Breaking Glass

The Miracle Program

I wrote recently about the silly contemporary myth that portrays Christianity as implacably opposed to science and progress.  The legend is thoroughly disproved by an abundance of counterexamples, but some of the available correctives are so powerfully convincing that they startle, and it is odd that Christian apologists have not used them more freely against atheist and secularist militants.

Who today has heard of the Bridgewater Treatises?  In 1829, the earl of Bridgewater left a will devoting funds to support the publication of essays “On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God as manifested in the Creation.”  A series of treatises appeared over the following decade, authored by some of the greatest minds of a dazzling age of scientific creativity, including such towering geniuses as William Whewell and William Buckland.

Arguably the greatest contributor of them all was Charles Babbage (1791-1871), a polymath who carved out areas of expertise in mathematics, economics, statistics, and astronomy.  His name resonates even with people who know nothing about Victorian science or culture, and particularly among high-tech practitioners.  Babbage, after all, features near the beginning of most histories of computing, because he designed a so-called Difference Engine that would have been the world’s first programmable computer—and modern reconstructions show that it would have worked.  His...

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