AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM: ASTRONOMERS AND THE “CRUSADE” OF THE 20TH CENTURY
Central State Scientific and Technical Archives of Ukraine
Nauka naukozn. 2021, 1(111): 94-106
Section: Science and technology history
Abstract: The article is devoted to the study of facts from the history of astronomy in 30s of the ХХ century. The purpose of the article is to present the events related to the involvement of Soviet and Western astronomers in the processes of political confrontation between the USSR and the Western world in the early 1930s against the backdrop of the ideological opposition of religion and science. Based on the study of newspaper and magazine periodicals of this period, the sequence of the resonant events with the Head of the Catholic Church Pope Pius XI appeal to the entire Christian world to declare a new “crusade” against the Soviet Union has been restored. The certain worldview aspects of the relationship between religion and science during the political confrontation between the western world and the USSR are considered; the position of the representatives of official Soviet science, who strongly condemned the appeal of the Pope was determined. In particular, based on the most prominent facts in the history of the contacts of science and religion: episodes related to the fates of Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruno, scientists demanded the complete liberation of scientific thought from the influence of the Church. The most reasoned and decisive response to the appeal of the Pope to declare a new “crusade” against the USSR was made by the Soviet astronomers in their “Open letter”, published by the central periodicals. Artificial political processes focused on religion and science has led to an escalation of tensions between Western and Soviet scholars.
The involvement of influential American astrophysicist Otto Struve, the representative of the world-famous astronomical Struve dynasty, the future president of the International Astronomical Union (1952—1955), in a confrontation between Soviet and Western scientists was investigated. In particular, professor Struve himself joined the discussion on freedom of scientific thought in astronomy. The position of a well-known scientist who represented the mood of most American and Western European astronomers caused a violent negative reaction in Soviet astronomical circles.
Keywords: astronomy, religion and science, “crusade”, Pope Pius XI, “Open letter” of astronomers, professor Otto Struve.
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