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Forum Philosophicum

Volume 19, Issue 2, Autumn 2014

Jonathan S. Marko
Pages 227-239
DOI: 10.5840/forphil20141924

Above Reason Propositions and Contradiction in the Religious Thought of Robert Boyle

In this essay, I argue that Robert Boyle does not hold that true religion requires us to believe doctrines that are in violation of the law of noncontradiction or that it yields logical contradictions. Rather, due to the epistemological limitations of human reason, we are sometimes called to believe doctrines or propositions that are at first blush contradictory but, upon further inspection, not definitively so. This holds for doctrines considered singly or together and is an important qualifier to the traditional line of scholarship’s flat claim that Boyle’s limits of belief are logical contradictions. My conclusions here are at odds with Jan W. Wojcik’s claim, in her important, revisionist work on the famous natural philosopher, that he teaches that sometimes we are required to believe religious doctrines that violate the law of noncontradiction.