Russian Scopes Trial

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Today, the Baltimore Sun has the first detailed news article on Russia’s 21st-century Scopes Monkey Trial. It comes complete with monkeys:

The Shraibers announced their plans for the lawsuit at a March news conference that featured free bananas. In July, when they mailed the paperwork to court, they were accompanied by an actor in a monkey suit - a stunt since dubbed “stupid” by Romanov, who asked that the monkey not come near him.

There has been very little material in english about the trial, except a few short news pieces and a letter in Nature. Apparently it has been widely covered in the Russian media.

The group bringing the lawsuit has set up this website: http://antidarvin.com/ (antidarvin = anti-Darwin), which links to a bunch of other Russian creationist websites. If we have any Russian speakers in the PT readership, it would be interesting to find out what these guys are saying, where they are getting their material (I wouldn’t be surprised if it is copied from American creationists), etc.

24 Comments

If we have any Russian speakers in the PT readership

Readership? Isn’t Mark Perakh from Russia?

Yeah, I’ve alerted him also.

Turns out one of these Russian websites, www.scienceandapologetics.org, has an English version:

Why Did Noah Get Drunk?

It turns out he got drunk because of the different conditions before the Flood!

How did natural conditions change during the Flood? The majority of experts share the point of view that antediluvian Earth’s atmosphere (which is called “firmament” in Genesis 1:7) was covered with a vapor canopy equal to 12 meters’ layer of liquid water. Consequently, the collapse of that vapor canopy caused the rain to fall upon the earth for forty days and forty nights during the Flood3. Due to the waters which were above the firmament that caused the greenhouse effect, atmospheric pressure was 1.14 atmospheres higher than it is today - more than twice as high! So before the Flood the alcoholic effect of dry wine may not have been any stronger than the effect of common milk fermentation products of today.

The collapse of the vapor canopy surrounding antediluvian Earth’s atmosphere caused the reduction of atmospheric pressure (and the partial pressure of oxygen dropped as well) more than twice. That certainly had an effect on alcoholic metabolism. So, alcoholic intoxication would have been at least a great surprise to Noah, if not the first such experience for all mankind. This is another indirect evidence of the Genesis record’s credibility.

3 Dillow J. The Waters Above. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981. 470 p.

So there’s some good-old American Flood Geology for you…

Vuima, whose firm goes by the slogan, “We Create Sensations,” believes that nothing short of society’s collapse is at stake when it comes to the teaching of evolution. He, like the lawsuit, contends that Darwinism, while not a political ideology, stems from Marxist-Leninist ideology; after all, both Darwin and Karl Marx, who is said to have offered to dedicate Das Kapital to the scientist, wrote of grand struggles for survival.

Trofim Lysenko, where art thou?

If we have any Russian speakers in the PT readership

Paging Dr. Perakh! Paging Dr. Perakh!

And hey, www.mtu-net.ru/creation is the Moscow Society for Creation Science. What a shocker…

Moscow Society for Creation Science

The Society was based at November 22, 2000 for coordination of creation researches, illumination them in press and propagation of newest achievement creation science all over the world.

Our Society unites scientists of natural and humanitarian sciences, which in their researches are knowingly support and develop the bible concept of occurrence of all our universe, biological life on the Earth and man as a result of the supernatural act of creation, that now it is accepted to name creationism (from a latin word creatio). We also call for co-operation all interested in modern achievement in this area.

Any man can become the member of our society irrespective of his educational level and religious belonging, who believes Holy Scripture authentic (though not exhaustive) by a source on occurrence by the universe, Earth, biological world and man and also actively interested by researches in the area of creation science confirming reliability of the items of information, stated in Bible.

One of the main aims of our Society is publication of the anthology “SOTVORENIE” (creation in English). In the anthology we plan to issue the most interesting materials Russian and foreign creation researches. It will contain works of the key creation scientists in various areas of natural and humanitarian sciences: physics, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, biology, geology, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics and others, confirming correctness of the bible concept of creation of the world.

The part of these researches was published in magazines Creation Research Society Quarterly, Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, materials of Conferences on Creation Science in Pittsburgh (PA, USA) and other foreign editions. In Russian they will be published for the first time.

The editorial stuff consist of Russian and foreign the creation scientists known as experts in the areas of researches.

[…lists of names, links to articles and the first issue of their journal, etc…]

He, like the lawsuit, contends that Darwinism, while not a political ideology, stems from Marxist-Leninist ideology

Wow, time-reversed causality!

The Russian Orthodox Church is standing behind her. The Rev. Artemy Skripkin, head of the youth department of the St. Petersburg patriarchate, attended court hearings in a show of support. The next, perhaps final, one is scheduled for February.

“We consider it inadmissible when one theory - the theory of Darwin - is presented as the only true theory,” Skripkin said. “Russia has always been presented as an atheist country. We are not all atheists.

I don’t know how high up Rev. Skripkin is in the RO church, but it is a pity he is Teh Stupid.

The Shraibers announced their plans for the lawsuit at a March news conference that featured free bananas.

Because, as we all know, the banana is the atheist’s nightmare.

While I hope the lawsuit doesn’t gain the traction that Scopes did, I find one aspect disturbing. Those bringing the lawsuit claim that “It quotes the textbook as referring to biblical teachings as “legends” and calling it “stupidity” to assume that God created the world.” Perhaps this is typical Literal Creationist quote mining. But if it isn’t, if it’s true, then yes, that’s wholly innapropriate language. Doesn’t matter if someone might agree with the language- it shouldn’t be in a high-school text book. Maybe something calling Christian ideas myths (along with other religious and non-religious ideas), but certainly not legends, or stupid.

While I hope the lawsuit doesn’t gain the traction that Scopes did, I find one aspect disturbing. Those bringing the lawsuit claim that “It quotes the textbook as referring to biblical teachings as “legends” and calling it “stupidity” to assume that God created the world.” Perhaps this is typical Literal Creationist quote mining. But if it isn’t, if it’s true, then yes, that’s wholly innapropriate language. Doesn’t matter if someone might agree with the language- it shouldn’t be in a high-school text book. Maybe something calling Christian ideas myths (along with other religious and non-religious ideas), but certainly not legends, or stupid.

Yeah, between textbook–>creationist brain and creationist mouth–>Russian media–>English translation, it’s impossible to determine what the textbook actually says. It would be troubling if true, and it is not inconceivable that textbooks that go through multiple editions could contain hangovers from the bad old days of the USSR and state-sponsored atheism.

On the other hand, if it were true, one would think that the textbook author & government would have just conceded the error and made the changes, rather than taking it to the mat in a lawsuit.

If I were guessing I would say it is more likely that the textbook said something dismissive about creationism specifically due to the international attention the issue has received since about 2000 (and, I gather, some substantial attention in Russia where the ICR and others have been pushing it for years, with local help from the various new evangelical groups there).

I wonder whether Nick really has forgotten that there is indeed one PT’s team member fluent in Russian. Russian and Ukrainian are my two mother tongues. However, in Russian websites and media in general there is almost nothing beyond the information cited by Nick.

Those friends I am in touch with in Moscow just shrug, and do not attach much of a significance to Shreyber’s (or Shrayber’s) suit. The reason is simple: it is just a small item compared with the very loud and omnipresent upsurge of the Church revival in Russia (and Ukraine) after the long years of communist rule. The second president of Russia Vladimir Putin who used to be a lieutenant-colonel of the KGB for most of his life, and of course, as a member of the communist party, explicitly atheistic, now attends church services, kisses the Patriarch’s hand etc. In the city of Tver tens of churches’ buildings which in the Soviet time served as storehouses or for various other purposes, all have been returned to the Russian Orthodox Church; their cupolas are again covered with plates of gold, while the city has no money to repair sidewalks and tram rails.

Creationism in Russia, if anything, takes appaling forms, often coupled with chauvinistic motives asserting that Holy Russia is the only bastion of faith standing firm against godless scientists who thrive in the decadent West. After hundreds of thousands of scientists left Russia for greener pastures in the West, those who stayed are dismayed by the explosion of obscurantism in the country.

It is hard to judge how deep is this resurrection of superstitions (to which Russia has always been quite vulnerable). Many scientists I communicate with are upset but usually are reluctant to get involved in fighting this situation.

A couple of years ago Sakharov Center organized an exhibition under the title “Caution: religion.” A band of hooligans broke into the building, beat up the center’s workers, destroyed or defaced the exhibitions. There was a trial. Hooligans were exonerated while the exhibition’s organizers were convicted of “igniting religious-ethnic hatred.” Obviously, compared to such events, Shreybers’s lawsuit is indeed a small event.

I am interested in seeing whether the current government of Russia (Putin and Co.) will go down the path of the Republican party in this country. The Russian Orthodox Church supports the challenge, and that makes things exciting.

It appears to me that Putin’s goverment has a quid pro quo going with the Church: if they support him in the same way they supported the Czar, he will use his power to help them. Examples are abound: the crackdown on proselytizing and charity by other churches (e.g., Salvation Army), condoning of vandalism of art exhibits seen to be critical of religion, and others.

It seems unlikely that this will happen, because unlike here, experts’ opinion is highly valued, and academics still rule the setting of curriculum. An uproar damaging to this administration is very likely if their opinions are dismissed. I also hope that the goverment cares about the future of the country and the high standards of education achieved by it, and will not throw that away as a political pawn. Plus, the Russian religious nuts are not as politically savvy as American neocreationists.

The courts in Russia are a rubber stamp of the executive branch, so whatever their decision is, that is very likely the will of the executive. I’ll be watching this one very carefully.

P.S. I can read Russian, so I’ll take a better look at the writings on AntiDarvin. At the first glance, it looks like a collection of essays by creationist writers.

Thanks Mark – I do of course know and appreciate your contributions, I just figured I would fish for additional Russian speakers since more is always better…

Mark Perakh Wrote:

However, in Russian websites and media in general there is almost nothing beyond the information cited by Nick.

Mark, I did find some additional information at gazeta.ru. Here is a brief account of an article from December 14 entitled Suing the Marxist Monkey.

Court proceedings came to a dead end as the sides debated whether Christ descended from a monkey, why Darwin needed his theory of origins, and how to write a textbook.

Last Wednesday (December 13) the Oktyabrskii Court of St Petersburg did not get to the substance of the lawsuit filed by Maria Shreiber against the Department of Education of Russia. The proceedings were postponed until February 21, 2007.

The entire second session of the court was spent on numerous motions of the plaintiffs represented by the attorney Konstantin Romanov. Neither Maria Shreiber herself, nor the expert witnesses from the St Petersburg State University were in court.

The administration of the school (attended by Shreiber) filed a letter stating its position, even though it is not directly named in the lawsuit. The administration claimed to have learned about the hurt feelings of the defendant from the mass media, thereby trying to distance itself from the suit. Shreiber’s father Kirill alleged that his daughter was pressured by her teachers after the first court session. In his words, “she was publicly humiliated in biology class for her old-fashioned beliefs and poor knowledge of Darwin’s theory, which does not reflect the truth.” Kirill Shreiber also said that his daughter’s poor grades in six subjects are the result of the teachers’ bias and that she is planning to transfer to another school.

The plaintiff’s lawyer asked for a testimony from Protodeacon Artemy Skripkin who would explain the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on Darwin’s theory of evolution. The motion was denied by judge Igor Chufistov. The judge said that it is not his goal to determine the validity of Darwin’s theory or to clarify the position of any religion in this regard. He had to repeat that point over and over during the day.

The judge also denied to hear another witness for the plaintiff, Sergey Vertyanov, who is the author of an alternative textbook of high-school biology. His textbook, blessed by the head of Russian Orthodox Church Alexii II but not approved by the Department of Education, was meant to show how Charles Darwin’s theory can be presented without offending religious students. The judge again had to remind the court that he did not intend to debate how textbooks should be written.

The court did hear Dr. Sergey Mamontov, one of the authors of the textbook “reading which Maria Kirillovna [Shreiber] experienced the sufferings mentioned in the lawsuit,” in the judge’s words. A heated discussion between Prof. Mamontov and the plaintiff’s side were the highlight of the session. For a while the textbook author tried to find out whether Kirill Shreiber thinks that biology should be taught on the basis of the Old Testament. Having failed to extract an answer, the professor started to criticize the biblical account of the Flood and Noah’s ark. He was interrupted by the judge who reminded that the court has no business discussing world outlooks and must stick to the particular complaints of this particular student to this particular textbook, no more and no less.

In response, Romanov and Shreiber attempted to portray Darwin’s theory as a conduit of the atheist ideology. Having stated that theory of evolution is based on a Marxist platform, they immediately contradicted themselves by saying that Darwin’s works helped formulate the Marxist worldview. As evidence, they tried to present yet another texbook (this time of history) but the judge denied their motion, having apparently decided that there were enough learning aids in the trial.

Also touched upon were the origins of Jesus Christ and prophet Mohammed. The plaintiff’s lawyer asked whether those personalities also descended from a monkey. After that Romanov asked Prof. Mamontov about the details of the evolution from apes to humans. However, the judge disappointed the audience by cutting short that debate. Seeing that all attempts to debate the subject of the lawsuit end in philosophical discussions, the judge decided to postpone the trial until February 21.

Still, the opponents did get a chance to exchange some niceties. The plaintiff’s lawyer filed a motion to include in the lawsuit not only a demand “to forbid the representation of Charles Darwin’s theory as the dominant theory in the schools of the Russian Federation” but also to force the Departments of Education and Science and the Educational Committee of St Petersburg to apologize before Maria Shreiber. That motion was satisfied.

In his turn, Prof. Mamontov asked the court “to publicly censure the plaintiff’s representatives for getting the girl involved in this business.”

Russian source: http://www.gazeta.ru/2006/12/14/oa_226466.shtml

Thanks for that translation Oleg!

Dr. Sergey Mamontov sounds like our kind of guy…

the exhibition’s organizers were convicted of “igniting religious-ethnic hatred.”

Some people here might have voted the same way, it seems.

After reading Oleg’s post, I’m wondering when the 12 red bearded PYGMIES + DWARVES will appear.

Bob

I concur with thanks to Oleg.

This guy Kirill Shreiber (who seems to be the driving force of the lawsuit rather than his daughter) seems to be a crank in several ways. He claims to be a “Grand Master of Water Crown” (hell knows what it means) and also having a PhD degree (in an undefined field). Although it is true (as pointed out in one of the comments) that the courts in Russia are subservient to authorities, I do not think the verdict will indeed forbid teaching evolution or forbid the textbooks. Russia has a strong tradition of good science and it is hard to imagine a judge who would fall for such a primitive bait as offered by an obvious crank. If I am wrong, it would mean that the situation there is even worse than I thought.

Putin is a hypocrite and liar, but he also seems to be sensitive to his image as seen in the West. A normal judge is expected to sense whence the wind is blowing. So, let us wait and see.

A couple of years ago Sakharov Center organized an exhibition under the title “Caution: religion.” A band of hooligans broke into the building, beat up the center’s workers, destroyed or defaced the exhibitions. There was a trial. Hooligans were exonerated while the exhibition’s organizers were convicted of “igniting religious-ethnic hatred.” Obviously, compared to such events, Shreybers’s lawsuit is indeed a small event.

.

While I hope the lawsuit doesn’t gain the traction that Scopes did, I find one aspect disturbing. Those bringing the lawsuit claim that “It quotes the textbook as referring to biblical teachings as “legends” and calling it “stupidity” to assume that God created the world.” Perhaps this is typical Literal Creationist quote mining. But if it isn’t, if it’s true, then yes, that’s wholly innapropriate language. Doesn’t matter if someone might agree with the language- it shouldn’t be in a high-school text book. Maybe something calling Christian ideas myths (along with other religious and non-religious ideas), but certainly not legends, or stupid.

Two peas in a pod. The brand of “Religion” should protect stupidity from criticism.

Since absolutely no-one has responded to the post immediately above (proving that stupidity is sometimes at least transiently immune from criticism even when it’s “atheist” in nature), I’ll risk the firestorm and do so.

1) The first “pea in the pod” refered to here was the relatively courteously written suggestion that high school science textbooks not refer to specific religious doctrines as “legendary” or “stupid”. Some may, perhaps reasonably, disagree with that suggestion. 2) However, the second “pea” was breaking and entering, vandalism, and assault.

These two things are not alike; they are not “peas” from the same “pod” at all. Making a reasonable written suggestion on a web site is not the same as breaking into building and committing crimes. Nor was the motivation of the two acts the same. One was an argument against having some peoples’ religious ideas ridiculed in public school text books, the other was an effort to use violence to intimidate free expression.

For the record, I have no idea whether Russian high school science text books contain language that refers in a derogatory way to specific religious doctrines. It would not surprise at all if some countries do use such books. My guess would be that countries where one religion is strongly “official” would be the most likely offendors.

I strongly concur with the original suggestion that such language does NOT belong in high school science textbooks. At worst it is a violation of the rights of some students; at best it is an irrelevant distraction from the proper goal of a high school science class - teaching science.

harold Wrote:

These two things are not alike; they are not “peas” from the same “pod” at all. Making a reasonable written suggestion on a web site is not the same as breaking into building and committing crimes. Nor was the motivation of the two acts the same. One was an argument against having some peoples’ religious ideas ridiculed in public school text books, the other was an effort to use violence to intimidate free expression.

Agreed.

That said, I don’t think “legends” is an inappropriate word to use about religious ideas in textbooks, at least where there’s reason to mention said ideas at all; it’s a useful, non-pejorative term. This is particularly true when talking about creationism; they treat as legends many Biblical passages which liberal believers treat as myths.

Hey, wasn’t Dobzhansky Russian Orthodox? And rather devout, at that?

In this blog

http://globalpioneering.com/wp02/?page_id=42

(see section on that post VII. Power of Freedom)

I wrote about a “Scopes Trial for the 21st Century.” I see that this is a popular notion. It is also popular to identify Darwinism to be a religion.

My research suggests that Newtonism is a religion and my Scopes Trial for the 21st Century referred to a Scopes-type trial where, not Darwinism, but Newtonism, would be tried.

I am hoping that readers of this blog would find the topic interesting enough to let me know their comments. My goal is to evaluate the ideas I write about in the blog. So reading about the Russian trial which turned into a circus rang some alarm bells about using the legal system to make a social change. Thanks for your comments and help.

Good girl! Go on, Maria Shraiber, and sue them! But please, don’t stop here. You should also point out that your personal beliefs were offended by these sciences books showing the sun revolving around the earth and the structure of the earth’s inner layers (leaving no place for hell!), and the anatomy books claiming that men don’t have a missing rib, and so on… (Sincerely, I’d be delighted to see a Christian going to court for these reasons…)

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on January 3, 2007 1:29 PM.

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