The ways to challenge religious belief are many and varied. One can begin with a direct challenge to belief in God, or one can challenge certain beliefs about humanity that are foundational to the structures of particular religions. One famous literary character—Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor (GI)—takes the latter approach by denying that humans are strong enough to bear the burden of free will. In an earlier article, I outlined this claim and suggested that the Inquisitor’s protest is profound enough to merit examining our own theology.1 If, however, we wish to retain our belief in free will (and I do) along with the attendant belief in human moral responsibility, both of which are necessary for belief in the Christian God, then we must find some response to the arguments against it. Since literature is concerned with truth, most pointedly with dramatic truth, a literary argument is best answered with another literary argument. A character who misrepresents humanity is best answered by one who represents it more truthfully. Fortunately another Russian novelist, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, has met the GI’s challenge.

This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Stephen Mitchell as he answers questions about his literary apologetics article, “Alexander Solzhenitsyn Confronts the Grand Inquisitor” and covers topics including free will and Russian gulags.

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