“Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Tractatus logico–philosophicus, 6.44.
Jim Holt’s recent book, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story, tackles the question that Martin Heidegger characterized as the greatest in all philosophy—why is there something rather than nothing? To investigate this question Holt consulted many of the world’s foremost thinkers. Here, in brief, are their answers.
The first person Holt visits is the physicist Andrei Linde who thinks the universe was created in a lab by a physicist hacker. (This suggestion should caution all those who assume the designer of the universe was omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent.) Next, he speaks with the philosopher, atheist, an ardent critic of religion Adolf Grunbaum who thinks the very question is misconceived. The idea that the world needs an explanation assumes that without one nothingness would prevail. But why do only deviations from nothingness need explanations? Why can’t somethingness be the natural state? Grunbaum believes that the idea of nothingness as the natural or simplest state came from the theological doctrine of creation ex nihilo—it is a vestige of early Judeo-Christianity and no longer needed. Furthermore, Grunbaum doesn’t believe there is any reason to be astonished by the existence of the world as compared to nothingness. Nothingness wasn’t more likely to be than somethingness, in fact, “What could possibly be more commonplace empirically than that something or other does exist?” (Holt, 69) Grunbaum also balks at the idea that nothingness is a simpler explanation or a more natural state of affairs than its opposite—hence there is no need to explain somethingness.
Next up is the Christian apologist Richard Swinburne who argues that the Christian god is the simplest and the only adequate explanation for the universe. His argument is that the god of traditional theism is infinitely good and concerned about the world unlike other conceptions of gods. (The objections to this line of thinking are self-evident. If they are so good and so concerned, why is there so much evil?) Swinburne argues that evil is necessary for certain goods to be possible, primarily the good of free will. “Now a good parent allows his children to suffer, sometimes for their own good, and sometimes for the good of other children.” (Holt, 102) (You really have to be determined to believe something like this.) Swinburne concludes by arguing that the existence of his invisible god is a brute fact. Still, he claims: “As to why God exists, I can’t answer that question…” (Holt, 106) This is the most humble thing Swinburne says.
David Deutsch is a physicist who rejects any foundation for our existence. Deutsch doesn’t think we’ll ever discover an ultimate explanation for everything, since if we did we wouldn’t know why that was the true explanation—hence the problem of the ultimate explanation is insoluble. As Deutsch puts it “I do not believe that we are now, or ever shall be, close to understanding everything there is.” (Holt, 129)
The Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg has spent much of his life searching for a “theory of everything.” Weinberg believes that a final theory may shed light on why there is anything at all—maybe the laws of nature dictate it—but still we can ask why the laws are that way and not another. He also argues that belief in a god doesn’t help. If you believe God is something very definite—say loving, kind, or jealous—then you must answer why your god is that way and not another. And if you don’t mean something definite by god then why use the word at all? Moreover, Weinberg doesn’t think we know enough about physics to answer these ultimate questions. In the end, he says “we’re faced with a mystery we can’t understand.” (Holt, 155) But he also thinks our search for truth is noble. “The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.” (Holt, 163)
Next Holt talks with the physicist and mathematical Platonist Roger Penrose. Penrose posits that there are three worlds: the physical world, the world consisting of consciousness, and the Platonic world of pure forms. Penrose believes there is a connection between the physical world and our minds, which themselves connect us to the Platonic world via mathematics. “It’s out there, the Platonic world, and we can have access to it. Ultimately, our physical brains are constructed out of material that is itself intimately related to the Platonic world of mathematics.” (Holt, 178) Penrose believes this Platonic world is more real than the physical one, and that our world arose from bits of mathematics, although how it did so is a mystery. But Holt doesn’t believe that mathematics gives rise to life or answers the question he has posed; nor does he believe that logic guarantees the existence of the Platonic world or assures us that reality emanates from that world. And no amount of feeling that mathematics has such powers confirms that it does.
But what of Plato’s idea of the Good? Might it have the creative power to give birth to the world? The philosopher John Leslie believes something like this. Leslie claims there is something rather than nothing because it’s better that there is something. He calls his idea axiarchism, “the view that values rule or explain the natural order. Things are as they are because that is the way they ought to be.”1 Goodness or value create the world from among the infinite number of logical possibilities; the world exists because of a need for goodness. But Leslie is not done: “In my grand vision … what the cosmos consists of is an infinite number of infinite minds, each of which knows absolutely everything that is worth knowing.” (Holt, 200) Leslie claims that our physical universe—and all other logically possible universes—results from the contemplation of just one of those minds.
Naturally, this raises the question of why, from an infinite number of possible universes, one like ours exists, with its apparently arbitrary amount of goodness and badness. Why would an infinite mind conjure up a universe as imperfect as our own? Leslie replies with an analogy. The Louvre has paintings of various quality, not just multiple perfect replicas of the Mona Lisa, and this makes the Louvre a more interesting museum. (I don’t think this analogy works, nor does it justify evil.) But why does goodness give rise to infinite minds in the first place? Why does ought to exist, imply, does exists? Leslie replies: “Goodness is required existence, in a non-trivial sense.” (Holt, 203) The evidence for his view, Leslie claims, is the fact of the existence of the world—an existence which cries out for an explanation. Of course, this argument is circular—goodness creates the world and the evidence for goodness is the existence of the world. (I find Leslie’s philosophy too mystical and speculative, and the idea that goodness explains the world unsatisfying and trivial. Holt appears to agree.)
The last philosopher Holt speaks with is Derek Parfit, one of the giants of contemporary philosophy. Parfit starts by considering that reality could have turned out differently—it could have been like the reality we live in or it could have been a different reality. There are an infinite number of possibilities. Each of these different possibilities Parfit calls a “local” possibility, and the entire ensemble of these possibilities Parfit calls “cosmic” possibilities.2 The cosmic possibilities range from every conceivable reality existing (the all worlds possibility) to no conceivable reality existing (the null hypothesis). In between there are an infinite number of possibilities such as: only good universes exist, only 58 universes exist, only worlds that obey string theory exist, only bad worlds exist, only red worlds exist, etc. Of all these cosmic possibilities at least one of them must obtain. So the question is, which one and why?
Parfit believes the null hypothesis is the simplest and least puzzling since we don’t have to answer the question of why anything came to be. But the existence of our reality contradicts this hypothesis. This leads Parfit to conclude that the all worlds hypothesis is the least arbitrary since with any other hypothesis one has to ask further questions like: why do only good worlds or bad worlds, or worlds that obey string theory exist? As for our own reality, it may be part of the axiarchic or good worlds, or the string theory worlds, or the bad worlds, or some other world. Parfit concludes that the null hypothesis is the simplest, the all worlds hypothesis the fullest, the axiarchic hypothesis the best and so on. Now Parfit wonders if a cosmic possibility obtains because it has a special feature like fullness or simplicity or goodness. Now, what if that feature chooses reality? If it does Parfit calls it a “selector.”
Now if the cosmic possibility that obtained was the 58 worlds or the all red worlds that would appear arbitrary. But if the cosmic possibility that obtained was the fullest, simplest, or best that would suggest that this was not due to chance. Rather the cosmic possibility became reality because it had the feature of fullness, goodness, or whatever. So in such cases, reality had to be one way or another as a matter of logical necessity, and the selector just tips the outcome one way or the other. But which selector? With the null selector already dismissed, Parfit proceeds to excoriate the idea that goodness is the selector: “We may doubt that our world could be even the least good part of the best possible Universe.” (Holt, 228) Parfit concludes that the most likely selector for our reality is that we are among the possible universes that are governed by relatively simple laws.
Of course, this raises the question of whether there is some deeper explanation of why there is one selector rather than another. Is there a meta-selector and a meta-meta-selector ad infinitum? Parfit acknowledges that the ultimate selector would have to be a brute fact—to stop the infinite regress—but that this is better than no explanation at all. But Parfit also believes that the simplest explanatory possibility at the meta-level is that there is no selector! This does not mean there would be nothingness—that would be a special outcome best explained by simplicity as the selector. Rather no selector leads to a mediocre universe with nothing special about it—the way things turned out would be random. “Reality is neither a pristine Nothing nor an all-fecund Everything. It’s a cosmic junk shot.” (Holt, 236)
The final person Holt visits is the novelist John Updike. Updike says “I am part of the party that thinks that the existence of the world is a kind of miracle.” (Holt, 248) Updike says that the ultimate questions are beyond us, as the idea of an internal combustion engine is beyond a dog. But he conveys the feeling that it’s not that bad that we don’t know all the answers. In fact, nothing seems to bother the contented Updike. He ends his conversation with Holt by telling him how out of breath he gets when playing with his grandchildren. The chapter ends thus: “A few months later, Updike was diagnosed with lung cancer. Within a year he was dead.” (Holt, 252)
The final chapter tries to unite this philosophical discussion with the fact of our deaths. Holt admits to dread when thinking of death, and he appears to subscribe to what philosophers call the depravationist theory of death—death is bad because it deprives us life’s good things. But he admits that other philosophers do not find death troubling, and the Buddhists seem to think of the state of near nothingness as the best state one. Holt concludes that the endpoint of our life’s journey seems to be … nothingness. His book ends, not with subtle intellectual ruminations, but with a moving account of witnessing his mother’s final hours.
My mother’s breathing was getting shallower. Her eyes remained closed. She still looked peaceful, although every once in a while she made a little gasping noise.
Then, as I was standing directly over her, still holding her hand, my mother’s eyes opened wide, as if in alarm. It was the first time I had seen them that day. She seemed to be looking at me. She opened her mouth. I saw her tongue twitch two or three times. Was she trying to say something? Within a couple of seconds, her breathing stopped.
I leaned down and whispered that I loved her. Then I went into the hall and said to the nurse, “I think she just died.”
… I had just seen the infinitesimal transition from being to nothingness…
I would like to thank Jim Holt for his wonderful book. As for me, I don’t know why there is something rather than nothing or whether the question even makes sense. What I do know is what Socrates taught me long ago—that I know very little. We just don’t seem to be able to penetrate this deep mystery. But we should keep on trying.
1. From the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.
2. Parfit’s exact words, open to interpretation are: “It will help to distinguish two kinds of possibility. Cosmic possibilities cover everything that ever exists, and are the different ways that the whole of reality might be. Only one such possibility can be actual, or the one that obtains. Local possibilities are the different ways that some part of reality, or local world, might be. If some local world exists, that leaves it open whether other worlds exist.” ~ Derek Parfit, “Why Anything? Why This?” London Review of Books, Vol. 20 No. 2 · 22 January 1998, pages 24-27.
12 thoughts on “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?”
Very interesting essay!
The description of Parfit’s idea reminded me somewhat of an optimization problem. In numerical optimization, one constructs a mathematical model of a complex system such that inputs to the model produce outputs that can be compared to system measurements. After constructing an objective function that compares the outputs of the model to the measurements, the inputs are varied by the optimization algorithm until a minimum in the objective function is obtained (best fit). The goal is to find the “global” minimum of the objective function, which implies that those particular input values represent the optimal solution to the problem. For a very complex model, there may be many local minimums (non-optimal solutions) that the algorithm may get trapped in. It may be difficult or impossible to find the global minimum (the truly optimal solution).
Returning to the description of Parfit’s answer: “There are an infinite number of possibilities. Each of these different possibilities Parfit calls a “local” possibility, and the entire ensemble of these possibilities Parfit calls “cosmic” possibilities. … Now Parfit wonders if a cosmic possibility obtains because it has a special feature like fullness or simplicity or goodness. Now, what if that feature chooses reality? If it does Parfit calls it a “selector.” … Parfit concludes that the most likely selector for our reality is that we are among the possible universes that are governed by relatively simple laws. … But Parfit also believes that the simplest explanatory possibility at the meta-level is that there is no selector! … Rather no selector leads to a mediocre universe with nothing special about it—the way things turned out would be random.”
To make the comparison of Parfit’s answer to an optimization problem, the “model” is a set of “relatively simple laws” of physics that describe a universe, the inputs to the model are all possible initial conditions and constants that could be varied within those laws, features of “goodness, or whatever” are like the measurements in the objective function that are compared to ideal notions of “goodness, or whatever” and the “selector” is like the particular optimization algorithm being used to vary the inputs.
Many of us would think that we are living in a sub-optimal world (i.e., there are a lot of good things but also bad things in our universe). So, maybe Parfit is right that the “selector” made just one random shot at the inputs; or maybe our sub-optimal world is the result of the optimization algorithm getting stuck in a local minimum; or maybe our universe represents one iteration of the algorithm; or maybe there needs to be more complex laws in the model; or maybe there needs to be a better optimization algorithm. [OK, maybe this is pretty goofy!]
Having said all that, I totally agree with John’s final assessment in his concluding paragraph.
Jim – Really appreciate your teaching me something about the optimization problem. And all of the possible solutions you offer in your last paragraph seem reasonable to me. But I also feel that the issues here are just too complex for my brain. All the more reason for augmenting our brains.
The world exists as divinity’s experiment to materialise HShimself.
As the eternal divine is infinite, the world is an infinitely transient tragicomic experiment.
The divine yearns to materialise HShimself constantly rather than staying merely immaterial that is why HShe constantly creates, maintains, destroys and re-creates the world in a permanent impermanence of change.
Sounds like Derek Parfit’s my man.
The only thing I know exists is that I am conscious.
If something exists, then there is at least one set of things that exist.
The simplest possibility is that a single point exists. (What that point is composed of is the ultimate unknowable, per David Deutsch.)
A zero-dimensional point is a field with infinite curvature. Thus, the point interacts with itself geometrically in infinite ways.
We have a symbolic system for representing all possible geometric relationships in all possible dimensions. We call it mathematics.
We already have plenty of examples (explored more fully with modern computers) of simple mathematical systems that lead to complex phenomena. The laws of physics that lead to my consciousness would be one such set of mathematical relationships.
And now we’re back where we started.
The “local minima” in your analogy could represent the various sets of comprehensive laws of physics that are compatible with the emergence of consciousness.
The highest order definition of the multiverse (aka all cosmic possibilities).
Andris takes the analogy of the optimization one step further than I was willing to do: the “divine” that he describes is the “engineer/programmer” behind the scenes that is running the optimization for whatever purpose it was developed for.
One thing is for certain: “tragicomic” is the right adjective. As John’s summary of Steven Weinberg’s answer concluded: “The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.” Good quote.
There is so much speculations with little foundations upon which to speculate.
To start with Martin Heidegger’s cry; “why is there something rather than nothing?” does not make sense contrary to what some of us believe because ‘nothing’ is a state which man has never experienced physically or in thoughts. Nothing is not empty space with quantum fluctuations. It is no space and no time and therefore no quantum fluctuations either, a reality that might have existed at or before the Big Bang and that was it!
We can ask intelligently; why there is life on earth rather than no life, because we understand what life is, and we understand what life is not. But we do not understand what nothing is. Therefore, the question cannot be handled even in theory. I think the closest answer to the real situation is in what the novelist John Updike says “I am part of the party that thinks that the existence of the world is a kind of miracle” and that the ultimate questions are beyond us (in the present time), as the idea of an internal combustion engine is beyond a dog.
If you don’t start with the assumption that there is more you can understand, you’ll never learn.
There was a point in Earth’s history when a dog’s level of intelligence was the highest level of intelligence … yet here we are, understanding internal combustion. How did that happen?
There are most likely many things beyond our current cortex’s ability to process, but we can ask the questions and propose solutions while we work towards improving our processing powers through artificial and augmented intelligences.
Questioning steers improvements in investigation, and those improvements resolve the questions we should ask.
To Len Arends;
I agree with all you say. However, I didn’t mean that we will never know how to come to grips with the mystery of the universe and its beginning. We came to understand quantum and relativity phenomena which are completely different from the everyday phenomena that shaped our minds and we could do the same about ‘nothing’. All I meant was that presently, we are unable to even formulate the question properly let alone answer it.
Okay there’s no way of softening this post it WILL be contentious and I’ll keep it very short. In 1993/4 I headed a team of Roofing Leadworkers laying 140 tonne of sheet lead to the lower roof slopes of the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. Shortly after I ‘woke’, I won’t explain that, and NO it’s not what you think it remains intrinsically unthinkable until you’ve experiencing it for yourself.
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Well this is why God symbolically says ‘I am that I am’ as there is no possible reason for anything it exist from any perspective.
It makes more sense when you’ve experienced God, in that from the infinite perspective, which is not a perspective in itself as it’s not experiential as nothing is manifest in that ‘non state’, no time no space so no possible feedback re-cognition that is essential for consciousness.
It’s the cosmic ‘sleep’ state, infinite potential, yes a un-manifest ON scenario looking like a ’stand by’ situation, NOT an OFF, as the off would have to remain an off as there’s no action in it, to then flip it to an on.
As this ON is not manifest in it’s infinite state then it ONLY SEEMS to be an off, in truth this cosmic ‘ON’ becomes a ‘white out’, via non time and so all existing at the same non time, so it looks from here like an off. Which sees linear time-space beings thinking that it’s nothing, that there was nothing before the Big Bang? Which is incredibly stupid as even small children know that nothing can come from nothing, and so in the purest of truths, when awake, we can say that, ‘As nothing can come from nothing, as we witness something, we know that some thing must have ALWAYS existed’.
Not manifest, but a true eternal state of potential, it’s no thing but NOT nothing.
Post ‘wake’ I can explain the entire cycle of creation…. yes I can…. lol
You think I can’t for one reason only, that you can’t it’s called ego.
However, the infinite is directly UNKNOWABLE, indeed the manifest world is the ONLY way to see it’s reflection, it’s effect.
It’s a bit like electricity really, you can’t see it and NO a spark, lightning etc. is NOT ‘what electricity looks like’ lol That’s just the air burning….
We see or feel only the effect of electricity it’s a force with no substance per se.
I can stand and speak for months explaining the ‘mechanism’ in place that is indeed how ‘God’ is known, this via yes the finite and linear realm, a cyclic mechanism come format or premise to then explore what sentience may be???? Noting here that the formatted premise then becomes the limitation, the beginning, that then beckons the end of the finite realm, this as logic always runs in circuits from Q to A, so the universe does resolve yes, as all logic does. Logic is a CIRCUIT!
However….. the infinite the magic, yes it has no possible root cause as there is no time-space, it’s an un-witnessable constant, an ‘ISNESS’. So we can call it magic, if that makes you uncomfortable we can call it instantaneousness potential. NO ROOT CAUSE, it’s the very definition of magic, (Magic-logic = Infinite-finite, the tree of knowledge (no-ledge) and the tree of life, that we live but you can’t experience the tree of no ledge as there’s no time space and so your mind will explode-implode, which is why when the avatar ‘Adam’, when Shiva joins with his Shakti, the universe reboots BANG! long story… Pos and neg must NOT touch, until it’s time to reboot).
So we come to the ‘I am that I am’….
If there was nothing it would remain nothing, the universe would be in a NULL state, well not even a null state, there would be nothing, all nice and neat, nothing and nothing to ask why?
But it’s not in a Null state, it’s AWAYS ON! Always? No that’s wrong again, time does not pass from that non perspective it’s just a NOW. And so no movement, and so no feed back, and so no RE-cognition…. We, God, exists!!!!!!!!!! Time is secondary, we simply ARE!
And yet outside of time space it, ‘God’ can’t know that, can’t re-cognise that existence.
When it wakes, the conscious aspect of the ALL then forces time-space into being so that the consciousness, that is intrinsically part of the contradicting ALL the finite part. Can then manifest as it HAS to or it simply does not exist, and yet it does exist and so it does manifest it’s that simple. Existence forces manifestation, it’s simplistic I know, children understand it, that if it is not seen, not witnessed in some way then it does in fact exist does it, like the floobarlery….. what is it? I have no idea I have never witnessed one? DO YOU SEE?
Indeed this is why the finite manifests the infinite, yes around a premise/format, the laws of physics that came with and saw the Big Bang cool, the ‘correct conditions’ for life. Seeing the cooling energetic Bang then form particles, elements, solar systems, planets the correct distance from a sun, to then eventually manifest the ‘reflection’ of LIFE that we call, in time space, ‘LIVING’! Life is static the ‘on’, living is the time space version.
LIFE is NOT linear, it’s an eternal force that can only manifest in time-space, via ‘living’ that is also NOT life. Life is just life.
So yes we live and die in time space, time space begins and ends, but we do not..
Crazy? YES YES YES!!!!
There could have been nothing…. but there is ‘God’….. it’s mind blowing only because minds are linear and yes in the Avatar Adam we see that God DOES blow minds over and over, that’s what the big bang is…. It’s the destruction of the linear when it’s done, to allow for it to replay as if it’s new and not knew.
But yes, God is not always manifest anymore than you are always aware of your self, you have to sleep also…
It should be simple to understand if you are a religious nut job, we are made in the image, we sleep, so God sleeps…
Everything runs in endless cycles of birth death and rebirth, from YOU, to plant life, to galaxies…. you look and yet you don’t see it…. YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY IT!!!!!
Why recycle, well don’t tell me that you watch the same movie everyday and eat the same meal?
The finite is FINITE, when it’s done it’s done…. it can’t renew, BUT WE CAN! In God we can FORGET, we seem to die, rest to potential ‘endless time’ that is possible via the TRUTH and yet not liveable via the TRUTH.
The weight of Eternity simply crushes the linear mind, it’s a like a plate you can’t ever clear…
How long would eternal time be? In answer to all the religious regressives who think they are going to an eternal heaven? LOL LOL
Okay so imagine that a grain of sand is equal to a trillion years. Now consider the Sahara desert, what would the value be? A lot but that value would not even put a teeny weeny discernible mark on possible endless time…
Religious regressives, you think you can live that long? Man that is a BIG ego for someone who get’s pissed waiting an extra 3 mins in MacDonald’s for a fillet of fish??? LOL LOL
It’s due to the very linear nature of time, that it can’t be end-less.
Time has to recycle in order to keep up with the eternal if you see what I mean, existence can’t end and but time intrinsically does.
I’ll let you figure it out LOL
No not at all, we are born we live we die, it works fine…. we are already used to it, so what if this small cycle gets a bit bigger and less limited, that heaven is just a higher level of being, not endless but better and only via relative comparison. Fall to rise of he endless cycles, cold winter, eager spring, fill on summer, and melancholy fall.
It’s already normal for us… when you die you just see that it’s bigger I man come on…. this money battle and showing off that spawns horrific atrocities can’t be it can it????
If life is seen as a quest-i-on, the answer is NOT money is it? As we can see via war looming YET AGAIN, yeah war doesn’t work…. Duhhhhhhhhh we are not happy, Duhhhhhhh
It’s too simple, people are complex via denial…
Thanks for your article. A very interesting article and question. I had never really pondered it before. The ‘answer’ by Swinburne is obviously preposterous….. not only this is demonstrated by Mr Messerly’s question, here is another in response to:
“Now a good parent allows his children to suffer, sometimes for their own good, and sometimes for the good of other children.”.
Does the “good parent” allows their children to suffer FOREVER ? And does the “children” ever grows up, or does the “child” always remain a child, continuing to make the same stupid mistakes FOREVER? I mean, how long does it takes the “child” to learn? Two hundred thousand years obviously weren’t enough; how much longer, then, will it take? A million years? Ten millions? Let’s take a basic example, say, murder: people have been murdering each other for a thousand of selfish reasons, whether they are “sane” or not. Why does the “children” still commit murders, even over the most stupid things?
Moreover, why no one hears any utterances by the “parent”? Is this “parent” mute, deaf, blind, and dumb, too?
Well, Mr Swinburne, this “parent” you talk about, in the best of cases, resembles the kind of parent that runs away and is never heard of again, even if I would be the simpleton who assumes he exists: in this case, now you have to convince me that it is a GOOD parent, unless you think a parent that is mute, deaf, blind, etc etc, can be a parent at all: even on this ungodly, mortal plane, he would not be able to, unless a disabled god/ bad parent is better than a mortal good parent? (Well you might go around yourself asking children if they’d prefer the one or the other.)
Lastly, even if we assume this “parent” is there, how do you know that (he, she, it ?) is doing this or that for this or that reason, and how do you know it is “good” ?
It seems preposterous to think of something that gives absolutely no sign of existence, to exist.
I will never understand people who deceive themselves. Indeed, Mr Swinburne’s “theory” might as well been devised by a child.
“Go to your priests, then, and leave us philosophers in peace.”. -Schopenhauer
(Thanks for the article!)
You make a good case for the argument from evil against a benevolent god.