A paradox was revealed during a recent poll of the Russians. In spite of the fact that approximately 70 percent of the country's population call themselves believers, only 26 percent believe that life after death is possible. The beliefs of the Russians are generally contradictory: Russians bring Easter cakes to church to "make them holy" but at the same time are afraid of black cats and broken mirrors.
"Public opinion" fund decided to poll the Russians on the possibility of resurrection after death. The fund found out that despite the fact that 59 percent of the citizens consider themselves Orthodox, and ten percent say that they belong to other denominations, only 26 percent believe in an afterlife.
For 54 percent resurrection is no more than a myth. The majority of those who do not believe in the afterlife are represented by rural residents, men, students and seniors.
Another interesting fact is those who do believe in the afterlife are people with an income of over 30,000 rubles a month, entrepreneurs and executives. Surprisingly, there were more of those who believed in eternal life among the businessmen than among those who call themselves Orthodox Christians: 43 percent versus 31.
According to the numerous surveys and studies, human faith is generally a collection of paradoxes and even absurdities. Russians who call themselves Orthodox Christians consider it their duty to wear a cross, but at the same time do not shy away from horoscopes and psychics' services. A growing number of advertisement promising "to return the beloved one" and "ward off a competitor" indicate a growing demand.
Generally in the recent years Russians have become much more skeptical. Horoscopes, prophetic dreams and professional astrologers are still popular among the population, but to a much lesser extent. Alien life for the majority of the Russians is as much a fairy tale as the life after death. Possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations is denied by 58 percent of Russians.
However, the skepticism of the Russian people does not apply to every day superstitions. Little green creatures and life after death seem to be a myth to many, while troubles promised by a meeting with a black cat, a broken mirror or spilt salt are quite real for the most. The Russians believe that spitting over the left shoulder and knocking on wood is much more effective than a prayer or a call to the spirits.
It is worth mentioning that the representatives of the Church are not surprised by such data. Priests say that identifying themselves as Orthodox, people are not talking about religion, but, rather, the national and family tradition and culture. This means that many Russians do not believe in God, but call themselves Orthodox.
In fact, for many Russians a visit to a church during holidays or baptizing children is the same thing as knocking on wood or avoiding "jinxing," i.e., and old tradition designed to ward off trouble.
However, Russians are not the only ones that have such a strange attitude to religion. For example, 43 percent of Americans attend religious ceremonies every week, but this does not prevent 38 percent of the U.S. adults from believing in the existence of aliens, 33 percent believing in Bigfoot, and 37 percent - in ghosts. Of these, 23 percent are convinced that ghosts are their dead relatives or friends, while 20 percent said they personally met with the spirits of the dead.
Experts, however, argue that there is no paradox here. "Traditional" (in moderation) religion does not interfere with the belief in the paranormal, but quite the contrary: being open to the faith into the unknown, people are not so steadfast in their religious beliefs that reject the mysterious events in principle.
In other words, people who admit the existence of things unexplained from the viewpoint of science can be (or call themselves) Christians (Muslims, Jews), and with the same sincerity believe that aliens have visited Earth a number of times. An individual open to the faith in a higher intelligence, in principle can believe in some seemingly conflicting things. Traditional religions are traditional because people transfer their commitment to a particular confession from generation to generation, observing certain rituals as a family. But it is often nothing more than a tribute to the national culture, rather than a sincere belief and commitment to a wholly-owned church dogma.