Earlier today I skimmed through the 1974 book Philosophy of Religion by Norman Geisler, one of my former profs when I was doing doctoral work in theology back in the 1980s.  The problem of God and calamity is the physical problem of evil.  In short form, it is the question of how an ominpotent and loving God would allow physical calamities like hurricanes, tornados, disease, etc., to cause hurt and death.  This form of complaint against Christian theism is raised at many different points with calamities being only one of them.

Geisler gives an overview of his theistic solution to physical evil in the following way:

“In summation, there are many different functions served by physical evil.  But all physical evil is necessary to  the moral conditions of free creatures (human or angelic), which conditions are necessary for the achievement of the best possible world.  Natural evils are necessary to a natural world and a natural world is essential to (or, at least not incompatible with) the conditions of full freedom that are necessary for the achievement of the best possible world.” (p. 395)

The crux of his His argument seems to be that physical evil is required for true moral, individual freedom to exist.  Otherwise, we will never get to the best possible world.  To say it another way, it may be that Geisler views it as impossible to get from the anti-theist version of the world (no evil) to the best possible world.   Ultimately, in my mind it goes back to whether God has the right to pronounce a curse upon the world at the Fall of Adam and Eve.  The curse allows for the physical calamities.  If there is a higher good obtained — and the Bible seems to say this is true (e.g., Rev. 21-22) — one can state a “holy” purpose for the curse and begin to craft an answer.  Such an answer will not likely be accepted by atheists who reject the notion of a curse altogether.