In our world, suffering and injustice are so universal that no sentient being can completely escape their wrath. Moreover, a disturbing truth is that it is often the kindest and most benevolent among us who experience the most intense and cruelest suffering. It is no wonder that the countless tragedies throughout history have lead many of us to ask the question: WHY?
Of course, asking "why" presupposes that the universe was designed, which is a proposition that cannot be taken for granted. It is entirely possible that our world was not a product of design, and thus there would be no answer to the question, "Why does suffering exist?" If this is the case, then suffering and injustice would simply be conditions that exist naturally.
However, this book also considers the alternative that the universe is, in fact, a product of design, which also raises a number of troubling possibilities. If our world was designed, are the horrific tragedies an accident or the outcome of the architect's intentions? Therefore, would it be an inescapable conclusion that a designer of the universe should be considered either incompetent, malicious, or perhaps both?
At this point, the book presents a thought experiment which explores another alternative. What if there were a hidden purpose for the dreadful and sickening conditions of the world? Furthermore, what if the hidden purpose could explain how the universe could have a skillful and benevolent architect in spite of the countless tragedies that have occurred throughout history?
The possible hidden purpose proposed by the thought experiment should be especially intriguing to those who share Spinoza's concept of existence (which, by the way, includes one of the greatest thinkers in history, Albert Einstein): that all of existence is a single substance and that there is an underlying unity to all of reality.