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Robert Boyle

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Robert Boyle

Robert Boyle (Born::January 25, 1627Died::December 31, 1691) was an English natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor, gentleman scientist, and devout Anglican who is considered to be the father of modern chemistry.


Boyle was born in Lismore Castle, in County Waterford, Ireland on January 25, 1627, the seventh son and fourteenth child of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork. In Boyle's day, alchemy was more popular than true chemistry, being a medieval chemical philosophy looking to change common metals into gold, find a panacea (something that can cure every illness), and make an elixir that gave long life and everlasting youth. Chemistry is more the study of what substances are made of and their properties.

Although Robert Boyle believed in the possibility of the transmutation of metals, he made great contributions towards science, and through his work he advocated the scientific experimental method.

  • He invented a vacuum pump and used it to prove that air was important to transmit sound.
  • He discovered and formulated his gas law (called Boyle's law) which states that if the temperature is constant, pressure is inversely proportional to volume. To translate, that means that as pressure (the force applied to an area) increases, the volume of (the space occupied by) a gas gets smaller and vice versa.
  • He advanced the modern view of chemical elements as the smallest part of a substance that cannot be separated into simpler substances.
  • He understood the difference between compounds (two more elements actually joined together) and mixtures (two or more elements simply mixed together, but not joined), tried to develop techniques of finding their ingredients, a technique he called "analysis".

As a Bible-believing Christian and enthusiastic student of the Bible, Boyle spent much of his time and money ensuring that the Gospel was preached and defended against other religions like paganism and atheism. He felt a strong need to study the Scriptures in their original languages to better understand them. He was also a founding member of the Royal Society of London.

In 1690, the year before he died, Boyle published a delightful work called The Christian Virtuoso. In this book he explained that the study and dominion of nature is a duty that God has given to humans. Boyle's basis for this was Genesis 1:28, in which God the Creator blessed the first man and woman and told them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it, and to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every living thing that moves on earth.

Robert Boyle showed in his writings and lectures that science and trust in God can exist together. He praised his Creator for the scientific discoveries he had made, and urged others to do likewise. He saw that the universe works in accordance with laws that God set up for its order and control. He strongly supported missionary work and organizations that promoted the Gospel. Shortly before he died in London on December 30, 1691, he made provision in his will for the famous Boyle Lectures for the defence of Christianity.


  • General Introduction, Textual Note, Invitation to Free Communication, 1655.
  • Perreaud’s Devil of Mascon, 1658.
  • de Bils’s Large Act of Anatomy, 1659.
  • Seraphic Love, 1659, 1663.
  • Spring of the Air, 1660.
  • Certain Physiological Essays, 2nd ed., 1669.
  • Sceptical Chymist, 1661.
  • Style of the Scriptures, 1661.
  • Defence and Examen, 1662.
  • Usefulness of Natural Philosophy, I and II sect 1, 1663.
  • Experiments touching Colours, 1664.
  • New Experiments touching Cold, 1665.
  • Occasional Reflections, 1665.
  • Hydrostatical Paradoxes, 1666.
  • Origin of Forms and Qualities, 1666, 1667.
  • Phil. Trans. papers, 1665-7.
  • "New Experiments", Phil. Trans., 1668,1670.
  • Spring of the Air, 1st Continuation, 1669.
  • Absolute Rest in Bodies, 1669.
  • Rarefaction of the Air, 1670.
  • Cosmical Qualities, 1670.
  • Usefulness of Natural Philosophy, II sect 2, 1671.
  • Origin and Virtues of Gems, 1672.
  • Relations betwixt Flame and Air, 1672.
  • Essays of Effluviums, 1673.
  • Saltness of the Sea, 1673.
  • Phil. Trans. items, 1671-3.
  • Excellency of Theology, 1674.
  • Hidden Qualities of the Air, 1674.
  • Reason and Religion, 1675.
  • Mechanical Origin of Qualities, 1675.
  • Phil. Trans. items, 1674-6.
  • Degradation of Gold, 1678.
  • Producibleness of Chymical Principles, 1680.
  • Spring of the Air, 2nd Continuation Eng. trans., 1682.
  • Aerial Noctiluca, 1680.
  • Icy Noctiluca, 1682.
  • Things above Reason, 1681.
  • Salt-water Sweetened, 1683.
  • Items contributed to Hooke’s Philosophical Collections and various Phil. Trans. articles.
  • Natural History of Human Blood, 1684.
  • Experiments about Porosity, 1684.
  • High Veneration to God, 1684-5.
  • Experimental History of Mineral Waters, 1685.
  • Languid and Unheeded Motion, 1685.
  • Specific Medicines, 1685.
  • Vulgarly Receiv’d Notion of Nature, 1686.
  • Martyrdom of Theodora, 1687.
  • Final Causes, 1688.
  • Advertisement, 1688.
  • Some Receipts of Medicines, 1688.
  • Catalogue of Writings, 1688.
  • Medicina Hydrostatica, 1690.
  • Christian Virtuoso, 1690-1.
  • Experimenta et Observationes Physicae, 1691.

Posthumous publications

  • Posthumous Phil. Trans. papers.
  • General History of the Air, 1692.
  • Medicinal Experiments, 1692-4.
  • Discourse against Customary Swearing, 1695.
  • Christian Virtuoso I, Appendix, and II, 1744.
  • Papers in Birch’s Life of Boyle, 1744.

See Also

Related References