From a letter in this morning's Christchurch Press (referring both to the trauma of the quake and to a national memorial service which will take place in Christchurch tomorrow):
' ... may remember whom they please in the quake service and perversely praise the omnipotent author of our troubles if they think it appropriate. But I'm with Epicurus. He said, "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
'Praising the purportedly loving Judaic God at a time like this is akin to thanking a rapist for leaving a victim beaten and in a coma rather than extinguishing their lives completely.'
Here is one response. There is a genuine puzzle about suffering. Epicurus neatly describes the puzzle and does so in a way which points to a solution: there is no omnipotent, benevolent God. There is at least one other solution which, as I understand it, is found in the Book of Job: the omnipotent, benevolent God exists in such a manner as to be only partially examinable through human wisdom. If we think we know God, or know that this God does not exist, then we do not know God whose purposes are beyond our comprehension. In the face of evil this God invites us to trust him, not to dismiss him.
But that is a tough call. If it is touch for a resident of Christchurch, it is even tougher for residents of north-eastern Japan.