Bokov German

Professor-archpriest Pavel Svetlov on the “atheistic humanism” as the “religion of deified man” (based on archival materials and publications of 1914–1917)

Bokov German (2021) "Professor-archpriest Pavel Svetlov on the “atheistic humanism” as the “religion of deified man” (based on archival materials and publications of 1914–1917) ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2021, vol. 93, pp. 47-62 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI202193.47-62


Archpriest Pavel Svetlov (1861–1941) is the most prominent representative of Orthodox apologetics in the late 19th — early 20th centuries. He was professor at the University of St. Vladimir in Kiev, a distinguished theologian and essay writer, the author of more than 100 published works and a large number of never-published manuscripts. Until now, his works have not yet become the topic of academic research. This article makes public for the fi rst time several unpublished essays of Pavel Svetlov from his personal archive (1916–1917) which pertain to his understanding of theomachy and atheism as “the religion of deifi ed man” (человекобожество). He believed that this phenomenon is an attempt to elevate and glorify human beings through the “abating” of God. He associated it with the “fashion” for “atheistic humanism” that embraced the European intellectual world. Pavel Svetlov criticised various atheistic conceptions for decades, from the time of his paper on philosophy of religion of L. Feuerbach in 1885. In his later works, he wrote that religiosity is rooted in human nature. Svetlov believed that “absolute” atheism is “almost impossible” for man, so in refusing Christ intelligentsia creates idols such as abstract concepts of ‘human’, ‘humanity’, ‘people’, ‘science’, ‘Communism’. In these manuscripts, as well as in his publications of 1916–1917, Svetlov analyses religious-philosophical quests and “divine creativity” (боготворчество) of the Russian intelligentsia in the early 20th century. He calls Nikolai Berdiaev and Leonid Andreev clear-cut representatives of ‘individualistic theomachy’.


Archpriest Pavel Svetlov, Orthodoxy, theology, Russian philosophy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Sergei Bulgakov, theomachy, atheism, ‘religion of deifi ed man’ (chelovekobozhestvo), “atheistic humanism”, “egoteism”, Ludwig A. von Feuerbach, “new religious consciousness”, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Nikolai Berdyaev, Leonid Andreyev


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Information about the author

Bokov German

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Academic Rank: Associate Professor;
Place of work: Institute of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University; 7-9 Universitetskaya Emb., St. Petersburg 199034, Russian Federation;
Post: Associate Professor;
ORCID: 0000-0002-0456-2356;
Email: bokovg@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.