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Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society
"Zdraviy Smysl" ("Common Sense") Magazine Elected Articles
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Issue 49


  • Valery Kuvakin, Science, How Are You Feeling? “Does the scientific community possess enough civic power to say a definite ‘no’ to the defamation of reason and truth – its most cherished values?..”


  • The First Congress of Russia’s Educational Organizations: “National Educational Movement: Its Role and Place in the Country’s Innovation-Based Development”. Internal News. RHS and Center for Inquiry members attended the panel session “Building an Information Society. Challenges and Current Opportunities of Education Activities”.


  • World Science on Creationism and Evolution, by academician Eduard Kruglyakov. “It has never been the author’s intention to fight against religion. He just does not want the laws of the secular country called Russia to be violated; he wants this country to have a real chance of becoming one of the world’s leaders. The author supports PACE Resolution 1580 (2007) and believes it should be made known to the broader Russian public”.
  • The Dangers of Creationism in Education. Resolution 1580 (2007) adopted on October 4, 2007, by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.
  • Address to the President, signed by 1,700. Russian scientists speak up for secular education. Their address to the Russian President was signed by more than 1,700 people, including 1,172 Doctors of Science and Candidates, 18 full members of the Russian Academy of Science, and 5 Directors of research institutes.
  • An Open Letter to the RF President. Cunning and shameless propaganda by clerics might generate an impression that the scientific community approves the teaching of “Basics of Orthodox Culture” in general education schools and the official recognition of Theology as an academic discipline. Russian scientists protest in response.


  • So What’s the Point? Professor Sergei Mamontov reflects on the January 17, 2008, televised debate, “Should Darwinism Be Revisited?” Mamontov, who was himself participating, throws some light on the issues raised in the discussion. “You often hear: ‘Secular does not mean Atheistic’. This is a substitution of concepts. The secular nature of education means just this: that the content of curricula is determined by the state only, and not by any religious organizations”.


  • Richard Dawkins. A Deeply Religious Non-Believer. Deserved Respect. The Russian translation of The God Delusion by the celebrated evolutionist Richard Dawkins, which was to be published in the spring of 2008, for some reason never appeared. We are carrying an excerpt from Chapter 1.
  • Charles Darwin: Religious Belief. From Autobiography. “…But I had gradually come… to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, etc., etc., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian”.


  • Nonsense Generator Plays a Winning Game: “Computer-assisted” Postmodernism is a blessing for Russian sham writers.
  • Mikhail Zhukov. The Rootdozer: Algorithm of Typical Unification…
  • Mikhail Gelfand. Ostap Bender’s Scam N 401. A “bait” fabricated with SCIgen (software generating pseudo-scientific texts) was offered to the Journal of Academic Papers by Post-Graduate and Doctorship Students, a publication reviewed by the Higher Certification Commission. The bait was eagerly swallowed!


  • Human Values. Vladimir Yefimov and Valery Talanov identify three types of generally-accepted human values: personal, humanity-shared, and societal. “We must dismiss the claim that there exist only universal human values, and anything else is either delusion or subjective whim; same way as we dismiss the claim that human values are a myth or deception, that values can only be individual or nation-specific. The world of values is much more complex and exciting…”
  • Karl Marx’s Humanist Ideas, by Pyotr Kondrashov and Konstantin Lyubutin. In 2008 philosophers mark the 190th anniversary of the outstanding thinker. Time has proven that Marx’s theoretical legacy is far from being buried in academic textbooks on the History of Philosophy, Economics and Political Science; more than that, it still provokes heated debate.


  • Alexander Kruglov. The Goal and the Means. Does the good purpose justify a bad (cruel) means? For Russia, a country which survived an experiment in Communism, the question is extremely controversial. One cannot do good by being cruel, if only because cruelty is the worst of evils. However, in the case of a dilemma, when one has to make a choice of the lesser of evils, the end does justify (“excuse”) the means.


  • The Holy Flame: a Skeptic View, by Igor Dobrokhotov. A detailed review of 19th-20th cc. eyewitness (including Orthodox Christian) reports of “miraculous” ignition of the fire on Easter night at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem.


  • Gennady Shevelyov. Fantasies About Human Self-Ignition. Exposure of fantasies and false reports of spontaneous self-ignition of people, supposedly caused by some kind of miniature “black holes”. “Truth is not as eagerly bought nowadays as bold lie, including one based on pseudoscience…”


  • Yuri Dyubenok. “I had never ‘double’ opinions…” Response to Clarity Is Needed. Training and Education in Russian Schools by Valery Kuvakin (ZS N47). “The inspiring and up-to-date message of the article, and the way Valery speaks from the heart, demand an equally honest comment…”


  • Valentin Sokolov. “So God Has Nothing to Do with It…” Extracts from an essay by an ex-believer – Five Proofs of God's Non-existence, and The Present Status of Orthodox Christian Faith. “We hope (ZS Editorial Board remarks) this letter will not offend believers but will instead provide an additional argument for the key idea: that we are human beings in the first place, whether we are believers or non-believers, democrats, liberals, conservatives …”


  • Yulia Senchikhina. 21st Century: Ethics and Human Science. The 5th International Summer School “Humanism, Bioethics and Human Behavior: Naturalistic and Neuropsychological Perspective” was in session between September 28 and August 8, 2008, at the Moscow State University. The Summer School co-directors were: Prof. V. Mironov, Correspondent Member of RAS and Dean of the Department of Philosophy, Moscow State University; Paul Kurtz, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, N.Y., and Chairman of the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY; A. Kostikova, Department of Philosophy Vice-Dean, MSU. Lectures were delivered by Prof. V. Kuvakin and Prof. V. Razin, Elaine M. Hull, and Richard T. Hull (Center for Inquiry Transnational).
  • Olga Pastushkova. Traveling from Religion to Science. Between September 20 and August 10, 2008, the Center for Inquiry Transnational in Amherst, NY, was hosting the annual Summer School, whose title reflects the nature of work done by this research and education institution. Attendees included people of different countries (Germany, Poland, China, Russia, USA), occupations (journalists, managers, doctors, lawyers, architects) and age groups (from university students to pensioners). Lectures were delivered by Robert Price, Ibn Warraq, Joyce Salisbury, John Kaag, John Shook, Ronald A. Lindsay, Ronald Giere, Judith B. Walker, John Shook, Nathan Bupp, Jessica Wahman.