English version Đóńńęŕ˙ âĺđńč˙
Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society
"Zdraviy Smysl" ("Common Sense") Magazine Elected Articles
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Issue 46

EDITOR’S CORNER

  • Valery Kuvakin. China Prefers Science and Secular Humanism: A Lesson for Us? The World Congress of Scientific Inquiry and Human Well-being: Improving Science Spirits and Building Harmony Society, which took place in China (Beijing – Shanghai) on October 13 – 15, 2007, is a significant event. On the one hand, it is reflective of China's impressive progress in the areas of economy, science and culture; on the other, it makes our own mistakes and omissions stand out.

RAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SCIENTIFIC SESSION

  • On December 19, 2007, the Russian Academy of Science opened the scientific session of its General Assembly, under the title “The Russian Language in the Modern World”. “The RAS General Assembly… states that Russian studies and linguistics are among priority research areas for the Russian Academy of Science”. Academician Yuri Osipyan announced the approval by the RF Government of the draft RAS Statutes adopted almost unanimously by the Academy's spring general assembly.

DOCUMENTS AND COMMENTS

  • The First Robin of “Churchwise Privatization” Reached Ryazan in December. Concerning the illegal handover of the Ryazan Kremlin site (a historical monument listed in the State Register of Most Precious Objects of Cultural Legacy of Russian Federation Peoples), including the “Prince Oleg's Palace” which is a piece of civilian architecture, to the Ryazan Eparchy.
  • Public Committee for the Protection of the “Ryazan Kremlin” Reserve Museum of History and Architecture: “We are determined to defend the constitutional separation of church and state!”; “Ryazan Kremlin is a cultural legacy that belongs to all Russians, irrespective of their ethnic or religious background…”
  • Address to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), and ICOM representatives at UNESCO: “Today we observe mounting tensions between the Russian Orthodox Church and cultural reserve administrations… The source of this problem is excessive property claims by the Church”.
  • Open Letter to RF Government Chairman, Viktor Zubkov: “The intention is effectively to put the Ryazan Kremlin Museum out of existence…”
  • Resolution of the Academic Council of the Ryazan Reserve Museum of History and Architecture (RRMHA), dated December 12, 2007: “We hereby inform the executive and legislative authorities that, by illegally appeasing the raider appetites of the Ryazan Eparchy as regards RRMHA, they are assuming grave responsibility for the future of our culture…”
  • Professor Vyacheslav Kozlyakov. In Response to Deacon Andrei Kuraev (aired in 5-TV “Glavnoye” (“Above All”) program on December 23, 2007, 18.30): “…We a very sorry, but a country of this kind cannot be called the new Russia of the 21st century…”
  • Editor's note: In issuing its resolution, the Ryazan Kremlin Academic Council responds to the massive falsification and defamation campaign thattargets RRM­HA director and all the rest who are trying to protect the Ryazan Kremlin from “churchization”.

EVENTS

  • 10. I. 2008. Academician Garri I. Abelev, Russian Humanist Society Vice-President, turns 80. 1. Greetings from the Russian Humanist Society. “For us, your impeccable scientific and moral reputation has been a source of reference, it always supported Russian Humanists in promoting scientific and ethical education, and opposing pseudoscience, quackery, and clericalism”. 2. David Zaridze, Director of the Carcinogenesis Institute at the Blokhin Russian Oncology Research Center (Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, RAMS): “You have always been true to the human and academic values that you believe in”. “As a scientist and human being, you have been concerned with ethical aspects of science, the ethics of research…” 3. Brief report of a scientific conference, dedicated to Garri Abelev's 80th anniversary, at the Blokhin Russian Oncology Research Center. Greeting the hero of the day were the RAMS President Mikhail Davydov and a number of Russia's prominent scientists. Presentations were made by Abelev's disciples: A. Gudkov (Roswell Park Cancer Institute, USA), A. Chervonsky (University of Chicago, USA), R. Medzhitov (Yale University School of Medicine, USA). 4. RF President Vladimir Putin's Greetings Telegram to Garri Abelev. “Your life is an example of a noble mission of serving the people…”
  • Zinaida Zhukotskaya. The Will to Maintain a Dialogue. “And Every Line You Write Will Go Alive”. An international conference with face-to-face and virtual participation took place in Nizhnevartovsk, dedicated to the memory of Professor Vladimir Zhukotsky, who was an active RHS member. A collection of conference papers was published.
  • Religious Intolerance in Russia, by Sergei Buryanov. Participants of a St.-Petersburg panel discussed the reasons for mounting religious intolerance and discrimination in modern Russia.

CHURCH IN A SECULAR STATE

  • One Step Backward, Two Steps Forward, by Sergei Mozgovoi. Is there a risk that the President's law disallowing “Orthodox Culture” classes in school will be sabotaged? “The Orthodox public should not panic yet. Regional and local authorities are not powerful enough to deny the Church their support. Neither is the federal government willing to break the traditional state-church 'harmony'…”

AGAINST PSEUDOSCIENCE

  • Yuri Yefremov. Calendar, Chronology, and Pseudoscience. “No reasoning will work for people who found meaning in the 'new chronology' [i. e. the ridiculous chronology designed by Anatoly Fomenko who shifted all the dates 1053 years forward] – as always happens in idee fixe cases. A sect of Fomenkoids emerged, so like any other sect. It bears the closest similarity to the group of U. S. citizens… who claim that piloted missions to the Moon were nothing but a hoax designed by NASA and Hollywood fakers…”

SCIENCE, PRACTICE, RATIONALISM

  • Bill Knaus, Gayle Rosellini, Will Ross, Ed Garcia, John Minor, Vince Parr, Nancy Haberstroh, Russ Greiger, and Sam Klarreich Where's the Evidence? How Albert Ellis Revolutionized Psychotherapy (Free Inquiry. Vol. 28. ą 1. December 2007 / January 2008). Translated from English by Valery Kuvakin. Essay on the Scientific Work of outstanding U. S. Psychiatrist (1913 – 2007) who successfully opposed the theory of psychoanalysis, the author of widely known and effective “rational emotional behavior therapy” (REBT). This system underlies other fundamental approaches in psychiatry, including cognitive therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

SECULAR WORLDVIEW: IN SEARCH OF MEANING

  • Back to Reason. Thoughts About Science, Religion, and Modern Culture – aphorisms and essays by Pavel Klevtsov (concluding part). “In my view, the main source of religion is human fear of being responsible for one's own life…”
  • Body and Power: the Feminist View of the History of Female Oppression. Olga Popova finds that modern feminists are becoming less interested in the “rationalist project” of equating women and men, focusing instead on “somatic foundations of a woman's personality as a source of specifically female values, such as peacefulness, compassion, and sympathy, which constitute female identity”.

HUMANISM AND EVOLUTIONISM

  • Natalia Delone. The Fragility of Biosphere (Prompted by Yevgeny Feinberg's Credo). “In a general sense, the meaning of human life is in safeguarding the miracle of living, and fulfilling our noble responsibility to nature that accidentally endowed us with this miracle…”

LESSONS FOR TOMORROW

  • Liya Dolzhanskaya. “Dear Yekaterina Pavlovna…” Russia's Political Red Cross and Organization Called “Ye. P. Peshkova. Helping Political Prisoners”. Introduction to a compilation of women's and children's letters received by the organization, and letters of advocacy. – “In fact, it was owing to just one person [writer M. Gorky's first wife] that an officially registered organization giving assistance to political prisoners existed in the totalitarian Soviet Union for fifteen years”.

IN MY UNDERSTANDING…

  • Christianity and Bolshevism, by Valery Kadzhaya. “Any totalitarian doctrine, despite ostensible humanity, inevitably interferes with the privacy of the inner world, seeking to take away this inner world of freedom…”

REJOINDERS AND LETTERS

  • Valery Gubin. “I Do Agree in General, But…” Notes on a particular theme found in Dmitry Manin's article “Semantic Vacuum” published in Newsletter 1 of the “In Defense of Science” almanac. The author agrees with Manin in that educational authorities must not allow any textbooks or educational programs which talk about “torsion fields” and other such things, but he has objections on the philosophical interpretation of causality in Quantum Mechanics.
  • Dmitry Manin. “I Don't Think I Made a Mistake…” “Everyone should be free to use whatever philosophical concepts they like – just don't impose them on others. Those who made the wrong choice are punished already…”
  • Inna Gumina. “At That Time, It Was Like a Bomb…” (on “Essays of Academic Life” by Garri Abelev: a letter from a fellow-student). “Quite often, the scientist's decision – his moral choice – would determine not only his own destiny, but also the future of a whole research field! And the 'accursed questions' he encounters are of purely moral nature…”
  • Leisan Shakirzyanova – Valery Kuvakin. Religious Tolerance – or the War of “All Against All”? Excerpts from Editor–in-Chiefs correspondence. “Virtually any religion can be used – and is used – as ideology…”

APHORISTS' CLUB

  • Alexander Tutukov: “Anything Can be Explained. But to Comprehend it…”