Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the man who wrote Crime And Punishment — is also famous for his quotes. Not always so well known about Mr. Dostoyevsky, he was a philosopher and offered many Christian views to the world, even though he remarked of himself as a “philosophical deist” — in reference to a character from his book, “The Adolescent.” It was a remark, supposedly to “explain his character’s previous statement that his faith was not particularly great.” (Cassedy, 64)
In this post, I would like to analyze a quote from one of his books and go into further detail about what it means to you:
“If God does not exist, everything is permissible.”
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov”
Simply put, without God, what are we living for? Why do we have any reason to behave morally if there are no consequences? Because without God, there is nothing that we can say or do that we will be held accountable for when we leave this world. There is no sin, no evil and therefore, no good.
But the world we live in is not like that. There are consequences for our actions, for our words. Most importantly, the lives that we lead today have a lasting impact on future generations. The Bible teaches us to think for ourselves. The rules are written down, and are easily applied to real world situations. Free will allows us to choose whether or not to follow those rules. If we live according to those morals, then we begin to develop our own thought processes. If we do not, we allow ourselves to degrade into a life of sin and deceit. But we know that.
If God didn’t exist, then there would be no accountability except in this life. Everything humanity is infamous for: wars, destruction, self-loathing, hatred — becomes permissible, because in the grand scheme of things, we live, we die, we only exist for this life.
I don’t want to sound horribly preachy. As an atheist, I was always trying to discover myself. After converting to Christianity, I found that I no longer felt lost. I was introduced to accountability, of forgiveness, of mercy and grace. So what if God didn’t exist? All of the hard work that humanity has done, all of the charity, all of the good, all of the love we share for each other every day, would be all for naught.
Cassedy, Steven. Dostoyevsky’s Religion. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2005. Print.