Would you Adam and Eve it?
I only mentioned the problem of evil as an aside to express that getting pissed midweek isn't a great idea when you have a job which requires you to be on the ball all the time. This started as a reply in the comments page but ended up being so long that it has become it’s own post.
Perhaps there is a God who created humans with free will so as to give meaning to the very act of creation. The idea being that people freely choose to love him and behave in such a way that brings them to eternal existence with the creator. IF God does exist and has given us free will then the laws of nature must also be fixed so that we can investigate, understand and predict the world around us and make free choices about our actions within it. God would not, for example, stop a rock from falling on someone by making it hover until they moved, or alter the law of gravity whenever anyone wanted to jump out of a window, because by doing so he would interfere with our free choice (if for example my choice is to kill you by chucking rocks at you).
It follows from this that natural 'evil' will occur and a god who wants us to be free chooses not to interfere when it does. It could be argued that god does exist and is both omnipotent and benevolent - he abhors evil, could prevent it but chooses not to since doing so would mean that we are no longer free.
A couple of other things:
1) Of course there is an argument to say that we are not and never could be truly free, that freedom always and everywhere is an illusion.
2) Supposed miracles call into question god’s benevolence, if he is willing to prevent some 'evils' why not others.
3) Euthyphros dilemma highlights the problem Frank mentioned, either Something is good because god commands it (in which case things are not good in themselves) so hypothetically god could command killing and it would be 'good' to do simply because god commanded it (god can't therefore be benevolent) OR God commands certain actions because they are good - so there is a standard of goodness independent of god which God refers to in order to command it (so god is not omnipotent)
4) The ontological argument suggests that what is meant by GOD is "That than which nothing greater can be conceived" and since it is better to exist in reality than hypothetically (e.g; it is better to have £10 in my hand than to dream of having £1000) God (that than which nothing greater can be conceived) must exist, even in a world with evil
5) My dad’s response “Bloody women!, if Eve hadn’t eaten that flippin apple….”
My personal conclusion: The notion of a God (as articulated to me through Catholicism) makes no sense to my intellect. I’m not even sure it makes sense to me for people to want there to be a God. However, I am an emotional person more heart led than head and my spiritual self requires no explanation - intuitively and emotionally I believe, in the same way that I love. Neither faith, nor love, always makes sense to me but it doesn’t stop them from being real to me. I’m happy to hear arguments against the existence of God (and have done) but they can only ever change my thinking and faith Is not stored in my intellect.
I’ll conclude by making a clear distinction between faith and religious practice. In book 1 of his Treatise on Human Nature Hume writes, “Errors in religion are dangerous, those in philosophy only ridiculous”. Whilst I can empathise that it is frustrating for atheists (such as Frank) to hear someone say that their faith cannot be altered by logic since it resides in a place logic doesn’t reach, it is dangerous to be so immovable when reasoned thinking and a concern for humanity show that some religious practices should be abandoned – For religious law and practice ARE born out of the intellect.