The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy sets it out thus:
- If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
- If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
- If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
- If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
- Evil exists.
- If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
- Therefore, God doesn’t exist.
is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil and suffering with an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient GodBoth clearly have nothing to do with the God who created. The one popularly known in Western countries as 'the Christian God' (as though there is a gallery of actual gods when the gallery is of fictional gods).
Thus this formulation is the problem for the conveniently defined 'philosophers' god. Not the living God, who's told us a completely different story about us and himself. (See Pannenberg for more humour on this topic).
The point of departure is in the notion of 'good'. Good here is defined as the speaker seems to behold it, as some platonic quality hovering off in Plato-land, imposing its imagined meaning (imagined by the speaker and for the speaker's convenience) on all and sundry. Including God.
But God is not subject to our self-serving definitions, nor our requirements that God submerges in our lakes of fantasy.
God is, above all, holy.
By comparison, and by God's declaration analyzing man's rejection of fellowship with God, and of his own 'god-likeness, man is an evil and corrupted piece of slime existing in a soon to be consummated living death.
The 'problem' of evil is the atheist's problem. Not the Christian's. The atheist has to explain how he gets to define good and evil, how he gets to exempt himself from the doers of evil, how he is reversing the evil defined only by that which is not-god-likeness, which can only really be reversed by turning to that same God in repentance, praise and thanks for his mercy and love in rescuing us from the mess of our own obdurate making.