The Evidential Problem of Evil is related to the Logical Problem of Evil in that it tries to show that the characteristics of God, as He is commonly conceived, are inconsistent with what we observe in the world. The Evidential Problem of Evil differs from the Logical version in a few smalls ways, though. Proponents of the Evidential version, for example, focus more Natural evils, such as disease and natural disasters, rather than Moral Evils such as murder and theft.
There are actually many refutations to the Evidential Problem of Evil. Here I describe only a few. Keep in mind that the goal here is not to prove Christian doctrine true, but only to show that it is consistent with the presence of evil in the world.
This is probably the most common explanation for Natural Evils, and it is possibly the most consistent with Christian Doctrine. While I do not believe in the “Original Sin”, the idea that we are held morally culpable for Adam's transgression, I do believe that all people are, to some degree, sinful and subject pain, sorrow, and death. In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the Lord described the consequences of their actions.
“16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art,and unto dust shalt thou return.”
The Lord himself explains that suffering, pain, and ultimately death, are the direct result of unrighteousness. Natural evils are the natural result of our own unrighteous choices. Just as the natural result of jumping off a building is getting splattered across the sidewalk, the natural result of sin is a corrupt and fallen world.
The Bible also talks a little about natural disasters. It includes natural disasters as also being caused, at least in part, by the sins and wickedness of man. This seems to be supported by Isaiah 24:20:
“20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.”
The Earth itself responds to our wickedness and reels under the burden of our sin. God is no more to blame for our hardships than the sidewalk is for us splattering ourselves across it. But even if Natural Evils can also be explained by sin, we still need to explain the suffering of infants, those born with disabilities, etc.
“1And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
Of course, there are also many cases when the individual is not cured and some even die while still an infant. These individuals will presumably be compensated in the afterlife.
The reason this argument is controversial is because of some commentary by Bertrand Russell, who said:
“If you looked at the matter from a scientific point of view, you would say, ‘After all, I only know this world. I do not know about the rest of the universe, but so far as one can argue at all on probabilities one would say that probably this world is a fair sample, and if there is injustice here then the odds are that there is injustice elsewhere also.’ Supposing you got a crate of oranges that you opened, and you found all the top layer of oranges bad, you would not argue: ‘The underneath ones must be good, so as to redress the balance.’ You would say: ‘Probably the whole lot is a bad consignment;’ and that is really what a scientific person would argue about the universe. He would say: ‘Here we find in this world a great deal of injustice, and so far as that goes that is a reason for supposing that justice does not rule in the world; and therefore so far as it goes it affords a moral argument against deity and not in favor of one.'”
However, this argument only works if we were speculating and making assumptions about a world we knew nothing of, based on what we observe here. However, we do know that if there is a christian heaven, it is in fact quite different from this world. We know that if it is there, than this world is no indication of the justice and order there. If not, then we are not speaking of Christian doctrine or a Christian God and the Problem of Evil would be completely irrelevant.
This is another of the most common responses to the Problem of Evil. It is the idea that evil and hardship are necessary for spiritual growth. It's similar to the idea that evil is complementary to good. The argument says that we need natural evils such as pain, suffering, and hardship to give us opportunities to develop virtues. There is no bravery without danger. There is no compassion without suffering. Through hardship we learn important lessons. It is often said that this life is a test, and tests were made to be difficult and trying experiences. That's why they are called tests. They are trials.
The idea that trials and tribulation helps us to learn virtuous traits is also supported by scripture. Hebrews 12:5-7, 9-11 say:
“5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
Like children, we do not always enjoy the process of being raised, we may be angry with our parents when they punish us or withhold privileges, but in the end we are better people for it.