How might a Christian respond to the argument that all the suffering and evil in the world proves there is no God?
1. We agree that unassisted reason cannot answer the problem of evil. A Christian answer will need to be drawn from the Bible, because the Bible reveal truths that cannot be known by natural reason alone. So our answers are going to mostly come from the Bible.
2. Saying that there is "evil" in the world raises a problem. It assumes that there is a standard of good. Where does this standard of good come from? If there is no God, then there is no objective standard of good. For example, "empathy" is not the standard for moral good, since, if God doesn't exist, then empathy is nothing more than your opinion, which means it isn't binding on anyone else. If there was no God, you wouldn't be making the accusation, since there would be no unchanging standard of good to blame God for not following.
3. Ask what the person what their alternative world would be. If the complainant wants God to punish every evil, what would be the result? Would God need to kill everyone, since everyone thinks and does evil things? This wave of judgment would destroy the complainant too, since he is part of the problem. Or does the complainant want God to perform universal mind-control?
4. Whose fault is it that the world is the way it is? The human race is to be blamed, not God. Human beings do all these terrible things. The Bible says that this world is not the way God created it originally. According to Genesis God created the world good, and created the human race good (Genesis 1-2). The first man, by sinning, corrupted the race and unleashed all these natural horrors.
5. The claim that God "isn't doing anything about it" can only be countered by appealing to the coming of Jesus Christ. The birth and ministry of Jesus is God "doing something about it." The only long-term solution to evil is for God to tear the evil out by the roots. That's what Christ came to do -- He suffered the punishment of human sin by dying on the cross, broke the power of natural suffering by rising from the dead, and now forgives the guilt of sin as well as counteracts sin by planting a renewed heart in a person. This is God "doing something about it."
6. The complaint also assumes that this situation of a world full of evil and suffering is an unending scenario. But the Bible says that He will in fact end all this one day. One day Christ will return to the earth, cast all evil-doers into a fiery lake as punishment for their sins, and re-create the world. As a result, the whole world will be completely freed of evil and suffering, forever. So Christianity does teach that the earth will be rid of evil and pain one day.
But whose side will you be on, when He returns to make the world the way you want it to be? And are you still contributing to the evil? What suffering have you contributed to the lives of others, with your words and actions? Isn't it you who needs to answer for your wrongs, not God?