The Problem of Evil is the apparent contradiction between the idea that God is infinitely loving, and the fact that he created us in a world with such intense suffering.
It’s a serious problem for Christianity — and it’s probably one of the main reasons people end up rejecting the notion of God altogether. Even if they never consider the question philosophically, most people have dealt with the problem emotionally. They know, at a deep level, that there is something wrong here.
Many people have attempted to offer answers. I’ve even taken a stab at it. But most of those answers are off-putting at best, and do little to advance the notion that an all-benevolent God is actually a realistic thing to believe in.
And yet, here we are in this world. And year after year, we as humanity keep bringing new children into it. We do so, despite knowing that they will suffer. We do so, despite knowing that their life will consist of pain — most of which we will be powerless to prevent.
Year after year, our ancestors decided that life was worth having. Generation after generation weighed the suffering and evil and goodness and joy of this world, and decided that bringing new life into it was a benevolent thing. Many of them even believed that bringing children into the world was their greatest act of love.
So there is a deep irony at the heart of the Problem of Evil. To pose it as a challenge to God is also to pose it as a challenge to ourselves. To the extent that the Problem of Evil destroys our notion of God, it destroys our notion of humanity. If God isn’t benevolent, then neither are we.
But if we cast in our lot with the human race, then we act in trust in the benevolence of bringing new life into the world. And so we implicitly trust in and justify God’s actions in creation.
Perhaps this is the reason that most of humanity does believe in God. We’ve struggled with the same questions that God must struggle with, and we’ve chosen to trust in the future of humanity, in the ongoing adventure of human life.
Deep down, we know that to believe in God is to believe in humanity, and to believe in humanity is to believe in God.