The QuestionThe major mistake that Christians make is that they allow the unbeliever to formulate the question about their doubts. The unnbelievers usually commit two errors in formulating the question. The first is that they misunderstand the nature of the question -- it is a question that arises, as Vicchio points out, from the Judaeo-Christian religion and not unbelief. In other words we were asking the question before they were. It is a question that is intrinsic to our whole religious system. It is a question that God himself is posing to us and testing us with. He is not afraid of it, but promotes it as we see in the study of Old Testament theodicy.
The second is that they formulate the question in too mild of a form. The question is actually more severe than they imagine. As they formulate the question, it is a caricature of the real question. The question is in itself a trick question on the order of, but more clever than, the old question, "Do you still beat your wife?" By the way the question is asked, it is answered. You are a wife beater!
Here is my formulation:
If the God that I believe in exists then . . .A. How can this God who is X, (where X = the full Christian doctrine of God)BUT
B. Allow evil which is Y (where Y = the true Christian doctrine of evil))1. to exist, function, and prosper to the degree that it does . . .C. And still be truly worthy of honor, love, respect, and worship?
2. so that it touches in varying degrees . . .a. its own . . .
b. the righteous . . .
c. the innocent . . .
d. the moderately evil . . .
e. and the undeserving.
If there is no God then why are we talking about good and evil? Let's go eat!