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Talk:Charles Babbage

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Is he a creationist?

I am writing this since you have categorised Charles Babbage as a creationist. The Answers in Genesis article used as reference states that Babbage was Christian and had belief in life after death. None of refrences by AiGCharles Babbage was the author of Ninth Bridgewater Treatsie according to which God just created the world and set it in motion. Here is an online copy of the above said treatsie. He rejects the idea world could be 6000 years as described by Moses but Millions of years according to the geological data. This from the forth chapter On the Account of the Creation, in the First Chapter of Genesis.

A strange and singular argument has frequently been brought against the truth of the facts presented to us by Geology,—facts which every instructed person may confirm by the evidence of his senses. It has been asserted that they cannot be true; because, if admitted, they lead inevitably to the conclusion, that the earth has existed for an enormous period, extending, perhaps, over millions of years; whereas, it was supposed, from the history of the creation as delivered by Moses, that the earth was first created about six thousand years ago. A different interpretation has been lately put upon that passage of the sacred writings; and, according to the highest authorities of the present time, it was not the intention of the writer of the book of Genesis to assign this date to the creation of our globe, but only to that of its most favoured inhabitants. Now, it is obvious that additional observations, and another advance in science, may at no distant period render necessary another interpretation of the Mosaic narrative; and this again, at a more remote time, may be superseded by one more in accordance with the existing knowledge of that day. And thus, the authority of Scripture will be gradually undermined by the weak though well-intentioned efforts of its friends in its support. For it is clear that when a work, translated by persons most highly instructed in its language, and seeking, in plainness and sincerity, to understand its true meaning, admits of such discordant interpretations, it can have little authority as a history of the past, or a guide to the future. It is time, therefore, to examine this question by another light, and to point out to those who support what is called the literal interpretation of Scripture, the precipice to which their doctrines, if true, would inevitably lead; and to show, not by the glimmerings of elaborate criticism, but by the plainest principles of common sense, that there exists no such fatal collision between the words of Scripture and the facts of nature.

Charles Babbage was a friend of Charles Darwin[1]. Charles Darwin was influenced by Babbage in formulating his theories.[2]

He was the author of the "Ninth Bridgewater Treatise," a paper which illustrated the divine laws of nature. Babbage created his analytical engine to show how these divine laws work. Influence Babbage introduced Charles Darwin to the notion that everything in nature works according to specific laws. This idea prompted Darwin to seek out these mysterious laws of nature as they apply to the transmutation of species. However, after tinkering with his transmutation ideas for a short time, Charles Darwin came to see that random chance events in the natural world must also play a role in species modification.

From a Darwin's biography.

It was at this party, at the beginning of March, that Darwin would have first seen the demonstration model of Babbage’s Difference Engine, the first all-purpose calculating machine. During this period, Babbage was demonstrating his machine at his soirees to make the point that God was something like a “Divine Programmer” who had pre-set his creation with all the future alterations necessary to bring about the origin of new species. God did not need to constantly tinker in the world, personally creating new species. Babbage’s argument dovetailed nicely with the speculations Darwin had begun while on the Beagle. It was within two weeks of this soiree that Darwin made his first comment (in one of his notebooks) suggesting that evolution of species was a real possibility.

Charles Babbage had the idea of God as a divine programmer [3] which is different from concept of an absolute creator. He was more close to theistic evolution and not like mainstream creationists now. So I do not think it would be correct to call him a creationist. I could not find about his opinion on The Origin of Species, either in support or rejection. He and Darwin should have talked about it but I could not found anything on it on net. It is true that he was Christian. The Answers in Genesis article and its references and other creationist source does not say he rejected Darwin's idea. So I do not think it would be right to call him a creationist.--EvilFlyingMonkey 11:13, 9 October 2011 (PDT)

Creationist means belief that God created the universe. As per your quote in the BDE Journal blogspot; "Infinite Power which created every thing around us." That is VERY creationist. Theistic evolution is still creationist. But old earth creationism as opposed to young earth creationism. --Tsommer (Tony) 22:40, 9 October 2011 (PDT)
I'm not going to be so emphatic. "Creationist" can indeed refer to any belief that has God creating (and perhaps it need not be limited to that), so, technically at least, Babbage was a creationist. However, it's also true that the term "creationist" is mostly used of a biblical (young Earth) creationist, which Babbage was apparently not. Also, I came across another claim that Babbage wasn't even a Christian, but a deist (although that still doesn't disqualify him as being a creationist in the broader sense).
His possible influence on, or agreement with, Darwin is a separate matter. In Darwin's time most people accepted an old Greek view that the various species of animals and plants had been created just as they are and just where they exist. This "fixity of species" idea came to be associated with the biblical claim of living things reproducing "after their kind", and Darwin was correct at least in the respect that species weren't fixed in the rigid sense that was understood at the time. But although he observed that species could change, he extrapolated this to unlimited change, something that has not been observed and there is good reason to believe is impossible. That Babbage might have been in agreement with him on the point of rejecting the "fixity of species" idea is neither here nor there, given that (biblical) creationists also reject that idea.
Philip J. Rayment 07:44, 10 October 2011 (PDT)