Yesterday somebody posted the following argument on my blog in the comments section:
1. There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.
2. An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.
3. (Therefore) There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being. (Rowe 1979: 336)
This is an example of the evidential problem of evil, which is the only legitimate form of the argument from evil against the existence of God (since it is generally conceded, especially since Plantinga, that the logical problem of evil is a hopeless failure as an argument against the existence of God). I think Paul Draper’s version of this argument is actually the most respectable, precisely because it is so clearly an evidential argument. However, to take Rowe’s argument as a paradigm case, obviously theologians will respond by denying the first premise, that there is gratuitous evil. They will no doubt point out that we just aren’t at an epistemic vantage point to know with any considerable certainty that gratuitous evil exists, precisely because we cannot see the end from the beginning. Any arguments to establish the first premise are always tenuous and speculative.
However, the theist may be able to respond by making theism an argument against the first premise. Theism actually entails the falseness of that premise, thus this argument has to be weighed against all arguments to think that theism is true, since the first premise stands or falls with it. It seems to me, though, that we are more justified in believing in theism than we can be for believing in the first premise.
I think that Theism is at least better established (less tenuous) than that first premise.