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Upon reading this chapter in the Brothers Karamazov I find myself confused as to why The Grand Inquisitor is considered to be such a powerful argument for atheism and against theodicy. What are typical Christian responses (apologetic) to this argument?

Please also address the following areas which confuse me:

  • The chapter itself seems to state that Jesus set the bar much too high for man with respect to salvation, but isn't it true that humans were never intended to reach the level of holiness that Jesus attained and that salvation is a gift to those who repent?
  • Why is Ivan's description of the suffering of children such powerful ammunition for rejecting God?

I will accept answers sourced from any reputable apologetic organizations, or well-known apologists/theologians.

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about Atheism rather than Christianity. –  wax eagle Aug 9 '13 at 0:33
I voted to reopen because The Brothers Karamazov is often considered a theological work. Indeed, I've actually heard the opposite - that the Grand Inquisitor is a Christian apologetic. I think its actually on topic for that reason, although it would be better if the question were rephrased in terms of "What theological arguments are being made in the story of the Grand Inquisitor (Brother's Karamzov)?" Additionally, linking to the passage in question would be useful. –  Affable Geek Aug 9 '13 at 13:07
One other thing - theodicy is usually something that Atheists like - so if the argument is against theodicy, it is likely to be against Atheists, not for them. –  Affable Geek Aug 9 '13 at 13:08
@AffableGeek I do not see how theodicy is something that atheists like, when theodicy connotes a defense of the Christian faith on the existence of the omnipotent, beneficial god and its co-existence with evil. –  Anonymous Aug 15 '13 at 13:33

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