Evil is a reality in our world for which there is no logical explanation. There is no theodicy that convinces adequately. There is no philosophy that persuades overwhelmingly. The reality of evil is the most problematic for we who espouse Yahweh and it is a mistake to sidestep this issue. We are cowards if we will not look non-believers in the eye and tell them we have no answer that will satisfy them. For in the end this is the only true answer. We who believe that Yahweh is God do so in spite of the problem of evil. We overcome the problem of evil not with logic or philosophy or science; we overcome with faith. We believe in Yahweh despite evil.
There are many ways I have rectified the problem of evil in my head. Primarily, the free-will defense has been my most trusted tool. It seems to me that the only way God could allow humans to have any will of their own is to limit his own sovereignty so that humans could make choices that were against God’s own will. Naturally humans eventually chose against God and unleashed evil upon God’s creation. The Bible suggests that natural evil is a result of the unleashing of evil upon the world. The Bible suggests that violence is a result of evil unleashed. The problem, of course, is that while humans may have unleashed that evil, it was God who introduced evil in the first place.
I can even rectify in my mind why God introduced evil. After all, how can humans have the capacity to make a choice if only one choice is present to them? And if a choice for evil is necessary then is not God obliged to introduce that evil into creation? And if humans unleash that evil upon creation, is it really God’s fault, for he could not both give humans a choice while simultaneously not giving them a choice? I can logically conclude that evil is necessary and God is justified for presenting that evil in order to accomplish his own righteous purposes.
But the reality is that all of my arguments come from a position of faith. I rectify the problem of evil BECAUSE I believe already. I find answers to these questions because I need answers to these questions. But for the agnostic, there is no reason to find excuses for God’s behavior. They do not need to rectify their faith with the problem of evil. And for them the problem of evil is so great, so unthinkable, that there is no excuse satisfactory enough to allow God off the hook.
It seems to me that in the end the real question is whether life makes more sense with a benevolent God who allows evil or with no God at all. I choose the former. But I think we do a disservice to the kingdom and to our fellow humans if we do not acknowledge that we do so against our will.