The Brothers Karamazov belongs to four great novels by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The Russian writer published it serially from January 1879 through December 1880 (Moser, 1986, p. 73). Chapter 4 from Book V, entitled “Rebellion”, presents a dialogue between brothers Ivan and Alyosha, in which the former expresses his views on religion and its influence on people.
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If we define theism as religious belief, agnosticism as inability to cognize the supreme truth about existence of God and eternal life, and atheism as utter rejection of religion, we can conclude that Ivan is an atheist. He gives a lot of examples of unfairness of people towards each other, especially towards children. All of these people are deeply religious, but their actions contradict the peaceful nature and high morals of Christianity. Ivan emphasizes the hypocrisy of believers. The man supposes that it was people who created Devil in their image and likeness, meaning that Devil lives in every one of us and cruelness prevails over the virtues. Ivan disregards religion if it hurts someone. The elder Karamazov is in a state of complete confusion, which is compared to delirium. Though he constantly tries to smooth over his passionate monologues by mentioning that it is not blasphemy and that it is strictly his vision of the situation, actually it simply justifies a revelation, shocking to Alyosha. At the end of the chapter Ivan separates himself from the seemingly devout ones by a very caustic remark, “In discussions your people usually trot him out first thing” (Dostoyevsky, 2002, p. 245). The speech of the brother is full of mocking tone.
When Ivan says he “most respectfully returns God the ticket” (Dostoyevsky, 2002, p. 245), he probably means the potential “ticket to Heaven” which can be obtained by a God-fearing and morally immaculate person only. The man does not want to go to Heaven, because the price of harmony on Earth is too high for it. Frankly speaking, his monologue seems very convincing to me. I would also refuse the privileges of afterlife in Paradise if there are people on Earth whose sufferings pay for the “ticket”.
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