Creationism in Russia
by John and Svetlana Doughty
Few can forget the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union. Down came the statues of Lenin, Marx, and Stalin, as people celebrated the new hope of freedom! But there remains one statue to be dismantled in Russia—that of Charles Darwin. The 1994 World Almanac reported at least 60% of the Russian people are non-believers, the evolutionary remnant of the Communist past.
The Russian creation movement came into being through the efforts of Russian scientists, largely through reading one of Dr. Henry Morris' books which had been smuggled into Moscow in the early 1980's. About a dozen creation associates began to organize in 1985. When religious toleration was extended in Russia, the Moscow Creation Society1 became one of the first Christian organizations officially registered.
The society blossomed to over 300 members, holding numerous meetings for the dissemination of creation information. Visiting a Moscow Society meeting in December, 1993, I was surprised to discover a common bond of respect and academic freedom among both creationists and evolutionists present.
The first creation symposium took place in Moscow, December 1992, with several creation scientists from around the world including Duane Gish, Roger Oakland, Robert Gentry, and Guy Berthault. The conference was attended by about 150 Russian scientists, with many visitors taking the information of creation science back to their respective institutions.
My wife, Svetlana, remembers Dr. Gish's lecture as the pivotal moment of the conference. Several hundred Russians sat stoically in the convention hall listening to Dr. Gish lecture on the fossil record. According to her, it was Gish's trademark humor which broke through the icy dialectic materialism. She said, "When he mentioned that archaeopteryx's teeth meant nothing for evolution, since some of our audience had teeth, some not—we broke out laughing. The ice melted. From then, they hung on every word."
Another Russian Creation Conference took place in October, 1995, as Dr. Gish returned to Moscow with Fred Lutsenko of Canada, Roger Oakland, and Ian Taylor to participate with Russian Ministry of Education officials—Dr. Alexander Asmolov, Dr. Alexei Budnow, and Dr. Olga Polykovskaya who have sought ICR's help in writing a creation science curriculum for use in Russian schools. Over a hundred scientists were present at the conference and many hundreds more students.
Since 1990, Dr. Gish has traveled to Moscow four times. Visiting St. Petersburg in May/June 1994, he lectured at the Logos Bible College. Dr. John Morris visited in 1990. On each occasion, itineraries were packed with lectures, resulting in thousands of Russians hearing the creation evidence. Response has always been favorable.
However, it is the publishing of ICR books in Russia which is presently making the greatest impact on Russian individuals. Dr. Henry Morris' The Scientific Case for Creation, translated by Eugene Grosman, was the first ICR book to be published in Russian. Ten thousand copies were printed by the Slavic Gospel Association and circulated underground in Moscow during the 80's.
Under the influence of Kouznetsov and the Protestant Publishing House in Moscow, several more ICR books became available in 1993, including The Beginning of the World, Creation and the Modern Christian, Education for the Real World, The Bible Has the Answer, and Noah's Ark and the Lost World. In June of 1995, the comprehensive Biblical Basis for Modern Science and Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics were released through the Bibles-For-Everyone Company. These have also been received favorably. Academicians had three main comments: the information is new, no theory should be discounted after the long Communist censure, and the books make a very good case!
In my first trip to the Soviet Union in 1991, and later in 1992, over 350 copies of The Scientific Case were distributed to faculty and students in biology, geology, physics, biophysics, geophysics, and linguistics at St. Petersburg State University, as well as to Moscow State University, the University of Ekaterinburg, Kiev Institute of National Economics, and Kharkov State University in Ukraine. Several hundred more ICR books of the 1993 Protestant series were later circulated.
In 1995, I distributed 150 each of The Biblical Basis and Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics to more faculty and students at St. Petersburg State University (SPSU), in biology, geology, philosophy, and linguistics on the main Ziyachly Island campus, as well as the physics, mathematics, and chemistry departments in Petergoff.
We have presented Dr. Henry Morris' books to many dignitaries including Alexander Yemelyanov, Chief Reception Officer to President Boris Yeltsin. Yemelyanov graciously met us on June 3, 1993, when the administration was busy drafting the new Russian Constitution. He received several copies of The Scientific Case and promised to give one to President Yeltsin and others of his administration.
Home on furlough, we traveled to the home of Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Cavendish, Vermont, on April 30, 1994. We had mailed him several of Dr. Henry Morris' books. He could not see us, but his son, Ignat, confirmed that he has read them. Solzhenitsyn is revered in Russia and knows well that her only chance for survival lies in reviving its moral economy, but this is impossible without Genesis 1:1.
It is hard to estimate the influence of the books. I received a letter in March, 1995, from a soldier boy in a Moscow area barracks whom the government had conscripted from SPSU, thanking me for the books we had given him three years before. He wrote that he had been an atheist, but was now a believer and was headed to the front lines of the War with The Scientific Case in his pack.
The contacts that arose from the St. Petersburg book ministry culminated in the St. Petersburg Bible Science Association in 1993. It was then that Svetlana (our first convert to Christ two years before) and I were married and set up full-time there. Svetlana had graduated with honors from SPSU and continued her graduate work in their laser physics department. The academic dean made me an adjunct professor there, teaching American History.
At SPSU the creation organization was cordially received and many faculty participated in our forums. Dr. Irina Golovchanskaya, Professor of Atmospheric Physics, who brought us to Russia and SPSU in the beginning, was instrumental in promoting the early work. She has since moved to Murmansk with her husband to the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute in Apatity. Other faculty who have participated in creation forums and discussions are Dr. Valery Cherepanov and Dr. Boris Talbin of Svetlana's Laser Physics Department; Anatoly Sparakov, Head of Optics; Dr. Leonid Stoupin, Professor of Linguistics; and Dr. Vladimir Bransky, Professor of Philosophy.
A Russian creation newsletter is published by the SPBSA throughout the former Soviet Union in the form of translated ICR Impact articles.
We even had a formal debate at SPSU. Jay Wilson, former chemical engineer with the Anaconda Mining Company, met Svetlana's advisor, theistic evolutionist Dr. Boris Taibin, on August 4, 1994. (Wilson had moderated Gish's sixth debate with Vincent Sarich at MSU.) Wilson scored heavily with the thermodynamics argument. Several SPSU biologists were influenced by the debate. Two in particular—Igor Pozdnyakov and Kostantine Seleznev—have become dedicated creationists.
Dr. Valery Karpunin teaches a creation course at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory, and has taught creation courses and participated with the Moscow society. Dr. Vladimir Kondalenko of the Russian National Cancer Research Center in Moscow has pioneered creation research in gerontology. Dr. S. L. Golovin directs the Christian Scientific Center "Parthenit" of Simferopol, Ukraine.2 Many Christian missionaries and campaigners have dispensed creation information throughout the former Soviet Union. It would be impossible to document the accomplishments of so many people who have come and gone.
Declaring the creation evidence has been, and will remain, the most important work in reviving Russia. The work of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin, whose evolutionism removed God from society, resulted in the "Evil Empire" of the Soviet Union (1917-1991). The collapse of Communism brought new-found freedom, but created a spiritual vacuum which has yet to be filled. Creationism is the foundation of true Christianity and is imperative to any country's success. Despite overwhelming odds, creationists have made tremendous progress in Russia!
Those visiting Russia are encouraged to help get creationist books into the hands of the Russian people. ICR Russian books are available in Moscow at the Protestant Publishing Company,3 on Mukomolny Prospect, House 1, Building 2, Tel. (095) 259-7128, and in St. Petersburg at the Bibles-For-Everyone Company4 located near the Chernishevskaya Metro at Shpalernaya St. 60/1, Tel. (812) 271-9102. Their other office is located at Kosmonavtov Prospect 96/2, (812) 127-8646.
Interested creationists are invited to contact us at E-mail:email@example.com or P.O. Box 379, Bridgewater, VA 22812.
1 Moscow Creation Society, P.O. Box 2163, Moscow 129626 Russia. (This address is no longer active)
2 Christian Scientific Center "Parthenit" Gogolia 33-8, Simferopol, Crimea 333000, Ukraine.
3 Protestant Publishing, Russia 123290 Moscow, Mukomolny Prospect House 1, Bldg. 2.
4 Bibles-For-Everyone Company, P.O. Box 237, St. Petersburg, Russia 196233.
* John Doughty, B.A., creation evangelist and Svetlana, B.S., have been part-time ICR summer students.