If there is no God, then I am God.

Dostoyevsky's Dive into Selfhood

Tamer Aydogdu
2 min readNov 19


Fyodor Dostoyevski, the renowned Russian novelist, often delved into the complex realms of human existence and the intricacies of faith. In his intriguing work “Demons,” Dostoyevski presents a thought-provoking dialogue that challenges conventional beliefs about God, free will, and self-determination. Let’s explore this conversation and decipher the profound meaning behind the statement, “If there is no God, then I am God.”

The Essence of Dostoyevski’s Words: Dostoyevski’s proclamation, “If there is no God, then I am God,” might initially sound audacious or even blasphemous, but a closer look reveals a nuanced perspective on free will and selfhood. The author isn’t claiming to be a deity in the traditional sense. Instead, he’s asserting his autonomy and the responsibility that comes with it.

The Debate on Free Will

The dialogue between the characters revolves around the concept of free will. Dostoyevski argues that if God exists, then our will is subject to His, and if God doesn’t exist, then we are the masters of our own destiny. This prompts a profound question: Should we fear the vastness of our will, akin to a hesitant heir reluctant to claim their inheritance?

The Fear of Self-Will

Dostoyevski introduces the notion that individuals may shy away from embracing their own will, likening it to a poor man frightened by an unexpected inheritance. This fear stems from the overwhelming responsibility that accompanies self-determination. The author suggests that even in a world that has rejected the divine, people might still hesitate to embrace their autonomy fully.

The Call for Self-Will

In the dialogue, Dostoyevsky desires to proclaim self-will, emphasizing the importance of asserting oneself without a higher power. This proclamation is not an arrogant claim to divinity but a plea for individuals to acknowledge and wield their own agency in shaping their lives.

The Paradox of Self-Will

Interestingly, Dostoyevski takes the concept of self-will to its extreme, suggesting that the fullest expression of self-will leads to self-destruction. This paradoxical idea challenges us to consider the consequences of unrestrained autonomy and the fine line between empowerment and peril.

In a Nutshell

Dostoyevski’s exploration of free will and selfhood in “Demons” invites readers to reflect on their beliefs and the implications of embracing or rejecting the idea of God. The statement “If there is no God, then I am God” catalyzes contemplation, encouraging us to navigate the complexities of our own will and the responsibility it entails. In essence, Dostoyevski’s words beckon us to be captains of our own ships, steering through the seas of existence with courage and self-awareness.



Tamer Aydogdu

Dutch and Turkish national, progressive, dedicated to bridging cultures, fostering equality, and illuminating minds.