Voices from Russia

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Address of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias at a Meeting with Scientists in Sarov on 1 August 2016

00 Patr Kirill 130816

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I’d sincerely like to welcome all of you and congratulate you on the 70th anniversary of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre. Undoubtedly, this research institute is one of the key research centres that ensure our motherland’s security. The date that we celebrate today not only draws our attention to the theme of Russia’s defence against external threats, but also to the understanding of religious and philosophical issues. I’d like to emphasise that the anniversary of the Sarov institute goes along with the coexistence and interaction of scientific and spiritual centres. This same fact directly faces the complex and multi-faceted topic of the relationship of religion and science, of faith and knowledge.

Academic scientific method teaches us not to rush to generalisations. This is a good habit. Many of the errors that occurred in the past and continue today have their source in the desire to generalise as quickly as possible, without detailed study of all available material, without trying to make thoughtful critical conclusions. This is especially dangerous when such generalisations relate to complex issues such as the true issue of the relationship of religion and science. The topic is very important for the simple reason that religion is a significant phenomenon for most people, whilst science is an essential reality, providing the basis for the progressive scientific and technical development of modern civilisation. In considering this question, we should beware simplistic interpretations, which, unfortunately, we’ve seen in the recent past. These posited a necessary conflict between religion and science because of the supposedly irreconcilable antagonism between them. One of the most common misconceptions arising from such a simplistic interpretation is the idea that science deals with facts, reason, and change for the better whilst religion deals in fable, faith, and unchangeable verities. Therefore, if one allows this thesis, it follows that science and religion shall always be in intransigent tension.

If one thinks on it, the answer is fairly obvious and understandable… if science has a set of indisputable facts, always progressive and gradually accumulated, then, the history of science would show us no internal conflicts. However, we know that’s not true. Most scientific innovation is contradictory in nature; it always evoked heated controversy. The well-known 20th-century historian and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn1 generally believed that old and new scientific point of views are “incommensurable” because there are no absolute criteria of rationality in determining scientific knowledge. Moreover, Kuhn believed that the different scientific paradigms don’t even have common grounds (e.g., ancient science and modern science). Recall in this connection the statement of Academician V I Vernadsky:

It’d be a big mistake to think the struggles of Copernicus and Newton and their systems with the Ptolemaic system as a struggle between two worldviews, scientific and pseudoscientific; this was an internal struggle between those voicing the scientific worldview2.

Since Ptolemy and Copernicus were scientists, that made it an internal intra-scientific dispute. Although throughout human history the relationship between religion and science evolved in very different ways, the religious and scientific ways of understanding the world aren’t contradictory… as there’s no contradiction between science and art, or between religion and art. We can say that religion, science, and art are different ways of understanding the world and mankind, of understanding mankind’s knowledge of the world. Each has its own tools, its own methods of cognition, they respond to different questions. For instance, Science probes the questions “how is it” and “why is it”. Religion explores “what is it all for”. The problem of the meaning of life and our perspective on death lies at the centre of religious speculation. If how organic life came about on earth occupies science, then, what life is for and about occupies religion. It’d be naïve to read the book of Genesis as a textbook on anthropogenesis (human origin). In like manner, it’s counterproductive to search biology or physics for answers about the meaning of life.

Another popular misconception is the statement that science and religion not just complement each other, but need each other. According to this thesis, religious belief is the impetus of scientific activity and scientific data can help cleanse religion from pointless imagery and symbolism. I’m sure that this is also an oversimplification connected with the rethinking of the interaction between religion and science. Due to this rethinking, firstly, we have a new understanding of the role of religion in the modern world, and secondly, a rethinking of place of science after a series of 20th-century discoveries. Here, on the one hand, we see scientists oversimplifying the situation; they say not only say that science doesn’t contradict religion, but that they have a need to interact… as a phenomenon of the same order, almost as related subjects. With this approach, science becomes quasi-religion and religion becomes quasi-science. In this sense, the main purpose of the interaction of science and religion becomes an attempt to develop a common religious-scientific language. This approach isn’t only simplistic… it’s in error. It turns out that if previously science tried to prove that God doesn’t exist because the cosmonauts didn’t see Him, now, so to speak, the same cosmonauts now try to prove that God exists. In other words, the method hasn’t changed; it only changed from a minus sign to a plus sign.

On the other hand, at times, overzealous religious apologists try to bring science to “their side”. Now, one sees the point of view that modern physics provides almost the best evidence of God’s existence and the creation of the world, etc. I repeat, such arguments aren’t without interest and useful content (e.g., as a symbolic description of the world related to Creation via the Big Bang Theory or the scientific idea of the world emerging from nothing, from a point that one can’t measure nor determine). However, we mustn’t forget that science changes all the time, so, the science of tomorrow could deny the science of today, as in his time Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity reinterpreted classical mechanics. Here, one can cite the example of Bohr’s Principle of Complementarity3 , which played a role not only in 20th-century science, but also in religious philosophy. That’s why I don’t say that such approaches are completely false, but rather that they oversimplify real relationships between religion and science. Yet, it’s important for Christian apologists not to lose a sense of proportion; they must remember that if greatness of mind led the way to the Truth, Christianity would be a far different thing than what it is. The Gospel tells us something else: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Gospel according to St Matthew 5. 8).

The difference between the scientific and religious worldviews and the impossibility of “coupling” them mechanically doesn’t mean that they’re utterly incompatible. Evidently, science and religion complement each other in the overall picture of our knowledge about the world; they enlarge and enlighten it. Nevertheless, the whole picture doesn’t fit fully solely in a scientific framework or within our religious beliefs. In other words, this complementariness isn’t in the field of science (i.e. religious arguments don’t work here, although we owe many scientific discoveries to the religious intuition of scholars) nor in the field of religion (science doesn’t serve to directly confirm religious truths, although this can happen). Science answers its questions… religion replies to its questions. The more responses a person has, the richer their ideas on the world, about God and about themselves.

Another argument, which one rarely hears, but which is very important, is that science is mainly responsible for the secularisation of society. This isn’t only an oversimplification… it simply isn’t true. The history of science stands against this interpretation; firstly, it shows that modern science arose in a primarily European cultural context suffused with religious and philosophical speculation, intellectual development associated itself with Christian metaphysics and the Christian reinterpretation of the world order… it rejected the pagan mythologising Cosmos, recognising in principle the possibility of Creation (i.e., the beginning of the world in space-time), it rejected the presence of many gods, it recognised the One God, the Creator, who gave the world the laws that we can try to comprehend with human reason. In fact, the cause of secularisation wasn’t real scientific development; in Western history, it stems from the development of an ideology closely linked with the Enlightenment Cult of Reason. Later, it took the form of so-called scientism… that is, an ideological position that posits that science is the highest cultural value, the only way to find the answer to any of our questions on life.

The fact of religious revival in countries and societies where there is no deficit in science, education, and science-based technologies underlines the falsity of this submission. In particular, the spiritual revival of the last few decades in our country and the other countries of historical Rus saw abundant interaction between the scientific and religious communities. Besides that, I follow closely the work that comes out of the coexistence and fruitful coöperation between Christian and scientific centres in Sarov. Today, the Church isn’t so much worried about scientific research per se, nor the specific content of new developments, but rather to ask whether our state and society pay due attention to science. Primarily, our attention focuses on the field of education. The Church is an unconditional ally of the scientific community in the field of education, in developing and strengthening science so that it can give comprehensive support to large-scale scientific and expert endeavours for the state and for society as a whole. Our society has much concern about the state of the national education as a whole. Surely, you’ve heard about the resumption of the activities of the Society of Russian Literature, which I head due to President Putin’s request. We hope that this benevolent and neutral meeting-place of professionals and experts would help make a real difference to the teaching of Russian language and literature in our schools. At present, we know that society is debating the state of national education; many believe that it doesn’t fully give students an integrated and whole picture of the world. I confide that an education in the humanities and religious instruction, combined with a genuinely scientific education, opens up an opportunity for students to have a truly comprehensive worldview, a perception that, in turn, forms a holistic spiritually strong personality.

In a world of rapidly developing technologies based on scientific knowledge, the moral responsibility of scientists is extremely crucial. A few decades ago, when one spoke about possible dangerous consequences of scientific progress, firstly, one meant nuclear technology. Now, the urgent problems are in biotechnology, the rapid development of information technology, the creation of virtual reality, and the formation of a comprehensive database to control and spy on people, the improper use of which could endanger human freedom and civil rights. It is important to understand that the theme of the consequences of scientific and technological development certainly has a moral component. It has inextricable links with our ideas of good and evil, with our ability to distinguish between harm and gain. This would be a natural field of coöperation between science and religion. I give you my sincere hope that the interaction of the Church and the scientific community will strengthen our motherland and that our common work will benefit the Russian people.

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Footnotes:

1 Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922-96), American historian and philosopher of science. The most famous work by Kuhn was The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), which dealt with the theory that one shouldn’t see science as gradually developing and accumulating knowledge in the direction of truth, but as a phenomenon passing through periodic scientific revolutions, called in his terminology “paradigm shift“. Kuhn posited scientific revolution as follows:

  • Normal Science: the routine daily work of scientists, acting in the framework of a paradigm; each new discovery is explained from the standpoint of the ruling theory
  • Extraordinary Science: a crisis in science; the appearance of unexplained facts, the emergence of alternative theories to explain anomalies, the coexistence of science sets of opposing scientific schools
  • Scientific Revolution: formation of a new paradigm

The book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited scientific books in the history of science.

2  V I Vernadsky On Science (Dubna, Feniks Centre: 1997) p 23 [Dubna is a well-known Naukograd (“science city”) in Moscow Oblast, with nuclear research and missile technology institutes: editor]

3 The Principle of Complementarity [by Danish theoretical physicist Niels Bohr] is one of the most important principles of quantum mechanics; later, it became one of the most important methodological and heuristic principles of science in general. According to this principle, for a complete description of quantum mechanical phenomena one must apply two mutually exclusive (“other”) sets of classical concepts, the totality of which gives comprehensive information about these phenomena as integral. So, in quantum mechanics, one adds space-time and energy-pulse patterns. Bohr formulated this principle in 1927. With time, application of this principle led to the creation of additional concepts, embracing not only physics but also biology, psychology, cultural studies, and humanities in general.

1 August 2016

00 patriarch kirill. 22.02.15+Kirill

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias

Patriarchia.ru

MP official website

http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/4579909.html

Monday, 22 September 2014

22 September 2014. American Cosmonauts Have to Go into Space on Russian Spaceships

00 ISS crew. cosmosnauts. russian. usa. 22.09.14

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Art and our study of it, and faith and religion, are eternal, and as long as mankind lives, it will have a keen yearning to probe deeper into the essence of it all.

The penetration of primitive Western religious notions into our lives is a phenomenon extremely dangerous to Russian culture. A country that has given much to world culture (remember Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and many others), is transformed into a place where American scum congregate. Therefore, in this regard, one can understand the French, who protect their culture and language, and the Chinese, who decided to prevent the “Westernisation” of their society. Unfortunately, today, our culture and morality have become something of secondary importance, and all this is more and more worrying… it appears that people have lost their consciences. There’s a new “truism” in our lives… knocking out the maximum profit by any means, but that leads to the death of moral evaluation, ethical behaviour, and principled motivation for actions, without which, a healthy society can’t exist.

B V Raushenbakh

Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR

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The Soyuz TMA-14M crew is cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev, Yelena Serova, and American Barry Wilmore, who stand by a model of the Soyuz-FG rocket at the Baikonur Space Centre in Kazakhstan. Note well that American cosmonauts have to go into space on Russian craft, as the USA wasted its money on useless wars, giveaways to the Affluent Effluent, and a bloated prison and police system (the USA is the Prison House of All the Nations by per capita count, by the way). This puts a different face on the rants of Rich Lowry, George Will, Patrick Buchanan, and Rod Dreher, doesn’t it? Americans have to ride Russian spacecraft to the cosmos so that the USA can pretend that it’s the SOLE SUPERPOWER. Now, kids, THAT’S an unmitigated crock o’ shit…

Puts a new light on “sanctions”, doesn’t it?

BMD

Monday, 1 September 2014

Dr A A Brish: “I Wasn’t Afraid to Create the First Atomic Bomb”

tsar-bomba

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Editor:

There is much irresponsible talk, especially by rightwing nutters, that the USSR “stole” the atomic bomb. That’s ludicrous. Russia’s always been one of the scientific and mathematical powerhouses in the world. It took the Americans 44 months to develop an A-bomb (December 1941 to July 1945); the USSR took 50 months (June 1945 to August 1949)… the timeframes are similar… the urgency behind both were similar… the two countries had equal prowess in mathematics, physics, and engineering. Bear this in mind… the USSR could copy the B-29 for series production without blueprints (and converting from American measurements to metric, to boot) in less than two years, a feat possible only because the USSR had engineers equal in skill to their American colleagues. It was likewise with “the bomb”. Anglo Americans are spoilt juvenile brats who think themselves the crème de la crème of the world. Such isn’t so…

By the way, during the VOV, A A Brish was a partizan fighting the fascist occupiers in Minsk… he was NOT a coward like Willy Romney, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Ryan, or Bill O’Reilly… he served, and served with honour. A man well-worth attending to, I’d say…

BMD

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On 29 August 1949, the USSR exploded its first atomic bomb in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. It was code-named “First Lightning” by Soviet scientists and “Joe 1” (after Joseph Stalin) by the Americans. To test the bomb’s destructive capacity, engineers built houses, bridges, and even a metro line. The explosion was 50 percent more destructive than initially planned. This took the world by surprise, because the Soviet nuclear development programme was a well-kept secret for nearly 10 years. The USA reacted with President Truman’s announcement that he was aware of the nuclear explosion in the USSR. From that moment on, the Cold War shifted towards a balance of power. On the eve of the 65th anniversary of “First Lightning”, Rossiya Segodnya met with one of the bomb’s creators, Dr A А Brish, a renowned Russian nuclear weapons engineer. Brish told us about Stalin, nuclear myths, and why you can’t steal a bomb.

Rossiya Segodnya

Arkady Adamovich, what significance does 29 August 1949 actually have in world history?

A A Brish

On that very day, we proved that we had the ability to create our own nuclear weapons and were able to break the monopoly of the USA, which was planning to attack our country with atomic bombs. Thus, we excluded the mere possibility of a unilateral and punitive nuclear war. Because of that, we’re still able to preserve the postwar peace. However, I should specify that it was an atomic detonation with an automatic control, put on a tower, without the body of a bomb. Therefore, it wasn’t a full-bodied nuclear weapon.

RS

Our first atomic explosive was made in the shortest time-frame, in a country left half-ruined after the war. How on Earth was it possible?

Brish

It was really a surprise. It was a real miracle, as our industry was devastated. Millions of people were killed. Our leadership displayed true courage, will, and talent, gathering outstanding experts and leaders who were able to develop an atomic bomb in the shortest time-frame possible, as they gave us all the necessary resources. We were really pressed for time. If we were late, the Americans could’ve used their nuclear weapons against us. (By the time of the First Lightning test, the USA had already dropped two bombs on Japan: Rossiya Segodnya) It was really a stroke of luck that Stalin appointed the then-young I V Kurchatov as scientific research director. Kurchatov was the one who recruited all the scientific staff for the atomic bomb project. He also suggested Yu B Khariton for the post of chief designer of the first Soviet atomic bomb. The development of its own nuclear weapons was undoubtedly a great feat for Russia.

RS

Quite often, one hears that our intelligence agents simply “stole” the bomb from the USA and thus the major role in the development of our atomic weapons belongs to intelligence agents and not to scientists.

Brish

This isn’t true. People who simply don’t understand what they’re talking about say that. What could it possibly mean to “steal” a bomb? One might get some documents, which would be meaningless in and of themselves. You need high-profile experts, technology, and a separate branch of industry to implement them, and it involves much work. Experts, who understand how complicated technical systems are developed, have no doubt about it. By the way, the claim that we only developed our atomic weapon thanks to our intelligence agents first emerged in the USA in 1950, shortly after the exposure of Klaus Fuchs… a participant in the American nuclear programme, who voluntarily supplied our intelligence community with information about his work. Later, American journalists and some American scientists claimed that, with the help of its intelligence agents, the USSR not only obtained the secret of atomic bomb development, but the hydrogen bomb as well. Thus, the USA could provide an easy explanation for the outstanding success of Soviet scientists.

However, our scientists do give credit to our intelligence community. The information they provided was of particular importance at the initial stage of our atomic project, up to 1945. That data forced the leadership of our country to give special attention to the development of the atomic bomb for the nation and inspired scientists such as N N Semyonov, Yu B Khariton, and Ya B Zeldovich, who had already achieved substantial success in nuclear research before the war. In 1945, however, the USA published a book, Atomic Energy for Military Purposes, where it openly described the process of how the USA developed the atomic bomb. The people who made the decision to publish that book were absolutely convinced that we wouldn’t be able to develop our own atomic bomb quickly. Nevertheless, they were wrong. They didn’t take into account that we had outstanding scientists. Regardless of all the military losses, our country managed to preserve its powerful scientific and technological potential.         

Those who talk about the alleged “theft” of the bomb don’t take into account the historic and political connotations. We needed to demonstrate as soon as possible that we also possessed atomic weapons. It was all about the safety of our motherland and not a question of technical priorities. One can’t say that our first atomic detonation was a full copy of the American one. Thanks to the intelligence, we only knew its scheme, which didn’t need a blueprint. Our experts worked out all the engineering and technical documentation for the development of an atomic charge using that scheme. By mid-1949, we had conducted our own scientific and technical engineering studies for the development of our own innovative atomic bomb, but the leadership made the decision to use a charge developed using the American scheme for its first test. It was justified… at that time, a war with the USA could have broken out at any moment. To test our own innovative construction would’ve meant we increased the risk of an unsuccessful test. We couldn’t afford that. However, already by 1951, during the second test, we used a charge for an atomic bomb fully developed by our scientists. It was twice as powerful and twice as light as the one developed using the American scheme.  Soviet scientists placed the utmost priority on the development of the first transportable hydrogen bomb, which we successfully tested in the USSR on 12 August 1953. At that time, the US didn’t have anything even remotely similar, and American scientists admitted that.

RS

There is a myth (which, like any myth, does not have any documented confirmation), that the Soviet scientists who worked on the bomb received honours for their achievement based on the penalties they would’ve suffered had the test failed. Those who would have faced the death penalty if the bomb failed to detonate received the order of Heroes of Socialist Labour and those who would’ve merely been imprisoned received different orders and slightly less prestigious awards. Allegedly, that was the decision of L P Beriya, who oversaw the atomic project, who struck fear in the hearts of the scientists.

Brish

There was no fear! Rather, there was an extreme sense of responsibility and an urge to defend the Motherland. As for Beriya, he was an outstanding organiser, and he did a lot for the development of our nuclear weapons. We should always keep this in mind when talking about that work.

RS

Work… is it the most important aspect of your life?

Brish

When you develop new nuclear weapons with unique characteristics, it captivates you; you need to prove that it’s going to work. I’m a devoted person who’s easily carried away, but my most important occupation has been the development of a weapon that would defend our country. This inspired me to devote my whole life to all the issues that I’ve worked on. We couldn’t let any country use nuclear weapons with total impunity. Now, I’m eager to live on, to be able to pass the knowledge I have to younger generations, and the feeling of personal responsibility for the results of this work, which was always a hallmark of the atomic scientists of my generation.

29 August 2014

Rossiya Segodnya

http://en.ria.ru/interview/20140829/192449869/Dr-Arkady-Brish-I-Was-Not-Afraid-to-Create-the-First-Atomic-Bomb.html

Friday, 13 December 2013

Link Between Native Americans and Siberia Encoded in DNA History

00 Tlingit people in traditional regalia. Alaska USA. 13.12.13

Tlingit people of Alaska in traditional regalia

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Recently, a team of scientists, including seven researchers from Russia, revealed the results of a study on the DNA of the ancient inhabitants of Siberia during the Upper Palaeolithic period. Scientists were able to obtain new data on the early stages of human settlement in various continents, including the Americas. The research confirmed that the first inhabitants of the Americas, the Paleo-Indians, arrived via Beringia, an isthmus between Siberia and Alaska that existed at that time. Scientists consider Altai Krai the genetic birthplace of the first Americans. Their ancestors settled in Siberia and eventually reached the Americas. Whilst the first Americans were thought to have a close genetic relationship with East Asia, until now, scientists weren’t able to determine exactly to which people of the Old World their genes could be most closely be associated with. Through the study, scientists were able to make new conclusions about the makeup of ancient Native Americans.

The team, led by Maanasa Raghavan of the University of Copenhagen, studied the genome of the ancient inhabitants of Siberia and compared these data with the genes of other peoples. They published their results in Nature. The researchers took a DNA sample from the 24,000-year-old skeleton of an ancient inhabitant of Siberia, discovered during excavations in 1928–58 in Usolsky Raion (Irkutsk Oblast), near Malta station. Now, it’s part of the State Hermitage Museum collection. Scientists conducted DNA sequencing on the remains and compared the data with the genomes of individuals belonging to 11 modern ethnic groups, four Eurasian groups (ancestors of modern Mari, Tajiks, Avars, and East Indians), as well as with the genome associated with Denisovans, a subspecies of Homo Sapiens discovered recently in the Altai Mountains. The results showed how the Karitiana, an indigenous people from Brazil, are genetically close to ancient Siberians.

From these results, the study concluded that genes typical of the people of West Eurasia came to the Americas earlier than previously believed… namely 24,000 years ago, during the Upper Palaeolithic period. Furthermore, the data revealed why Native Americans carry haplogroup X, a mitochondrial DNA haplogroup commonly occurring among the peoples of western Eurasia, but not found among East Asians. Lyudmila Osipova, co-author of the study and head of the Population Ethno-Genetics Laboratory at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics SB RAN, said, “The results refer to the early stages of peopling of the continents, particularly Siberia and the Americas. In addition, they have indirect links to the issues of race genesis, although scientists discuss the matter cautiously. However, the issue is biological in nature and deeply connected to the topic of adaptation of human populations and to their different living conditions in different climatic zones of the globe”.

Osipova argued that despite the relatively good degree of research conducted by geneticists on the early peopling of our planet and the identification of early human migration patterns, life is more complicated than any taxonomy, saying, “The question is… ‘At what level of organisation were race genesis processes taking place… Homo sapiens, or, even at earlier stages?’ There are a lot of discoveries still to be made”. According to Osipova, the study confirms an earlier hypothesis about the origins of Native Americans, and provides a great deal of fundamental knowledge on lesser known aspects of migrations, including the movements of the people belonging to the European type towards the territory of Siberia in ancient times.

1 December 2013

Yana Khlyustova

Russia Behind the Headlines

http://rbth.ru/science_and_tech/2013/12/01/link_between_native_americans_and_siberia_encoded_in_dna_his_32159.html

 

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