Creation education in Russia
Published: 12 February 2013 (GMT+10)
The question of educating children in the public school system can raise a whole host of issues for the Christian parent. Issues can spark controversy in the time it takes to wipe clean a whiteboard! Whether it’s the principle of funding or performance tables or sex education, the decision to place the next generation through a system that is becoming increasingly divorced from Christian values can be a difficult one. The issue of creation in the classroom is one that is perennially in the news, although influential secular humanists (atheists) have worked hard to ensure that such teaching is ruled out—for instance their activities brought significant further restrictions in UK schools during 2011 and 2012 (see also here). However, it may surprise you to discover that there are other nations for whom creation teaching in schools is finding a voice. One such place is the unlikely nation of Russia; unlikely, but perhaps not surprising.
For decades, Russia was under Communist rule. This meant that everything taught through the education system was dominated by atheistic philosophies. In essence, the State became the decision-maker, law-giver and dictator of morality. It saw no value in the individual. Personal freedoms were grossly limited and religious freedoms were non-existent.
It is out of such restrictions that the Russian people began to free themselves in the 1990s, with the fall of twentieth-century Communism. This was in some way manifested by an openness to other academic ideas, one of which was biblical creation (see here for a detailed case study of how the fall of Communism in the twentieth century allowed for freedom of thought and teaching of creation). In fact, one such instance was documented by Creation magazine in 1994; Dr Olga Polykovskaya, from the Russian department of Education, was quoted as believing that, “after 75 years of communism and evolutionary teaching, re-education had become one of the country’s greatest needs.”1 Interestingly, her rationale was that “We want to have very strong moral children.”
A group of Russian parliamentarians, led by State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Lysakov, have proposed a change to the Secondary History curriculum to include faith-based alternatives to Darwin’s evolutionary theory.
But that was not an isolated case. In 2006 a schoolgirl and her father led an unsuccessful case against the Russian government because of the exclusive teaching of the theory of evolution as the ‘scientific’ explanation of human origins.2
Allowing evolution to be questioned
Fast forward to 2012 and it was reported that a group of Russian parliamentarians, led by State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Lysakov, have proposed a change to the Secondary History curriculum to include faith-based alternatives to Darwin’s evolutionary theory. The outspoken politician, when questioned about the veracity of evolution, remarked “probably it is incorrect, considering Darwin’s theory raises serious questions and is widely criticized.”3
Perhaps it is not so surprising then, that faith-inspired freedom of thought and individual action are helping to make waves in the academic circles of this former Eastern-bloc country. Over the last two decades, a number of creation conferences and symposia have been held in Russia. It is also now home to the Moscow Creation Society.4 In fact, readers fluent in Russian may be interested to know that they can follow up many topics at the Christian Center for Science and Apologetics. There is also a Russian language section at creation.com for anyone who would like to study creation topics in this language.
The shoots of hope are beginning to blossom into biblical truth that is being spread far and wide in Russia. The simple message that we are not an accident born from a combination of impossible odds and unobserved events, but the result of a magnificent, creative and loving God is being told to many. These brave individuals and organizations are standing up in the face of decades of intellectual opposition, hard-heartedness and old fashioned persecution. Let’s support these brothers and sisters in the Lord who, by God’s grace, seek to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.”5
References and notes
- Russians seek creation education, Creation 16(3):7–9, 1994, creation.com/focus-163. Return to text.
- See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_and_evolution_in_public_education, accessed 10 December 2012. Return to text.
- See http://www.pravmir.com/russian-deputy-calls-for-creationism-to-be-taught-in-school/, accessed 10 December 2012. Return to text.
- Doughty, J. & Doughty, S., Creationism in Russia, Institute for Creation Research, http://www.icr.org/article/creationism-russia, accessed 10 December 2012. Return to text.
- 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV). Return to text.
This article omits information about Orthodox creationism in our country; many conferences, including at international level, have been conducted within the last 15 years within this framework. For example, Christmas International Educational Readings on the subject of Creation were conducted 5 times and the materials were printed and are on the web. Some well known persons such as Guy Berthault, Hugh Owen, S.Ostine (ICR), D.Rosevear, and Fr. Damascene Christensen from Platina took part in these meetings.
The majority of books on creation which have been written and printed in Russia are by Orthodox writers. (Golovin’s publications are not included in this, as his Center is in Ukraine, not Russia). Interested parties might consult Fr.Constantine Bufeev, who is the official leader of the ‘Missionary Center Shestodnev (Hexameron)’, about the history of Orthodox creationism in Russia.
Thank you for this very interesting report. It seems quite ironic that such freedom of thought and speech can be expressed in a Communist country when such doubts about Darwinism are closed down in countries with a Christian heritage and formulation. Everything is to be percieved as 'politically correct' in Western democracies and people are marginalised and indeed mocked for holding to basic Christian freedoms and beliefs.
Dr Olga Polykovskaya of the Dept. of Education declared Russia wants 'very strong moral children'; obviously rabidly promoting evolution will never achieve this outcome.
The demographic decline in Russia today stands at for every 10 babies born 13 are aborted [Thomas, T., The myth of overpopulation, American Thinker, 10 February 2013]. How blind are the countries that allow, like Australia, for the relentless indoctrination of children in State run educational institutions. Even so called Christian schools happily go along with the government mandated leftist anti Christian curricula which continues down this slippery slope.
The parliamentarian Vyacheslav Lysakov has properly placed the teaching of 'Origins'.... evolution or creation in the secondary History curriculum as it is a matter of history and even more importantly, basic axioms and worldviews. Of course the evolutionary fantasy narrative begins well before then, i.e. from kindergarten and TV .
I have distributed hundreds of copies of "Coming to Grips With Genesis" (in Russian) here in Ukraine. We have taught Creation in several cities in our college.
Pray that this would help in the foundational training of the current generation.
The current russia must be much better than the previous USSR but we can only hope that the teaching of creationism eventually permeates the moral fabric of the society and positively affects it, so that corruption and other problems are dealt with.