Thursday

My brother - Dr Brett Tindall


(Photo includes wooden urn which held my brother's remains. Scattered at his favourite tree in a western NSW town. The statue of David was bought by him for my mother one Mother's Day. I was there when he bought it in the Sydney suburb of Campsie.)

From http://www.lawfoundation.net.au/ljf/app/&id=A9A2709F7FBEB3F9CA2571A90016578E

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Management of the HIV Infected Patient - Decication to Brett Tindall

Date: 01 July 1994

Author: The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, President, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of NSW (1984 - 1996)

...

For some reason which I have never discovered, Brett Tindall has always been known to his friends as Badger. Mind you, I can see some similarities between that remarkable creature and the hero to whom this book is dedicated. The similarities derive from the fact that each traces their origins to the Northern Hemisphere. Each is a small but powerful animal. The habits of each are generally nocturnal. Above all, each retains its hold upon the object of its attention with a terrible tenacity.

Brett Tindall was born in Sydney in 1961. At the time of this publication he is therefore 33 years of age. But what an amazing life he has packed into those years. He took his first degree at the Cumberland College of Health Sciences. He spent four years as an undergraduate medical student at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. He did not complete his primary medical degree. I suspect that it was because something more important came along. The AIDS epidemic. He worked for a time in various para-medical capacities - as a tutor in nursing studies at the Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education and as a speech pathologist in Sydney.

But by the mid-1980s, he was in the midst of the scientific response in Australia to the AIDS epidemic. He began as a research assistant in the Centre for Immunology at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney in 1985. In 1987 he was promoted to scientific officer. When the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research was established he was appointed a research assistant to Dr (now Professor) David Cooper. In due course he was appointed Senior Project Scientist and for a time acted as Manager of the Administration of the Centre. His busy life as a research scientist did not detract from his Badger-like activities in national and international programmes addressed to the scientific and community responses to HIV/AIDS. He served as a committee member of the AIDS Council of New South Wales. It was the high opinion in which he was held by his professorial colleagues, and his own outstanding contributions to national and international conferences, that caught the attention of the World Health Organisation in 1988. Dr Jonathan Mann, the charismatic Director of the Global Programme on AIDS utilised Brett Tindall repeatedly in WHO meetings concerned with the prevention of the transmission and the reduction of discrimination once transmission is established. Amongst the more important WHO appointments were those in 1991 and 1992 as consultant to various governments in the Western Pacific region to assist in the establishment of an effective HIV surveillance and policy. Brett Tindall did not just talk about Australia's relationship with its geographical region. He did something about it. According to those who know him best, a critical moment occurred in Brett Tindall's life when he discovered when he was himself infected with HIV. The usual, one might say human, response to that discovery would be rejection, denial and despair:

"Close up the casement, draw the blind, Shut out that stealing moon, She wears too much the guise she wore Before our lutes were strewn With years-deep dust, and names we read On a white stone were hewn."1

But this was not the response of a Badger. Brett Tindall's discovery coincided with the visit to Australia of Dr Robert Gallo, a famed scientist, now controversially associated with Luc Montagnier, in the identification of HIV. In a small workshop which Brett Tindall attended, Gallo was asked what he would do if he found that he was infected. One scientist who knew of Brett Tindall's late discovery of his own condition allowed his eyes to wander to the Badger as Gallo gave his answer. "I would spend the rest of my life trying to find a cure". Brett Tindall had his mission.

"'O where are you going?' said reader to rider 'That valley is fatal when furnaces burn, Yonder's the midden whose odours will madden, That gap is the grave where the tall return.' 'O what was that bird,' said horror to hearer, 'Did you see that shape in the twisted trees? Behind you swiftly the figure comes softly, The spot on your skin is a shocking disease.'"2

Brett Tindall has not discovered the cure for HIV/AIDS. Some sceptics say a cure will never be found. But he did concentrate his considerable intellect upon the task. His research, shown by his publication list, is phenomenal. And its central focus has been upon the process of sero-conversion and the body's responses to the entry of the AIDS virus into its midst. If the differential impact of the virus and of the available, rudimentary modes of treatment could be examined, out of the variations might spring ideas for the cure. They may not present a silver bullet cure. But they may point the way to the control of the infection and a scientific response to it which will save lives, reduce pain and prolong the quality of life of those living with HIV/AIDS.

I first met Brett Tindall at the IIIrd International Conference on AIDS in Washington in June 1987. He was, by then, two years into his mission. He was publishing furiously, usually with other heroes of the Australian scientific work on HIV/AIDS. Ron Penny. David Cooper. Basil Donovan et alios. The Australian contingent in Washington stole away from the rest. We took an early dinner in a sidewalk cafe in the summer light. Ita Buttrose, who was then (as she still is) communicating understanding to middle Australia presided at this feast. By chance I sat next to Brett Tindall. So began a friendship which endures. I recall how he talked of his work and how it was the sense of urgency that he projected that was infectious. If only that infection would overtake the other. My service on the WHO Global Commission on AIDS threw me into contact with Brett Tindall at the Stockholm IVth International Conference in June 1988 and at the Montreal Vth International Conference in June 1989. But then I drifted away from AIDS whilst Brett Tindall, true to his Badger instincts, continued to work at the burning furnaces. In recognition of his original scientific work, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of New South Wales admitted him to an MSc programme. The University awarded him that degree for a thesis on "Factors Associated with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and the Development of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome". In 1993 the same University conferred upon him its Doctorate of Philosophy. And still the co-authored papers were produced addressed to the detailed scientific data and targeted upon the process of sero-conversion. At the beginning of 1994 Brett Tindall went to Spain to attend the wedding of a friend. By chance again, I was there. But this time we did not meet. He returned to Sydney, struggling with illness. But he was ever determined and resourceful.

Brett Tindall's life has become a series of goals. He has not given up. He is an inspiration to friends and colleagues alike. And his work points the way to the ongoing struggle against HIV/AIDS. It is a copybook example of the lesson which one of his mentors, Dr June Osborn constantly taught. Good strategies - scientific and social - in response to HIV/AIDS must be based upon vigilantly observed and scrupulously recorded scientific data. Not out of myth and prejudice but out of truth will come the effective responses to this horrible and unexpected challenge to human health. When I think of Brett Tindall. I think of his fierce determination, his sense of urgency, his prodigious industry and his happy mixture of attention to the scientific and social features of HIV/AIDS. He is an example and a model for all of us. He teaches lessons about the indomitable human spirit. When HIV/AIDS is finally tamed, Brett Tindall will have an honoured place amongst the heroes.

"Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields See how those names are fĂȘted by the waving grass, The names of those who in their lives fought for life, Who wore at their hearts the fire's centre Borne of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun And left the vivid air signed with their honour."3

MICHAEL KIRBY

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From my Brother Brett's letter read at his funeral.

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I am, I presume dead. I have died as a result of a disease that has brought a great deal of pain and suffering into my life, my friend's lives, and humanity in general. Although not at all welcome, my demise is at least a relief from the physical aspect of that pain.

Rest assured that I absolutely do not hold out for the hope of heaven; nor do I fear the reality of hell.

This is, unfortunately the end of a journey that has been filled with many adventures, great friends, fabulous shared times and not nearly enough french champagne. The best part of my life has been meeting all of you who have gathered here. I only wish I was here with you today to see you all collected en masse (what a group you must make!) My many joys in life have rarely been solitary - they have generally involved one or more of you. My special love to you all.

What else can I say? I know that bits of me will live on in each of you as part of your memories of our wonderful shared experiences. I shall miss you all deeply. Take care of each other in this period of pain.

~ When Buddha was approaching his death his disciples gathered around him begging for some inspired words of solace that would help them in coping with their upcoming loss. As my parting words, I offer you his reply: "Things Change".

Brett

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My brother Brett LOVED French Champaigne. He would never let me order from the wine list whenever we went out. He knew I had no proper taste for such things. I do not believe that my brother is burning in Hell by our "loving God" as we speak because he didn't invite Jesus into his heart. He did much to help so many people in his short life.

Wednesday

Somewhere over the rainbow pigs might fly


Somewhere over the rainbow, pigs might fly. If pigs fly over the rainbow, why then oh why can't I? Some day I'll wish upon a sty and wake up where the pigs fly far behind me. Where doubts go melt like piglet drops way upon the carrot tops. That's where you'll find me.

Were it all so bloody simple!


This is why I invented Mark 17: 1-3 "All things are probable. Try to believe. Really! Try to believe even if it's bloody stupid and irrational. Why? Because I said so, that's why! Don't ask questions. Just believe." .... my personal addition to Mark's gospel following the tradition of making up an ending to it. It is therefore from the MT Version. ;-)

You have a mind to use. Use it. Using it means that you MUST question.


"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates (Apology 38a)

Saturday

BOOKS & JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY & ISLAM


A way to test the vaidity of a religion. What would happen if their valued texts had never been written? Suppose the Torah, New Testament and Koran were not in existence. How would these religions know about their God?


If the Torah had never been written one would never know about Moses. One could however know God / Yahweh without the Torah in the same manner that Abraham knew God without any text or book.


If the Koran had never been written one would never know about Mohammed. One could however know God / Al-Lah from his creation in a similar way to Abraham.


If the New Testament had never been written one would never know about Jesus. As Christians worship Jesus as God then one could never get to know this God. You can't know Jesus as God without a New Testament.

It each of the above religions the texts point to God. In each of the religions fundamentalists have interpreted the texts wrongly and made their intepretation of the texts absolutes.

Tuesday

CRITIQUE - Allah: A Christian Response by Miroslav Volf


Do Christians who worship Yahweh alone as God (as directed by Jesus) really worship Al-Lah? Yes.


Do Christians who worship Jesus as God really worship Al-lah? The answer is plainly no. My comments in *[ ...]


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-192707-2 Allah: A Christian Response Miroslav Volf, HarperOne, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-192707-2


... is the God of the Qur'an the same as the God of the Bible? *[ Only Yahweh and not Jesus] ... the object of worship for both religions is the same (or at least the objects are "sufficiently similar"). *[ Incorrect. Many Christians worship Jesus as God. Jesus is a human and Al-Lah is not a human.] ... the comparison of the Christian Trinity to Allah. *[ Al-Lah like Yahweh is ONE God and not three gods.]


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From the Koran 2:61 Believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabaens - whoever belives in Allah *[YAHWEH NOT JESUS] and the last day and does what is right - shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear.


For most Christians to worship Al-Lah one would have to prove that Jesus is really Al-Lah. Moselms would disagree as they do not view Jesus as God but as a prophet of Al-lah. Moslems do not believe in a trinity.


"Oh People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion, nor say of God anything but the truth. Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, was (no more than) a messenger of God, and His Word which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him. So believe in God and His messengers. Say not, 'Trinity.' Desist! It will be better for you, for God is One God, Glory be to Him! (Far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is God as a Disposer of affairs" (4:171).


"The Jews call 'Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the son of God. That is but a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. God's curse be on them; how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary. Yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him! (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)" (9:30-31).


Monday

DEFINITIVELY ANSWERING Philip Yancey "Church: Why Bother?"


All references from Philip Yancey "Church: Why Bother?" (Zondervan:1998)

"A religion of externals is easy to cast aside." p.19 Christianity is such a religion so I easily cast it aside. You are fed lies continually and have to do all sorts of mental gymnastics in order to remain within the fold.

"They talked about Grace but lived the law: they spoke of love but showed signs of hate." p.19 There are a handful of decent people in Christianity but they are very few and the vast majority live the law and exhibit hatred. The biggest form of hatred is towards other Christians who they deem "not true Christians" and "heretics". They are the Christians working for change within Christianity to reform it. (I think it is a lost cause to do so.) The next biggest form of hatred is towards homosexuals and Moslems. Without those three groups they wouldn't have anything else to gossip about at "fellowship" after church.

"Christianity kept me from church."p. 19 Christians drove me from Christianity.

"Far fewer people attend church on Sunday that claim to follow Christ: some of them have stories similar to mine: they feel burned or even betrayed by a former church experience. Others simply 'get nothing out of church''." p. 20 I was held own and assaulted by a pastor and elder as a church member thug repeatedly punched me in the face. My crime? I dared to ask for an apology because they had stated that AIDS was made by the World Health Organisation and my brother was Australia's W.H.O. representative, a world-famous AIDS researcher and dying from AIDS at the time. What Christian love! I have been the victim of repeated fundamentalist abusive speech since I joined Christianity in 1972 beginning with being told, as a rock musician, that rock music was of the Devil and that I was demon possessed because I liked it. I haven't had one week without abuse by a fundamentalist Christian since that date. My treatment at the hands of Christians is a contributing factor to my Post Traumatic Stress disorder. Selah - pause and think about it. After my first brush with death in 1980 I began to get less and less interested in church. Church is extremely boring. You sing "Jesus is my boyfriend" Jesus jingles, get lectured to in a sermoan and pay for the privilege. What a fun way to spend a Sunday!

"The longer you stay away from church the stranger it seems." p. 22 Amen! "If we missed a Sunday, we felt a void." p. 23 It's called "detox". You can tell when you are addicted to church because you need your weekly fix otherwise you get the jitters. Take the test. Skip church for a month and see what happens.

"Annie Dillard once described her church this way: ... the lagging emptiness and dilution of the liturgy, the horrifying vacuity of the sermon, and ... the fog of dreary senseless pervading the whole."p. 22 That sums it up nicely! Remember that you are also paying tithes (10% of your gross income) as well as offering and "love gifts" for this torture in the name of Jesus.

"Christianity is not a purely intellectual, internal faith. It can only be lived in community."p. 23 That is utter bullshit and religious propaganda without any foundation! It is trotted out by pious pastors time and time again because without people filling their pews there is no reason for them as pastors. Pastor is an interesting word. It is a leader of sheep. Make your own conclusion. Christianity can most definitely only be a personal faith with privately held beliefs without ever stepping foot ion a church. Jesus only gave two commandments that are central to Christianity - love God and your fellow human. neither requires your participation in a church. Abraham had no church. Abraham still knew God, loved God and loved his fellow humans. Nothing has changed. The two greatest commandments of Jesus are also about orthopraxy (right action) and not orthodoxy (right belief). There is no right belief. Thousands of denominations prove that. God is love and if you follow God then you love in action. Applies to all religions without fail.

"Some people - those who live in small towns, for instance - have few options of churches to attend." p.24 Change that top MOST people in Australia where there are few major cities, sparsely populated. Living in rural Australia means that you ONLY have fundamentalist churches to choose from if you are a Protestant.

"I used to approach church with the spirit of a discriminating consumer." p.24. You're paying your tithes, offerings and love gifts so why wouldn't you want to be a discriminating consumer. That is only logical and rational.

"the talent deficit I encounter in various churches."p. 25 My local area has 9% of people with a degree or higher. (Sydney has 27%) That means I'm in that 9%. The more educated you are the less likely you are to be a church member. That means that the churches in my area have less than 9% of people with degrees or higher. That means that the sermon is always dumbed down even more than usually.

"Church exists primarily ... to worship God; if it fails in that, it fails."p. 25 Church indeed fails in that basic requirement. You can go through a whole service and never hear God (Yahweh ) mentioned. All you hear is about a dead Jewish peasant called Jesus that they somehow think is the infinite One God without any proof. you also hear "the Lord"spoke about. You never know which Lord this is: LORD God (Yahweh) who Jesus commanded us to worship in the greatest commandment, God the Father (Yahweh) or Lord Satan. Since Christians don't know who to worship then church fails in worshipping God. For years as a Christian ( even as a Christian musician) I never sang hymns and choruses that were addressed to Jesus. How can a dead Jew do anything for you? Impossible.

"homeless people ... sometimes these visitors would stretch themselves out on th pews and snore loudly through the morning service."p. 29 "senior citizens who are liable to drift off to sleep if the preacher drones on too long. "p. 31 I wish I had had the guts to do it. Sound a much more productive way of being in church.

"Welcome to the Body of Christ" p. 39. Not so much a body but a monster of Frankenstein. Distorted grotesque features, blind in one eye, deaf, farting, facial ticks, balding, reeking body odour, beer belly, amputated arm, limping, missing teeth, bad breath. One leg kicking the other leg. Mouth biting the stump of an arm. That's church.

"The church, as Eugene Peterson has observed, is composed of equal parts mystery and mess."p. 45 Eugene Peterson got it wrong. It's a mystery why the church is in such a mess. It's composed of equal parts of bullshit and horseshit. Or one could say composed entirely of shit.

"Mr Ponce. provided for me a comforting male presence. "p. 54 I'm tempted to laugh out loud and comment on the name but .....

"I like to think of church as one of those Emergi-Centres"p. 55 ... long waits, bored to death, room full of contagious infected people, rude staff, utterly ignored - unless you complain about your treatment. Then you're kicked out.

"When I think about the history of the Christian church ...: the Inquisition, Crusades, racial pogroms, abuse of wealth." pp. 56-57. Just add abuse of members to the list and the same thing still goes on. "racial pogroms' are just called "concern over the Islamic take-over of our nation".

"a loving community like a church"p. 57 In 39 years as a Christian I have never visited one church completely full of loving people. There is always at least one hate-filled fundamentalist somewhere in the mob waiting to grill you to see if you are a "true Christian" or not.

"The church is a place where we can bring our pain" p. 59. Correction - church is a place that causes pain to many people. That may be because many church members are pains in the arse.

"churches that are run more like a business than a family." 63. Churches are run more like dysfunctional families.

"The church is God's neighbourhood bar".p. 67 If Jesus were alive he would be found at the bar and not in church.

Those were the only worthwhile passages in the whole book of 100 pages. Probably cost you $30 or more in your local Christian bookstore. Not worth a cent. Not worth your while reading. It is typical of most dumbed-down paperbacks available in Christian bookstores. This one is just a long advertisement to get you to return to church. It won't work on me.

WHY? (Made In Japan)


"Why? (Made In Japan)" is my newest song inspired by the Japanese tsunami. Listen and download as free mp3 at http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=10413914 It is a question that Christians cannot answer.


LYRICS:
It's an idea, it's a word
It's a question asked again
It's without a proper answer
It's an endless loud refrain

CH
Why?
Answer
Answer me

You hear it and you know
But you never stop to think
You never get the message
Or find the missing link

It chills and it brings the dread
It echoes in your mind
It challenges and seeks
A resting place to find

There is pain in this song. There is unanswered questions of why thousands, including babies and children, should die in such a tragedy. This is serious business.

Epicurus' problem is very much alive and currently debated in philosophy. It is very relevant to the Japanese tsunami though many Christians refuse to even think about it. Some fundamentalist Christians have criticised me for even raising the problem - but it will not go away.

"Is god willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?" - Epicurus (341-270 BCE)

Some Christians believe every word in the bible is "God's Word" and and that they have the holy spirit who leads him into all truth and they also have the mind of Christ. Why is it then that these same Christians have no answer for the problem posed by Epicurus? If your religion has no answer to this problem that has been around for over 2000 years then what use is it? What is the answer to Epicurus for those CURRENTLY suffering NOW? The traditional Christian answer is it will all be better WHEN YOU'RE DEAD (FUTURE ... maybe) because that's when Jesus will fix everything because Jesus is a human sacrifice to appease himself (!?) from killing and / or torturing you. That's a very unsatisfactory answer for those CURRENTLY suffering NOW.

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If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.

If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.

If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.

If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.

Evil exists.

If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn't have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn't know when evil exists, or doesn't have the desire to eliminate all evil.

Therefore, God doesn't exist.

That this argument is valid is perhaps most easily seen by a reductio argument, in which one assumes that the conclusion — (7) — is false, and then shows that the denial of (7), along with premises (1) through (6), leads to a contradiction. Thus if, contrary to (7), God exists, it follows from (1) that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. This, together with (2), (3), and (4) then entails that God has the power to eliminate all evil, that God knows when evil exists, and that God has the desire to eliminate all evil. But when (5) is conjoined with the reductio assumption that God exists, it then follows via modus ponens from (6) that either God doesn't have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn't know when evil exists, or doesn't have the desire to eliminate all evil. Thus we have a contradiction, and so premises (1) through (6) do validly imply (7).

Whether the argument is sound is, of course, a further question, for it may be that one of more of the premises is false. *[I believe the premise of God's omnipotence is false.] The point here, however, is simply that when one conceives of God as unlimited with respect to power, knowledge, and moral goodness, the existence of evil quickly gives rise to potentially serious arguments against the existence of God. - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/

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Richard Dawkins from "The God Delusion" (Bantam:2006) p. 109

- 'Theodicy' (the vindication of divine providence in the face of the existence of evil) keeps theologians awake at night. The authoritative Oxford Companion to Philosophy gives the problem of evil as 'the most powerful objection to traditional theism'. But it is an argument only against the existence of a good God. Goodness is no part of the definition of the God Hypothesis, merely a desirable add-on.

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The Oxford Companion To Philosophy (2nd edition, Oxford:2005) p. 295

- evil, the problem of.

In Christianity and other Western'religions, God is supposed to be omnipotent (i.e. able to do anything logically possible), omniscient (i.e. to know everything logically possible to know), and perfectly good; yet manifestly there is evil (e.g. pain and other suffering) in the world. Atheists have argued that since an omnipotent being could prevent evil if he chose, an omniscient being would know how to do so and a perfectly good being would always choose to do so, there is no *God of the kind supposed. The problem of evil has always been the most powerful objection to traditional theism. The usual response of theists to this ‘problem’ is to deny that a perfectly good being will always choose to prevent evil, claiming that allowing some evils may make possible greater goods. If God is to allow evil to occur, it must not be logically possible to bring about the greater goods by any better route. Some theists have held that, being only human, we cannot be expected to know for which greater goods the evils of our world are needed. But it seems unreasonable to believe that there are any such goods without some demonstration as to what they are, i.e. without a *‘theodicy’. Central to most theodicies is the ‘freewill defence’. This claims that the greater good of humans having a free choice between good and evil involves no one, not even God, preventing them from bringing about evil. Theodicy needs one or more further defences to explain why God allows evil of kinds for which humans are not responsible, such as the pain of currently unpreventable disease. The ‘higher-order goods defence’ claims that such evils give humans opportunities to perform, in response to them, heroic actions of showing courage, patience, and sympathy, opportunities which they would not otherwise have. This does still leave the problem of what justifies God in allowing some (e.g. battered babies) to suffer for the benefit of others (e.g. parents, social workers, etc. having free choices). The theist may argue in reply that God who gives us life has the right to allow some to suffer for a limited time, that it is a privilege to be used by God for a useful purpose, and that there is always the possibility of compensation in an afterlife. The crux of the problem is whether such defences are adequate for dealing with the kinds and amount of evil we find around us. r.g.s.