God and Evil

I ventured out recently into the blogsphere and discovered this meme via Sarx (with some links in the chain A and the original).

  1. if the nature of god is omnipotent, benevolent, and anthropomorphic (that god is a person, who sees suffering as wrong, and can change all of it), why does god not act to relieve all suffering, or at least the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest amount of people the greatest amount of time?
  2. if you were god, and you were omnipotent and benevolent, how would you respond to suffering?
  3. if this is not the nature of god, what is the nature of god, that allows suffering in the world?
  4. if these are the wrong questions to ask, what are the right ones?

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The problem of evil is probably the best argument from atheists and agnosics against a belief in God. It most definitely causes much problems for the faithful too. Why would an omnipotent and good God allow evil in the world?

There is an intellectual and an emotional response to this question. Neither are direct answers to the question, but rather a response to the mystery of evil. Mysteries about God, and evil, have no final solution. They are not problems to be solved. We can only learn from them, experience them, but in the end, we are still puzzled by them.

This discussion is rather long, and so it is has been broken into several parts. First, an intellectual approach (or jump to the second section, an emotional approach).