Science and Society: Public Education and Religion (Analysis of an Initiative)

  1. Lemma
  2. Наука и общество: государственное образование и религия (анализ одной инициативы)
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Ecumenism and dialogue > Education - Scientific theories and disciplines > Biology:evolution - Education, Science and Orthodoxy
  6. 13-11-2017
  7. Боркин, Л. Я. [Author]. Наука и общество: государственное образование и религия (анализ одной инициативы)
  8. The Problem of Scientists and Scientific Groups Activity
  9. Russian Orthodox Church - Russian Academy of Sciences - Ministry of Science and Education - Evolution - Post-Soviet Russia - Scientists
  10. Click Here
    1. <p class="p1">Боркин, Л.Я., Ермолаев, А.И., & Конашев, М.Б. (2008). Наука и общество: государственное образование и религия (анализ одной инициативы). <em>The Problems of Scientists and Scientific Groups Activity. International Annual Papers. Volume XXIV. Papers of the XXIII Session of the International School of Science and Technology Sociology, </em>p. 231-243<em>. </em><a href=""></a> </p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1"> </p>
    1. This article is based on a paper presented at the XXIIIth session of the International School of Science and Technology Sociology (St. Petersburg State Politechnical University). The authors argue that the socio-political transformation in the USSR of the late 1980s led to the development of astrology and esotericism, arrival of "healers," sects as well as missionaries from abroad. These changes also provoked the revival of traditional religions. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has become the dominant religious organization and enjoys the support of the state, including its top leaders. It thus managed to penetrate into a wide range of spheres, including education. The authors state that the Church also gets support from some leaders within the Russian Academy of Sciences.

      It is now suggested that religion should be taught at school to “present scientific and religious concepts equally” and thus comply with the principle of democracy. At the same time the ROC published an "Orthodox Biology Manual for Secondary School”, which included both Darwin’s theory of evolution and the Orthodox creationist view. The authors believe that this postmodernist presentation of the subjects, which deny the hierarchy of ideas, is erroneous as it equalizes scientific and non-scientific views. That’s why in 2006 St. Petersburg’s Union of Scientists as well as the Russian Botanical Society protested against the penetration of creationism into education. In 2007 St. Petersburg scientists also wrote an open letter to A.A. Fursenko, Minister of Science and Education of the Russian Federation, urging him to stop the interference of religion into science and education. The scientists did not manage to publish their letter in the press. It was diffused on the Internet and got support and signatures of 341 persons from 47 cities; some of them claimed to be believers. Those who signed the later were from all over Russia and belonged to both scientific (including three members of the Russia Academy of Sciences) and non-scientific professions.

      The letter, however, did not get a response from the Ministry of Science and Education of the Russian Federation nor from the Russian Academy of Sciences. The authors note that at the same time, on June 21, 2006, the international scientific community (The Inter-Academy Panel on Ethics in Science) made a statement on evolutionary theory, which emphasized the importance of education based on natural science and evidence. This statement was supported by 67 national academies of sciences in Europe, Asia, Africa and America as well as the Executive of the Committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU) in Paris.

      In general, according to the authors, the results of the initiative demonstrated that Russian society on the whole is currently split with respect to secular education. Interestingly, this split is not connected (or loosely related) to religiosity and is rather a consequence of personal general ontological imperatives. They point out that concurrently, the scientific community is relatively passive and unable to organize itself even on an important public issue directly affecting science. Pessimism, disbelief in social success, pragmatism, egoism and even cynicism are very common among scholars and scientists of present-day Russia. All these features can be viewed as a result of a deep crisis of science in Russia.