The problem of how an all-good, all-powerful God can co-exist with evil is probably the most formidable barrier to faith that I can think of. When I listen to the sobering stories of people who have endured so much apparently pointless suffering in their lives, I can’t help asking myself, “If I were in their shoes, would I believe in God?”On the one hand, there are those who favor intellectual responses to the problem of evil. I think their approach has some merit in clarifying to what degree evidence from evil may count against the existence of God, but I am wary of slick philosophical answers that turn this problem into an academic game of chess.
On the other hand, there are those who are offended by the suggestion that evil can be approached intellectually and then conveniently explained away. The trite answers spouted off by certain well-meaning religious theists only serve to reinforce the suspicion that their view fails to take evil seriously. To some extent, I believe this suspicion of intellectual approaches is warranted. By approaching the problem in this way, are we not in danger of reducing evil to something impersonal and trivial? Don’t philosophers make the problem even worse by treating evil like an object to be analyzed and scrutinized? What are your thoughts?