This I Believe

DuBridge, Lee A. (Lee Alvin), 1901-1994

  • Lee DuBridge describes his beliefs in science, both what can be understood now, and what will be explained as civilization progresses toward the future.
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Lee A. Dubridge is a physicist and educator. He is now the president of one of this country's leading technical colleges, the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Before the war, he was a professor of physics, and a dean, at the University of Rochester. During World War II, he carried on radar research under the National Defense Research Committee. He has been associated with many governmental and private scientific groups. Here is Dr. Dubridge.
As a scientist, I believe of course in Newton's law of gravitation, in the law of conservation of energy, in the theory of relativity, and in many other great scientific principles. I believe these principles because I've seen them tested and confirmed in the laboratory. I've studied the great mass of evidence which supports them and have learned how useful and fruitful they are in practical application. But deeper then this, I share with other scientists beliefs about the physical world for which the evidence is less direct, or is even unobtainable. I believe, for example, that nature behaves in a regular way, that it is governed by natural laws, and that the human mind is capable of discovering these laws, of understanding them and using them.
In coming years, in coming generations, in coming centuries, the human mind will, I believe, achieve an evermore perfect and yet never fully perfect understanding of nature and of man himself. And I also believe that acquiring this understanding is a worthwhile effort in itself. This carries me a step further and leads me to a belief in the human mind, a belief in the value of intellectual achievement.
As I look back over the centuries and millennia of human struggle, I am impressed with the way in which knowledge and understanding have continued to accumulate. The magnificence of the sum total of human intellectual achievement is awe-inspiring indeed and leads me to a faith in the future. If knowledge and understanding continue to increase, human beings will be able to attain even better conditions under which to live on this planet. New knowledge, new understanding
will mean new advances in human welfare.
But here we enter the really fundamental area of belief. What is human welfare? What is good? What is bad? What is worthwhile? One can answer these questions of value and of goodness not on the basis of purely intellectual effort, but only on the basis of accepted moral principles. This does not mean that one should not use intelligence in the selection of the moral principles in which one believes. But in the end, one is forced to say simply, "I do believe."
I do believe that just as there are physical laws in the universe, so there are also moral laws. I believe that these moral laws not only contain the principles which should govern man's behavior, but they also constitute that which gives purpose and meaning to life
itself. I believe that these moral principles as they are set forth in the Old and the New Testaments have a divine origin, that man in discovering these laws, or having them revealed to him, has revealed his own divinity. And in this divinity lies his strength and his hope for the future. I believe that men everywhere are impelled by these moral laws to strive for peace, for happiness, for brotherhood, and goodwill among men, and that man's intellectual efforts aimed toward these moral goals can and will bring him ever closer to them.
That was Dr. Lee A. Dubridge, the president of the California Institute of Technology. He lives with his wife and two children in Pasadena.