I know that the problem of evil has been beaten to death...
BUT how do you respond to theistic argument that God does not guarantee that evil and suffering will not occur. To me, this is a fatal flaw in the existence of a benevolent god. This gets enmeshed with free will in Christian theology as either a test or a fact of human existence, apparently designed by a god. Another alternative is that this benevolent god is not omnipotent.
Another alternative is to throw it all in the trash can; gods, devils, evil ,theology, omnipotence, fatal flaws and all.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able,
Then he is not omnipotent.
If he is he able, but not willing,
Then he is malevolent.
If he is he both able and willing,
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing,
Then why call him God?
Epicurus, circa 300 BCE
Sorry to just be cutting and pasting my argument from another discussion here, but as I just wrote it and the discussion seems to be multiplying, then I suppose so shall my responses! Here it was:
It's all so ridiculous. According to them, he made us with free will so we could choose to be good or bad, including to believe in him or not. But he is also omniscient, so he knew when he made us exactly what we would do. So he would have made us good or bad, and then rewarded or punished us for something that he is responsible for!
Look, either god is completely responsible for his own creations, or else he is not omnipotent or he is not omniscient. And if he is responsible, then he is the one responsible for anything which falls from his ultimate perfection in any way. Unless he is not perfect either. So if anything is not perfect, it is because he didn't feel like making it perfect, so that was ultimately his choice, and nobody else's. And if he is perfect, and everything he created is perfect and just the way the perfect designer intended it to be, then (among other things) he thinks it is good to send people to hell, that evil exists, that suffering exists, etc., PLUS then why does he get angry with us, why did he destroy everyone in Noah's flood for example, etc.! WHY? Ridiculous.
Agreed Pho-Wanderer. It is hard to argue a point where the other side can simply make things up. Bad things happen because nature and evolution are messy processes.
Yeah it just utterly collapses upon itself. I had discussions where the theist would say that we have free will because god wants to either test us or educate us. Well how fucked up is that! Here is what I wrote previously:
Apparently (the problem of evil) is not a problem because anything that we might take for evil might really just be a test of some kind, or an educational experience. DOUBLE WHAT??? The Jews in the Holocaust, they were just being tested and/or taught a lesson?? People who are raped, or senselessly murdered, or killed as infants, or tortured, or kept inside a basement and raped for years on end by their own father's and having multiple children by him who were also kept in his dungeon of ultimate horror, oh, its just one of those mysterious ways in which god works? Anger boils up inside me at the mere suggestion. But if you can believe in a god, you can believe in just about anything I suppose.
So we agree that we agree on this but how to respond to theists on evil? I do not know that. Here is an answer that is not bad.
The fact is that most people don’t need the lure of eternal paradise or the threat of eternal torture to motivate them to help those who are suffering. We help those who are suffering because we can help those who are suffering. Human compassion is the atheist solution to the problem of evil. http://www.examiner.com/article/atheism-101-the-problem-of-evil
I'm afraid that you are tilting with windmills by trying to argue with a theist. I don't think the problem with evil can be summed up more succinctly than Epicurus'es statement. If you have the patients to corner a theist about their belief, they will escape out of the corner that they have painted them selves in by stating "I believe because I know it is true in my heart".
After I finish this post, I think I'll go throw up. I have encountered that last statement or some dismal equivalent too many times.
I think I'll start by disavowing that this is a satisfactory answer to your question; but . . .
First, I like to quote Archibald MacLeish's play J.B. (based on the biblical Book of Job): "If God is God, God is not good. If God is good, God is not God."
Second, I like to point out that if God were omnipotent or (probably better) if God intervened in human affairs, churches would not get struck by lightning. After all, why would God not protect His house?
The god of the Old Testament is definitely not a benevolent god, and the god of a certain strain of Christianity (to label it with broad brushstrokes, "fire and brimstone" theology) is not a benevolent god, either. Christians might say that Christ is a god of mercy and compassion (etc., etc.) but God the Father is a fierce and retributive god (presumably to be identified with the Old Testament Jehovah).
Have a half-sister that I never met, only spoke to a few times on the phone and through email, and friended her on facebook. The other day her status was "Such a beautiful day today. God is great!" I'm like wow, yeah, allahu akbar! Christians really say that too? And what if the weather was crappy outside? "Shitty day today, God is such a motherfucker"? Lol, man these fucking people are so stupid.