"...the problem of pain and suffering is often pointed out by atheism as being inconsistent w/ a loving, merciful god so therefore God must not exist. Evolution is often touted as a process by which things change "from a lower, simpler or worst to a higher, more complex, or better state" (via Webster's dictionary).
I would take the position that things are better, that society, and civilization has gotten better. We have not attained perfection, by any means but things are better. the simple fact we can have an intellectual discussion on this very subject with fear of the inquisition or being charged with treason evidences that."
But my own thought was that this question conflates concepts that are commonly mixed up.
1. The dictionary of "evolution" is not the same as the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection. Too few people understand what that is, and tend to argue against it in ignorance.
2. We, as individuals and members of our culture, have a completely different concept of "better" than nature does. Survival of the "fittest" doesn't correlate to "nicest", and "good enough" usually trumps "perfect" in the real world.
The first point drives most of the discussion between any creationist(s) and "adherents of evolution" and it betrays a fatal flaw in our education system. Few of the people who believe in a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation story have any idea what the Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection actually is, what it says, or how it has changed since Charles Darwin first suggested it. That becomes apparent when a creationist asks a question about evolution, and frames it the way Steve has here.
This isn't an attack on Steve. It's just important that everyone understand why the question isn't very useful. There are simply too many logical fallacies embedded in a question like that. Brian Dunning did a much better job of explaining them, and how they work, in his recent podcast on "That Darned Science". The main one that applies here is Dunning's reply to "Dezi" on scepticism being a "negative" of everything.
The truth is, there is no "atheism" which "says" anything. There is no atheist dogma. An atheist simply believes that there is no god, and may or may not accept any number of other ideas depending on their other beliefs. But there are millions of atheists who get tired of being told that without a god there can be no joy or morality - because we tend to see ourselves as still being good and moral, strangely enough - and they frequently use arguments like the one Steve cites to show the faithful that they don't have a lock on the definition of "evil" - which is the focus of the second point.
The argument itself is not an "atheist" argument; Christian philosophers have been grappling with it for as long as there have been Christian philosophers. From Wikipedia: "An argument from evil attempts to show that the co-existence of evil and such a deity is unlikely or impossible, and attempts to show the contrary have been traditionally known as theodicies." Some Christians even have a pretty good handle on Evolution, and write about how they can be a good Christian and still accept what the scientific method and more than a century of evidence are telling us.
So, with all of that set-up, I hope it is understood that:
a) I'm not going to lecture Steve (or anyone else) on the Theory of Evolution. There are so many good, reliable, existing resources for learning about it already - go find them. (You can start by Googling "Jerry Coyne" and look for his YouTube video.)
b) David's answer is one "correct" answer, in that he took the question at face value and applied a different yardstick to how Steve measures "better". I put "correct" in scare quotes because that answer is really a subjective opinion, and there's no way to "prove" that it's any more valid that the perspective of those in the thread who see evil in those around them.
c) If you're really interested in understanding evil and God, then you should probably read up on "theodicies," linked above.
As for MY answer - which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what other atheists may say or believe - I see evolution happening everywhere, and our species has reached a point where we have developed a certain set of skills and traits that we call "intelligence." We are social primates who have developed self-awareness and independence. We have a lot of conflicting impulses, and we have lots of tools for dealing with them.
The concept of "evil" doesn't really factor into my understanding of evolution, except to say that sometimes I see examples where being "evil" is an advantage, and other times where it isn't. Since my own definition of evil has more to do with an individual's intentions, most definitions of evil are based on an individual's point of view, and since individuals are unpredictable and ever-changing (or evolving) creatures, I don't think it's ever likely to "evolve" away.
That's not to say that I won't continue to try to be good, with or without a god in the equation. It's just that the existence of "evil" doesn't prove anything one way or the other.