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Science and Ideology: The Case of Cosmology in the Soviet Union, 1947–1963


Keywords: China , Communism , cosmology , dialectic materialism , Marxism , Soviet Union , universe

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Ideological considerations have always influenced science, butrarely as directly and massively as in the Soviet Union during the early Cold War period, when cosmology was among the sciences that became politicized. This field of science developed very differently in the Communist countries than in the West, in large measure because of political pressure. Certain cosmological models, in particular of the big bang type, were declared pseudo-scientific and idealistic because they implied a cosmic creation, a concept which was taken to be religious. The result of the ideological pressure was not an independent Soviet cosmology, but that astronomers and physicists abandoned cosmological research in the Western sense. Onlyin the 1960s did this situation change, and cosmology in the Soviet Union began to flourish. The paper reviews the relationship between cosmology and political ideology in the Soviet Union from about 1947 to 1963, and it briefly relates this case to the later one in the People’s Republic of China.


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