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Babbage, Charles - The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise



Type of Spiritual Experience


Here Babbage is musing on the universe as system and contemplating what he calls 'laws', but which we might analogously call programs or functions.  He is fascinated by how complex they are but also predictable.  In effect, although we may not be able to  imagine what instructions exist that supports this type of activity, there is clearly a defined set of instructions at work

A description of the experience

from The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise: A fragment - Charles Babbage

The laws of animal life which regulate the caterpillar, seem totally distinct from those which, in the subsequent stage of its existence, govern the butterfly.  The difference is still more remarkable in the transformations undergone by that class of animals which spend the first portion of their life beneath the surface of the waters and the latter part as inhabitants of air.  It is true that the periods during which these laws continue to act are not, to our senses enormous, ...... but it cannot be doubted that immeasurably more complex as they are, they were equally foreknown by their author and that the first creation of the egg of the moth, or the libellula, involved within its contrivance, as a necessary consequence, the whole of the subsequent transformations of every individual of their respective races.

The source of the experience

Babbage, Charles

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

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