Long ago and far away, I ended the first post in this series….The POE Revisited….
More in my next post about the conversation between the two brothers, Ivan and Alyosha. Here is the link to the excerpt.....Fyodor Dostoevsky on the Problem of Evil from the Brothers Karamazov.
Perhaps the title of this post isn’t quite accurate. What goes on between the brothers isn’t actually a conversation….it is a one man dissertation. Ivan presents his complaints against God to his brother …monologue fashion. Alyosha… mainly listens.
And it is the children…the suffering children….the stereotypical argument that is so often raised against God…that bothers Ivan the most. He makes his case using examples of suffering children….facts and anecdotes that he’s collected from newspapers and books. And he has some really abhorrent examples.
The “theory of theodicy” he rails against is one of the many explanations mankind has come up with to reconcile the big three pillars of theodicy….the goodness of God, the omnipotence of God…and the existence of suffering.
Ivan is a made up character birthed from the mind and imagination of Fyodor Dostoevsky but he is a composite of many real life people who also find the POE and mystery of suffering….especially the suffering of children, to be the ultimate paradox…the unexplainable enigma…the “fly in the ointment”….the unforgiveable sin for a God who is supposed to be love. The suffering of children is a frequent theme in Dostoevsky’s work so perhaps he, too, is trying to hash it all out…make sense of it…through his writings?
The angle Ivan chisels away at in his monologue is the necessity of suffering for an eventual, eternal harmony. The conclusion comes to is “no way, Jose’” It’s not worth it. And he uses the examples of children to prove his point….even though he muses that….
I meant to speak of the suffering of mankind generally, but we had better confine ourselves to the sufferings of the children. That reduces the scope of my argument to a tenth of what it would be.
I took the case of children only to make my case clearer.
Of the other tears of humanity with which the earth is soaked from its crust to its centre, I will say nothing. I have narrowed my subject on purpose.
I’ve had trouble getting started on this series. Perhaps because I don’t know exactly what I want to say. There is so much to say…so many aspects of it to explore. I’m just going start typing and see what unfolds…looking at it from several angles. Writing brings a clarity to thoughts, gives them form and order. A bit like free style mind mapping, without the map.
More to come in my next post.