The Science Work
Site is for sale:
Category: History

Pros and cons: the relation to a celebration of memory of Charles Darwin in 1909.

a za and against:

the relation to a celebration of memory of Charles Darvina in 1909

Preparation for the publication and K.V. Manoylenko's comments

St. Petersburg branch of Institute of history of natural sciences and equipment of S.I. Vavilov RAS, St. Petersburg, Russia;

It is the first full publication of the document opening the reason of absence of representatives of the University of Sacred Vladimir (Kiev) on the anniversary celebrations devoted to Ch. Darwin. In the comment the explanation concerning the relations of religion and science during the specified time period is given.

The taking priority scientific estate of Russia — the Imperial Academy of Sciences, accepted the invitation of the Cambridge university to participation in Darvinian anniversary celebrations. Memorial — the 100 anniversary since the birth of the great scientist, coincided with the 50 anniversary of the first publication of its work "Origin of species". In the run-up to the significant event, in April, 1909 at a meeting of Physical and mathematical office of Academy of Sciences the academician V.V. Zalensky reported the text of a message of greeting Cambridge universitetu1. Academicians botanist I.P. Borodin and the zoologist V.V. Zalensky were elected to anniversary celebrations representatives from Academy of Sciences.

The tribute of memory of Charles Darvina was expressed also by the act of election of his son of the botanist physiologist Fransis Darwin (1848 — 1925) as the foreign corresponding member of Academy of Sciences in Peterburge2. The initiative of representation to election belonged to I.P. Borodin.

At Cambridge in June, 1909 from Russia were present at celebrations: N.I. Kuznetsov representing the Derptsky (Yuryevsky) university, F. Elfving ^геёпк E1Mshch), the representing Gelsingforsky Aleksandrovsky university, K.A. Timiryazev representing the Moscow university and the Moscow society of testers of the nature, V.M. Shimkevich representing the St. Petersburg university. I.P. Borodin and V.V. Zalensky represented Imperial Academy of Sciences.

The university of St. Vladimir (Kiev) did not participate in the anniversary actions in England devoted to Charles Darvina's memory in 1909. The situation is cleared up by the protest document published below sent to Council of the university by professor of divinity P.Ya. of Svetlovym3.

1 St. Petersburg branch of RAS Archive. T. 1. Op. 1a. 156. L. 132.
2 In the same place. T. 125. Op. 1. 166. L. 1 — 2. Minutes of meetings of Physical and mathematical office of Imperial Academy of Sciences. 1908. § 590. Appendix VIII.
3 This document is stored in the Kiev state archive with constant fund of documentary materials: T. 16. Op. 348. 17. L. 1 — 3. We could get acquainted with P.Ya. Svetlov's note in the course of studying the archive materials connected with activity of the botanist N.G. Holodny (1882 — 1953) at the Kiev university. See: K.V. K.V. Essays from the history of studying phytohormones in domestic science. L., 1969. 272 pages

© K.V. Manoylenko

In Council of the Imperial university of St. Vladimir

Member of council of Professor of divinity

The archpriest P. Svetlov opinion On participation of the Imperial university of St. Vladimir in a centenary since the birth of Charles Darvina

Without having an opportunity, on an illness, to be in a meeting of Council of the University on February 5, most obediently I ask Council to adopt the written statement about my reasons at discussion of the question of participation of the University of St. Vladimir in Ch. Darwin's anniversary raised in the agenda.

1. Ch. Darwin is obliged by glory of the ingenious scientist mainly the theory of the origin of species accepted in a scientific world with extraordinary enthusiasm at first. But in process of strengthening of the quiet critical relation to the new doctrine the cooling to it grew in the special environment, and so far in the essential part the Darwinism became in science already a perezhita a mistake, a razdelyaema the few, his most persistent adherents. Darvinova the theory of the origin of species was not confirmed by the facts and now holds modest position of the biological hypothesis demanding replacement the best, than it in science. Orthodox Darwinians, together with gekkelist, in the West exist on position of the endangered breed which remained, however, at us in Russia where with rare exception among the Russian naturalists the Darwinism has permanently loyal fans.

In a darvinovy hypothesis distinguish two parties: first, the general idea of gradual development of all organic world or the general origin of species, in other words — the idea of evolution, development; secondly, the way of an explanation of origin of the organic world, i.e. those factors and conditions by what gradual transformations of organic forms volunteer and defined. The first party of a darvinov the theory is what is collectively called evolutionism, theories of development, the second party — it represents itself what in own and close sense deserves the name of Darwinism, i.e. the special hypothesis of natural selection making essence of Darwinism. The evolutionism or the principle of development is shared by most of scientists and serves as some kind of article of belief in natural sciences; in any case, so far there is a doctrine dominating in science. But, undoubtedly, a darvinova the theory so far lost almost absolutely former value in that part in which it is a hypothesis of natural selection: to replace it new advanced theories in which already almost nothing remains actually from Darwinism, except the general idea of evolution, and a hypothesis of natural selection from "great opening" in science what it was hasty announced at the beginning are, it is discredited to degree of one of the great delusions braking achievements of science (Kelliker, Neghelli, Driesch, De-Fris, Gertvig, G. Wolf, Claus, Dauson, A. Gette, Delyazh, Veysman, Schneider, Shteynman, Aymer, etc.).

What eventually here remains on Darvina's share? Resolutely anything: 1) the general idea of gradual development of all organic world by mechanical transformation of types does not make a merit or opening of Darvina who had in this regard numerous predecessors acting through Thales Miletsky, Anaksimandr, Levkipp, Democritus, Lucretius and especially Empedocles and in modern times acting through Lamarck, Oken, Gyote, Byuffon, Geoffroi St Hilaire, etc.

2. The idea of evolution at all the prevalence and popularity does not represent itself the indisputable and strongly established scientific truth and is one of doctrines of modern scientific and philosophical consciousness accepted without check by blind adherents of evolutionism as most fashionable scientific philosophical doctrine. And in biology the principle of evolution is accepted not by all. It is enough to remember that hollow


the zheniye of complete denial of a hypothesis of Darvina, with denial behind the beginning of mechanical evolution of value of an axiom of science, is engaged in both of its parts by such scientists as Karl E. fon Baer, Reynke, Fleyshman, Febvre, Godron, Blanchard, Vigand, Milln Edvars, Pfafer, Nadayak, Agassiz, etc.

As a result of everything that the science needs to celebrate in the creator of an unsuccessful hypothesis of the origin of species? Really only the mistake which slowed down achievements of biology in a solution of a mystery of life and is condensed by already great gloom in questions of human nature and its place in the universe for those which see answers to these questions in a modest biological hypothesis of Darvina and accept its bona fide as a basis of the general world view?

The scientific bases to a celebration of the creator of the theory of natural selection by the celebration of its centenary cannot be presented. Of course nothing interferes with an anniversary celebration of Darvina in close limits of the environment where the Darwinism serves as a doctrine of atheism or some kind of belief inside out and also among the breed of orthodox Darwinians which is becoming obsolete in science, but the science and the representative of science to the University do not have the bases to join this celebration.

2. Except the scientific party in a question of an anniversary celebration of Ch. Darwin it is impossible to forget his not less important religious and public party.

Business of religious and philosophical thoughtlessness and ignorance should be considered mixture and rapprochement of Darwinism with atheism and with materialism. Wide circulation in science, philosophy and divinity so nazyv. teleologic or Christian evolutionism allows to consider also misunderstanding sharp opposition of Darwinism to Christian belief and the Bible with its doctrine about origin of life by special creation of types. Darwin was the believing teist, explained origin of initial three-four organic forms with creation and mixture of its theory with proti-vureligiozny doctrines for it was surprise. In a word, it is necessary to recognize as a prejudice the reputation of the doctrine which was established behind Darwinism destructive for religion and Christianity — such where as if the most exact science God as his Supreme reasonable reason is expelled from the world as the Creator and the Pro-thinker. However in the Russian society the Darwinism enjoys popularity and wide circulation just as such antireligious doctrine, hopelessly mixes up with materialism, is expropriated by dogmatic atheism of Russian intelligentsia and taken under the special protection by socialism according to requirements of party tactics as help in fight against religion and church. In such conditions, on our Russian soil what would be an anniversary celebration of Darwin? It would be not a holiday of science, but a disbelief celebration over Christian belief with a political lining though an imaginary and cheap celebration, but nevertheless extremely seductive for the believing Russian people.

I consider participation of the University of St. Vladimir in anniversary, thus, undesirable and for religious motives.

Without sharing the social democratic point of view into religion as a private affair of personal conscience, with its isolation of belief from life and division in the same face of the Christian and citizen to extent of their bifurcation, I believe that the religious aspect which is put forward by me in a question has important public value. Our university bears a name of Vladimir Equal to the apostles, sacred for the Russian people, and represents itself one of the higher schools not of the atheistic or bezreligiozny, but Christian state, Sacred Orthodox Russia, and therefore the Imperial university of St. Vladimir cannot and should not be indifferent also to religious aspect of a question.

Thus an official celebration of Ch. Darwin it I resolutely consider

participation of the University in anniversary undesirable based on scientific, religious and public and if with the opinion I was in Council lonely or in minority, then

I most obediently would ask to accept in that case offered on position of separate opinion.

On February 5, 1909

Member of council of the Imperial university St. Vladimira, Professor of department of divinity, Doctor of divinity, Archpriest Pavel Svetlov

P.Ya. Svetlov4 as it is visible from its conclusion, took sharply negative position in assessment of scientific merits of Charles Darvina. The absence of the university of St. Vladimir on anniversary celebrations in Cambridge demonstrates that at the beginning of the XX century the debate over theory of evolution of Darvina not prekrashchalis5. A conservative part of society saw attempt at church dogmas in the Darvinian doctrine. At the same time big explanatory work of the progressive scientists-biologists differentiating religion, science, education was not considered (N.I. Zheleznov, K.A. Timiryazev and others). In this regard it is necessary to pay attention also to memoirs of I.I. Mechnikov, the participant of celebrations in Cambridge: "Opening of natural selection gave a strong point of support on which a lot of new truth and important applications is already constructed"... And further: "From here that general enthusiasm which was expressed in Darvina's celebration in Cambridge" 6 is clear.

Pro et contra: An Attitude to the Celebration in Commemoration of Charles Darwin in 1909

Publication and commentary by Ksenia V. Manoilenko

Saint-Petersburg Branch, S.I. Vavilov Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Russian Academy of Sciences; e-mail:

This is the first complete publication of documents disclosing the reason why representatives of the St. Vladimir University (Kiev) did not participate in the celebration in commemoration of Charles Darwin in 1909. The commentary explains this fact regarding the relationships between science and religion in that period of time.

4 Pavel Yakovlevich Svetlov (1861 — 1945) is the author of numerous works of religious orientation. Opposed Ch. Darwin's doctrine publicly. In the brochure "Before the broken idol: Concerning educational activity "sitting in тьме" Darwinians" (SPb., 1912. 32 pages) P.Ya. Svetlov sharply, offensively criticized A.N. Severtsov for his lecture "Origin of the Person" (1907). It published the dissenting opinion concerning participation of the university of St. Vladimir in Ch. Darwin's anniversary in a short form in the called brochure.
5 The events connected with fight in Council of the university of St. Vladimir concerning participation in celebration of century since the birth of Charles Darvina found reflection in the book by L.B. Sever-tsovoy "Alexey Nikolaevich Severtsov: Biographic essay" (M.; L., 1946. Page 202 — 203). "This decision of Council [refusal of the university. — K.M.] most painfully struck Alexey Nikolaevich as besides shame for a wild act of the university, it, A.N. Severtsov as leading Darwinian of the Kiev university, projected to send to England for participation in the celebration of anniversary of Darvina" (In the same place, page 205).
6 Swordsmen I.I. Chestvovaniye Darvina in Cambridge//Swordsmen I.I. Pages of memoirs. M, 1946. Page 127.
Carol Amanda
Other scientific works: