The Roots of Our Progress

Hoover, Herbert


  • President Hoover describes the importance of religious faith in life, science, and politics. A duplicate of this essay is on reel XTV-16923 (Box 002).
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. The figure of Herbert Hoover looms ever larger in contemporary history. No man better exemplifies the fulfillment of the American dream. Born a poor boy in the town of West Branch, Iowa in 1874, and reared a Quaker, he worked his way through Stanford University, earning an engineering degree. He married his college sweetheart, and together they enjoyed a long and happy life until her death in 1944. His fortune made, before he was fifty, Mr. Hoover thereafter devoted himself to the service of his
fellow men, beginning with Belgian war relief. Later, he became Secretary of Commerce, and in 1929, the 31st President of the United States. The figure of Herbert Hoover has become a kind of fixture in the turbulent sweep of world history in which we now live. Out of the accumulated wisdom of his 78 years, Mr. Hoover now speaks to us of his personal beliefs.
My professional training was in science and engineering. That is a training in the search for truth and its application to the use of mankind. With the growth of science, we have a continuous contention from a tribe of atheistic and agnostic philosophers that there is an implacable conflict between science and religion, in which religion will be vanquished. I do not believe it.
I believe not only that religious faith will be victorious, but that it is vital to mankind that it shall be. We may differ in form and particulars in our religious faith. Those are matters which are sacred to each of our inner sanctuaries, but it is our privilege to decline to argue about it. The real demonstration is the lives that we live.
But there is one foundation common to all religious faith.
Our discoveries in science have proved that all the way from the galaxies in the heavens to the constitution of the atom, the universe is controlled by inflexible law. Somewhere a supreme power created these laws. At some period, man was differentiated from the beast,
and was endowed with a spirit from which springs conscience, idealism, and spiritual yearnings. It is impossible to believe that there is not here a divine touch and a purpose from the creator of the universe. I believe we can express these things only in religious faith.
From their religious faith, the founding fathers enunciated the most fundamental law of human progress since the Sermon on the Mount, when they stated that man received from the creator certain inalienable rights, and that these rights should be protected from encroachment of others by law and justice.
The agnostic and atheistic philosophers have sought to declaim progress in terms of materialism alone. But from whence came the morals,
the spiritual yearnings, the faith, the aspirations to justice and freedom of mind, which has been the roots of our progress? Always growing societies record their faith in God. Decaying societies lack faith and deny god. But America is not a decaying society. It remains strong. Its faith is in compassion and in God’s intelligent mercy.
You have just heard the personal credo of an American elder statesman, former President Herbert Hoover, a man intimate with many of the events which in his own lifetime have hoisted the United States into the leadership of Western Civilization. His own beliefs, just spoken, reflect three-quarters of a century spent in the service of his country and of mankind.