Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is an extended reflection on religion, specifically Russian Orthodoxy, not only as a guide for individual morality but as a force in human history. Ivan's poetic fantasy "The Grand Inquisitor" has often been cited as a powerful argument for skepticism and doubt and against religious faith. It presents a view of human beings as essentially weak and frail, eager to give up the terrible burden of free will to a higher, despotic authority. Christianity is simply a mask for this authority. In contrast, many characters endorse an opposing view of the Russian Orthodox religion as one that honors the potential for good in man. In contrast to other religions (most notably Catholicism), the Russian Orthodox Church is presented as a religion firmly grounded in the Russian people, a religion that embraces all of Russia, and potentially the world, in its vision of universal love and humility.
Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov tests the idea that to attain paradise, we must only recognize that we have already attained it in our lives here on earth.
Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov pits faith against skepticism; it is unclear which side wins because both sides presented in equally compelling ways.