The Brothers Karamazov
Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"It is this world of God's, created by God, that I do not accept and cannot agree to accept [...]. Let the parallel lines meet even before my own eyes. I shall look and say, yes, they meet, and still I will not accept it. That is my essence, Alyosha, that is my thesis." (5.3.64)
As a further elaboration of his assertion that he has only an earthly mind (see Quote #6), Ivan believes he would even refuse to believe a miracle (parallel lines meeting) if he should see it.
Ivan laughed, "If you're so spoiled by modern realism and can't stand anything fantastic – if you want it to be qui pro quo, let it be." (5.5.3)
Despite his claim to be completely earthbound, Ivan is the one who indulges in fantastic speculation, while the religious Alyosha is described as a modern realist.
"The dread and intelligent spirit, the spirit of self-destruction and non-being [...] the great spirit spoke with you in the wilderness [...] By the questions alone, simply by the miracle of their appearance, one can see that one is dealing with a mind not human and transient but eternal and absolute. For in these three questions all of subsequent human history is as if brought together in a single whole and foretold; three images are revealed that will take in all the insoluble historical contradictions of human nature over all the earth [...]" (5.5.10)
The problem with the Grand Inquisitor's assertion here is that we only know about the devil's three temptations through the Bible (there is no separate devil's Bible that gives his side of events). The Bible has to make the devil's temptations sound, well, tempting; otherwise, the importance of Christ's rejection of them would be completely lost. Think, for example, how different the story would have been if the devil offered Christ a cupcake.