Charles Babbage Quotes
Total quotes (20)
Total quotes (20)
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.
Books by Charles Babbage
If we define a miracle as an effect of which the cause is unknown to us, then we make our ignorance the source of miracles! and the universe itself would be a standing miracle. A miracle might be perhaps defined more exactly as an effect which is not the consequence or effect of any known laws of nature.
The limits of man's observation lie within very narrow boundaries, and it would be arrogance to suppose that the reach of man's power is to form the limits of the natural world. The universe offers daily proof of the existence of power of which we know nothing, but whose mighty agency nevertheless manifestly appears in the most familiar works of creation.
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.
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.
Almost all thinking men who have studied the laws which govern the animate and the inanimate world around us, agree that the belief in the existence of one Supreme Creator, possessed of infinite wisdom and power, is open to far less difficulties than the supposition of the absence of any cause, or of the existence of a plurality of causes.
We must be careful to discriminate between our own incapacity to test truth and the necessary improbability of an event. It is plain that from our ignorance of the remote spheres of God's action we cannot judge of His works removed from our experience; but a fact is not necessarily doubtful because it cannot be reached by our ordinary senses.
Fortunate circumstances must concur, even to the greatest, to render them eminently successful. It is not permitted to all to be born, like Archimedes, when a science was to be created; nor, like Newton, to find the system of the world "without form and void;" and, by disclosing gravitation, to shed throughout that system the same irresistible radiance as that with which the Almighty Creator had illumined its material substance. It can happen to but few philosophers, and but at distant intervals, to snatch a science, like Dalton, from the chaos of indefinite combination, and binding it in the chains of number, to exalt it to rank amongst the exact.
The true value of the Christian 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.
If this were true, the population of the world would be at a stand-still. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of death. I would suggest that the next edition of your poem should read: ‘Every moment dies a man, every moment 1 1/16 is born.’ Strictly speaking, the actual figure is so long I cannot get it into a line, but I believe the figure 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.
There is nothing in the nature of a miracle that should render it incredible: its credibility depends upon the nature of the evidence by which it is supported. An event of extreme probability will not necessarily command our belief unless upon a sufficiency of proof; and so an event which we may regard as highly improbable may command our belief if it is sustained by sufficient evidence. So that the credibility or incredibility of an event does not rest upon the nature of the event itself, but depends upon the nature and sufficiency of the proof which sustains it.
The foundation of all religion is the belief in a God, and that He exists in certain relation with His creatures. Such belief necessarily leads to the consciousness of some obligation towards the Deity; and this consciousness suggests the duty of worship; and in the selection of the form of this worship originates the various creeds which distinguish and distract mankind. There is a sort of geography of religion; and I regret to think that the majority of mankind take their creed from the clime in which they happen to be born; and that many, and not an inconsiderable portion of mankind, suffer the sacred torch to burn out altogether, in their contact with the world, and then vainly imagine that they can recover the sacred fire by striking a park out of dogmatic theology.