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Establishing a default position on Deity

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by ragarth, Jan 20, 2009.

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  1. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    How so? I looked over the comparison and as far as the point I was making goes, it makes sense to me. I'm happy to admit my comparison was wrong if you wouldn't mind explaining where the comparison breaks down.

    But have you ever experienced microgravity, 1/8 gravity, or the folding/twisting effects that might exist around a singularity? I personally haven't, and therefore these effects are not based purely upon my lifely experiences.

    No, the purpose between the two examples was to setup a dichotomy between man-made aesthetics and natural aesthetics, to show that even though a human hand can manufacture something pleasant, it is not necessary to do so. Unless you're claiming that God has an infinite number of fingers swirling the eddies of the ocean to generate chaotic patterns that go to produce the waves we see on the beach? This is effectively arguing that Chaos Theory is God's divine hand, and is equivalent to the idea of Intelligent Gravity, postulated on the satirical newspaper The Onion.

    Peace to you too. I enjoy these conversations, so if I seem combative in my posts, don't take offense. I respect your right to believe what you wish, it's just that debate holds no reservations. (I consider engaging in debate to be agreement to have your views questioned and vice versa, much like people agreeing to a boxing match.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  2. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    Ah, I see what you're trying to get at. Interesting way to begin your quest. I don't believe you've had the opportunity to explore all the available evidence yet though. You may want to check out J.P. Moreland's book "Scaling the Secular City" to begin with. It's a bit dated, but a good overall starting point.

    The Kalam cosmological argument argues for a completely closed or isolated system (which I believe accords with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics). Which means that for something temporal to exist the agent that first caused the universe would need the following characteristics. It would have to be uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial. Furthermore, this cause must have a purpose for having been caused within eternity and without time or space. Taking into consideration the intricacies of the universe to produce something as fragile as life... what other non-intelligent agent could do such a thing? Anything but a personal creator to account for the cosmology of the universe is grasping for straws.

    The problem here that I see (and maybe it's just your wording) is the idea that the creator is intentionally masking his existence. Other options exist. For instance... materialist naturalists aren't looking for God... so it's no big surprise they can't see him. The creator is not masking himself from us, but we don't have the tools or are using the wrong tools to see him. Or maybe we're looking in the wrong place completely. I, personally, am betting on the first option... that God exists. He wants to make himself known to his creation, but his creation refuses to acknowlege him.
    Well again, I think you haven't yet explored all your options as far as empirical evidence is concerned. But as I've said already, I believe that naturalistic/materialistic methods can only go so far in exploring supernatural themes... by their very nature really, which is why questions on the meaning of life, and the like are often confined to the softer sciences like philosophy.

    Well, I'd argue that. It's a bit egotisitic, and, well... unreasonable to assume that science will someday 'explain it all' (almost as bad as leaning on the phrase 'goddidit' without using a little critical thinking). Science will teach and continues to teach us much. I doubt we'll ever have all the answers by naturalistic means.

    Very true.

    Lucifer used the same line of thinking... look at what happened to him lol

    Kind of begging the question though, isn't it? How do you prove something unprovable if you don't even have the right tools to do so?
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  3. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    Soul Biscuit, hiya!

    Thank you for the assistance, but rules in this forum are: 1 non Christian per thread. This forum is explicitly meant to be stacked against the non christians in that way because it's final purpose is to seek converts. I'm kinda bastardizing that purpose by using it to explore my own beliefs by challenging them, but that still doesn't change the forum rules.

    Again, thanks for the help, but don't break the forum rules on my account.

    Adrift, I was answering your reply yesterday when my dog unplugged my pc and ticked me off. It's a bit hard to write posts when in a bad mood, so it's going to be a while before I can answer your post. I also need to research the kalam argument, it looks kinda poor to me, so I need to see if there's more to it I'm not seeing, or if I'm misunderstanding it.
     
  4. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    For any who read this, this is technically accurate and is the position of anyone who doesn't believe in the supernatural, period. This is also my position, but because I'm speaking with someone who does believe in the supernatural, I framed the idea of the supernatural into those aspects of supernatural that just aren't explained science yet (like lightning in years past), and that supernatural which cannot be explained by science. (as of yet unstated: If it can't be explained by science, it can't be proven, if it can't be proven, it can't be observed, measured, or tested. if it can't be observed, measured, or tested, then it doesn't exist. This opens up a whole new can-o-worms that's superfluous to the conversation at hand- which deals with default positions on deity, not default positions on the supernatural, magic, etc.)

    The whole idea of this also arose from a silly thought problem I had revolving around science encompasing the supernatural and what that means for humanity vs supernatural entities such as God.
     
  5. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    No problem, take your time. In the meantime I'll take a shot at answering some of soul_biscuit's points.
    While this may be ultimately true, there aren't many options left on the table, and the Cosmological Argument leads naturally to the teleological argument (the argument from design). What we do know, however, is that a causer must always be greater than the cause. Something greater than the universe must have created the universe. And this causer must have the properties I've laid out earlier. It must be uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial.

    Well we're certain that the universe is not eternal (infinite rather) because of the widely accepted theory of the Big Bang. More to the point though is that, you can't have an actual infinite in time without the problem of an infinite regress. In other words, since it's impossible for one to add or subtract from an infinite number of years, then to get to January 22nd, 2009 is impossible. The universe does have a starting point. It is not infinite.
    That could be, and is argued, but more to the point, the order of the universe is so fine tuned as to make it practically impossible for it to be ordered the way it is, purely by chance. Not to even mention that it has the ability to sustain life.

    I think you'll find that that's not at all true. Some of the worlds greatest 20th and 21st century philosophers and scientists have either supported or wrestled with the argument. At any rate, keep an open mind. I'm sure you'll find plenty of pros and cons for the argument in your search, but it hasn't been toppled yet.
     
  6. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    Just a point of semantics here, the Kalam cosmological argument is the antithesis of the idea of a closed system because a closed system cannot have any external source of energy or manipulation. To explain this, let's assume for a moment that God *did* create the universe, God would then have existed before the universe, and we can assume God existed after the creation of the universe, so God did not transform into the universe. This leaves two options, God created the universe external to himself, or the universe is a part of God. If the universe is external to God, then God is an external influence, making the universe an open system, if the universe is part of God (or God a part of the universe is assumed here), then God still existed before the universe, and so the universe's inception was via an external source. This is batting semantics here, so I'll leave it at that and argue the meat of it: Can Kalam's Cosmology be used to postulate an intelligent creator?

    There are several ways to break this- The first is the unproven assertion that the universe had a beginning, and to understand why this is a potentially fatal flaw in this thought train, you must understand the potential for infinity within multi-dimensional space. Working with a 4-dimensional object called a hypersphere, it's possible for you to travel in any direction in 3d space, in a straight line, and end up back where you began, to understand this let's imagine an alternate universe composed of 2 spacial dimensions. In this universe, we'll call it flatland, the flatopians are 2 dimenisonal creatures who can only move in two directions, they can't sense in any way a 3rd dimension. Now let's take flatopia and put it on the surface of a sphere, now flatopia is infinite to a flatopian, but finite to us. If a flatopian stared far enough in one direction, they'd even be able to see the back of their own head! If time is wrapped along a hypersphere cosmology, then the flow of time need not ever had a beginning or end.

    The second part is what you're defining the creator as: uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial. Even assuming these are possible traits for anything to have, intelligent or not, there is nothing inherent in these that cannot be applied to non-intelligent phenomena. Harking back to my analogy of two rocks colliding, if these weren't rocks, but isntead were uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial hyperstrings that happened to intersect in some quantum fluctuation, this has as much validity as the idea of a super intelligence of the same qualities. Applying Occam's razor, God has these assumptions: uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial, and intelligent, while my hyperstrings have these assumptions: uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial, thereby making the non-intelligent hyperstrings more likely. To note, there is a theory floating about more complex than the idea of nth-dimensional hyperstrings, the idea being that our universe is a bubble of 3-d space collapsed from a higher-dimensional super-space. Time and the big bang began when the collapse took place, the 'size' of our universe is expanding like a crazy mad-hatter explosion, and it will eventually return to it's previous nth spatial state. It was proposed when string theory came about, and has hung around all the way through m-brane theory.

    Both these, to me, show that jumping to an intelligent creator as the impetus for our universe's inception is an unfounded assumption, even within the confines of the proof provided. The fact is, adding intelligence to the mix does nothing to advance the argument of Kalam's Cosmology, it only served to add an additional assumption which complicates the matter without adding value to the argument.

    I agree that there is room for exploration in the idea of God hiding himself and this can use a deeper analysis (I invite it, I'm 'in the box' so to speak on this idea, so external analysis is critical for my growth in this area), however, the argument given here is weak. Not all scientists are materialist naturalists, many are very devout theists and would probably love to look up at the sky, into animal populations, at the genetic code, or at the geologic processes and say 'God's mark is here' with empirical evidence to back it up. Unfortunately, though, even they either rely on misunderstanding of information outside their field, or on faith for their beliefs. The lack of empirical evidence is my reasoning, and if we're looking in the wrong place, then eventually we'll find his presence and all rational atheists will have no choice but to see the light or give up rationality.

    If you have empirical evidence for the existence of God, we can start a new thread for that, if you'd like?

    I can't argue this, but at the same time, while we have no reason to suspect that science has no limits, we have no reason to suspect science has limits. All we can do is work till we either know it all within a reasonable doubt, or hit a limitation to what science can achieve. My thought problem was off topic as I stated, and just me having a little fun playing with an idea.

    If I believed in Lucifer, this would be a valid warning. A more apt warning would be to not let hubris blind us to the risks, sometimes science is a grab of power from nature, and power can corrupt and blind.

    That really is the question, and isn't it around the same area of this thread? Working with default positions is an attempt to rationalize an expectation or belief when no empirical evidence is there for it.

    I understand this was addressed to Soul Biscuit, but it's my thread and I can do what I wanna! j/k Honestly though, there is no reason that an initiator must be greater than the initiated. Chaos Theory is a prime example of this, in complex systems beyond our ability to know every variable exactly, a small variation can have increasingly greater changes over time, this is the origin of the idea of a butterfly flapping it's wings in Africa causing a hurricane in Florida. Therefore, while it's possible that what created the universe was greater than the universe, it could also have been something as small as a pair of intersecting photons.

    There's two interesting arguments to this: If the chances the universe as we know it is ordered this way are 12*10^30,000,000,000,000 (or a 12 with 30 trillion 0's after it), then it would take that many universes for the chance of this 1 universe forming ever popping up, in the hypersphere cosmology, there could have been this many previous iterations of the universe in the past, or in a multiverse topology, there could be this many universes existing at the same time. The 2nd refutation to this is: What are the chances we would exist in a universe like ours? 100%, because if the universe were different, we wouldn't exist, and therefore wouldn't know- Inversely, if the univserse had a law stipulating all planets must be cubes, then we'd be debating the chances of existing in a cubicle universe as proof of God.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  7. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    The kalam argument does work under a closed system by assuming that the universe was creatio ex nihilo. Created from nothing. There was nothing. No transfer of energy or mass. Then there was a something. The universe... which is tending towards a state of equilibrium (that will happen in a closed system). You're looking at God as though he were a material agent bound by time and space. He isn't a material agent, he's immaterial. He's spiritual. and he's timeless.

    The problem here is one of reality. Though mathematically a hypersphere is feasible, in 3 dimensional reality there is no evidence beyond the mathematical that hyperspheres can or do exist. No more so than Euclidian geometry existing in real space and time. Not to mention that if the universe is expanding it must have had a singularity to expand from. Unless of course the universe is both expanding and contracting, but as far as I know, the Big Bang is still the excepted model.

    The problem with quantum fluctuations is, of course, they require energy. Where did the energy come from? Again, there's the problem of infinite regress when it comes to an infinite number of moments.

    The reason for a personal creator rather than a natural set of conditions in eternity is because the conditions needed to cause the universe would need to be eternal and the cause and event would be coeternal... which isn't logical. It took something in eternity to act on its own volition to cause the big bang.

    Wow, that's a bit presumptuous, don't you think?
    I have a feeling that he'll make his presence incontrovertibly known before all rational atheists "find his presence".

    I thought that's what we were doing here...

    It wasn't really a warning. More of a joke really. My concern though is that science has become a new religion and a new god for some atheists.

    We're not talking about a small ripple that becomes greater over time though. We're talking about a singularity with enough power to create the entire cosmos.

    So you admit that this universe is fine tuned, but only in as much as there were/are enough universes to go around that we were lucky enough to be born into this one? Well that's pretty fortunate :) Was the multiverse finely tuned as well do you think?

    Physics make my head hurt :D
     
  8. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    It is rather hypocritical of you to urge soulbiscuit to observe the letter of the law on this forum while you violate the spirit of it.

    This forum's stated purpose is:

    "A Forum for Non Christians to explore Christianity with Christians."

    By your own admission, you have no interest in Christianity, but rather simply intend to abuse this forum by using it as a means to investigate and fortify your own atheistic beliefs. Inasmuch as this is so, I should think you would have nothing to say about soulbiscuit's contravention of the rules of this forum.

    Peace.
     
  9. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    Then I leave the decision to you, is my thread so baseless and foul that I should end it and have it closed?
     
  10. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    If we assume God created the universe, there was a progenitive act, this invalidates the existence of a closed system in this respect. Even if you can eliminate the idea of the energy potential of the universe coming from somewhere else by relying upon the supernatural, the fact is that God would have provided influence in the form of information, ie, unless God had nothing to do with setting the original state of the universe, and has not interfered in the universe at any point since (energy can come in the form of him burning a bush, regardless of whether it's ex nihilo, it modifies the universe in such a way that it's no longer closed). Still though, it's a minor point that does little to advance my argument or yours, to my knowledge, neither is dependent upon a closed or an open system.

    You are right, but it's an example of a potential model, and to note, the big bang does not necessitate a beginning of everything. It necessitates a beginning of this universe, but it does leave the doors open for something to exist before the big bang. Indeed, the big bang doesn't actually even bother itself with the beginning of everything, quote from wikipedia ( here ):

    "

    The Big Bang theory, though generally held to be committed to a finite age of the universe, does not commit to a view of infinity that supports the Kalam argument. Mathematical models of the Big Bang generally end in a singularity that has a location in time that is a finite distance from any given event. However, there is also an infinite number of events between this singularity and any given point. This behavior of space and time is allowed by the differential geometry and topology underlying general relativity, the physical theory on which the Big Bang theory is based. Additionally, some Big Bang models are infinite in spatial extent or have an infinitely long past, such as some models devised by Georges Lemaître or Sir Arthur Eddington. However, as Phillip James Edwin Peebles writes, in his "Principles of Physical Cosmology" as well as other publications, the Big Bang theory does not really concern itself with universal origins (cosmogony)."

    As a side note, I wonder how the idea of singularity evaporation would effect the big bang theory, could this provide a method by which the universe could begin from a singularity? It would also answer the matter to antimatter ratio discrepency since matter by it's very nature is the product of a singularity evaporating.

    The same logic can be turned upon God, where did the energy come from? There's the problem of infinite regress when it comes to an infinite number of moments. (As stated previously, any quality you can assign to God you can assign to non-intelligent phenomena, therefore, any answer to these questions you give God, will also answer you're own question.)

    There not need be any intelligent agent to create the universe, if intelligence can exist without time, then so can action. Think about it, now think: Didn't thinking about it take you a few moments? If the answer is yes, then intelligence falls into the same problems as non-intelligent reactions in regards to a timeless environment. If you say God can think without having to use time, then that's another assumption, and it can easily be said that an uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial non-intelligent event need not use time to do it's actions.

    I'm assuming a lack of empirical evidence, in the face of empirical evidence, one need not rely upon default positions to form an opinion, hence it would make this thread moot. If however, you're empirical evidence turns out to be less than convincing, then this thread is still valuable, and discussion of the topic would serve to derail it.

    Who's to say a whisper didn't initiate the yell? Dynamite uses a fuse to be ignited. The spark that lights the fuse is a small occurence, followed by the fuse burning, a slightly larger occurance, which is then followed by the big bang of dynamite. Just because we can't see what precedes the big bang does not mean there isn't something there.

    Only in as much as chance can fine tune anything. Here's an example: You know the water wheel expirement? It was the first physical example of a testable, desk-sized chaotic systm. Basically, you take a stationary water wheel and run water onto it's top, and you cannot predict which direction the water wheel will begin turning, it's chaotic. If one direction is assigned 0 and another direction assigned 1, then we can use statistics to find out how many times it'd take before we have a decent probability of getting the string 00100110110. Is this system finetuned to produce that string? No, it's not. Is it capable of producing that string if given enough time? Yes it is.
     
  11. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    Ok, we'll leave this one alone for now... Let me ask you this, do you believe that the universe is a closed or open system?

    Nothing in the Kalam argument directly counters the work of those individuals. This is how William Lane Craig lays it out on his website Reasonable Faith:

    "As a GTR-based theory, the Friedman-Lemaitre model does not describe the expansion of the material content of the universe into a pre-existing, empty, Newtonian space, but rather the expansion of space itself. This has the astonishing implication that as one reverses the expansion and extrapolates back in time, space-time curvature becomes progressively greater until one finally arrives at a singular state at which space-time curvature becomes infinite. This state therefore constitutes an edge or boundary to space-time itself. P. C. W. Davies comments, "An initial cosmological singularity . . . forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. . . . On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself.1""

    Craig continues by quoting Eddington:

    "Sir Arthur Eddington, contemplating the beginning of the universe, opined that the expansion of the universe was so preposterous and incredible that "I feel almost an indignation that anyone should believe in it--except myself."15 He finally felt forced to conclude, "The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural."16"

    Also relevant to the discussion are these two quotes:

    God transcends time and space because he is the author of time and space. You're still looking at "God" as though he were subject to the laws of the cosmos. It takes something outside the cosmos, that transcends it, to bring it into creation.

    God being eternal and timeless means that his thoughts 10 billion years ago are the thoughts he'll have 10 billion years from now. God is not subject to time. He is changeless. That is not an assumption, it just naturally follows. Something timeless would need to create time. As Craig puts it "...it is metaphysically impossible for God to be caused by the world, since if God exists, His nature is such that He exists necessarily, whereas the world's existence is metaphysically contingent (as is evident from its beginning to exist)."
    Craig deals with this argument also, but unfortunately I can't find it right now. Suffice to say, you're still stuck with the problem of an infinite regress. If something was before the big bang, what was before that? and before that? and before that? The universe began to exist. This we know.

    This doesn't answer the problem of a multiverse also being tuned "just so", or the problem of an infinite number of universes within a multiverse. If our universe is a universe caused by chance alone among an infinite number of other multiverses then you're stuck with the problem that there should be an infinite number of chance-caused universes like our own.

    For a fuller argument by Craig against the multiverse theory you can check out this link.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5741

    And this is where I think I'm going to jump out of this discussion on the cosmological argument. I'm not a physicist, nor a professional philosopher, but I'd recommend that, if you're serious about your search for evidence that you don't blow off any evidence presented with a shrug of the shoulder, or with a quick look into wikipedia-based refutations. Pick up some books (like the aforementioned "Scaling the Secular City" by JP Moreland, or any of William Lane Craig's work on the issue such as "Reasonable Faith"). Study it out. Don't be so quick to assume that theists don't have answers to tough questions.
     
  12. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    I have no clue, this is a really interesting topic though. I used to believe it was closed, but then the initial verdict on the omega value came out to be less than that needed to create a hypersphere without an additional, unknown source of mass beyond that which is calculated by looking at the rotations of galaxies to extrapolate the amount of dark matter in the universe. Rather, what the result was is that we are in neither a curved space-time, nor are we in a flat universe, it pointed to us being in something kinda like a weird horse-shoe shaped... thing. It's hard for me to remember the exact shape. For this reason, I'm open to both interpretations, and will have my opinion on this matter settled by future science. Until future science sheds light on this delimma by providing a clearer unification theory, I switch my view on this subject based on the nature of the topic being discussed. Same with having a standalone universe or a multiverse. The only limit I place on this is that if we are part of a multiverse, then anything is possible, but if we are a standalone universe, then our current incarnation is one in an endless string of universes that came before; this is simply an opinion, and is quite easily disuaded by even just a little bit of science.

    No problem, I will say that I'm not tossing anything you said off hand, but I still feel you failed to make an argument linking intelligence as a necessity for a progenitive cause, nothing you stated *requires* intelligence to be a factor in the creation of the universe, in my opinion. The fact is, any attribute you give an intelligent progenitor can be given to a non-intelligent progenitor as well, this was the crux of my argument. The Kalam's cosmology was good though, I had never heard of that before and reading the history of it was quite fun. Thank you for an enjoyable debate.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  13. jonathanbrickman0000

    jonathanbrickman0000 for the things which God has said

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    Given general agreementation, I must establish a default position? Perhaps that is a fallacy worth discussing! I do not take my requirements from general agreementation; I take my requirements, from the things the Lord has said!

    J.E.B.
     
  14. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    Well I'm glad I was able to at least give you something to chew on. Please, do yourself a favor and at least visit professor Craig's website if you have a chance or read some of his papers online. He presents the argument far better than I could ever possibly hope to.
     
  15. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    Then you're default position would be what the Lord said? Not once did I say that a person's default position need be the same as everyone else's in the face of a lack of any empirical evidence. Let's go back to my coin example and change it up a bit:

    I put a penny under a cup, then walk out of the room. A few minutes later you come over to visit me and we go to the room with the cup in it.
    My default position is that there's a penny under the cup because I observed myself putting it under the cup. You're default position would probably be that there is no penny under the cup because you didn't know that I put a penny under it.

    Both are equally valid default positions to hold. Neither of us has actual empirical proof to back up our claims at that moment, but each of us has a logical progression of reasoning based on our available knowledge to prove why we each hold differing opinions. This thread was my attempt to understand the logic behind a default position for Deity.
     
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