robert Westman, "The Copernicans and the Churches," in God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, ed. David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 92.
21Boyle, Usefulness, 30. For a discussion of his controversy with Helmont, see Eugene Klaaren, Religious Origins of Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 116, 119, 147.
22Boyle, Style, 4.
23Boyle, Usefulness, 31.
24Boyle, Usefulness 36.
25Boyle, Usefulness 25.
26Boyle, Style, 78. Boyle would have preferred the NASB translation All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable" rather than the NASB footnote possibility "Every Scripture inspired by God is also profitable Y" (2 Tim. 3:16) which suggests that a passage may be in the Bible and yet lack inspiration.
27Boyle, Style. The subtitle explains that these considerations were "extracted from several parts of a discourse (concerning divers particulars belonging to the Bible) written divers years since to a friend." The preface clarifies that the discourse was composed 9-10 years earlier (1653-54) while he was still a "green youth" (of about 26-27). There is no indication that he ever changed his mind on any of these points throughout his lifetime. The title page also quotes Ps. 119:103 in Hebrew and 2 Tim. 3:16 in Greek.
28Boyle, Style, 59-60, 65.
29Boyle, Style, 60.
30Boyle, Style, 64-65. Instead of "and," the sense may often be conveyed more accurtately by "but, or, so, when, therefore, yet, then, because, now, as, and though."
31Boyle, Style, 11. These are words which occur only once in the Old Testament or New Testament as a whole.
32Boyle, Style, 14.
33Boyle, Style, 63.
34Boyle, Style, 21-29. For example, the laws of the first five books of Moses (Boyle does not deny Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch) must first be viewed as a message for people of a past age.
35Boyle, Style, 8.
36The distinction is between the actual wording (Ketib) of the Hebrew text and the corrected reading (Qere) of the margin designed to be read in place of the Ketib.
37The Tiqqune Sopherim are the eighteen decrees of the scribes which often altered the text to eliminate anthropomorphisms, cf. Gleason Archer, Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1964), 61.
38Boyle, Style, 93-94.
39Boyle, Style, 95.
40Boyle, Style, 94.
41Boyle, Style, 16.
42More, Life and Works, 47.
43Klaaren, Religious Origins, 107.
44John Dillengerger, Protestant Thought and Natural Science (London: Collins, 1961), 117.
45Boyle, Style, 19.
46Boyle, Usefulness, 22.
47Boyle, Usefulness, 22.
48Boyle, Usefulness, 23-25.
49Boyle, Usefulness, 30-3l.
50Boyle, Usefulness, 32-34. Jack Rogers and Donald McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach (New York: Harper and Row, 1979), 228, criticize Boyle because of his lack of references to Christ. "The Bible was seen less as a record of God's relationship to people than as a further and higher revelation of His power." Statistically this may be true. However, his references to the power of God stem from the nature of his writings. When addressing matters of science and the Bible, one speaks more about God than Christ. This does not imply that Boyle replaced "the loving God of redemption" with an "omnipotent Creator."
51Robert Boyle, Seraphick Love, 1959 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1981).
52Boyle, Usefulness, 43-51, especially 47 on the medicinal use of creation.
53Boyle, Style, 45. Boyle, Usefulness, 124-25.
54Robert Boyle, Reflections on a Theological Distinction, 1690 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 172:8, 1981), 20. Intellectual reasoning was certainly a part of Boyle's epistemology in both scientific and biblical studies. However, in A Discourse on Things Above Reason, 1681 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 15:9, 1981), 19, 28-29, he stressed that there are limitations to reason. Reason should not be allowed to judge what God's revelation could or could not do.
55Robert Boyle Some Pyhsico-Theological Considerations about the Possibility of the Resurrection, 1675 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 15:15, 1981), 36, in a context which considers miracles in nature.
56Cited in Dillenberger, Protestant Thought, 113.
57Boyle, Virtuoso, 1.
58Boyle, Usefulness, 25-26.
59Boyle, Resurrection, 36-37.
60Boyle, Resurrection, 34.
61Boyle, Usefulness, 30.
62Boyle, Usefulness, 30.
63The argument that phenomenal language does not imply error is developed by John H. Gerstner, "The View of the Bible Held by the Church: Calvin and the Westminster Divines," in Inerrancy, ed. Norman L. Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 388, 393-94. He quotes A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Valley Forge, PA Judson Press, 1907), 223, who asks, "Would it be preferable, in the Old Testament, if we should read: `When the revolution of the earth upon its axis caused the rays of the solar luminary to impinge horizontally upon the retina, Isaac went out to meditate' (Gen. 24:63)?"
64Socinus in his work "Epitome of a Colloquium Held in Racow in the Year 1601," as quoted with comment by Glenn Sunshine, Accommodation in Calvin and Socinus: A Study in Contrasts (master's thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1985), 68.
65John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Library of Christian Classics, Vol. 20, ed. John T. McNeill, translated by Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 121.
66For a definition of the Naturalist position see William Craig, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus during the Deist Controversy (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1983), 359-60.
67Kenneth Radant, "Truth Discovered - Truth Revealed: A Theological-Historical Study of the Integration of Revelation and Changing Human Science in Selected English Natural Histories of the Earth; 1680-1700 (master's thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1987), 123.