Frank Turek presents a response to the Problem of Evil that attempts to turn the issue around, and make it an argument against atheism rather than an argument against God. As you know, the Problem of Evil (POE) argues that the existence of evil in our world is logically inconsistent with the properties of omniscience, omnipotence, and omni-benevolence that are usually attributed to God. Therefore God (if he exists) cannot have all three of those attributes, given the existence of evil. The POE does not prove the non-existence of God, but it does present a strong logical argument that God cannot be what most Christians claim he is. Most atheists find this argument quite compelling. Theists, on the other hand, tend to explain away evil as something that God has no control over, not because he isn't omnipotent, but for other reasons that typically involve the free will of man. I don't think Plantinga or any other religious philosopher has made a rebuttal th the argument that truly addresses the issue in a satisfying way. That's why it is generally considered to be one of the most formidable arguments against God. And that's why some theists, like Turek, prefer to duck the problem altogether.
Turek's approach is to claim that the very existence of evil is proof, in its own right, that God exists. This is a line of reasoning that I've heard before, but to him, it seems like a novel approach to the problem, and has the added advantage of turning the tables against atheists by using their strongest argument against them. The idea is that evil is a privation of good, and as such, it can't exist without good. But since good is a manifestation of God’s nature, then neither good nor evil could exist without God. As Turek puts it:
there can be no objective good unless God’s objectively Good nature exists - TurekBut this thinking is both circular and rather shallow, as I will explain. Turek doesn't present his argument in the form of a syllogism, but I think I can do that for him:
1 God's nature is good.It is plain to see that Turek presupposes God in his argument. By defining God and good in this manner, he makes them mutually dependent. Since God's nature is 'Good', God doesn't exist without good, and good doesn't exist without God. He never asks the question Could good exist without God? If that were the case, then it would be possible for evil to exist without God. But since Turek doesn't allow for that possibility, he is begging the question. He has essentially defined God into existence by equating God with good.
2 Good does not exist without God.
3 Evil does not exist without good.
4 If evil exists, then good exists
5 Evil exists.
6 Therefore, good exists.
7 Therefore, God exists.
But this raises the question What do we really mean by 'good' and 'evil'? If Turek expects that everyone will agree to his definitions that presuppose God, he is mistaken. Obviously, when an atheist presents his POE, he does not intend to presuppose the existence of God. He must have something else in mind. And that is in fact the case. First, I think it's important to distinguish between 'evil' and 'bad', because that is the source of much equivocation.
The IEP article on the POE introduces the problem by posing the question "If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly good, why does he let so many bad things happen?" This question doesn't use the word 'evil'. We usually think of good and bad as being contrasting measures. They are value judgments that we regard as attributes of something. (As in I had a good meal, or He is a bad actor.) They are entirely subjective. Good is what we like, and bad is what we don't like. If we like something, we attach the attribute of goodness to it. Good and bad aren't objects that exist in their own right. And they are relative to each other, like hot and cold. Something that is less good is bad by comparison, and there is no distinct dividing line between them.
The word 'evil' is often used as a synonym for bad, as we see in the IEP article. It's talking about the existence of bad things, but the argument is labeled the "Problem of Evil". But the word 'evil' carries additional baggage, because it is associated with morality. Something can be called bad without being called evil, which would typically imply an immoral or wicked intent.
If we associate evil with morality, then we can say that it is entirely possible for the world to exist without any evil in it. Before the evolution of man, there were only animals, who are presumably devoid of morality. Therefore, there was no evil in the world until there was man. And this comports with Plantinga's explanation of the existence of evil as being the product of man's free will. But before man, there was plenty of pain and suffering. And you can say that's bad, but it is more difficult to make the case that it's evil, if no moral actor is involved.
Regardless of any value judgment we might make about the existence of pain and suffering, whether we think it's good or bad, it is objectively true that pain and suffering exist, and there is nothing in these terms that presupposes the existence of God. For that reason, I prefer to avoid the issue of linking evil to God's existence by couching the argument in terms of 'pain and suffering' instead of 'evil'. If the POE is restated as the Problem Of Suffering (or POS), it loses none of its strength or validity, but it gains from depriving theists of their ability evade the issue at the heart of the argument by making question-begging claims like "evil disproves atheism!" It isn't so easy for them to claim that there can be no pain and suffering without God.
Aside from the fact that I would never accept Turek's question-begging argument that is based on a blatantly theistic presumption, the fact still remains that he hasn't answered the argument posed in the POE. He has merely evaded the question. And if we consider the issue as the POS rather than the POE, it becomes clear that even Plantinga, whose Free Will Defense is also dependent on a definition of evil in terms of human morality, completely fails to answer the existence of God's omni- qualities in light of the existence of pain and suffering. And the same can be said of other rebuttals of the POE. I can say that I have never heard a satisfactory rebuttal to it.
Turek thinks he has an easy defeater for the POE, but his answer is not even a rebuttal. It is rather vapid. It completely avoids the problem. And it certainly doesn't disprove atheism.