I think the argument from indifference is a good one. It gets down and dirty with some fairly specific quibbles, and raises interesting challenges for the believer.
Now I know that bad things happen all the time and to people of all ages. I would expect this on a planet of this kind inhabited by creatures like us.
I expect natural disasters, famine, disease, pestilence, tribal feuding, and a lot more mayhem besides. It’s just the way the world is, and when you take into account natural forces and the ebb and flow of existence there really is no mystery as to why this thing called evil appears to hold sway.
But wait; let’s introduce a God into the mix. Let’s make him all powerful, all knowing, eternal and perfectly good. Nothing that has happened or is yet to happen is unknown to him. He understands his creatures perfectly and has some kind of plan, a good plan that cannot be improved upon.
Ok then, I can run with that. Let’s consider some ingredients in this master strategy. Last night three infants were burnt to death in a house in
Lancashire, presumably with the full consent of the Creator of the Universe. He knew this would happen, allowed it to happen, and presumably had his reasons for doing so. Now far be it from me to suspect the character of God, but here in the real world would anybody with such foreknowledge fold arms waiting for this event to pan out? I certainly wouldn’t, and neither would you. Yet this is precisely what God has done, and I think it’s appropriate to draw some tentative conclusions from this. Now the stock Christian defence to these kinds of horrors is that we have to accept suffering in order for good to be possible, or that the Lord respects our freewill so much he cannot intervene, or that these children were whisked straight off to paradise. Only Christians believe that the same God does intervene all the time, and in ways that appear underwhelming. I’ve heard believers give thanks for obtaining a parking space, for passing a driving test, for all manner of trite blessings. So he is an interventionist, yet not when one might reasonably expect him to be.
What I’m arguing for here is not to suggest that God is evil. I am venturing that he is most certainly indolent, a layabout, uncaring. I’ve only referred to one example, but you can be sure that in the time it takes to read this many more examples will unfold. And the Lord will watch. And do nothing. And if we’re to believe the devout at the same time he will be answering less dramatic prayers, too.
All sounds a bit arbitrary, don’t you think? Almost as if we’ve made the whole God thing up.