We see atheist and Christian heroes in Dostoyevsky's books. In many cases the works of an author reflect elements of their own life. However, the extent to which this occurs vary by author. Especially, in this instance where he has portrayed both atheist and Christian heroes, his own religion does come to mind. So, was Fyodor Dostoyevsky an atheist or Christian?

Note that questions asking about authors' life with relation to their works are on-topic

  • 4
    Not off-topic, but could use more effort.
    – Gallifreyan
    Jan 24 '17 at 9:14
  • 1
    @Gallifreyan I will edit this to add some context.
    – Benjamin
    Jan 24 '17 at 10:42
  • 4
    I'm voting to leave this question open, because the religious context of an author is critically important to understanding their work.
    – user80
    Jan 24 '17 at 10:46
  • 1
    Importantly, could he have been one for some period and the other for some other time period?
    – muru
    Jan 24 '17 at 10:51

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, author of such works as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, was a devout Orthodox Catholic from a very young age. He is reported to have, at a young age, recited prayers to guests to their great amazement. He is also said to have been greatly affected by various Bible selections. Through his time in the military academy, he continued the devout lifestyle that he had developed as a child, reading religious texts on a regular basis. However, over time he developed beliefs closer to those of the old believers than the mainstream Russian Orthodox Church. However he later wrote various contradictory things such as:

[I was a] child of unbelief and doubt up to this moment, and I am certain that I shall remain so to the grave.


[E]ven if someone were to prove to me that the truth lay outside Christ, I should choose to remain with Christ rather than with the truth.

However, later during his Siberian exile he again publicly revered Christ. However, he avoided churches and institutionalized religion. At no time though, did he become stuck in his ways. At times, he explored other religions, including Islam through reading the Quran. He described himself only as a "philosophical deist". However, his writings in The Brothers Karamazov where he states belief in the holy trinity brings into question his understanding of the terminology he used.

Unfortunately much of this is sourced from a few Wikipedia articles because the sources they used are not available to me in this location because they are all print books, which are not to be found in libraries near me.

  • Is "philosophical deist" your own translation from the Russian? I ask because I wonder whether "deist" or "theist" is the right word. I'm not sure if there is a difference.
    – user14111
    Sep 8 '20 at 8:20

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