We know that a bad experience can sometimes make us stronger. We can learn, be enriched, through suffering. For example, people who have suffered a terrible disease sometimes say they gained greatly from it. Similarly, by causing us pain and suffering, God allows us to grow and develop both morally and spiritually. It is only through our experiencing this suffering that we can ultimately become the noble souls God wants us to be. The suffering is for our benefit!
I don't find this remotely plausible. Here's an analogy.
The secretive headmaster
Suppose you come across a school. You observe that it has a strange regime. The teachers horribly flog some children within an inch of their lives for no reason whatever. Others receive fantastic rewards, again for no reason all. The headmaster knows everything that’s going on in the school. He knows that many children leave physically and psychologically crippled. And he is in complete control.
What sort of headmaster runs this school, do you think…?
Is he a highly benevolent person with the best interests of his pupils at heart?
Surely not. Pretty obviously, this sort of regime is more likely to break the pupils’ characters them build them! We would no doubt consider someone who maintained the headmaster was not only all-powerful but exceptionally benevolent to have a screw loose.
But then, given the random way in which pain and suffering and rewards are distributed, why suppose that the world is run by an all-knowing, supremely benevolent headmaster? Isn't it very obvious indeed that it's not?
The evidential problem of evil
I also want to remind commentators on preceding posts that the problem of evil I use to argue against theism is the evidential problem, not the logical problem.
The logical problem is that of explaining why an all-good and powerful god would permit any evil. Surely any evil, and the existence of such a God, are logically incompatible?
This problem can easily be dealt with by noting that some evil might be the price paid for a greater good. When theists try to deal with the "problem of evil" they often try to deal with this one, i.e. the comparatively easy one. Then they think they've "solved" the "problem of evil".
The evidential problem, by contrast, points to the sheer quantity of suffering and moral depravity in the world.
Why, for example, would he unleash literally unimaginable quantities of suffering on sentient beings over many hundreds of millions of years? (he was "building character!"). Indeed, he has repeatedly wiped much of the life from the face of the earth in mass extinction events, the second to last of which wiped out 95% of all species.
Maybe all-good and powerful god would allow some suffering for a greater good, but this much? No. It's surely ridiculous to suppose that every last ounce of this enormous amount of suffering can be accounted for by supposing it's for the sake of a greater good.
If you disagree - do explain!
I'll now be incommunicado for a week but will respond when I return.