We don’t escape evil. It doesn’t matter how we rationally handle evil once we’ve felt it. The proofs go out the window in the face of entirely different proof that makes the presence of a good God seem like lunacy because that God is seemingly doing nothing to eliminate your pain in your moment of need. Try and do away with evil in those moments. Better yet, try and generate an answer. Respond to the question, “Why?” Neither approach will be all that satisfying intellectually because the intellect is no longer the realm being affected.
Evil produces a problem for more than just the intellect. I’ve found that grappling with it involves some deeper part of my being. Some deep part of humanity has been fumbling through its history trying to find something sensible. Though we have recently been scuffling through a postmodern period of relativity, the tenets of that worldview have done little to affect human motivation outside of the sphere of morality. Those things, such as religion, that make proclamations about what ought and ought not be done tend to be all that the postmodern culture relativizes. We still fall back onto certain aspects of modernity in other areas of our decision-making. We don’t like to think of our relationships, our careers, or our knowledge as things that cannot be grounded in something like reality.
Concepts like evolution and modernization have created this mindset that all is progress. This is what makes the problem of evil such a frustrating obstacle. It slows the pace. Theist or not, evil still rears its head right when we think we’ve gotten rid of it. Often, it reminds us that perhaps our concept of forward movement is nothing more than an illusion. Earthquakes destroy the bridges we build over the troubled water. Yet, we still find ourselves trying to place our analyses of this human experience of history into neat little boxes, potentially so that we can identify some kind of metanarrative.
Even if the result is like that of naturalism—that life is metaphysically without purpose—we still seek to narrow everything down so that we can be sure. Evil causes problems even for this worldview because suffering deeply affects us, more so than would seem rational if such concepts are merely human constructs developed to explain sensations within our evolutionary struggle of making it on an insignificant blue dot. Ultimately, evil cannot be relegated to something like our reaction to negative stimuli. Yes, evil tends to cause pain physically and emotionally, but it arguably runs deeper than that.