Boyle Lectures

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

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

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 early lecturers were specifically charged to prove the truth of the Christian religion against Jews, Muslims and non-believers, without considering any controversies or differences that might exist between different Christian groups. A clergyman was to be appointed to the lectureship for a term of no more than three years by Thomas Tenison (later Archbishop of Canterbury) and three other nominated trustees.[3] Boyle had assigned the rent from his house in Crooked Lane to support the lectures but the income from that source soon disappeared. Archbishop Tenison then arranged that the rental income from a farm in the parish of Brill in Buckinghamshire was to be paid at the rate of £12.10.00 per quarter to the lecturer.[4]

The Boyle Lectures were revived in 2004 at the famous Wren church of St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London by Dr Michael Byrne, a Fellow of Birkbeck College London. Financial support for the lectures has been provided by a number of patrons, principally the Worshipful Company of Grocers and the Worshipful Company of Mercers in the City. 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'.

Having convened the first 15 lectures in the new series, Michael Byrne stepped down as Convenor in 2018. Management of the lecture then passed to the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR) in cooperation with the Boyle Lectures Board of Trustees. Members of the board include John Boyle, 15th Earl of Cork; the Hon. Robert Boyle; Julian Tregoning, Past Master of the Grocers' Company; Xenia Dennan, Past Master of the Mercers Company; the Revd George R. Bush, Rector of St Mary-le-Bow; Emeritus Professor John Hedley Brooke; Dr Russell Re Manning; Professor Fraser Watts; and the Revd Michael Reiss, President of the ISSR.

The lecturesEdit


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  4. ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1st ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  24. ^ 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
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External linksEdit