I want to address one particular objection that is often raised by skeptics of Christianity. I have seen and heard it put many ways, but most recently I encountered it in this form: "If your god exists, he allows children to be raped. Children! Why should I worship him?" Again, I do not want to make light of this issue. This objection has tremendous rhetorical power. It immediately provokes an emotional response. Even so, I do not think it is a very good objection--let me illustrate why.
Suppose that God supernaturally intervened tomorrow and rearranged the world so that child rape was no longer possible. Do you think that would convince skeptical people that God is good and worthy of worship? Hardly. After all, He still allowed it to happen in the past. So, what would need to happen is that God would need to design the world from the beginning in such a way that child rape was always impossible. Now, suppose that He did exactly that. Do you think people would still raise this objection? Of course we would. We would just fill in the blank (God allows __________) with the most horrendous evil that was possible in that world. We would be no less outraged. But what if God created a world where that particular evil was also eliminated? It would be the same result. We would just fill in the blank with the next highest injustice on the list. I hope you can see the problem.
Alright, now let's skip ahead several cycles. Suppose that God created a world where all of the things we would put on our "gratuitous evils" list were somehow rendered impossible--rape, murder, untimely death, natural disasters etc. But suppose that it was still possible for people to catch the flu. The flu was the worst thing that could happen to a person. Of course, we cannot even imagine such a world (and there are so many things that would have to give way to even make such a world possible), but I think you can see where I am going. If the flu was the worst thing that could happen, then we would be no less outraged about it than we are about the evil that currently tops our list. We would say, "God allows people to get the flu. THE FLU! Why should I worship him?" And no one in that world would be able to say something like, "Well, the flu isn't that bad. At least you aren't paralyzed," because we would have no concept of what it means to suffer paralysis.
The objection falls apart because it implies that a good God could allow certain types of evil, but not the sort that we deem gratuitous. But, as I have shown, that reduces to absurdity. Whatever the worst thing God allows is would seem gratuitous to us. Thus, if God allows evil and suffering at all, the severity of the evil that He allows is actually a moot point (logically speaking, not emotionally). And that is to say nothing about freedom on the will and the tremendous interrelatedness of many evils. What is more, for all we know, we are living in a world that has been arranged in such away that a great number of evils and/or ways of suffering are actually impossible. However, since those things have always been unavailable, we have no concept of them. Thus, it is not only unhelpful to point to the most egregious evil that exists and say, "If God allows THAT, then He isn't good," it may also be naive.* Again, that does not solve the problem of evil, nor does take any of the sting out of suffering. Even so it should be clear that this particular objection, while rhetorically powerful, is, in reality, not a very good one.
*Though this particular objection is overreaching, it is based on a legitimate objection: "If God allows any evil and suffering then He isn't good." I think people opt for the more rhetorically powerful version because very few contemporary philosophers think this argument holds up. It is not logically impossible that a good God could allow evil and suffering for a purpose. That will have to be handled in another post, but for now, I will simply say that the historic Christian teaching is that God is good and allows evil. However, while God allows evil for a time and purpose, He will ultimately eliminate it. For Him to eradicate any and all evil right this instant would also mean eradicating me (and everyone). And to have eliminated the possibility of any and all evil from the beginning would have also meant no free will, no love, etc.