One of the central arguments that materialistic atheism offers against the Christian faith is that the reality and universality of suffering is inconsistent with the doctrine that we were created by, and are loved by, a gracious heavenly Father. If we intend to do our job in training our students to be able to defend their faith as they go out into the world, it seems to me that we ought not to begin by granting the foundational premise of unbelief.
Believe me, the pressing reality of natural evil is a major argument that the atheists use, and the theistic evolutionists will have to do a lot better than they have done thus far in mounting a reply.
If evolution was God’s means of creating, then this means that pain, struggle, suffering, agony, and torment were His means of creation, and He pronounced all of it “good.”
There are two kinds of evil that we have to consider — natural evil and moral evil. While moral evil is more horrendous, it is a little easier to handle because we are doing so much of it to ourselves. We can handle that another time. But natural evil is a different thing altogether, and on the theistic evolutionary account natural evil cannot be considered evil at all.
Here we have to posit millions of years of death-dealing events — volcanoes, floods, tar pits, and so on — without anybody having done anything wrong such that it would bring this state of affairs about. This is just how God likes to do things.
This means that the pain and suffering of sentient animals has to be simply dismissed with a wave of the hand. It is no longer the problem of evil, but rather “evil? no problem!”