- Valery Kuvakin. “And What Can I Do Alone?!” “Russia’s collapse is easily imaginable. But we should not let it happen. The only way to prevent a social and historical disaster is through the development of democracy, freedom, responsibility, civil society, education and Humanism, strengthening the rule of law, and strict observance of the Russian Federation Constitution. It is up to each of us…”
DOCUMENTS AND COMMENTS
- The Dangers of Creationism in Education. Resolution 1580 (2007) adopted on October 4, 2007, by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly urges the EU member governments to “firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline”. “The aim of this resolution is not to question or to fight a belief – the right to freedom of belief does not permit that. The aim is to warn against certain tendencies to pass off a belief as science. It is necessary to separate belief from science…”
- Academics’ open address to the RF President protesting against the introduction of “Basics of Orthodox Culture” classes in schools and university courses in Theology: “Opponents of state-sponsored religious education are accused of ‘obscurantism and nihilism’, … of being intolerant ‘to the Russian Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christianity and its believers’, and are labeled ‘militant atheists who hate Russia’. Apart from demonstrating the low quality of argumentation, this also gives you some idea of the manner in which the ‘Basics…’ will be taught. … if decision is made in their favor. As a result, the country will be split along confessional lines, and we cannot allow this to happen”».
- Humanism, Worldview, Philosophy. Svetlana Svintsova’s report of the 5th All-Russia Academic Conference on Humanism hosted by the Volga State University of Engineering and Pedagogy (Nizhny Novgorod, November 23-24, 2007). “Drastic changes experienced by our country in 1985–1993 and afterwards made Humanism increasingly significant… Equally important are the global, planetary factors which add relevance to Humanist ideas. Today it leaves nobody indifferent. We already see the full spectrum of attitudes – from apologetics to false representation of Humanist values…”
- Late addition to the issue: The Russian State University for the Humanities Holding on Its Property at Nikolskaya Street (Moscow): Orthodox Christian raid tactics. Illegal appropriation of University classrooms by the monastery.
- Vladimir Oivin (Credo.ru web portal). Law and Reality: Enjoying Freedom of Conscience in Russia. Debate at the Independent Press Center, Moscow. “Taking advantage of the public’s general ignorance, the Russian authorities dare to violate the secular state principle as they develop ‘special’ (biased and politicized) relationship with ‘traditional’ religious groups…”
- The Moscow State University will host the annual International Summer School on Humanism from July 28 through August 3, 2008. This time its focus will be on “Humanism, Bioethics and Human Behavior: Naturalistic and Neuropsychological Perspective”.
- Administrative Department of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS): Tender Announcement…
ETHICS SHOULD BE TAUGHT AT SCHOOL
- Valery Kuvakin, Clarity Is Needed. The Secular and the Religious in Russia’s Secondary Schools. “The proposed introduction of ‘Basics of Orthodox Culture’ in school is an issue to which there are political, ideological, worldview and educational aspects. If we fail to act in accordance with the Constitution and separate politics and ideology (that is, religious and church affiliation) from education and worldview development, our school system and the whole society will be severely damaged. In the political sense, this will be a big and probably final step towards theocracy; ideologically, it will mean a highway to totalitarian single-mindedness…”
- Erast Kozlov, Ethical Education in Secondary School: Relevance, Status, Problems. The Ethical Education Laboratory (headed by Erast Kozlov), a sub-division of the Education Content and Methods Institute, Russian Academy of Education, produced a set of textbooks for secondary school students (grades 1-11) on ‘Ethical Education in Russia’. This could be a workable alternative to the notorious ‘Basics of Orthodox Culture’. All of the textbooks were piloted in a number of general education schools, and they are now offered for mass-scale testing. “Morality is a fundamental branch of social sciences and humanities. It must be an integral part of general knowledge taught in schools, and define secular education content as the basis for character building…”
SCIENCE AND SOCIETY
- In Defense of Science. Foreword to Newsletter ą3 by the RAS Commission Against Pseudoscience and Falsification of Scientific Research (Executive Editor, Academician Eduard Kruglyakov). Reports in the Newsletter unmask unscientific behavior of pseudo-scientists in the fields of education and practical medicine and especially their use of mass media which to systematically brainwash the public and undermine critical thinking.
- Albert Einstein, Science and Religion. As translator Leonid Yaroslavsky points out in his foreword, “As religious frenzy captures the minds of Russian intellectuals, both in the home country and abroad (i.e. emigrants to the U.S., Israel, etc.), those who still respect scientific thinking often argue that Einstein himself admitted God’s existence. Which is not true, of course…”
WHAT IS HUMANISM?
- Sergei Borodavkin, Humanism in Culture, and Culture in Humanism. “…adequate interpretation of Humanism is possible when one goes beyond the scope of Ethics to reach a higher level of general culture. This ‘view from above’ allows a human to be seen as having a proper place in the conventional hierarchy of values. Humanism is the worldview that treats the human being as a supreme (maybe even absolute) value…”
- Valery Finogentov. How Does Religion Relate to Morality: theoretical introduction and illustrations (Part 1). “One popular and seemingly convincing way to answer the question about the sources of moral crisis in contemporary Russia is reference to our atheist (Soviet) past. Of course, such an explanation is supported by religious circles… If this point of view prevails, it will undoubtedly drag the country into the past, instead of guiding it into the future.”
THE ETHICS OF HUMANITY
- Decent Life, by Irina Rebrova, is a code of recommendations that will help one lead a dignified, trouble-free and happy life. “No doubt the life of every human being is so rich and multifaceted that it can hardly be subjected to any set of ultimate moral requirements. Hence these brief recommendations only point to the basics of ethical and decent behavior…”
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. – Conclusion.
- Mikhail Beilin. A selection of Recent Short Stories: Hypnosis. Homebody. They’re With Me. A series of autobiographical short stories in which the prominent Russian chess player and writer shares his thoughts about human life and destiny, the past and the present.
A PERSON WORTH TALKING TO
- Person, Navy, Humanism. Real Admiral Viktor Dygalo (interviewed by Post Captain Sergei Mozgovoi, member of ZS Editorial Board) talks about life in the Navy. “There was no bullying under my command. This ugly practice became widespread in the Army and Navy as more individuals with criminal record were recruited to man the ships… And now they want the church to resolve the problems of the military. But the church is separated from the state, and forcing people to convert is a crime!”
- Alexander Loktev, “I Find the Game of Nature and Life Most Fascinating…” Celebrating the anniversary of Boris Zhutovsky, a well-known Russian vanguard artist who came under severe lashing by the former Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev.
NOTES ON THE CURRENT EVENTS
- “The Demise of Byzantium”: a Follow-up on the Film and the TV Debate, by Vsevolod Lyashenko. “The election campaign was not merely smooth – it proceeded in dead silence. Nobody had anything to say, and Zhirinovsky was the only one to entertain the public. Perfect timing for throwing in a controversial documentary…” But how relevant is the history of Byzantine emperors to the present day politics?..