Ateism kui nõukogude teadus
Atheism as a Soviet Science
Atko Remmel, UT Faculty of Theology
The following questions will be addressesd in the talk: To which extent were Soviet anti-religion practices scientifically grounded? To which extent can one speak about atheism as a scientific discipline? Is it justifiable to regard Soviet science as „atheist“?
On the one hand, atheism was a conceptual component of the prevailing ideology, but on the other hand it was a practical device used for enforcing this ideology. The main basis for regarding it as scientific was the dogmatic position that Marxism-Leninism was a scientific theory. Soviet science was therefore automatically considered atheist and atheism scientific, regardless of the scientific methods – or lack thereof – which were used for gathering data.
When speaking of the scientific character of scientific atheism, it should be approached as a synthetic discipline which drew together the results of other disciplines with the aim of criticizing religion, its main conclusion being that religion was incompatible with Marxist ideology and natural sciences. However, when science is exploited for ideological reasons, it is inevitably biased and lacks some of the main attributes of scientific quality, despite its scientific mimicry. Moreover, since the contributions of atheists to the findings of natural sciences were mainly of ideological nature, the discipline attained an apologetic role and it can be considered a quasi-scientific rather than a scientific discipline.
In Estonia the community of scientific atheists consisted barely of a handful of people who were mostly occupied at different establishments for higher education. „Estonian scientific atheism“ can be distinguished from Soviet scientific atheism only so far as their writings dealt with the local situation. The main fields of study were the history of religion and sociology; on the practical side the main focus was on the new Soviet rituals.