Nature of the Species

Darwin, Charles Galton, Sir
1954-06-14

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Charles G. Darwin, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University, describes his belief that human nature (as it stands) will lead to a decline in social conditions, unless society focuses on the science of heredity. Audio also contains an advertisement for "This I Believe" book, Volume II.

Subjects
Moral law
Regression (Civilization)
Heredity
Avarice
Materialism
Great Britain
University of Edinburgh
Permanent URL
http://hdl.handle.net/10427/75963
ID: tufts:MS025.006.011.00003.00003
To Cite: DCA Citation Guide
Usage: Detailed Rights
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Sir Charles Galton Darwin is a physicist. He is also a eugenicist, and in his latest work, The Next Million Years, he has warned of the perils to mankind of ignoring this science. He has been Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University, Master at Christ College Cambridge, and Director of the National Physical Laboratory from 1938 until his retirement in 1949. While there, he was in charge of the laboratory's electronic
brain. He was one of Britain's chief scientific administrations during World War II, and his is the credit for the device known as Mulberry, which was the artificial harbor for D-Day. Here now is Sir Charles Galton Darwin.
I recognize fully that the appeal of things in life will be different for different people, and I can only say what I have found the most important things in life for myself. I count as one of the most important things in the world the understanding of the world. I have spent most of my time
working at the physical sciences, and I count myself fortunate in having lived through the heroic age of physics when-what with relativity and the quantum theory -our understanding of the nature of inanimate matter has been so much revolutionized as it was three hundred years ago in the days of Newton.
This has been the science I have mostly studied, but I have always had a lively interest in biological subjects too, and these have much affected what I believe. Among such subjects one is the question of human nature,
and this has colored my view of what will happen to mankind in the future. I believe that a great deal of what's now being attempted for our betterment is doomed to fail, and so I don't share the particular enthusiasms of many of the would-be benefactors of humanity.
It is true that there have been immense improvements in material conditions during the past century, but they are quite external and they leave man's fundamental nature no better than it was before. So too the intellectual triumphs of recent years don't
signify that man has become any more intelligent than he was in the preceding dark ages. I see no safeguard for us against a relapse into conditions like those exemplified in the sad records of past history.
The main hope of bringing about any real betterment in mankind depends on a different thing; it must be based on applying the idea of heredity, a science that's already understood in its principles, though hardly yet in many of its applications. Holding this, I believe intensely in the importance of the family as the
continuing unit of human life. When the science of eugenics has been more fully developed, there may be a hope on those lines of really bettering humanity.
These are the things that for me are consciously of chief importance. But underlying them there are others. The great Philosopher Kant once said that there were two things that continually filled him with wonder: the starry heavens above him and the moral law within him.
Like him I too continually wonder at the moral law within me, which dictates my conduct,
or perhaps I ought to say the ideals of conduct which I wish I could fulfill. But I am entirely lacking in the thing which so many people seem to regard as their mainstay in life, a mystical sense of religion. This I lack, and I am perfectly content to be without it.
Those were the personal beliefs of Sir Charles Darwin. And here's news: a brand new This I Believe book with 100 new beliefs now at your bookstore. Of these 100 new beliefs, 80 are
from living men and women from all walks of life, 20 are the beliefs of immortals, the 20 men and women selected from all history whose beliefs would most interest and help you. The world's leading biographer of each immortal has written his belief from his own writings and sayings, forward by Edward R. Murrow. For yourself and for a gift, get Volume Two, the new book This I Believe.