GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast

144. The Life Wisdom Project | Faith and Reason: Exploring the Spiritual Interplay | Special Guest: Dr. Mikhail Sergeev

September 14, 2023 Scott Langdon, Jerry L. Martin, Mikhail Sergeev
144. The Life Wisdom Project | Faith and Reason: Exploring the Spiritual Interplay | Special Guest: Dr. Mikhail Sergeev
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
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GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
144. The Life Wisdom Project | Faith and Reason: Exploring the Spiritual Interplay | Special Guest: Dr. Mikhail Sergeev
Sep 14, 2023
Scott Langdon, Jerry L. Martin, Mikhail Sergeev

Questions? Comments? Text Us!

In this Life Wisdom Project episode, Jerry and Dr. Mikhail Sergeev, former Soviet journalist and current world religions professor, explore the profound wisdom of I Learn How God Reveals Himself To Humans. This engaging discussion covers the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the role of tradition in shaping beliefs, and the significance of intuition and inspiration in ethical decision-making.

This episode embarks on a truly unique and timely exploration of Dr. Mikhail Sergeev's exceptional life journey, intimately intertwined with Russia's tumultuous history. It underscores the critical importance of grasping diverse cultural perspectives, unveiling the rich tapestry of history woven throughout this enlightening conversation. Mikhail's valuable insights as a world religions scholar, rooted in tradition, provide a profound glimpse into the intricate interplay of spirituality and culture.

Join this thought-provoking episode as Dr. Mikhail Sergeev and Jerry L. Martin explore faith, reason, and the evolving journey of self-discovery.  How do personal experiences, cultural backgrounds, and historical contexts influence our understanding of spirituality and ethics?

Keywords: Life Wisdom Project, History in Russia, History in the United States, Spirituality, Tradition, World Religions, Faith Journey, Cultural Perspectives, Ethics, Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Relevant Episodes:

Other Series:

  • Life Wisdom Project-How to live a wiser, happier, and more meaningful life with special guests.
  • From God To Jerry To You- a brand-new series calling for the attention of spiritual seekers everywhere, featuring breakthroughs, pathways, and illuminations.
  • Two Philosophers Wrestle With God- sit in on a dialogue between philosophers about God and the questions we all have.
  • What's On Our Mind- Connect the dots with Jerry and Scott over the most recent series episodes
  • What's On Your Mind- What are readers and listeners saying? What is God saying?

Resources:

Hashtags: #lifewisdomproject #godanautobiography #experiencegod

Would you like to be featured on the show or have questions about spirituality or divine communication? Share your story or experience with God!

Share Your Story | Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Questions? Comments? Text Us!

In this Life Wisdom Project episode, Jerry and Dr. Mikhail Sergeev, former Soviet journalist and current world religions professor, explore the profound wisdom of I Learn How God Reveals Himself To Humans. This engaging discussion covers the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the role of tradition in shaping beliefs, and the significance of intuition and inspiration in ethical decision-making.

This episode embarks on a truly unique and timely exploration of Dr. Mikhail Sergeev's exceptional life journey, intimately intertwined with Russia's tumultuous history. It underscores the critical importance of grasping diverse cultural perspectives, unveiling the rich tapestry of history woven throughout this enlightening conversation. Mikhail's valuable insights as a world religions scholar, rooted in tradition, provide a profound glimpse into the intricate interplay of spirituality and culture.

Join this thought-provoking episode as Dr. Mikhail Sergeev and Jerry L. Martin explore faith, reason, and the evolving journey of self-discovery.  How do personal experiences, cultural backgrounds, and historical contexts influence our understanding of spirituality and ethics?

Keywords: Life Wisdom Project, History in Russia, History in the United States, Spirituality, Tradition, World Religions, Faith Journey, Cultural Perspectives, Ethics, Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Relevant Episodes:

Other Series:

  • Life Wisdom Project-How to live a wiser, happier, and more meaningful life with special guests.
  • From God To Jerry To You- a brand-new series calling for the attention of spiritual seekers everywhere, featuring breakthroughs, pathways, and illuminations.
  • Two Philosophers Wrestle With God- sit in on a dialogue between philosophers about God and the questions we all have.
  • What's On Our Mind- Connect the dots with Jerry and Scott over the most recent series episodes
  • What's On Your Mind- What are readers and listeners saying? What is God saying?

Resources:

Hashtags: #lifewisdomproject #godanautobiography #experiencegod

Would you like to be featured on the show or have questions about spirituality or divine communication? Share your story or experience with God!

Share Your Story | Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Scott Langdon [00:00:17]This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 144. 

Scott Langdon [00:01:10] Hello and welcome to God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm your host, Scott Langdon. And this week it's time again for another episode of The Life Wisdom Project. This week, Jerry speaks with former Soviet journalist turned world religions professor and scholar, and most importantly, a dear friend, Mikhail Sergeev. Mikhail's story is a remarkable one, and his take on episode ten of our podcast, I Learn How God Reveals Himself To Humans provided me with insights I never even knew I was missing. I'm anxious to hear if you have a similar experience. Email us at questions@godanautobiography.com and to let us know what you think. I'll let Jerry introduce Mikhail to you more fully now. I hope you enjoy the episode. Here's Jerry. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:08] I feel very blessed to have Mikhail Sergeev as my guest today. In my experience, he's unique. I've never known anybody else like him and still don't. He's a former Soviet journalist, and he says that in a country like that, with a regime like that, it's actually not clear what the job of a journalist is. But, he was, you know, raised as a communist, as were his friends. And when the regime collapsed and communism evaporated, it was not a compelling faith for anybody anymore. It threw Mikhail back on his own resources, you might say. He started looking around- what sense can I make of life now? He ended up coming to the United States, going to Temple University, getting a Ph.D. in religious studies and teaching world religions at the University of the Arts for a time and elsewhere, and becoming an expert actually on religious cycles, the kind of change, the large scale changes that religious traditions go through, which he has detected a pattern and published a book about that. At the same time, he became an expert in the Baha'i faith and many other things. So, I'm very pleased to have him with me today. And the timing was remarkable because, of course, we have a great war going on between Russia and Ukraine, and so we couldn't help but talk about that first. And, you know, I see it from an outside at a great distance. He sees it knowing people on both sides. And, you know, Russia has a great, great culture and he cares about his country and he sees this war as a disaster for Russia. The comments that he made in this discussion with me were before the Wagner group seized a military base and marched halfway to Moscow. This sort of possibility had not occurred to me at all, but it was not news to Mikhail that this sort of thing could happen. In fact, in our brief discussion, he seems to have predicted it. So anyway, I look forward to the discussion of this very interesting episode and see what life wisdom we can draw from what I received at this particular occasion. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:50] What did what did you make of it? What struck you most? Let me ask- put it that way. What struck you personally the most? 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:05:01] For me, a person who was raised as an atheist in the Soviet Union-- 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:06] Yes. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:05:07] In fact, now, when I look back, I realize with horror that I was born seven years after Stalin's death, and that alone sounds incredible. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:25] Yes. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:05:26] So, as a person who comes from the Middle Ages, so-called, the most amazing thing for me in your whole story, including episode ten, is that there are people who have this extraordinary experience and are at the same time philosophers and scholars who will take this experience critically. And that's what my first thought was when I heard you speak at the conference many years ago. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:06:13] Where I first met you. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:06:15] Yeah, when we first met. And when you were talking, your first actual talk to people about this experience, because the whole value of the conference and the conference topic, which was about epistemology, by the way, I recall, the whole value of the topic was completely reduced to nothing. And I was simply thinking about talking to you more about the experience. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:06:45] You were supposed to give a presentation and you decided no, this is more interesting than whatever you were going to say. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:06:53] Yes. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:06:54] That was extraordinarily spiritually open and spiritually generous. But we did continue talking about it, and then we've stayed friends ever since. People have the experience, they are extraordinary, and that's why I've always been-- I haven't promoted it very well because I've always been, you know, I didn't tell my neighbors. People don't go around saying, "Oh, God, talked to me and told me this and this and this." You know? I often say friends don't let friends talk to God. Well, they can talk to God, but they can't hear God talk back, you know? 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:07:32] Yes. Yes. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:33] That's socially inappropriate, you might say. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:07:37] Yeah, there is a joke about that. You know, when you talk to God, it's called prayer. When God talks to you, it's called schizophrenia. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:44] Exactly. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:07:46] Yeah. So, it does not look socially appropriate. And I remember that when we talked afterwards, after the conference, my first questions were about what I was interested in, mainly, in history. The future history of Russia, the future history of the United States. And you amazed me even more by saying that you are not interested in these questions and you've never asked this. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:17] Yes. Yes. No, that's great. We all have, I often use John Dewey's concept- the problematic situation. We each have our own problematic situation, that place in life and in thought that produces certain problems for us. And some have the problem of history. And other people have, like me, have other problems. You know, my wife thinks a lot about history. Life on--

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:08:44] And Russian philosophy is mostly about history. So, since Russia's history is so problematic and full of trouble, the first question we ask is about history, future of Russia, you know, and things like that. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:59] Yeah. Well, one of the messages of God: An Autobiography is that history is, you might say, not predictable. We have free will. God does not know what we're going to do. There is not the standard omniscience category in God: An Autobiography. God doesn't know what God is going to do, in part because what God does is in response to what we do. That's one of the points of petitionary prayer, you know, is that God can be affected by what you tell God. And it's in the Old Testament that God, the people were enslaved in Egypt, God heard their cries and remembered His covenant or whatever with Abraham, His promises. So anyway, that interactive unpredictability is a key part of God: An Autobiography, that does not, of course, imply history does not have a shape and its own dynamics, you might say laws or something weaker than laws, its own dynamic tendencies. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:10:05]  Look, as people say in Russia, Russia is the country where not only a future is unpredictable, but even the past is unpredictable because it is actually written according to the present. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:17] Yes, yes, yes. When I traveled, of course, National Endowment for the Humanities does fund history projects, and at one point I flew to Russia with a Russian historian I guess sharing a cab as I was going to the lodging. And he said that Russian people don't trust history because it's always being rewritten. You know, so a big, big problem for him in his work, you know. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:10:43] Yes. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:44] It's going to be another line of some kind? So that was illuminating to me. Oh, they don't? Live in the West and you're often naive. One person who grew up in Hungary said, if you live in a free society, if you live in a society that is not free, it's very hard to imagine being free. And if you live in one that is free, it's hard to imagine living in a society that's not. And the problem here is-- They don't in a way see what's at stake because they don't realize there are all live options at any given point in time. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:11:21] Yeah, I agree. And that is, I think, one of the most important issues, intercultural issues. Because when I'm talking to my Russian friends, they assume that America is operating the same way Russia operates. So they assume that the elections are rigged, you know, corruption, etc.. But when I talk to my American friends, they assume that Russia is working the same way as America does. It's simply not less-- not so advanced. And it's very difficult for me to explain that actually those two countries are operating after, well, under different matrix- cultural matrix. Because I tell my students that, look, you have your Constitution, but if at some point this Constitution disappears, the American way of life will stay the same, because the Constitution is simply the expression of the way you live and behave socially. In Russia, the Constitution does not mean anything at all because, you know it can be written and rewritten. It has nothing to do with real life. The Stalin's Constitution of 1937 was just the best constitution we could ever have. It simply had nothing to do with real life and what was happening in society. So, when you come to Russia, you have to forget about laws and constitutions, and you have to find the way to live, you know, in Russia's social space, like fish in the water. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:04] Yes. Yes. That's very interesting and sobering, I guess, for an American, because we do have this naivete. We think people around the world smile at people and give them chewing gum or something and they will want to sign up for freedom and democracy. And George W Bush used to say everyone wants freedom. And I remember someone who's had experience in Iraq saying they want freedom from themselves, that doesn't mean they want freedom for anybody else. That's a whole different question, and Americans tend to be naive on that. It's a naive fostered by, you know, gifts that we inherited. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:13:44] You asked me about what I think about the episode ten. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:50] Yeah. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:13:50] And we, you know, seem to be talking about Russia. And I remember another story that came to my mind when I was listening to this episode. And when I was recalling our first meeting, because one of the first thoughts that came to my mind when I heard you speak was a Russian mystic, Daniil Andreyev. The middle 20th century mystical writer who produced his own book. But he started writing this book while being imprisoned, and he was able to finish it when he got out of prison. And later on, I, you know, gave you this, the translation of the book as a gift. And the messages were kind of similar. But what amazed me is the difference in your lives and your trade so to say. Russian mystics have had a pretty grim fate because they will always go through suffering. A lot of suffering, imprisonment, persecution, being ridiculed, etc., etc., like Old Testament prophets. And here I come across an American mystic. Who had a pretty good life. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:30] Yeah, no. Nobody's persecuting me at all. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:15:34] Not persecuted. Not imprisoned. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:37] No. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:15:38] And happier. And I thought, oh, boy. You know, that is a rare story, at least for a Russian. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:46] Yes, yes, yes. But it is possible in this country, and we've got it. It, of course, challenges something which is individual initiative and you might say self meaning, you know. You have to figure out the meaning of your life. You even have to figure out your social role. You know, historically in cultures, you were born a peasant, you stay a peasant. Or your father is a carpenter, you become a carpenter. And there's this church or that church, and that's the one you go to, the one the ruler goes to probably, and everybody that you know goes to. Now in America, we all have this, it, in our own laps. You know, this individual initiative is required. And there are negatives to that. People often feel alienated. I don't belong anywhere because I'm just -- and all of that . At the same time, there's a great positive side. Well, you can look around and see what things seem most important, most valuable, most true to you, and fashion your lives around them, your life around them. And that's, I think, one thing episode ten is about is fashioning that life. Be an instrument of revelation. Well, we're not all hearing from God the way I did, but it means-- I often translate these things because some people don't relate well to the concept of God, something about it puts them off, and I understand that. But you might just say your ideal self, the kind of person you would like to be. And the kind of person you'd like to be, is probably the kind of person you are now on your best days when you're being your best. And it's not that there's one ideal template for everyone to be, some people go that way. I don't feel that's a message of God: An Autobiography, because God explains even in different cultures, He was doing different things. And I kind of have always taken that instinctively down to the individual level. You're doing something different with Mikhail than He is with Jerry, or my wife Abigail, or the next person over. So we each have that task of figuring out, well, what's the best version of Jerry? What's the best version of Mikhail? And they're not going to be identical. They're going to be quite different. But we have to figure that out. And then what I chidded about is I'm told that I hold back. And once you figure out that's what I should be trying to do, then, I was told, "You hold Me at arm's length. Listen to Me only part of the time." So it means you've got to be persistent, not say occasionally I'll be good, you might say. And to listen to me only partially, not as a whole person. So this task of being the best person you can be means the whole person, not have the best beliefs you can or the best spiritual moments or, you know, meditation practice you can have. It's not one thing in your life. It's your whole person. That includes, you know, your neighborliness and what you do at your work. And, you know, are you doing it well or badly? And I like those traditions in which people, when they go to wherever the place of work is and open the shop or whatever, first they pray, you know, to do it well and do it rightly. So, anyway, those are some of the things that struck me as I looked at this that we all have that task, especially in a free country. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:20:04] Let me respond to your initial thoughts about spiritual choice and the availability of spiritual choice. I think this is the most important feature of the American society, probably of all Western society, but the American society in particular, because one thing is the economic basis, you know, free market. Another thing is political system. But I think the spiritual foundation of the United States as an enlightenment type society, as I would call it, is exactly the responsibility for your own spiritual choice and for your own other choices in life. That is the most important thing, because both economic and political structures play a secondary role. But the idea of spiritual responsibility and responsibility for your life, that is the most important thing that Americans get from their education. And that what we are not getting from our traditional educations - traditional education in traditional cultures. So let me give you one example. When I was leaving Russia, I was not an atheist, but I was not a member of any particular church. I was half Jewish, half Russian. So I had Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox Christianity somewhere in my genes. But I was not belonging to any confession. And I felt, as John Locke would say, being a tabula rasa- a blank slate. And I did not like that state. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:04] Yes. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:22:05] And I did not want my son to feel that way. So I baptized. I mean, I made him to be baptized in the Orthodox Church. He was seven or nine years old back then, and he did not quite understand what was going on. But later on I told him that I got you baptized because I wanted you to have some kind of foundation. And from that foundation on, you can make your own choices. That's fine. So when I told this story to my American friends, they responded that I was not doing this in the American spirit because as Americans, they would actually let the boy choose for himself when he has grown up, no matter whether this is tabula rasa or, you know, part of Catholicism or any other confession. Till this day, I do not understand that approach. Tabula rasa. That's what America is. You know. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:18] I should explain. Tabula rasa means blank tablet. Just blank waiting to be at peace. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:23:23] Nothing. Yeah. Yeah. No tradition. No tradition. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:27] Not tradition, no nothing. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:23:29] You know, when European or let's say modern artists, avant garde artists are paving their new ways in art they are rebelling against tradition. When American artists, more than avant garde artists, are doing their artwork, they are not rebelling against anything because there is no tradition. They simply invent new art. That's what my American friends explain to me. That is the difference between Europe and the United States. The absence of any tradition. Look, personally, it scares me. I come from traditional society. I cannot become fully American in this way. I don't like the absence of any supporting authority. Let me put it this way. And I realize that American country is based on that. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:24:31] That's fascinating, Mikhail. I mean, it does seem that in life- how are you going to make these choices? I mean, there's really something that doesn't make sense there. You make choices based on, you might call it criteria, sets of reasons. Reasons for, reasons against, reasons for this way of going with this belief system, reasons for that belief system. How are you going to make those if you're starting out just empty, you know. You might as well be a wolf raised by the wolves, right? You need a culture. And then I always think of the first task of education is to transmit the culture. The second task is to critique the culture. But you have to, if you don't transmit it, you can't make part of-- in science if you don't first learn the science of your day, and then you can turn around and turn it upside down as scientific revolutions occur and cultural revolutions occur. But you got to start with something. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:25:29] But look how you formulate this. I completely agree that if you don't have tradition, the only thing you can rely upon is reason. But when talking about reason, you are referring to science, when I instead would refer to humanities. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:48] Yes. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:25:48] So for me, the most strange part of American education, university education, is that American universities do not provide you with a systematic comprehension of the comprehensive picture of the global humanities. It's usually a piecemeal approach. And as a result of this piecemeal approach, you have tabula rasa. You have simply this and that, and there is no overall picture of actually what is going on. And Americans apparently are feeling great, you know, with this kind of approach. But I cannot I mean, I cannot because that's why in my courses at the university, I usually give them, you know, a systematic and comprehensive picture of what I'm teaching. So these are two different approaches. And again, coming from a traditional society, I cannot change the way I operate. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:01] Yes, well, I would not, in spite of my scientific example, I don't think science is remotely the only form of reason. And I agree with you, there's you call it humane reason for all the many forms of intelligence. There's moral intelligence, there's situational intelligence. Prudence is a kind of intelligence, and it goes on and on from there. There's aesthetic intelligence and so forth. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:27:29] Yes. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:29] But I'm struck and here again, something in episode ten, I had revelations. Of course, that's information. And of course, I had studied philosophy and so on and so forth before I had this experience. So I didn't come to it myself as a complete tabula rasa, but I had no religion and no interest in religion. I had no God question. I not only did not have an answer, I found in the great philosophers sufficient wisdom to live a completely meaningful and high minded, and you might say even noble life. Not that I ever achieved that, but the materials are there and what I am told here is that God communicates us with us in many ways. So we're not just a tabula rasa in that sense. But it's not through religious authorities, but through prayer. Of course, that's something you learn. You've learned spiritual disciplines like prayer and meditation. And there are good things to learn and learn how to do them. I went and read books on how to pray better, for example. And I don't meditate. I know people whose lives are greatly enriched by some form of meditation, but God goes on in His answer inspiration, intuition, ethical insight, even aesthetic response. I mean, these are all the ways the divine or you might say, just the ideal aspects of the universe is communicating with us. And I guess this is very American because, okay, you check your own intuitions, your own ethical insight, and your own aesthetic response, and then the list could go down after that. Your own social sense when to speak and when to remain silent and so forth. But it is by the standards of a traditional society are completely at sea, you might say, because these are all, well, individual things and seems you can trust an authority better. And, you know, think about the Orthodox tradition. This rests on a thousand or 2000 years of history and many spiritual adepts, you might say knowledgeable people, people who are genuinely holy and inspired and so forth in that tradition, and you can learn from all that. And I'm not against all that, but I also have this feeling and my own sense that in the end, what you're going to do, even if you're within a tradition. If you're going to follow the inspiration, the intuition, the ethical insight that comes to you. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:30:20] Well, I can share my personal experience. Yes. Tradition is important for me as I have discovered this in the United States already. I realized that no matter how hard I try to run from my Judeo Christian tradition, I won't be able to do that. And I cannot have close connection with Buddhism, you know, connection with Buddhism that is closer and more intimate than I have with Judaism and Christianity, even without being formally part of the Jewish or Christian congregation. However, having said that, I practically always rely on something you call intuition, or I would distinguish between intuition and inspiration, because intuition is something that comes from you, from the depth of your subconscious, from maybe your subconscious goals, of which you may not be aware. But inspiration comes from someone or something else. And I had that in my life experiences as well, some episodes which were quite explicit. For example, once when I was 26 years old, I had a glimpse of my future, and that was certainly not an intuitive understanding because it was very, very clear, explicit, and it came from someone else. So sometimes I would have a dream that would come through in, you know, after a certain period of time. So, that I would consider inspiration. Intuition, inspiration are extremely important. You cannot rely on reason only because a reason has its limits. And sometimes, you know, you can make a mistake- rational mistake.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:32:31] Authority has its limits. You know, the authority that brings in things other than, quote, enlightenment style, rather abstract reasoning. They have their limits. Each one has its limits. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:32:44] Yes, that is true. That is true. You have to take all of them in consideration and come up with the best solution under the circumstances, in the specific context of your life experience. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:33:00] Yes. You end up needing to make a judgment taking all these valid sources of insight into account, including the whole range of reason, intuition, inspiration, etc. and your life circumstance is often crucial. What situation are you in, what's your role in that situation? You behave differently if it's your wife, than if it's a stranger, or a child, or a parent, or a coworker, you have obligations. So we all have these situations and you have to take all of that into account as you try to become the best person you can. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:33:37] I completely agree. And that's why I would say that ethics and morality, although it has some basic framework, is always contextual and situational. And that is very important. It is very important. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:33:53] Yes. Yes. You'll make mistakes. You will make ethical mistakes if you try to follow a little ethical rulebook and just, you know, oh we got the categorical imperative, it says to give the maniac back his gun. You know, let's get his gun and this imperative. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:34:12] Or give human rights to cannibals. Yes. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:16] Right. You know, they're fine as things to put into one's thinking, you know, because they play helpful in many situations. These are the various norms, the Ten Commandments and so on down the line. But, you know, in the end and of course, what I'm told, intuition is not simply from your subconscious. Who knows what's going on in your subconscious after all. I often say it's not your DNA that's giving you ethical insights, it's something better than that. And you may not know it, You know, maybe a quite committed atheist, but you're having some noble ideals in your mind, and that's just not just your DNA. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:35:01] Yeah, I agree. And that is another point of contention between me and many friends of mine. You know, my Russian friends were atheists, and now they were immediately transformed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They became immediately transformed into hardcore Orthodox Christians. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:35:25] Oh, is that right? 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:35:27] When they were atheists they would despise Christianity, and now they despise atheism. And I tell them, look, there are atheist people who are very noble and there is no way to deny that. And there are orthodox Christians who are disgusting. And there is no way to deny that either. So you have to be more nuanced and you have to understand the personal situation in which this or that individual finds himself in. Look, the standard example of the situational ethics is that, let's say when Nazis come to your door and you are hiding a Jewish kid, you know, what should what should you do? Should you lie that you have no Jews in your house? Follow the commandments and then get the kid killed? Or you should tell the truth and get him killed or lie and get him safe. And, you know, strangely enough, that was real, a real situation that happened with my grandmother. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:36:43] Really? 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:36:44] Yeah. She was one of the few persons who was saved during the infamous pogrom, not by the Nazis, but by, you know, the Ukrainian leader Petlura. It was in either 1912 or 1919. I don't remember the exact year, but it was in 1910s and she was saved by her Ukrainian neighbor. The Ukrainian neighbor took her and said that she was her kid, not Jewish, not a Jew. She was asked, pressed, and, you know, she said, "No, she is my kid." And that's how my grandmother survived and all her relatives died. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:37:33] Wow. Wow. I mean--

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:37:36] So was this woman a righteous person? There is no doubt in my mind that she has done the right thing. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:37:42] She did the right thing. And by in that case, very much paying attention to intuition and inspiration, whatever, you know, subtle, subtle ethical judgment. She did the right thing, saved a life, and many more lives could have been saved by that of not just nobility, but courage. It took courage on her part as well to lie to those people. Well, this is a wonderful conversation, Mikael. I very much appreciate it, and I think it will be of great interest and it's not untimely that we're having the conversation right in the thick of what's going on in Russia and Ukraine. 

Dr. Mikhail Sergeev [00:38:30] Yeah. Thank you, Jerry. Thank you for inviting me. It's always a pleasure to talk to you. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:38:37] Thank you. Same to you. 

Scott Langdon [00:38:48] Thank you for listening to God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted, God: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher, available now at amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at questions@godanautobiography.com, and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time. 

Introduction to "God: An Autobiography, The Podcast"
The Life Wisdom Project | Meet Dr. Mikhail Sergeev
History, Atheism And Faith
Free Will And Cultural Perspectives
Exploring Intercultural Issues
Spiritual Choice | Tabula Rasa
Education, Tradition And Forms Of Intelligence
Intuition And Inspiration | Ethical Decision-Making
Pursuing Righteousness Beyond Authority
Outro and Contact Information: Stay Connected