The Roots of Our Progress

Hoover, Herbert


  • President Hoover describes the importance of religious faith in life, science, and politics.
This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
view transcript only

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 has become a kind of fixture, albeit a controversial one, in the turbulent sweep of world history in which we now live. He was born in the small town of West Branch, Iowa in the year 1874, when Ulysses S. Grant was president of the then adolescent United States and Queen Victoria was the reigning sovereign of the world's greatest power. This Quaker-reared engineer became the thirty-first President of the United States and has been close to events which in his
own lifetime have hoisted our country into Britain's place as leader of Western Civilization. Herbert Hoover has been denounced as a stuffy, high-collared reactionary, extolled as an enlightened elder statesman of American conservatism. Whatever place history finally gives him, his views, his beliefs are based on the global experiences of one of the world's still most active citizens, and as such, they earn our respectful attention.
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 have 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.
Those were the convictions of former President Herbert Hoover. Strictly speaking, they were less personal than many of the private credos heard on this program. But in a lifetime of public service, Mr. Hoover says his thinking about himself and his thinking about life in general have become more or less inseparable in one overall philosophy.