We’ve all seen this famous optical illusion, only it isn’t really an illusion. Optical Illusions are “visually perceived objects and images that differ from reality.” In this case both the vase and the faces are real. Neither exists without the other. Seeing just one aspect is a matter of perspective, not an intrinsic property of the image.
Free will and human suffering are also inseparable realities, or so contend theologian Dinah D’sousa and philosopher Alvin Plantinga in the book Godforsaken:
To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, he (God) must create creatures capable of moral evil, and he cannot leave these creatures freeto perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. God did in fact create significantly free creatures; but some of them went wrong in the exercise of their freedom: this is the source of moral evil. – Plantinga
Moral evil is not the only vehicle of suffering, but it is clearly one of the main forms of human suffering in the world. God permits such suffering because it is a worthwhile price to pay for a world in which there are conscious, rational, and free creatures called humans. – D’sousa
If free will is the white vase in the image above, moral evil is the surrounding darkness unavoidably created by its presence. Our ability to choose love and obedience comes with the possibility of apathy and rebellion, along with their consequences: pain and suffering.
The logic is sound but I stumble over it. I’m often overwhelmed by the engulfing evil and wish God would have made another kind of moral universe.
Whether he could or couldn’t have is irrelevant—he didn’t. This is the world in which I find myself and I need to focus more on the light.
Some days that’s very difficult.