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Pavlov's Religious Orientation

George Windholz
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 25, No. 3 (Sep., 1986), pp. 320-327
DOI: 10.2307/1386296
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386296
Page Count: 8
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Pavlov's Religious Orientation
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Abstract

A number of works written in the Soviet Union in the post World War II era assert that I. P. Pavlov was an atheist and materialist. Pavlov's presumed anti-religious attitude is used as a weapon in the Soviet State's struggle against religion. Pavlov's own statements show that he was, indeed, an atheist. Nevertheless, Pavlov opposed the persecution of religion. According to his theory of higher nervous activity, religion is an instinct evoked by difficult environmental conditions in biologically "weak" individuals. Since instincts in Pavlov's theory are innate and permanent, it follows that the Soviet's anti-religious campaigns create a trying environmental condition which would evoke religious responses in "weak" individuals rather than eliminate religious behavior.

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