Boyle Lectures

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The Boyle Lectures were named after Robert Boyle, son of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, and a prominent natural philosopher of the 17th century. Under the terms of his will Boyle endowed a series of lectures or sermons (originally eight each year) which were to serve as a public forum in which to consider the relationship between Christianity and the new natural philosophy (what we today term 'science') then emerging in European society.

The first such lecture was given in 1692 by Richard Bentley to whom Isaac Newton wrote:

Sir, When I wrote my Treatise about our System, I had an Eye upon such Principles as might work with considering Men, for the Belief of a Deity; nothing can rejoice me more than to find it useful for that Purpose.[1][2]

The lecturers were specifically charged to prove the truth of the Christian religion against infidels, without descending to any controversies among Christians; and to answer new difficulties, scruples, etc. Some lecturers targeted Christian Deism.[3] A learned theologian within the Bills of Mortality, was to be elected for a term, not exceeding three years, by Thomas Tenison (later Archbishop of Canterbury), and three others.[4] To support the lectures, Boyle assigned the rent of his house in Crooked Lane. But the fund proving precarious, the salary was ill-paid. To remedy this, Archbishop Tenison procured a yearly stipend of 50 pounds, forever, to be paid quarterly, charged on a farm in the parish of Brill, Buckinghamshire.[5]

The Boyle lectures were revived in 2004 at the Anglican church of St Mary-le-Bow by Michael Byrne. They now take place annually and are administered by a board whose members include John Boyle, 15th Earl of Cork; Robert Boyle; Julian Tregoning; David Vermont; George R. Bush; John Hedley Brooke; Alister McGrath; Russell Re Manning; and Michael Byrne (Convenor). A book to mark the 10th anniversary of the revived series was edited by Russell Re Manning and Michael Byrne and published by SCM Press in 2013 as 'Science and Religion in the Twenty-First Century: The Boyle Lectures 2004-2013'.

The lectures[edit]


  1. ^ Scholars and Antiquaries (The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21))
  2. ^ "Notes on the Religious Orientation of Scientists" by Gerald Holton in Science Ponders Religion, Harlow Shapley, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960, p. 59
  3. ^ Franklin, Benjamin (1909–14). "112". His Autobiography. The Harvard Classics. 1. New York: P.F. Collier & Son. p. 1. ISBN 0-8370-2638-5. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  4. ^ a b Newton, Thomas (1808). Dissertations on the prophecies : which have remarkably been fulfilled and at this time are fulfilling in the world. 1. Berwick: Printed by W. Gracie for J. Rennison [etc.] p. 257. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  5. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z J. H. Parker's Divinity Catalogue. Oxford. 1837. p. 39. ISBN 0-524-00298-3.  (titles might be trimmed)
  7. ^ Bentley, Richard (1976). Eight Boyle Lectures on Atheism. New York: Garland. ISBN 978-0-8240-1752-1. 
  8. ^ Separate first editions of lectures #2–8: Bentley, Richard (1692). Matter and Motion Cannot Think, Or A Confutation of Atheism from the Faculties of the Soul. London: T. Parkhurst and H. Mortlock. Archived from the original on 2005-05-10. Retrieved 2008-09-16.  A Confutation of Atheism from the Structure and Origin of Humane Bodies. London. 1692. Archived from the original on 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2008-09-16.  A Confutation of Atheism from the Origin and Frame of the World. London. 1693. Archived from the original on 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2008-09-16.  The eight lectures, from 1735 edition, reprinted Alexander Dyce, ed. (1838). The Works of Richard Bentley, Vol. 3. London: Francis Macpherson.  First full edition, in html Archived 2011-05-24 at the Wayback Machine..
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Burnet, Gilbert (fl. 1737), ed. (2000). Boyle Lectures (1692–1732): A Defence of Natural and Revealed Religion, being an Abridgement of the Sermons preached at the Lectures founded by Robert Boyle. Philosophy and Christian Thought in Britain 1700–1900. Bristol: Thoemmes. ISBN 978-1-85506-813-1. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Horne, Thomas Hartwell (1827). A Catalogue of the Library of the College of St. Margaret and St. Bernard: Commonly Called Queen's College, in the University of Cambridge. London: S. and R. Bentley. pp. 301–304. 
  11. ^ Monk, James Henry (1833). The life of Richard Bentley, with an account of his writings and anecdotes of many distinguished characters during the period in which he flourished. University of California Libraries. London : Printed for J. G. & F. Rivington. 
  12. ^ Williams, J., Five Sermons at the Boyle Lectures
  13. ^ Williams, John (1695). [A collection of eight sermons preached in defense of the Christian religion, called the "Boyle lectures", 1694-1696]. London: Printed for Ric. Chitwell ... and Tho. Cockerill ... OCLC 26374055. 
  14. ^ Oliver, Ryan (December 2007). "Aliens and Atheists: The Plurality of Worlds and Natural Theology in Seventeenth-Century England". p. 66. Retrieved 2008-09-09. [permanent dead link]
  15. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). New York. 1911. p. 20. 
  16. ^ a b c d e "St Mary le Bow Church, London - Boyle Lectures". Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  17. ^ Clarke, Samuel. A Discourse Concerning the Being and Attributes of God, the Obligations of Natural Religion, and the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Revelation, in opposition to Hobbes, Spinoza, the author of the Oracles of Reason, and other Deniers of Natural and Revealed Religion (1823 ed.). Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  18. ^ a b "Clarke, Samuel". The Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). New York. 1911. 
  19. ^ Derham, William (1720). Physico-Theology, or a Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God from his Works of Creation (fifth ed.). London: W. and J. Innys. ISBN 0-405-10383-2. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  20. ^ Clarke, John (1720). An Enquiry into the Cause and Origin of Evil. London: James Knapton. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  21. ^[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ Burnett, Thomas (1726). A Demonstration of True Religion, in a Chain of Consequences from certain and undeniable Principles; wherein the Necessity and Certainty of Natural and Revealed Religion, with the Nature and Reason of both are explained, and in particular the Authority of the Christian Revelation is established, not only from the Natures, and Reasons of things, but also from the Relation it bears to the Scriptures of the Old Testament. London: Arthur Betyesworth.  Vol. 1; Vol. 2
  23. ^  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1888). "Denne, John". Dictionary of National Biography. 14. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  24. ^ Biscoe, Richard (1840). The History of the Acts of the Holy Apostles, confirmed from other Authors, and considered as full Evidence for the Truth of Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-548-70278-0. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  25. ^ Twells, Leonard (1743). Twenty-four Sermons Preach'd at the Parish Church of St. Mary Le Bow: London, in the Years 1739, 1740, 1741, at the Lecture Founded by the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq; and Eight Sermons Preach'd at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, in the Years 1738 and 1739, at the Lecture Founded by the Honoured Lady Moyer. To which are Added, A Visitation Sermon, A Sermon before the Religious Societies and a Charity Sermon. London. , Vol. 1; Vol. 2
  26. ^ Stebbing, Henry. Christianity justified upon the Scripture Foundation; being a Summery View of the Controversy between Christians and Deists. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  27. ^ Popkin, Richard Henry (1992). "Prognostics from Nostradamus to Hume". The Third Force in Seventeenth-century Thought. BRILL. p. 299. ISBN 978-90-04-09324-9. 
  28. ^ Wikisource:Moss, Charles (DNB00)
  29. ^ Owen, Henry (1773). The Intent and Propriety of the Scripture Miracles considered and explained. London. ISBN 1-104-31163-1.  Vol. 1; Vol. 2
  30. ^ Williamson, James (1783). An Argument for the Christian Religion, drawn from a Comparison of Revelation with the Natural Operations of the Mind. P. Elmsly. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Hunt, John. Religious Thought in England in the Nineteenth Century. pp. 38, 338–342. ISBN 978-1-4212-6545-2. 
  32. ^ Humphry, William (1858). Eight discourses on the miracles : preached in the parish church of St. Martin in the Fields in the year 1857 : at the lecture founded by the Hon. Robert Boyle. London: John W. Parker. OCLC 52633386. 
  33. ^ "The Christian observer". The Christian observer. London: Hatchard and Co. 60: 696–710. September 1861. 
  34. ^ Garbett, Edward (1861). The Bible and its critics: an enquiry into the objective reality of revealed truths ___ being the Boyle lectures for MDCCCLXI. London: Seeley and Griffiths. 
  35. ^ New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. I: Aachen - Basilians | Christian Classics Ethereal Library Archived February 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^ Leathes, Stanley (1868). The Witness of the Old Testament to Christ. London, Oxford and Cambridge: Rivingtons. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  37. ^ Leathes, Stanley (1869). The Witness of St. Paul to Christ. London, Oxford and Cambridge: Rivingtons. ISBN 0-8370-9713-4. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  38. ^ Leathes, Stanley (1870). The Witness of St. John to Christ. London, Oxford and Cambridge: Rivingtons. ISBN 0-8370-5662-4. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  39. ^ Wace, Henry (1882). Christianity and Morality Or the Correspondence of the Gospel with the Moral Nature of Man (Fifth ed.). London: Pickering. ISBN 0-7905-0410-3. 
  40. ^ a b "New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. I: Aachen - Basilians - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". 
  41. ^ Maclear, George Frederick (1883). The Evidential Value of the Holy Eucharist. London: Macmillan and Co. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  42. ^ Curteis, George Herbert (1885). The Scientific Obstacles to Christian Belief. London: Macmillan and Co. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  43. ^ Bonney, T. G. (1891). Old Truths in Modern Lights, with Other Sermons. New York: James Pott and Co. ISBN 0-8370-2412-9. 
  44. ^ Bonney, T. G. (1892). Christian Doctrines and Modern Thought. London: Longmans, Green and Co. 
  45. ^ Newbolt, William Charles Edmund (1896). The Gospel of Experience Or the Witness of Human Life to the Truth of Revelation. London, New York and Bombay: Longmans, Green & Co. 
  46. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Benham, William". Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement​. 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  47. ^ Knowling, Richard John (1905). The Testimony of St. Paul to Christ Viewed in Some of its Aspects. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 
  48. ^ Schaff, P. & Herzog J. J. , New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Volume VI, Innocents - Liudger, pp. 360–61 | Christian Classics Ethereal Library
  49. ^ Macdonald, A (1938). God, creation and revelation. London: John Heritage the Unicorn Press. OCLC 21108337. 

External links[edit]