Theodicy and Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

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Theodicy and Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov The problem of reconciling an omnipotent, perfectly just, perfectly benevolent god with a world full of evil and suffering has plagued believers since the beginning of religious thought. Atheists often site this paradox in order to demonstrate that such a god cannot exist and, therefore, that theism is an invalid position. Theodicy is a branch of philosophy that seeks to defend religion by reconciling the supposed existence of an omnipotent, perfectly just God with the presence of evil and suffering in the world. In fact, the word “theodicy” consists of the Greek words “theos,” or God, and “dike,” or justice (Knox 1981, 1). Thus, theodicy seeks to find a sense of divine justice in a world filled with suffering. Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky was among those philosophical thinkers who grappled with the task of explaining why evil exists in a world created by a perfect god. Despite the powerful influence of Christianity in his early childhood and throughout his life, Dostoevsky encountered difficulties in answering this question, which he described, “Nature, the soul, God, love – all this is understood by the heart, not by the mind” (Gibson 1973, 9). Nevertheless, Dostoevsky not only felt obligated to discover a solution to the problem, but also “responsible to his fellow believers for its success or failure” (Gibson 1973, 169). This quest for a solution to the problem of theodicy ultimately led Dostoevsky to write The Brothers Karamazov, a novel that attempts to explain the need for evil in the world. In posing his solution to this problem, Dostoevsky explains the necessity of suffering for the realization of human redemption, as well as the role of Christ’s atoneme... ... middle of paper ... ... Christ and for his role in overcoming evil and suffering, and with the idea that the negative effects of suffering can be countered by compassionate love of others. Works Cited Bakhtin, Mikhail. Problyemi tvorchestva Dostoevskogo. Kiev: Next, 1994. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: Signet Classic, 1986. Gibson, A. Boyce. The Religion of Dostoevsky. London: SCM Press Ltd, 1973. Hansen, Bruce. “Dostoevsky’s Theodicy.” Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1996. At . accessed 18 November 2001. Knox, John. “The Problem of Evil and Suffering.” At . 18 November 2001. Kraeger, Linda, and Joe Barnhart. 1992. Dostoevsky on Evil and Atonement. Lampeter, Dyfed, Wales: The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd.

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