Let’s start by seeing what prominent philosophers have to say about the problem of evil:
“It used to be widely held that evil was incompatible with the existence of God: that no possible world contained both God and evil. So far as I am able tell, this thesis is no longer defended.” – Peter Van Inwagen of the University of Syracuse in “Philosophical Perspectives”
“It is now acknowledged on (almost) all sides that the logical argument [from evil] is bankrupt.” – William Alston
Lets now distinguish between two types of evil.
1) The evil that men do
2) Natural evil
1) This one should be fairly easy. When creating this universe God could have made us automatons and program us to always do good. The other option was to give man freedom. I’m sure that I don’t need to elaborate as I’m sure most people would agree that freedom is good. So in giving man freedom, God chose the good.
2)Regarding natural evils such as earthquakes, famine, etc., we should understand (a)that we really do not know fully what events are truly evil, as God succinctly told Job and (b) that we don’t consider the consequences of a world without these natural evils.
(a) The problem of evil is based on a premise, that IF God exists then evil should not exist. So my solution will be that IF God exists then we don’t fully understand what is evil in the natural sense.
First let’s understand that the gap in intelligence between a bear and a human is a large gap, but the gap in intelligence between a human and God is infinitely greater. Boston College philosopher, Peter Kreeft tells the story of a bear caught in a bear trap.
A bear is caught in a trap and a woodsman passes by and notices the poor bear. Deciding to help the bear the woodsman loads a tranquilizer gun and starts firing at the bear so as to tranquilize him. The bear of course thinks that this is quite terrible, not understanding how this man is trying to help. Eventually the woodsman hits his mark and he approaches the bear while the bear is groggy but still conscious. The woodsman proceeds to take the bears leg and push it further into the trap because he knows that the trap is spring loaded and pushing down on it will release the bear. Again the bear would think that the woodsman is trying to harm him by pushing him further into the trap.
If we understand that the woodsman was helping but the bear thought he was harming, isn’t it obvious that what we see as God harming could easily be God helping. The problem is that we don’t have the intelligence of God to undestand this.
Secondly we can not judge something as good or evil like God can because we don’t know the outcome of the story. We don’t know the ending, but He does.
In the movie No Way Out Kevin Costner’s character is framed as being a Russian spy and he spends the whole movie trying to escape his pursuers. We cheer him on through the whole movie because we see this as an unjust pursuit of an innocent man. At the end of the movie he escapes and we all sigh and think “Whew good for him.” Until we see him speaking Russian and it turns out that the frame job actually did expose Costner as a Russian spy. For the whole movie we cheer for Costner because we don’t know that in the end we find out that he really is a “bad guy.” The ending could easily change our perspective of what is good and what is evil, and remember only God knows the ending.
(b)Finally let’s take a look at a world with no earthquakes. Here’s what philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig said in his debate with Dr. Washington:
“But he (Washington) says, “What about natural evils?” Well, again, I said many of these result from natural laws. For example, earthquakes: if God eliminated all earthquakes, you would have to have a world where you didn’t have any plate tectonics because that’s what causes earthquakes. But without plate tectonics, the continents would all erode into the oceans, and there would be literally no life on earth. So these natural laws that cause harm are in many ways essential to our existence.”