The natural world is complex; it is composed of a large number of dynamical and interrelated dissipative systems that are sensitively dependent on initial conditions; chaos systems are in motion where energy is dissipated in
them. If you change the initial conditions just slightly, they evolve through time in a quit different way. A slight change in initial conditions results in the loss of equilibrium. Our world is composed of several of these, for example, the neurons in our brain are like the internet in that the just as the server divides the information into different packets through
different routes and then reassembles in the end; so if we get a brain injury or tumor our brain doesn’t completely shut down. The same is true in ecosystems, hearts, and the like. There is an elasticity in the world, but these systems are centered on an equilibrium point that can be pushed too hard. Edward Lorenz was a pioneer in chaos theory and once he started studying these systems he wrote a paper called let’s suppose we put sensors at every square foot corner of the globe, and every one of those sensors tell us all the weather conditions we still couldn’t predict weather patterns because perturbations in the middle of one square foot (say a butterfly flapping its wings) in Brazil could cause a tornado in Kansas. Mathematically these kinds of systems behave this way. Since the world is composed of so many of these systems, a slight nudge in initial conditions will result in natural disasters that God did not do. Moreover, an autonomous creation cannot be indefinitely adjusted and manipulated which means that it would be impossible for God to create just any configuration of dynamical and interrelated dissipative systems that are sensitively dependent on initial conditions. Call this the free-process defense.
Marilyn McCord Adams has articulated a fascinating argument against what she calls the Logical Problem of Horrendous Evils. She thinks that although Alvin Plantinga has solved the 'abstract' logical problem of evil, she does not think that the 'concrete' problem of evil can likewise be given the same solution because of what she calls horrendous evils. Horrendous evils are the types of evils that call into question whether or not a person who experiences such an evil has a life that is worth living (i.e. Holocaust, starvation, nuclear war, extreme sexual abuse, etc.). Her solution to the problem of horrendous evils involves drawing on the resources of Christian theism, namely, the Trinity and Incarnation. The following is a link to a summary outline by Thomas Senor of Adams' argument:
According to Ted Poston, the problem of evil includes more than just the familiar categories of moral evil and natural evil. It also includes social evil, which he defines as any pain or suffering brought about by game-theoretic interactions of many individuals. Social evils cannot be reduced to natural or moral evil. Moreover, traditional defenses for natural and moral evil fail against the problem of social evil.
Victims of Tragedy Are Rarely Comforted By Theistic Experiences / Would It Be Better If We Knew Why?
The following is taken from Travis Dumsday's Article: Divine Hiddenness, Free Will, and Victims of Wrong-Doing:
"Imagine a possible world where evil is still very much a problem due to God's permission of moral freedom, but where divine hiddenness is no problem at all; a world where people still commit and suffer frequent moral wrogns, but where Schellenberg's preffered model of divine disclosure obtains and everyone has had a constant awareness of God's presence from age seven onward. In such a world, those who suffer moral wrongs suffer those wrongs while remaining explicitly aware of God.
A unique and original objection to the Problem of Evil by a young philosopher who Alvin Plantinga has called one of the finest philosophers that has ever gone through the Phd Program in Philosophy at Notre Dame in the 28 years he has been there.
Let's assume that skeptical theism is bunk. If the problem of evil is a sound argument, then it would make it likely that a perfectly good God does not exist. How far from perfect though? Well, on the opposite extreme, we can run a parallel argument that the good in the world makes it very unlikely that a perfectly evil god exists. Thus, we can RULE OUT the existence of a certain kind of God, but it would be an entirely different practice to actually try to INFER to what moral properties a creator of our world would likely have based on the amount of evil in the world.
Sometimes atheists will compare what they call a mountain of empirical evidence against the existence of God based on evil in the world with all the arguments, or at least, those arguments that are supposed to demonstrate the goodness of God, and ask something like the following question: "What are you more sure of; that there is a mountain of empirical evidence against the existence of God because of all the evil we observe in the world, or are you more sure that the moral argument is a successful argument for a good God?"
RESPONSE: No doubt that such a question works well on our intuition pumps, but notice that the question begs the question. We need to distinguish between two questions:
1) How certain are you that some events in the world can be called objectively evil?
2) How certain are you that we have no good reason to doubt that if there is a morally sufficient reason for God to permit some instance of evil we observe, that we would quite likely see what that morally sufficient reason is?
I submit to you that the atheist conflates these two questions unjustifiably since it is only for the first question that we have a 'mountain of empirical evidence,' namely, that evil occurs in the world. The second question is based on the nature of induction, and states a commmonly accepted principle of skeptical theism based. Skeptical theism basically say that unless the atheist can show that we have a mountain of evidence that allows us to answer yes to question 2 (not question 1), then the original question begs the question since it just assumes that we have no reason to doubt that our not seeing a morally sufficient reason that God must have in permitting some evil is good evidence that God doesn't have one (For justification, see my other posts in this section under The Evil God Challenge & Doesn't Skeptical Theism undermine all inductive reasoning).
When it comes down to it, I am more confident in the evidential force of a cumulative case for Christian theism than I am that we have no good reason to doubt that our not seeing a morally sufficient reason that God must have in permitting some evil is good evidence that God doesn't have one.
Draper argues for two things: 1) Naturalism has smaller scope and greater simplicity than theism making it a prior more probable, and 2) Naturalism has greater predictive power than theism with respect to observation
E: "For a variety of biological and ecological reasons, organisms compete for survival, with some having an advantage in the struggle for survival over others; as a result, many organisms, including many sentient beings, never flourish because they die before maturity, many others barely survive, but languish for most or all of their lives, and those that reach maturity and flourish for much of their lives usually languish in old age; in the case of human beings and some nonhuman animals as well, languishing often involves intense or prolonged suffering."
He later adds the following observations related to E that he briefly argues favor naturalism over theism as well in terms of retrospective predictive power: "Human beings know a lot about their immediate environment and about other matters upon which their survival directly depends. Our cognitive faculties are, however, much less reliable when it comes to moral and religious matters. Surely this is much more surprising on theism than on (Darwinian) naturalism. Or consider the moral qualities of human beings. Humans are as a rule very strongly disposed--I'm tempted to say "hard-wired"--to act selfishly. They are instinctively much more concerned about their own interests than about the interests of others. They do possess some altruistic tendencies, but these are typically very limited. This combination of a deeply ingrained selfishness and limited altruism can be given a plausible Darwinian explanation, but is very hard to understand if, for example, God wants human beings, through the exercise of their free wills, to make substantial moral progress in their short time on earth. Theistic evolution could be Darwinian, but it could also proceed in a variety of other non-Darwinian ways. As long as a perfect God is guiding evolutionary change, natural selection is not crucial for the development of biological complexity. Thus, given theism, it would not be surprising at all if natural selection played no significant role in the development of such complexity. This means that, if E is to be expected on Darwinism, then that is a predictive success for naturalism, but not for theism.
Plantinga has argued that belief in God could be so warranted that even in the face of the problem of evil, a Christian theist could rationally maintain belief in God apart from arguments and evidence in a properly basic manner. Well, it turns out that evidence is accumulating that our faculties of reason are strongly disposed (if not hardwired) to form belief in God from the first moment that we are capable of entering into a relationship with God. There is mounting empirical evidence that children are natural born believers. If this is true, then it seems to me that the problem of evil would be defeated via an overwhelming defeater, although a more nuanced reply would be required to spell out more carefully why this is so, but in short, the warrant for God's existence may outweigh any evidential support against the existence of God that evil may supply if we have no reason to think that our belief forming mechanism isn't truth aimed in a coarse grained manner.
Justin Barrett: Why Would Anyone Believe in God? / Natural Born Believers
Michael Brooks See “Natural Born Believers” in New Scientist magazine or on their website.
Pascal Boyer & Deborah Kelemen “Are Children Intuitive Theists”