This post examines the quote:
Без бога всё позволено
If God did not exist, everything is permitted – Is Ivan’s in The Brother of Karamazov’s by Dostoevsky philosophy in a nutshell.
- Dostoevsky did mean to convey this, contrary to revisionist misinterpretations on the web such as Andrei I. Volkov’s secular article which is an academic Ivory tower play on worlds. If you read the book you can make your own judgement.
- I recommend you read the original or at least take a look at it. I made a free PDF you can download here Brothers of Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
A look at the The Brother of Karamazov’s by Dostoevsky universe with and without God
We will never know what the Universe would be like without God, because God exists. I know it for a fact. Deus Absconditus (the hidden God) becomes Deus revelatus (God revealed) to those who have faith.
When the self-righteous atheists proclaim – Cogito ergo Deus non est or translated, I think, therefore there is no god, it does not make any sense because Deus est ergo cogito (what do I know of Latin, I am sure I got this wrong with the grammatical cases here).
If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.
You can see how intertwined God is with our biology. Dr.Andrew Newberg makes this point in his book How God changes your Brain.
Our brains do not have the cognitive reach to perceive all aspects of the universe but there are logical interferences or the signature of God everywhere as well as the experience of the Divine in our lives.
So to speculate with metaphysical philosophy about the universe with or without a Divine creator, it is like speculating about the warmth of the sun minus fire. The Universe would be the absolute zero of non-existence without the Absolute. We are all sparks off the Divine flame and all that is seen and unseen in our perception including ourselves is only possible because God exists.
Therefore, when you ask the question ‘if God did not exist, would all things be permissible or possible’, the answer is yes, but a universe without God is impossible.
Russian novelist and psychologist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 800 page novel – The Brothers Karamazov as well as this earlier work Crime and Punishment deals with the issues of religion, God and the moral philosophy of men acting on their free will to commit acts of good and bad. 19th century Russia produced many brilliant minds that could see reality as it was without the technological distractions of the 20th century.
If anyone thinks I am off base and that a moral life is possible without God let me know. I do acknowledge humanists and ethical atheists can develop a personal ethic, yet they
Atheists and ethical humanist often delude themselves in thinking that ethics without religion is possible. To an extend it is possible. An individual gets a lot of psychological juice, in taking pride in the fact that you are acting for the good. I think it is part of our evolutionary programming as man is a social animal. You receive psychological reward for having behavior that conforms to the greater good of the group you live in. Ideas of sacrifice and contribution have both instinct and external rewards.
It makes sense because from a genetic evolutionary standpoint nature is concerned with the survival of the species rather than the individual. The whole is more important than a part so it embeds a genetic mechanism which regards altruistic behavior.
This is why you have the delusion of ethics without an absolute. In a word it just feels right, to behave a certain way. Further, ethical humanism conforms to much of what the religions teach.
Personally I have no problem with ethical humanism, except if you take your logic to its corrosive end like Friedrich Nietzsche or Albert Camus did, you will find that you are in an existential abyss. Nothing is there or left. Ethics without an objective reality can be acted on but has no basis.
Further, I fully acknowledge the problems with religion. The purity of the message is interpreted through the lens of an imperfect human psychology and God does not give us a set written code of behavior as with any law, it is the spirit rather than the letter of the law that counts. Many people think they have the liberal prescription from God in a book. A book written by imperfect humans and change and interpreted through history. What you do have is one way that God reveals himself to us. It is one aspect of how we experience God in our lives. You have to experience God yourself and whether through prayer or scripture or logic or your imagination it does not matter as much as the experience and what you do with this.
Dostoyevsky was criticizing Roman Catholicism and atheistic Socialism in his dialogue.
At a pivotal point in the novel, Ivan (John), the atheist, take the stance there is no objective reality. Why not lie, cheat and steal if is to your advantage’. Moral absolutes are an illusion. Ivan’s brother murders his own father (symbolic of destroying the idea of God the father). The act is not wrong if God does not exist. If you think about it in the measureless universe it is just an action by organized organic chemicals to change them into inorganic.
It sounds crazy but I would tend to think that ethics without God are possible but probable. Many good atheists have the light of God in them even if they do not see it in themselves. Yet pushed to the limit of philosophical thought their ethics are on shaky ground. I think this is why so many people cheat on each other and get divorced and do all kinds of immoral things, they do not really have the love of God in their heart. They might even be religious but they lack the courage of their convictions, so it really is a matter of faith that God exists.
I believe like Plato says, a person will not knowingly do wrong because good is congruent with the whole picture. An immoral action is a result of a distorted picture of reality. If you do not have the Divine in your worldview you will have a distorted moral action. That reality has a God who loves us in it.