The Doctrine of Degeneration and Antievolutionism in the Nineteenth-Century Religious Thought
Aleksandr Khramov
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2022-14.3.1-230-245

The paper deals with the history of the notion of degeneration in theoretical thinking of the religion-driven opponents of evolutionism. The notion of degeneration is commonly perceived as something that goes hand in hand with Social Darwinism and other trends of evolutionary thought. Evolutionists of the past usually understood degeneration as a reversal to the ancestral condition, and applied this notion to criminals, mentally ill persons and paupers. However, during the pre-Darwinian time, conservative supporters of the biblical literalism took the doctrine of degeneration very differently, construing it as a rival model to evolutionism. According to this model degeneration is a process of gradual descent from the exalted state in which Adam and its progeny were initially created by God. Prominent proponents of the doctrine of degeneration, such as Richard Whately, a Church of England Archbishop, and Nicholas Wiseman, a Catholic cardinal, argued that the primeval man, created by God, was civilized, far from being in a savage condition, called the state of nature by J.J. Rousseau and his disciples. Antievolutionary doctrine of degeneration suggested that the mode of life of modern savages could not be considered as an original one, because primitive tribes had degraded under the impact of harsh climate and other factors. Degenerationists underscored that humans were unable to invent civilization from scratch without help from God. The doctrine of degeneration enjoyed much influence, so that Charles Darwin himself, and other evolutionists, like Robert Chambers and John Lubbock, felt obliged to counter it. Nevertheless, the doctrine still had some support in the religious camp in 1870. The fact that the notion of degeneracy, initially used by opponents of evolutionism, has been eventually incorporated into the evolutionary worldview by the followers of Darwin is just another example of how triumphant paradigms absorb conceptual elements of their defeated rivals.  

The After Life of the Buddha: Parinirvana Images in Eurasia
Rashmi Doraiswamy
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2021-13.4.2-458-475

This article examines religions in which the life of the spiritual leader is as important as the death, and where the narratives of death (and not just of life) enter the image cycles in art. The Buddha willed himself to die when he was eighty at Kushinagara. Buddhism is one of the rare world religions where there is a huge repertoire of mahaparinairvana images. Buddhism values the release from the cycle of rebirths and deaths. The sets and cycles of images that make up the representation of the death of the Buddha in sculpture and paintings in caves spread across Eurasia are described in detail. The death images are important spatially, materially and culturally. These images began to be made in Mathura, were perfected at Gandhara and travelled all the way across Central Asia to China and beyond. The relics left behind after cremation were enshrined in stupas. They represented a continuation of dharma, of the presence of the Buddha even after he had passed on. The article analyses in detail three caves – Cave 26 in Ajanta in Maharashtra, India; Cave 205 in Kizil in Kucha, Central Asia (East Turkestan) and Cave 148 in Mogao, Dunhuang, China. All three caves juxtapose monumental images of the Dying Buddha with different themes related to his death: The Temptation of Demon Mara in Cave 26, Ajanta;  how King Ajatashatru was told of Buddha’s passing along with the cremation of the coffin with the mahaparinirvana Buddha in it in Cave 205, Kizil. Cave 148 at Mogao contains the most complete set of scenes and images representing events pre- and post- Buddha’s death in sculptures and murals. In addition, there are Chinese interpretations of the Pure Lands in large murals.

Substantiation of the Testimonial Knowledge in the Religious Epistemology: The Approach of J. Greco
Svetlana Khmelevskaya,  Nataliya Yablokova
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2021-13.4.2-476-490

Currently, the study of religious knowledge is carried out mainly within the framework of religious epistemology, which does not exclude its consideration from the standpoint of a non-cognitive approach, for example, fideism. However, the greatest interest is in cognitivism, whose proponents explore the problems of religious knowledge using a number of standards of classical epistemology, yet at the same time modify them, creating standards of religious epistemology proper. One of the authors who develop this direction is J. Greco, who continues the tradition of studying evidence ("testimonial evidence") and its role in the formation and functioning of religious consciousness. In an effort to organize witness knowledge, he tries to typologize it, distinguishing, on the one hand, knowledge presented as a set of witness data, and, on the other hand, as knowledge transmitted and assimilated in the processes of communication that take place, for example, within a religious community. J. Greco criticizes the arguments of skeptics who claim that it is impossible that the evidence can serve as a sufficient basis for religious belief.

The article emphasizes the simplicity of such an approach, since J. Greco does not distinguish the types of knowledge that are formed as a result of evidence (in particular, reflexive and value-based knowledge, which are formed and assimilated in different ways), which are different in their epistemological characteristics. At the same time, he focuses on a problem that is significant not only for religious, but also for classical epistemology, namely, the influence of the moral authority of a particular form of comprehension of being (science, religion, etc.) and its specific representatives who develop the relevant knowledge on the assimilation of certain epistemic truths by both specialized communities (for example, the scientific community) and society as a whole.

The philosophical arguments of J. Greco shows that the theme of religious evidence within the framework of classical epistemology is not reduced to banal statements that they do not meet the criteria generated by scientific knowledge. These reflections touch upon a number of topics relevant to this epistemology. At the same time, these arguments point to the need to develop a religious epistemology based on the specifics of religious knowledge with its own verification criteria and methodology for obtaining it.

Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Russian religious philosophy, underground consciousness, dialogue, salvation
Kirill Rodin
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2021-13.4.2-491-501

The religious opposition of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky was formalized (or even created) and was significantly widened in the works of Russian religious philosophy. The almost unconditional acceptance (or at least sympathy) for Dostoevsky's religiosity, along with distrust and well-known criticism of Tolstoy's later religious works, was firmly entrenched in the Orthodox and general cultural consciousness for more than a century. However, the confrontation was never taken seriously. We want to outline the insurmountable chasm between two images of finding God using the example of the relationship between Raskolnikov and Sonya Marmeladova on the one hand, and Father Sergius (Stepan Kasatsky) and Pashenka (Praskovya Mikhailovna) on the other. These examples are of a paradigmatic nature and can be extended to other artistic and religious (in Dostoevsky's case, journalistic) works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. From the legacy of Russian religious philosophy for the consideration of the works selected in the article ("Crime and Punishment" and "Father Sergius"), Bulgakov's "The Man-God and the Man-Beast" has the greatest and characteristic value. The opposition set by Bulgakov between Tolstoy (using the example of later works) and Dostoevsky (using the figure of the elder Zosima) is considered a misunderstanding by us. Bulgakov biasedly understands the religious meaning of Tolstoy's later texts. We offer a different reading of "Father Sergius" and raise the question of different images of the attainment (finding) of God in the texts of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky anew.

The Russian Church in Modern Society (On the Example of the Russian Religious Situation)
Dmitry Tsyplakov
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2021-13.1.2-327-341

The subject of this article is the concept of the Church in the context of the contemporary Russian religious situation and the understanding of the concept by the Russian philosophical ecclesiology. The current religious situation could be described as post-secular. The Church, which survived two waves of secularization in Russia, retained its social subjectivity. The description of the Church as a conglomerate of believers does not correspond with the self-understanding of the Church in Christian thought. The article reveals the ontological self-understanding of the Church in the works of S.L. Frank, A.S. Homjakov, Russian theologians. The mystical reality of the Church could be combined with the empirical expression of it as a social institution. V.S. Soloviev considered the Church as a part of his theocratic utopia. In it he reduced the Church to a simple political social force. And at present, communities of Christians are expected to be embedded in a certain social functional. Meanwhile, arch-presbyter Nicolas Afanasiev pointed to eschatological reality: to the Church as an eschatological subject, as to the City of God (according to St. Augustine) only dwelling in the city of the earth. It forms the social Church ontology on the basis of the Church and society interaction. The social subjectivity of the Church is implicitly present in the framework of social activity in interaction with secular society. The concept of social subjectivity helps to reveal in the social analysis the essence of the dualistic nature of the Church. As an eschatological subject, it is the Body of Christ and at the head of it is the Christ. Therefore, the Church is a divine-human unity. But in the temporal order of things, in the secular aspect, the Church appears as an organization that performs certain social functions, or as one of the parts of the social institution of religion. The article points out the risk of institutionalization for the Church in which it may lose the social dimension of its subjectivity, which does not correspond to the mystical self-consciousness. The risk is that the Church will fulfill the requests of society but will not be able to reveal its main function of being the “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The article summarizes that in modern Russian society the Church must have its own social subjectivity in order to pass this point of choice and create a working model of interaction with society, including secular society. The subjectivity of the Church is one of the conditions for its sustainable existence in modern Russia.

Technological and Religious Subject of the World View
Evgeny Nagornov
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2021-13.1.2-342-356

In the context of the modern ideological affirmation of the church in the Russian society, the supernatural origin of a religious subject is highlighted, from which all the diversity of the world is derived. Such a metaphysical approach to interpreting a religious subject seems to the author methodologically incorrect and impoverishes the research field. In the framework of the comparative approach, the article discusses the value orientations of the technological (scientific) and religious subjects. The author demonstrates the worldview proximity of these subjectivities and considers new ways of conceptualizing a religious subject. The author’s contribution to the study of the typology of religious and technological subjects is the search for new methodological approaches that could become a means of rethinking the established practices of historical writings of a religious subject, both at the level of new subject areas and at the level of the axiomatics of cultural and historical research. For the author, religion is close to science, especially in the early stages of its development. Religion, like science, does not intend to put up with the proposed historical and social conditions of the established world order, but wants to form them on its own terms. Both a religious subject and a scientist, developing a new revolutionary direction, want one thing to actively change the world, to rule in it according their own rules. The triumph of religious and technological actors is considered in the study as “the invasion of new actors”, as a result of the painstaking work to create their own networks. This allows us to unite the inventors of the modern era and, for example, the first Christians. It allows you to connect the worlds of a scientific laboratory and a religious community that actively recruit their supporters. Such an understanding of the religious subject can become a means of rethinking the established idealistic practices of its representation, as well as the ideas of the ‘immanent development of religion’. The present paper attempts to expand the interpretation of the religious subject, to question its metaphysical totality and universality, and to create a new research field for the future research.

The Dialectics of Creation and the Projective Structure of Space
Marat Gorodezky
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2021-13.1.2-357-376

The article considers creationism as a historically relevant principle in the scientific and philosophic aspects denoting the ontological structure of the world. Outside of the religious interpretation, the author speaks of the dialectics of creation, which is revealed as an implicative connection of the one and nothing. Logical inversion (logical turn), acting from within this implicative connection, is postulated as the principle of a fundamental negation, which, according to the author, forms the true and dramatic essence of the world as a creation.

The author distances himself from the widespread discussion between evolutionism and scientific creationism, stating that it does not correspond to the very subject of creationism, understood as the implication of a real from nothing. The author focuses on considering ‘nothing’ as a purely dialectical / metaphysical principle and relies partly on the Hegel’s dialectic of ‘being’ and ‘nothing’, and partly on the neoplatonic concept of the one. Rejecting the medieval interpretation of the temporal beginning and the Hegel’s identity, he deduces a scheme of the logical connection between the one and the difference, which postulates the inversion (turnover) forming the creation - the one and the difference disjunctively change places, the one becomes the real, and the difference out of the one becomes nothing. It is argued that this postulate, in particular, refutes the thesis about the ‘fall into sin’.

In the second part of the article, a spatial-phenomenological hypothesis is presented: the author provides a description of the space as a geometrical-semantic plane (projective structure). This hypothesis follows from the phenomenological problem of the duality of a geometric object, which results in the problem of ontological transition between a point and a line (in the aporia of the Eleats) and the related problem of spatial congruence / parallelism. According to the author, the potential for solving these not essentially mathematical, but metaphysical questions is the projective geometry, in which parallel lines intersect at ‘point at infinity’, and space is complemented by the ‘plane at infinity’. The essence of the solution consists, firstly, in the assumption of the single plane, which underlies the transition, and secondly, in the description of the perceived world as a result of a specific turn over and closure of this plane, forming the projective structure. The key in this part is the demonstration of the surface of a three-dimensional object as a phenomenon of perceptual-semantic unfolding, which can be imagined as an action of consciousness, consistently reducing the usual scheme. An important aspect of considering the projective structure is the correlation with ‘the Plane’ by G. Deleuze.

The general idea of the article is that the dialectical scheme of creation and the projective structure of the space coincide: the logical inversion (logical turn), acting in connection of the one and nothing, and projective structural turnover – are the same things.

Whom the Great Goddess Protects: Narratives and Practices of Neo-Traditionalism in Modern Religious Conceptions of South-Siberian Turks
Elena Erokhina
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2020-12.3.2-376-391

The article considers the evolution of the traditional religion of South Siberian Turks  influenced by modernisation. The author solves the problem of identification the prerequisites of gender asymmetry displacement in favour of feminisation of the religious beliefs of Khakass and Altai peoples. Methodological basis of the research is a conception of socio-cultural neo-traditionalism. Sacralisation of notable sites and related monuments of historical and cultural heritage is considered as one of the ways to overcome the collective memory trauma caused by modernisation. In order to substantiate her position, the author refers to the cases illustrating the desire to spot the source of sacred power of an ethnic community in archaeological artefacts. In collective memory of Khakass and Altai peoples, this power is embodied in the symbols associated with female reproductive and protective capacity.

The author shows the specifics of narratives and practices of neo-traditionalism among the Turks of South Siberia on the example of nation-wide cults that have developed around their worship of Khurtuyakh-Tas and Ak-Kydyn. Particular attention is paid to the connection between the sacred and the secular in the formation of ethno-confessional narrative around the idea of female deity as a patron and guardian of life force of the people.

The empirical basis of the research is the results of sociological expeditions carried out by the author from 2003 to 2018 in the Republic of Altai and Republic of Khakassia. The author analyses the cases of conflicting and conflict-free imposition of two hypostases of the same monument: a museum archaeological artefact and a sacred object of religious worship. The article substantiates the thesis that with the introduction of scientific rationality into public consciousness the religious discourse takes a new breath, becomes an element of social and political life of the national republics of South Siberia. The article concludes that patriarchal basis of traditional culture is eroded and its vanished elements are replaced by symbols associated with feminine strength.

Theology and Theory of Evolution: the Conflict which did not Exist
Aleksandr Khramov
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2019-11.1.2-307-326

The present paper critically examines the conflict thesis, which can be traced to the authors of the second half of the 19th century, like Thomas Huxley, John Draper and Andrew White, and which was actively exploited during the Soviet time. This thesis, which states that there is an inevitable conflict between religion and science, is shown to be inapplicable to the history of biology and evolution theory in the 19th century. Instead of conflicting with contemporary science, in that time religious leaders often sought ways of reconciling scientific discoveries and the Christian faith, and sometimes they were even personally engaged in geological and paleontological researches. In this respect the case of William Backland, an Anglican priest and geologist, is of a special interest, because at the beginning of his career he followed the biblical deluge narrative in his geological pursuits, but later abandoned this idea in the face of new facts. Because of the professionalization of science the role, which clergy had played in performing researches, gradually diminished. Nevertheless, religious ideas continued to have a considerable influence on the scientific activity of professional paleontologists and evolutionary biologists. In particular, the concept of creation through evolution, aimed at reconciling scientific worldview and the Christian belief, had been formulated before Darwin published his evolutionary theory, and afterwards it was endorsed by determined Darwinists like American botanist Asa Gray and British naturalist Alfred Wallace. Therefore, it would be a mistake to draw a conclusion about the incompatibility of science and religion in general from the isolated cases of religiously motivated hostility toward the theory of evolution and other scientific ideas.

O.V. Davydenkov
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2018-2.2-128-143

A prominent Melkite writer Theodore Abu Qurrah, Bishop of Harran (c. 750 – c. 830) was the first Orthodox Christian author who used Arabic for his treatises. He was generally reputed both as a theologian, and a scholar well versed in philosophy. Nevertheless, the philosophical premises of his Trinitarian doctrine and Christology still remain unexplored. The article discusses two kinds of philosophical premises of Theodore’s theology: logical and ontological. Theodore divides all scientific terms and academic concepts into two groups: 1) philosophical and 2) logical names. Names of the general type such as “living being”, “human”, “horse”, and particular nonlogical ones (proper names as Paul, Jacob, John) are defined as philosophical, while such terms as “kind”, “type”, “nature”, “hypostasis”, etc. are specified as logical. According to Theodore, the crucial difference between these two types resides in the following: for philosophical type of names, the properties and definitions of more general names (concepts) are inherited by particular names; which is not true for logical names. In terms of logic, Abu Qurrah believes that the category of quantity is applicable only to logical names. Striving for the utmost accuracy of statements, he defended the theory of reference, which occurs only in one of the authors who preceded Theodore, St. Gregory of Nyssa. In terms of ontology, Theodore proceeds from the belief that the general is completely, without division and multiplication, presented in a particular (individual). Here, bringing out the conceptual differences between the hypostasis and the nature, he, meanwhile, denies that accidental attributes are origins of the hypostasis. Furthermore, the existence of particular substances (natures) seems to Theodore both logically and ontologically impossible. The ontology of the hypostasis, the fundamental principle of Theodore Abu Qurrah’s theology, seems similar to Byzantine diphysite tradition of 4th – 8th centuries (St. Leontius of Byzantium, St. Maximus the Confessor, St. John of Damascus).