Idea: The Bible has no solution to the Problem of Evil (and that’s a good thing).
I claim God’s speech in the Book of Job — the one about it being impossible for humans to understand God — is a critique of Job’s friends. They thought they had God figured out: God must be punishing Job for his sins! But God’s conclusion is that Job’s friends were wrong, and Job hadn’t said anything wrong about God1 (in spite of all his challenging and complaining).
I also claim people misunderstand Jesus’s “solution” to the problem of evil. Here’s how I think John 9:3-4 should be translated:
Neither this man nor his parents sinned. But we must do God’s work in daylight if that work is going to be visible/seen. Night is coming when no one can work.2
Instead of offering glib answers to the problem, then, the Bible (1) praises a guy who complains about it, (2) tells people who think they’ve got God figure out that they’re wrong, and (2) tells everyone to get to work helping instead of speculating.
1. So, while God is “answering” Job (starting in chapter 38), I think God is actually criticizing Job’s friends. And when Job responds, I think he is responding on behalf of his friends (standing in for them, as God will later say he should do) in a kind of priestly role.
2. If you want to see the Greek, click here. The idea of working in the light so that the work can be seen also appears in John 3:21 (NRSV), which says, “those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”