From The Brothers Karamazov To The Holocaust: Could You Will It Again and Again?

In the Brothers Karamazov, a little before the Grand Inquisitor section, Dostoevsky describes the death of an eight year-old, and this is sufficient to cause Ivan in the novel to reject the whole notion that a good God made the world. If I recall, the child accidentally hurt the paw of the dog of a rich man, was hunted down for it, and lifted onto a bayonet in the presence of his mother.

This sort of existential horror is too much for Ivan to hold together with the idea that a good God exists–and now multiply that by 6,000,000.

So I have a question for anyone who wants to answer it: if humanity goes on for another 10,000 years, and in each century there is a Holocaust-level horror (death by torturous degrees for a whole mass of people–akin to Dostoevsky’s eight year-old with his mother, multiplied by 6,000,000), would you still say that God’s creation is good–or would you say that you would have done it differently?

Could you will such a playing out of history–the Holocaust in reruns–or would you switch off the cosmic television set?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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One Response to From The Brothers Karamazov To The Holocaust: Could You Will It Again and Again?

  1. Johnboy says:

    I would already have taken Ivan’s point that
    the existential horror and moral absurdity of the eight year old’s death were too much to hold together in any conceivable theodicy, which could only serve to trivialize the enormity of human suffering and immensity of human pain.

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