The Development Of Religious Consciousness In The Modern Metropolis


In the history of human culture, the city is the basis of the development of civilization. The urban environment has become a necessary soil for the modernization of all social processes. The modern metropolis is an agglomeration of territorial, economic, cultural characteristics. It is the center of the communicative space, political decision-making, the creation and implementation of cultural codes. Religion in urban space is an important part of spiritual life. Religious consciousness in a megacity is transformed due to the rapidly changing public reality. Megapolis is a living space in which the diversity of social and cultural forms leads to opposite processes of integration and disintegration. Religion in various circumstances can become a unifying force for rallying a social group and can lead to confrontation and confrontation. They should harmonize a person’s life, help to find stability and peace. Religiosity in the metropolis is a known topic for discussion in the scientific literature but underestimated. In the modern city a large number of religious denominations, trends and groups coexist. The population of a megapolis is numerous and diverse in its composition. How can each person find his spiritual path in this complex structure of multifaceted interaction? Trying to find the answer to one of the most important questions of human existence is possible not only by the method of empirical trial and error, but also by adopting the theoretical knowledge that modern scientists have developed and has learned humanitarian science.

Keywords: Religious consciousnessculturemegacityspiritualclericalism


The basis of religious consciousness is the inner need of a person in understanding his role in the universe. This need is due to the ability of the human brain to abstract thinking and the mental peculiarity of producing faith. Religious faith is inextricably linked with the idea of God, who synthesizes in himself all the supernatural powers. Religious consciousness, based on faith on the ordinary and theoretical-semantic levels, interprets, understands, experiences, personifies the divine. Studying religious consciousness, the Russian philosopher Ilyin (2002) noted that the basis of his is religious experience.

Religion as a human condition is above all a religious experience. It exists in those forms that are inherent in a person himself; in other words: the way of being inherent in a person conveys to his religious experience his properties and laws ... If we distinguish spirit, soul and body in a person, this triple composition must also be revealed in religious experience: the inner "power", the psychic "environment" and outer inclusiveness in the material world. (Ilyin, 2002, p. 106)

Appeal to the topic of religious consciousness occurs in philosophical, psychological, sociological contexts. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the process of modernization of Western culture led, on the one hand, to an increase in the process of secularization, and on the other, to a scientific, literary, journalistic interest in relation to new forms of religiosity. This cultural phenomenon was called "religious renaissance", one of the directions of which, in the Russian capital's academic environment, was "new religious consciousness". It was an attempt to synthesize Hellenism and Christianity, a combination of ancient values and spiritual dominants of the early twentieth century. The result of these aspirations was a whole series of works devoted to the study of religious consciousness. The main representatives of this direction were Berdyaev (1999), Rozanov (1990, 2012), Merezhkovsky (2000).

Modern researchers are turning to the topic of studying modern transformations of religious consciousness in the context of a changed cultural reality. Yarychev (2015) observes the evolution of religious consciousness, against the background of cultural dialogue, of representatives of different age groups. Yakovenko (2012), on the basis of studying the literature of domestic and foreign authors, examines the development of religious consciousness in modern Russia. Shaidurov (2017, 2018) conducts a historical analysis of the situation of various ethnoreligious and religious groups in national and regional contexts. The development of the Catholic German and Italian diaspora in Russia, the state of Jewish religiosity in the Russian Empire (Shaidurov, 2015), the position of Polish Catholics in Siberia and Central Asia (Shaidurov, 2016).

The novelty of this study lies in the attempt to analyze the changes in the religious consciousness in the modern metropolis. The urban environment has been and remains a place of ideological innovation. The modern metropolis is the vanguard of the modernization of human culture. In the history of the development of religious consciousness, the city became the center for the renewal of spiritual concepts and principles. The process of urbanization initiated not only the birth of new forms of religiosity, but also actively transformed traditional religious cults. “The origin and development of urban culture in many ways changed the position of traditional religion, which had to either adapt to the spiritual needs of various social groups of urban residents, or to introduce new religious ideas into their consciousness” (Sinko, 2018a, p. 375).

Problem Statement

The problem of the topic under discussion is the complex, controversial nature of the development of religious consciousness in the modern metropolis. Urban Western culture is characterized by the development of the triumph of reason, free-thinking, science. The history of the city is closely connected with the evolution of education, education, scientific and technical progress. At the same time, religion has always remained part of the urban spiritual culture, filling it with sacred meanings opposite to secular ones. The increased interest in religion at the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries makes us think about the nature of this social phenomenon. What are the motives of the current inhabitants of the metropolis when they turn to religion to find answers to the main questions of their existence? How does urban culture through art, education, political life try to synthesize the sacred and the profane as existing? These questions require detailed analysis and attempts at reflection.

Research Questions

Modern interest in religion has captured only part of the population of the metropolis. Today, the situation has stabilized with a quantitative increase in the number of believers, which, at the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, began to be called the "religious renaissance." The triumph of scientific and technological progress, scientism as a world outlook and the overall increasing intellectualization of society, reinforces the determination of a growing number of people, especially young people, to consider themselves free from faith in higher powers.

 Back in the early twentieth century, the classic of sociology, the German scientist Weber (1990) noted that

increasing intellectualization and rationalization do not mean the growth of knowledge about the living conditions in which it is necessary to exist. It means something different: people know and believe that they just have to want it, and at any time you can find out all this ... there are no mysterious, incalculable forces that act here, which, on the contrary, can be all things to master by calculation. The latter in turn means that the world is under a spell. No longer need to resort to magical means to win over or subjugate the spirits, as the savage did, for whom such mysterious forces existed. Now everything is done with the help of technical means and calculation. This is intellectualization. (p. 90)

Thus, the enchanted world is a potential, not realized, secularization of life. In practice, the process of rejection of religion or its adoption is associated with a large number of factors in the development of society. Bell and Inozemtsev (2007) assumed that religions often flourished in those times when hopes disappeared, when all other types of social ties collapsed, but this is exactly what is happening today in many parts of the planet. The former social ties are destroyed, and people no longer understand what they believe in, what kind of community they belong to, who are their friends, and who are the enemies. Therefore, in the religious life, brotherhood, community or parish in most cases are more important than the abstract creed. People need communities in which they can find spiritual shelter and a sense of physical security. As a result, we are confronted with a strange situation: the more social divisions and divisions in the world, the stronger the role of religions in it (Bell & Inozemtsev, 2007).

It is common for modern man to experience the feeling of abandonment and alienation in the world of the triumph of a new form of loneliness - virtual pseudo-communication. Mediated communication is impersonal, devoid of real complicity in nature. Life in the metropolis contributes to the separation of the individual, her loss of unity with a certain social community. Joining a religious group is an opportunity for a person to get rid of isolation, to gain the meaning of a new community. Therefore, a large number of residents in the modern metropolis are seeking, among a huge number of people, to find the few who will become truly spiritually close like-minded people. With their strategy, a large number of new religions choose programs of spiritual collectivism as an effective opportunity to recruit more adepts into their ranks.

Traditional religiosity in the conditions of the megalopolis quite successfully responds to new challenges of post-industrial culture, without changing its essence, adapts to the changing demands of society. In the history of the development of higher ethical forms of religiosity occurred in the urban environment. This is especially true of Christianity. Weber (1994) noted: “It is absolutely impossible to imagine that an organized religious community, similar to that formed in early Christianity, could have emerged outside the urban (“urban” - in the Western sense) life” (p. 119). Over the long centuries of existence, Christianity has experienced different periods: from complete ideological dominance to persecution and persecution by political power. Today in democratic states, ideological pluralism allows the church, in changed cultural circumstances, to solve many problems that were relevant to it in antiquity. “The Christian religion assumed conditions that were complex socio-cultural in nature. This is the destruction of generic isolation, the institutionalization of the community, cultural expansion, development of education and other development factors that have been implemented in the cities of ancient culture. In turn, Christianity, entrenched in the cities of Mediterranean culture, had a unique influence on their development, forming the ideology of a rational ethical religion of salvation, asserting strict piety, eradicating the magical, irrational, ritualistic (Sinko, 2018b).

Religious discourse is extremely in demand in modern art: literature, cinema, theater. Art as a special form of social consciousness very sensitively reacts to changes in attitudes and the spiritual search for people. A similar situation was characteristic of the culture of the early twentieth century, when literature was actively nourished by religious images and plots, and all this became the object of public discussion (with a harsh criticism).

Criticism at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries continued to remain a universal way of transmitting not only an esthetic values, but also social and worldview values. The works of Andreev, one of the most popular Russian writers of the beginning of the century, fell into a wide variety of contexts - from the socio-political, from pedagogical to medical and psychopathological. (Boyev, 2015, p.15)

Today, one hundred years later, when the attitude to religion becomes the tuning fork of public sentiment, art turns to the eternal topic of knowing the essence of God by a person. In various genres, the authors of the works try to identify and convey the complex range of feelings and experiences of a postmodern culture experienced by religious faith.

The trend of growing intolerance from the religious-minded part of the public as a reaction to any non-traditional view of religious subjects seems dangerous. Protecting the feelings of believers has become commonplace wording censorship bans on many artists and their works. For example, the production in the Novosibirsk Opera Theater of R. Wagner's Opera “Tannhäuser” in 2015, which was banned at the request of the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and the faithful, caused a great resonance in society. The secular state, which should be the guarantor of the protection of the rights to freedom of speech and creativity of all citizens, including free-thinking, sided with the clerical section of society.

No less disturbing is the situation with the teaching in schools of the basics of religion, when, under the guise of spiritual enlightenment, it is not religious studies that penetrate secular education, but religious knowledge. Thus, the constitutional principle of separation of church from state and school from church is violated.

Purpose of the Study

The main goal of the research is to examine the development of religious consciousness in the conditions of the modern city. An important goal is to show what factors of social life lead to the transformation of religious consciousness. To achieve these goals, it is necessary to solve the following tasks: to identify the reasons for maintaining interest in religion and strengthening it in broad layers of the population, analyze the relationship and interaction of religion, science, art, their mutual influence.

Research Methods

When performing the study, the following methods were used: analysis and synthesis, comparison, generalization. The method of analysis and synthesis allowed in its unity to consider religious consciousness as a multidimensional symbol of the harmony of human and supernatural. Using the method of comparison, it was possible to study the elements of religious consciousness in the changing reality of the modern metropolis. The generalization method was used to present the findings and summarize the research.


The results obtained in the course of the research allowed to consider the concept of religious consciousness in its specific, but at the same time very voluminous manifestation - in the culture of the modern metropolis. An interesting aspect of the study is to consider the transformation of traditional religiosity, as a response to a changed cultural reality. For example, a modern Orthodox church has become part of the electronic communicative space. Most temples have their own sites in the global information network, where the necessary information is presented to believers. The Great Choral Synagogue in St. Petersburg has established a terminal through which believers can pay the necessary requirements by wire transfer. Thus, the changing cultural world is able to modernize even the most conservative areas of social interaction - traditional religious cults.


In conclusion, I would like to note that the development of religious consciousness in a megacity is a complex and multifaceted process. You can evaluate it only by fixing the trends of real dynamics. Forecasting or analyzing a long-term strategy for the relationship between religion and secular society seems unproductive due to the impact on this process of a large number of factors of cultural reality.


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28 December 2019

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Sinko*, G., Vospitannik, I., Kuzmenkova, V., Tсyplakova, E., & Yankevich, Y. (2019). The Development Of Religious Consciousness In The Modern Metropolis. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2898-2903). Future Academy.