A recent post over at Modern Orthoprax really illuminates the limited thinking of the so-called skeptics and I'd like to comment on that.
The problem of evil in the world is one that has bedevilled thinkers from cultures all around the world for millenia. Jewish thought has not shirked from dealing with this issue and providing answers. Unfortunately, if your agenda before reading these answers is already pre-decided, they're not likely to be of much use to you.
The first, most important answer, is that evil is not a contradiction of the goodness of God. While other cultures dealt with the issue of evil by either inventing a powerful anti-god figure for their theology (the devil in Chrisian mythos, for example), others dealt with it by creating a dual system of gods, one good, one evil (the Zoroastrians, for example). Judaism, with its strict undertstanding of the allmighty nature and total unity of God, could not accept either of these approaches.
Even within Jewish though there have been different approaches. Closet non-believers have advance the theory of God not really being that omnipotent. This approach is interesting but completely at odds with what little understanding we have of God. It also has the disadvantage of making no sense. God can create the entire universe but He can't stop a child from getting cancer, chalilah.
Other, more intelligent and faithful religious thinker have attacked the issue as well and come up with answers that do not a priori require one to refute fundamental Jewish principles. This post isn't the place to review their persuasive arguments but rather I would like to note that this issue has been dealt with seriously by committed Jewish leaders who are sincerely bothered by the idea of evil and need to understand its role in Creation.
All this is lost on some folks who can take all the effort made by these great men and dismiss it in a sentence or two. Naturally they don't see that this casual dismissal reflects more on their stupid self-centred arrogance than on the works they are disparaging.
But beyond that, once in a while they themselves will admit their limited logic.
In response to XHG's idea that cancer is evil because it kills little children, I noted that cancer itself isn't actually evil. It's a disease with no ulterior or malicious motives. It kills because that's what cancer does. To which his response was: You're right. Cancer's not evil. God is.
Now consider how stupid that statement is. Here's the bottom line of XGH's thinking:
This child has cancer. That's evil. God gave it to her, therefore He is evil.
I have good health. That's good. But there's nothing deeper to it than that. God doesn't give me good health. Therefore I don't have to consider God good.
From the book of Iyov Chazal learn that we have to bless God for both the good (hatov vehametiv) and the bad (dayan haemes). But why bless him for the bad? One could easily acknowledge God's role in even the bad things in our lives by a different formula: Dear God, please take this badness you allowed to afflict me away! Why davka bless Him for it?
From our limited perspective, we too often ignore that which is good and right in our lives and focus only on that which discomfits us. Did you wake up healthy this morning? Big deal, matter of routine, it's coming to me really. Did I get a bad headache and have to miss that family party this afternoon? Dammit, why did God allow this to happen?
What we perceive as good and evil are our perceptions. That's legitimate since it's all we have to work with, but we still have to take a step back and realize that those perceptions are limited to our temporal, mortal conceptions of reality. The big picture, the grand unifying scheme that God runs the universe with is beyond us. What we perceive as evil is only so because we don't see that bigger scheme. So we recognize it, rail against it but at the same time recognize it is as much from God as what we perceive as good. And just as we must always be aware of the presence of God when something goes wrong, we must also be aware when things go right. In truth there is no meaningless normal routine to the day.
Except for skeptics who want only the good because, well the definition of "God is good" equals "God gives me everything I ask for without expecting anything back because that's what I think is 'good'". And if God says no, well that's just wrong.