Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage ( 1701-1871) was an English philospher and first computer scientist who originated the idea of a programmable computer. Ada Lovelace worked for him.

I am fond of Charles Babbage because:
1: He liked Toolmakers, of which I was once one.
2: He does not like stupid questions.
3 and 4: He explains religious ideas clearly and succinctly.

On Toolmakers:
“The successful construction of all machinery depends on the perfection of the tools employed; and whoever is a master in the arts of tool-making possesses the key to the construction of all machines… The contrivance and construction of tools must therefore ever stand at the head of the industrial arts.”

p. 173; As cited in: Samuel Smiles (1864) Industrial biography; iron-workers and tool-makers, p. 245

On Stupidity:
On two occasions I have been asked, — “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864), ch. 5 "Difference Engine No. 1"

On the Creator:

In the works of the Creator ever open to our examination, we possess a firm basis on which to raise the superstructure of an enlightened creed.

The more man inquires into the laws which regulate the material universe, the more he is convinced that all its varied forms arise from the action of a few simple principles. These principles themselves converge, with accelerating force, towards some still more comprehensive law to which all matter seems to be submitted.

Simple as that law may possibly be, it must be remembered that it is only one amongst an infinite number of simple laws: that each of these laws has consequences at least as extensive as the existing one, and therefore that the Creator who selected the present law must have foreseen the consequences of all other laws.

The works of the Creator, ever present to our senses, give a living and perpetual testimony of his power and goodness far surpassing any evidence transmitted through human testimony. The testimony of man becomes fainter at every stage of transmission, whilst each new inquiry into the works of the Almighty gives to us more exalted views of his wisdom, his goodness, and his power.

“Passages from the life of a philosopher”, The Belief In The Creator From His Works, p. 402

On religion

The true value of the religion rests, not upon speculative views of the Creator, which must necessarily be different in each individual, according to the extent of the knowledge of the finite being, who employs his own feeble powers in contemplating the infinite : but it rests upon those doctrines of kindness and benevolence which that religion claims and enforces, not merely in favour of man himself but of every creature susceptible of pain or of happiness.

    "Passages from the life of a philosopher", The Basis Of Virtue Is Truth, p. 404-405

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