Scepsis №1: Summary

When opening a new quarterly called "Scepsis" ("scepticism"), what should the reader expect to discover inside? Most likely, burning philosophical, ethical and moral issues together with heated debates between the believers and those advocating the idea of atheism. Undoubtedly, the necessity of some historical background supplement and critical essays would also occur. And finally, to spice it all up, some satirical or humorous section.

Now, that is exactly what you are going to find in this very first issue of our quarterly, for we are not going to deceive anyone's expectations.

As for the editors' expectations, they are laid out in the "For a start" section, where both scientific and educating objectives, goals and intentions of the journal publishers are made clear. "It is scepticism that all scientists and philosophers share and have in common, even if they take opposite positions in science or politics", the article states, which can be generally taken as the quarterly's motto. The idea is well proved in the article supplied by professor Muravyov, doctor of philosophy. Looking into one of the manifold problems of today's cultural studies, he dismisses, in the course of thorough analyses, all the attempts of some religious authors to picture Pushkin as a deeply religious poet. We cannot but point out that the article not only appears to be an exquisitely built argumentation system, but, supporting the reader with all-important background information and points of view both for and against, it also becomes a sample of practical scepticism.

The issue discussed in the article also finds reflection in the interview given to the quarterly by the same author, but this time our attention is drawn to more complex problem of the so called "Russian religious Renaissance". As it becomes clear from the interview, Renaissance is not the word to describe the current state of affairs, since the positive connotation it carries has nothing to do with the authoritarian efforts to impose religiosity on the people. And though the outcome of those efforts should be neither over- nor underestimated, as professor Muravyov goes on to say, atheists are hardly likely to be pressed for work.

And since the main instrument in their work is logical argumentation and proof by analysis, the role of the journal's "Lie Detector" section (aimed at disclosing anti-scientific and far-fetched theories) cannot be assessed as secondary. This time the article written by a well-known Russian philosopher professor Semionov brings us to the very dawn of mankind history when religious belief first rooted in the human mind (inseparable at that time from magic rites). As we follow the further development of the notion, we watch how the lack of power to deal with nature, the entanglement in unnecessary "parasitic" actions inexorably entails illusory views and finally leads to the emergence of religious belief. Professor Semionov, possessing the rare gift of talking about complicated matters in a clear and all-explaining way gives the greater part of the article to magic-bound aspects, like the variety of forms it takes in modern society, its principal difference from religion proper and the splitting of the world into natural and supernatural in a believer's mind.

Needless to say, that a journal published by the Atheistic Organisation of Moscow hardly has the right to reckon itself an advocate of open-mindedness if it does not consider the opinion of its opponents. Therefore in the debate section the floor is given to Sergey Hudiev, an orthodox writer, which provides the opportunity for him to express his point of view on atheism. And as the debate section presupposes counter-argumentation as well, an atheist's answer is also submitted for consideration in this section.

We also hold it vital so supply the coverage of the events determining the way in which national and world science is developing. This time we introduce to the reader our accounts of the international symposium called "Science, anti-science and paranormal beliefs" and the conference which received the name "The role of the Orthodox Church in creation and development of Russian State" both held last year in Moscow.

As this issue of the quarterly is mostly dedicated to the matters of belief and atheism as such, we would like the reader to get acquainted with those works by one of the most outstanding philosophers of the XX century, namely Bertrand Russell, which have been so far unfamiliar to the Russian-speaking audience and first appear in translation on the pages of our quarterly.

Now, what remains to be added? As the rephrased proverb would go, "better read anything oneself than listen about it", especially as sceptical approach suggests never begging the question.