Dostoevsky on Miracles

dostoevsky.jpgMiracles will never confound a realist. It is not miracles that bring a realist to faith. A true realist, if he is not a believer, will always find in himself the strength and ability not to believe in miracles as well, and if a miracle stands before him as an irrefutable fact, he will sooner doubt his own senses than admit the fact. And even if he does admit it, he will admit it as a fact of nature that was previously unknown to him. In the realist, faith is not born from miracles, but miracles from faith. Once the realist comes to believe, then, precisely because of his realism, he must also allow for miracles. The Apostle Thomas declared that he would not believe until he saw, and when he saw, he said: “My Lord and my God!” Was it the miracle that made him believe? Most likely not, but he believed first and foremost because he wished to believe, and maybe already fully believed in his secret heart even as he was saying: “I will not believe until I see.”

-The Brothers Karamazov


7 comments so far

  1. derekryanbrown on

    Excellent quote. Do tell me that this means you are reading The Brothers Karamazov. It is in my top ten favourite books, along with Crime and Punishment.

    I am in a weekly reading group with some other biblical studies postgrads, and we are currently going through Van Harvey’s The Historian and the Believer ( It has been quite interesting so far, especially his discussion of epistemology and miracles in which he interacts with varying views, from Hume’s skepticism towards miracles to Collingwood’s suggestion that since every event is in fact a unique event, it is ipso facto a ‘miracle’. His argument has been largely negative thus far, but in the next couple of chapters he will finally construct his argument on being a (legitimate) historian and a (faithful) believer.

  2. Ryan on

    “I am in a weekly reading group with some other biblical studies postgrads, and we are currently going through Van Harvey’s The Historian and the Believer”

    “Derek’s a nerd, Derek’s a nerd….”

  3. jeffreimer on

    Ryan: He that smelt it dealt it.

    Derek: Yes, I am reading BK. I found the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation at the Frugal Muse over Thanksgiving for $5 and dove in that night. Re Van Harvey: That’s cool that you’re working at that basic epistemological level for your PhD studies. I look forward to hearing more about it.

  4. Richie on

    Well holy crap yourself. I just read that passage this morning. Yeah, I’m re-reading Brothers in the new translation of which you are apparently aware.

    Looks like some tasty entries on your blog. I’ve never been here before. I’ll look them over.

    Just the other day I was recounting to my friend Phil Bryan (former chapel speaker, you may recall) about the Radical Orthodoxy book you recommended, how I left it on the plane and how that was the best thing that ever happened to me because I bought and read “How to Be Good” instead.

  5. Shannon on

    That is a great quote…I really like it.

  6. timothycairns on

    I have to say when I read the post by Derek my first thought was the same as Ryan’s!!

  7. Ryan on

    I make fun of those that I am most jealous of.

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