Death and Resurrection of God: Life in the Post-Secular World

Jan 24, 2021

In the annals of human history the twentieth century could well be remembered as the “death of God,” foreseen in the writings of a German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), and manifested in world wars, totalitarian ideologies, concentration camps, and mass murder. At the center of cultural debates and political maneuverings of that century stood the Soviet Union – the unique atheist empire in world history. It may have seemed back then that organized religion will fade away and vanish altogether. However, it was the communist block that declined and collapsed, and on its ruins, humanity witnessed the resurgence of traditional religions.

In this program the Russian American philosopher of culture Mikhail Epstein discusses our “post-secular” age, including the concept of “minimal religion,” as the transition from atheism to post–atheist spirituality. Prof Epstein introduced his idea of “minimal religion” in his books Religion after Atheism: New Possibilities for Theology (AST–press, 2013); and The Phoenix of Philosophy: Russian Thought of the Late Soviet Period (1953-1991) (Bloomsbury, 2019).

The interview with Prof. Mikhail Epstein is conducted by Dr. Mikhail Sergeev, co-chair of the Department of Religion, Theology, and Philosophy at the Wilmette Institute.



Mikhail Epstein

Mikhail N. Epstein (b. 1950) is a Russian–American philosopher, cultural and literary scholar, and essayist. He is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Cultural Theory and Russian Literature at Emory University (USA). From 2012 to 2015, he served as Professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Humanities Innovation at Durham University (UK). Epstein's research interests include new directions in the humanities and methods of intellectual creativity; contemporary philosophy and theology, in particular, the philosophy of culture and language; the poetics and history of Russian literature; postmodernism; the semiotics of everyday life, and the evolution of language. Epstein has authored 35 books and more than 800 articles and essays, some of which have been translated into 24 languages. Epstein is а recipient of Andrei Bely Award (St. Petersburg, 1991), the prize of the London Institute of Social Inventions for intellectual creativity (1995), as well as the International Essay competition award (Berlin-Weimar, 1999), Liberty Prize (New York, 2000), and the journals Zvezda (2000) and Znanie-sila (2011) awards. The most complete bibliography of his works and chronology of his scholarly activity is in Homo Scriptor Festschrift in Honor of M.N. Epshtein (Moscow: NLO, 2020).


Mikhail Yu. Sergeev, PhD

WI Department Co-Chair (Religion, Theology, and Philosophy)

Mikhail Sergeev was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, where he received his bachelor’s degree in international journalism from Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) in 1982. In 1990 he moved to the United States to pursue his doctoral studies. In 1993 he received his master’s degree in religious studies and in 1997 his doctorate in philosophy of religion from Temple University, Philadelphia. Sergeev works as an adjunct professor of religion and philosophy at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he received The President’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2010). He also co-chairs and serves on the faculty of the Department of Religion, Philosophy, and Theology at the Wilmette Institute as well as on the faculty of Temple University in Philadelphia. The author of more than two hundred scholarly, journalistic, and creative works, Sergeev published and presented them in Canada, Europe—the Czech Republic, Greece, the Netherlands, and Poland—Russia, and the United States. Some of his articles were translated into Polish, and his books were reviewed in Germany, Japan, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, and the United States. He has authored and edited twelve books, including the monograph, Theory of Religious Cycles: Tradition, Modernity, and the Bahá’í Faith, (Brill, 2015) and his latest, Russia Abroad: The Anthology of Contemporary Philosophical Thought (M-Graphics, 2019). In 2017 at the International Festival “Visit to Muses,” in Greece, he was awarded the Nodar Dzhin Literary Prize for the best work in philosophy: Grand Prix in the category “journalism/scholarship.”See Faculty Bio

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