The so-called problem of evil is probably the most popular objection to theism generally, and Christian theism in particular. The problem of evil is customarily subdivided into the logical problem of evil and the evidential problem of evil.
However, I’d like to redirect the discussion to the fictive problem of evil. By the fictive problem of evil I mean depictions of evil in fiction, such as films, plays, short stories, TV shows, and novels.
Unlike the real world, a novelist, screenwriter, or director has complete control over what happens in the fictive world he creates. Nothing happens that he doesn’t intend to happen. If he doesn’t want something to happen in his fictive world, he can prevent that event by not including it in the plot.
Yet very few moviemakers or novelists choose to make a perfect world. It lies within their power to completely eradicate evil from their fictive universe, to preempt the appearance of evil, yet the utopian genre is pretty rare.
Indeed, even most fictional utopias are disguised dystopias. For instance, a favorite theme in the SF genre is the futuristic utopia of social engineers. Only there’s a catch. In their efforts to make a better world, to eliminate what’s wrong with the world, they also eliminate certain things which make life worthwhile. They create a bland, predictable, antiseptic world. A world that’s too safe, too painless, to be satisfying. A world with tradeoffs, where the cost of a physically and emotionally risk-free existence is a boring existence. Emotionally repressed. Stultified.
For the moment part, moviemakers and novelists richly furnish their fictive worlds with a wide variety of evils. Indeed, they often focus on the sordid features of life. Or horrendous evil.
But even when they don’t accentuate extreme depravity or suffering, they may focus on all the little irritants and disappointments that characterize life in a fallen world. The minor daily frustrations. Indeed, that’s the stuff of comedy. Barking dogs. The obnoxious boss. Traffic jams. Meter maids. Officious in-laws. Petty bureaucrats. And so on and so forth.
So while philosophers and militant atheists gleefully catalogue, and duly deplore, the evils of a fallen world, creative artists are strikingly disinclined to improve on the world set before them. Apparently, an ideal existence is not their ideal.