I just finished reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Devils. It’s not for the faint of heart. I almost gave up a hundred or two pages in, but I was well rewarded that I did not. The beginning is difficult because there are so many characters and they are easily confused; Russians it seems, at least in the 18th Century, rarely call each other by their first name alone. First and middle name seem to be the norm, or just last name, and keeping that all straight was not easy. Nineteenth Century Russian politics can also be esoteric, so I found in reading various synopses’ I missed more than a little of the story.
Yet what I did get was that Dostoevsky was a profound prophet who saw clearly the societal implications of atheism. The book is about Russian politics in an age of revolution written 45 years before the Soviet revolution of 1917. After reading it I’m not at all surprised that Lenin, Stalin and mass murder were in the Russian people’s future. Twenty First Century atheists are fond of saying that religion is evil and leads to war, bloodshed and all kinds of maladies, but because they are shallow thinkers they never deal with what could be the implications for society of a God-less, and thus purpose-less and thus meaning-less universe.
The modern atheist tends to ignore, in fact completely ignores, where morality might come from if we indeed live in a universe that has no inherent moral boundaries built into it by a transcendent creator. The atheists I come across on the internet and the popularizes like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, et al, are positively sanguine about things like morality, as if good and evil are self evident and need no justification outside of themselves. Dostoevsky in his art doesn’t let them get away with that; the spirit of Nietzsche pervades his work, that a God-less universe can be a terrible and frightening thing. The 20th Century proved that terribly well.