Daniel Larison makes an important point that not only addresses silly atheist criticisms of the “problem” of evil, but shows how those very criticisms indicate why atheist leaders so reliably become dictators:
Yet what these people seem to be terrified of most is the possibility that God really has allowed man such an extensive freedom, and that God is nothing like the caricatured martinet dictator that the sad New Atheists portray Him to be. Indeed, one gets the impression from many complaints against God for permitting suffering that they would very much welcome a deity who regimented and ordered their lives in order to provide maximal security and prosperity. As modern life has become in many respects easier, more comfortable and more secure, perhaps many moderns find the freedom that God has permitted them to be overwhelming and bewildering and their complaints against God are framed in terms that might be used for complaints against their fellow men: “if God really loved us, He would intervene and fix everything.” If you really cared about other people, you would want to meddle in their affairs to an obnoxious degree.
Even though God does intervene in history in dramatic, powerful and world-changing ways (see the Incarnation), what troubles the doubters is that God does not intervene more often. It’s as if they want to say, “Stop respecting my free will and just do something for me!” That this sounds exactly like the statement of a spoiled child is appropriate, because that is what it is.
As you know, I find the theodicy-related arguments made by atheists like Sam Harris to be almost embarrassingly childish. The problem isn’t that they are so easily refuted, although they are, but they put the lie to the atheist’s claim to have read the Bible. Or, at least, to have understood even a modicum of it… the gorilla can read Nietzsche…. Anyhow, the lack of knowledge and logic required to fail to grasp the concept of divine delegation and its eventual impact on the world described in Genesis and throughout the New Testament is profound.
And, as I noted yesterday, one has to have made a pretty serious committment to avoid doing any thinking about the matter in order to reach the conclusion that theodicy says ANYTHING AT ALL about the existence or non-existence of God. One can logically conclude various things about God’s omniscience or God’s character when viewed from a human perspective, but one cannot reasonably conclude anything about the state of His existence.