"Simply said, there is no more liberating knowledge given us by the gospel — and none in which we should find more comfort — than the knowledge that suffering and death, considered in themselves, have no ultimate meaning at all." In other words, as I put it, the problem of suffering is not as important as we might think it to be, and when Christian theologians treat this problem as something that calls into question the existence of God, they are giving it more importance than it deserves."
Sam adds: "I think that this touches on the radically different foundational assumptions that people bring to the discussion, so it might be worth spending a bit more time on it. Not that I have any expectation of either side convincing the other, but it might help clarify the differences."
My opening question. Is the idea that, if we start with the foundational assumption that there is a good God, then whatever suffering there is - the suffering of thousands of children buried alive in the recent earthquake, for example - is, for some reason, insignificant (or - not the same thing - meaningless)? If so, what is that reason?