if everyone must suffer, in order to buy eternal harmony with their
suffering, pray tell me what have children got to do with it? It’s
quite incomprehensible why they should have to suffer, and why they
should buy harmony with their suffering.”
Ivan makes this argument to Alyosha
in Book V, Chapter 4, as part of his rejection
of the idea of a loving God. Ivan believes it is impossible to have
faith in a benevolent deity who makes children suffer unjustly.
Ivan can, to a certain extent, see the logic in the suffering of adults:
adults must suffer to pay for their sins, “to buy eternal harmony
with their suffering.” But children, he explains, are too young to
have sinned, and are often made to suffer the most excruciating torments
by a God who supposedly loves them. From this condition, Ivan reasons
that if God exists, he does not really love mankind, but rather
occupies the position of a torturer who should be defied and rejected
rather than worshipped and loved.