“Don’t tell me about God; the reality of the Holocaust during WWII is enough to show me that he does not exist.” This objection articulates one of the common challenges for faith: the Problem of Evil. Atrocities abound in the world around us, and too often they hit close to home. This kind of reaction arises not only in the philosophy classroom, but from the heart of those facing inexplicable pain. How could God allow this? What do these events mean for his existence, or at least for his goodness? More formally, it is contended that the reality of evil means that God cannot exist (that a good, omnipotent God who allows evil is logically incoherent), or at least that it renders his existence improbable. As David Hume has articulated it, “Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”
However, the alternative must be considered. If God does not exist, it cannot be reasonably demonstrated that evil as a value-category exists. In an atheistic, time-and-chance universe, the Holocaust is not objectively evil. To paraphrase John Lennon, “Above Auschwitz, only sky.” The universe ultimately does not care about human suffering, and it offers no explanation, no purpose, no reason, and no hope for the pain that we experience. Atheism as a worldview is unable to provide the necessary foundation for objective moral norms; it is unable, apart from committing the naturalistic fallacy, to move from the is of human suffering to the ought that this should not be. Indeed, many atheist philosophers and meta-ethicists recognize this to be the case, holding to a form of moral anti-realism or ethical relativism. If objective moral norms do not exist, then evil is not an intelligible category. The reality of evil, then, does not disprove God’s existence but necessarily presupposes it.
Since atheism is unable to provide the foundation for objective moral norms, the skeptic cannot critique Christianity on external grounds. However, sometimes an internal critique is advanced—attempting to show that, whether or not evil exists, the Christian worldview contends that it does, and this is logically incompatible with God’s existence. These arguments, nevertheless, are typically not genuine internal critiques; the objector smuggles in assumptions extrinsic to Christianity or fails to take all of the data of Christian theology into consideration. Accordingly, external and internal issues are straddled, without the objector stepping into the Christian worldview with both feet.
However, when one enters the Christian view of reality fully, it is clear that Christian theology has a doctrine of evil—both of its origins in the Fall and of its continuing presence due to sin. Christianity takes evil seriously, and reveals the character and goodness of God in contrast to the evil that grieves him. The Bible also teaches that God has morally sufficient reasons for evil’s present existence, and that he will judge all evil and remove it in the end. Christians are not in a position of being able to claim that they know the purpose behind any and every particular instance of evil, or that the relationship between evil and God’s loving designs is entirely without mystery. Lest we become like Job’s “friends,” we must avoid simplistic explanations or quick justifications for someone’s suffering; rather, we direct them toward to the character of God, who can be trusted, and the truth that he has revealed.
Furthermore, Christianity has a solution where the Problem of Evil matters most—the category of personal evil. Evil is not simply something “out there”; it is inside of all of us. As psychological research such as Milgram’s Authority Study and the Stanford Prison Experiment have shown (and our own anecdotal evidence has confirmed), normal human beings are capable of acting with horrific inhumanity. If we were honest with our own hearts, we know that evil resides in us as well. It is said that G.K. Chesterton responded to the London Times’ question “What is wrong with the world?” by replying, “Dear sir, I am.” We are the problem of evil. The ultimate solution to the problem of evil inside of us is the Gospel. In the Person of Jesus Christ, God has entered our world of suffering and taken our evil upon himself. Jesus, the innocent one who did no wrong, received our wrongs. Ellie Wiesel is correct, although in a way that he did not intend. God is there, hanging on the gallows. He knows our suffering, and he has suffered for our sin. Trust him, believe him, and receive the solution to our deepest problem.
 David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, ed. Nelson Pike (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Publications, 1981), 88.
 Douglas Wilson, in debate with Christopher Hitchens, Collision film (LEVEL4: 2009).
 Differing Christian traditions offer various explanations, according to their theology—whether the free will defense or greater good defense, etc. The key contention, however, is that the Christian worldview presents God’s reasons as morally sufficient, even if they are not always clear.
 Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993). Unfortunately, Moltmann’s doctrine of God is not sufficiently biblical.