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A perfect god can not exist?

 
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 09:11 pm
@awareness,
awareness;153187 wrote:
I have also come to the conclusion that a "perfect" God cannot exist. But, not for "universe" reasons. If god were perfect then it could not create. For after creating it would no longer be perfect and the act of creating means the destruction of perfection. Perfection being uniform and unchanging.

I always find the notion that "perfection" means eternal, changeless, immutable, impassive, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent an interesting anomaly. It sounds as boring as the traditional notion of "heaven". It is of course borrowed from Greek philosophy and the notion of the division between the earthly realm and the celestial realm which is incompatable with our modern worldview and science.

I think a world in which novelty, creativity, risk and reward, a future filled with possiblities is much more interesting and "perfect". Perhaps "god" thinks so too. The Bible is a human creation, the traditional concept of god is a human creation. If there is a god nature is god's creation so if you want to know about "god" look to nature and nature is creative destruction, novelty, risk and reward. Most of traditional theology is "wishful thinking" for a superhuman parental replacement. The world is not a nursery and god is not your parent. I believe there is a "god" and I am thankful for "creation".
Trust in god but look both ways when crossing the street.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 09:46 pm
@prothero,
prothero;155103 wrote:
the traditional concept of god is a human creation.


hmmm. I don't know about that. To paraphrase Descartes, where did we get the idea? This proposal is, I believe, central to the Secularization Project. I used to think it was true, but I have changed my mind.
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 10:05 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;155115 wrote:
hmmm. I don't know about that. To paraphrase Descartes, where did we get the idea? This proposal is, I believe, central to the Secularization Project. I used to think it was true, but I have changed my mind.
I quess it depends on what you mean by the "traditional concept". In fact all these discussions beg the question "what do you mean by god".
I am as you know a theist but not a supernatural or an anthropomorphic one.
We can not ignore the realities of science and the changed conception of the world and how the world operates in developing a coherent tenable conception of the divine compatible with a modern view of the world.
AN.Whitehead "religion will not regain its former power in the world, until religion learns to accept change in the same spirit as science".
Which seems more tenable and more perfect? A god who dwells in the world, and in the tender elements of the world, for whom the primary principle is creativity
or
the traditional supernatural, law giver, judge and anthropomorphic being of orthodoxy?
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 10:23 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Every model is just that - a model. We only have 'ways of talking' about these issues. The same goes for many other general fundamentals in philosophy - life, mind, consciousness, and so on. None of them can really be defined.

I am uncomfortable with the idea that humans created, if not God in particular, The Numinous as a realm of being. How/why did we do that? What did we base it on? If you study the history of religions, it is not a simple matter at all to understand that. Certainly there is an element of anthropocentric projection in all religions. But there are also very deep insights and truths that can't simply be attributed to the activities of the human imagination. There is also a lot of historical or quasi-historical information that records human encounters with the Divine. I can't believe all the prophets we just talking to themselves. Especially when you consider the cross-cultural tradition of mysticism. The same core ideas have been presented again and again, in different languages, by different cultures, in different images, throughout thousands of years. So I can't accept that it is a human creation in the sense of being some kind of collective delusion or projection.

I guess my position is the opposite of all those who say that religious thought generally is superseded and outdated and we should outgrow it. I think there is some truth in all of them. But that is also not particularly compatible with evangelical Christianity, either, who claim a monopoly.

So the process model is one model - I can see its attractions, especially in the current age. But there are others, but insofar as they can be discussed, debated, they are still models.

Tricky, I know. I don't expect to get a lot of agreement about that - it is one perspective among others.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 10:37 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;151718 wrote:
Hi All


That the idea of a perfectly good god contradicts itself means that it is impossible for a good god to exist. An amoral or immoral one could exist though. The evidence is suffering, pain and the unsuitability of the universe for peaceful life is rather a big hint, however, that God is not amoral, but is actually immoral and sadistically evil. Of course it is completely more obviously the case that there isn't a god of any kind, but if there was one, it wouldn't make sense to call it "moral", it'd have to amoral at best.



Is it possible for a perfectly evil god to exist?
north
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 10:48 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;155127 wrote:
Is it possible for a perfectly evil god to exist?


the perfect god and evil god would both become extinct

god is to much of a pacifist to have any fight in it and therefore survive and the evil god is so aggressive as to wipe out any life and therefore survive

both are imblanced , and hence die out
Extrain
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 11:02 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple;155066 wrote:
Immoral and moral are completely subjective terms. Good or evil are just as subjective. They only come about because of what a particular society adopts and enforces them to be.


So it was permissible for WWII Germany to torture and exterminate 6 million Jews in the Nazi death camps just because Hitler thought it was the right thing to do? I seriously doubt that.
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 11:11 pm
@jeeprs,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;155125] Every model is just that - a model. We only have 'ways of talking' about these issues. The same goes for many other general fundamentals in philosophy - life, mind, consciousness, and so on. None of them can really be defined. [/QUOTE] Our ability to "know" to "conceive", to "express" is "through a glass darkly". I think religious truth like scientific truth is tentative, partial and incomplete. Religion should be subject to revision and hopefully to evolve to progress to more closely approximate "truth" with time and experience.
[QUOTE=jeeprs;155125] I am uncomfortable with the idea that humans created, if not God in particular, The Numinous as a realm of being. How/why did we do that? What did we base it on? If you study the history of religions, it is not a simple matter at all to understand that. Certainly there is an element of anthropocentric projection in all religions. But there are also very deep insights and truths that can't simply be attributed to the activities of the human imagination. There is also a lot of historical or quasi-historical information that records human encounters with the Divine. I can't believe all the prophets we just talking to themselves. Especially when you consider the cross-cultural tradition of mysticism. The same core ideas have been presented again and again, in different languages, by different cultures, in different images, throughout thousands of years. So I can't accept that it is a human creation in the sense of being some kind of collective delusion or projection. [/QUOTE] I believe that the universe is ordered and mathematically expressible because Logos is the founding principle of the universe. I also believe that aesthetic appreciation, ethical principle, the tendency towards life, complexity, mind and higher levels of experience is an emanation of the transcendent or a manifestation of the divine. (telos). Religion is basically (mythos) our stories, parables, myths and methods of explaining the logos and the telos. Literal and fundamentalist interpretations of mythos fairly miss the point and the message at the same time. Mythos is a function of culture, society, history and worldview. Profound changes in worldview such as have occurred in the last 200-300 years necessitate a changed understanding or explanation of the unchanging reality which is the numinous, the sacred, the holy, the transcendent. Our religious symbols, rituals, and myths are pointers to a reality beyond our science, the material and beyond ordinary human experience. This is understood in the mystical tradition but mystics are a minority in the religious community.
[QUOTE=jeeprs;155125] I guess my position is the opposite of all those who say that religious thought generally is superseded and outdated and we should outgrow it. I think there is some truth in all of them. But that is also not particularly compatible with evangelical Christianity, either, who claim a monopoly. [/QUOTE] There is wisdom in the ancient tradition which can be lost in the modern world. Among these are the concepts of logos, telos and mythos. I do not mean to come across as a person who wants to completely abandon traditional wisdom for the relativism of post modernism or the materialism of modernism. The problem however is that the supernatural (not the transcendent) and the anthropomorphic conception of deity that dominates the superficial face of religion is not tenable or coherent in the modern world. The deeper transcendent and immanent mystical tradition does have value even in the modern world and in many ways is not incompatible with a modern worldview.
[QUOTE=jeeprs;155125] So the process model is one model - I can see its attractions, especially in the current age. But there are others, but insofar as they can be discussed, debated, they are still models. [/QUOTE] It is true that it is primarily the process model that I use both in philosophy and in theology. I do not mean to use it to denigrate or to the exclusion of all other forms of understanding or all other models but it is the one that works for me and allows the construction of a coherent consistent worldview that corresponds well to reality as I experience it. So yes it is the view that I represent. It is important to be immersed in some religious tradition as opposed to just cafeteria style new age individualism.
[QUOTE=jeeprs;155125] Tricky, I know. I don't expect to get a lot of agreement about that - it is one perspective among others. [/QUOTE] There is a common core among the great religious traditions. Included in that core is compassion or empathy as the basis of ethics and god as rational, ordering and creative agent in sustaining the world.
Extrain
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 11:20 pm
@prothero,
prothero;155134 wrote:
Our ability to "know" to "conceive", to "express" is "through a glass darkly". I think religious truth like scientific truth is tentative, partial and incomplete. Religion should be subject to revision and hopefully to evolve to progress to more closely approximate "truth" with time and experience.
I believe that the universe is ordered and mathematically expressible because Logos is the founding principle of the universe. I also believe that aesthetic appreciation, ethical principle, the tendency towards life, complexity, mind and higher levels of experience is an emanation of the transcendent or a manifestation of the divine. (telos). Religion is basically (mythos) our stories, parables, myths and methods of explaining the logos and the telos. Literal and fundamentalist interpretations of mythos fairly miss the point and the message at the same time. Mythos is a function of culture, society, history and worldview. Profound changes in worldview such as have occurred in the last 200-300 years necessitate a changed understanding or explanation of the unchanging reality which is the numinous, the sacred, the holy, the transcendent. Our religious symbols, rituals, and myths are pointers to a reality beyond our science, the material and beyond ordinary human experience. This is understood in the mystical tradition but mystics are a minority in the religious community.
There is wisdom in the ancient tradition which can be lost in the modern world. Among these are the concepts of logos, telos and mythos. I do not mean to come across as a person who wants to completely abandon traditional wisdom for the relativism of post modernism or the materialism of modernism. The problem however is that the supernatural (not the transcendent) and the anthropomorphic conception of deity that dominates the superficial face of religion is not tenable or coherent in the modern world. The deeper transcendent and immanent mystical tradition does have value even in the modern world and in many ways is not incompatible with a modern worldview.
It is true that it is primarily the process model that I use both in philosophy and in theology. I do not mean to use it to denigrate or to the exclusion of all other forms of understanding or all other models but it is the one that works for me and allows the construction of a coherent consistent worldview that corresponds well to reality as I experience it. So yes it is the view that I represent. It is important to be immersed in some religious tradition as opposed to just cafeteria style new age individualism.
There is a common core among the great religious traditions. Included in that core is compassion or empathy as the basis of ethics and god as rational, ordering and creative agent in sustaining the world.


But you are not even talking about religion at all anymore.

You apparently fail to notice that all mystics in the world come from very orthodox systems, whether Easter or Western, and they adhere to that orthodoxy rather strictly and with utmost zeal. Without some backbone of orthodox "correct teaching," mysticism is no longer a religious phenomenon at all, but becomes a stale and lifeless imitation copy of the real path to the Divine. Joseph Campbell, the greatest melting pot thinker of myth and symbol would tell you just that, too.

Shared ethics among religions is merely a shared ethic, nothing more, nothing less. But if you are talking about the "divine" or the "transcendent" in some form or another, one requires the tried and tested idiosyncratic "correct teaching" of the ancients. That is why that teaching is there anyway. The trick lies in deciphering the correct teaching, instead of trying to melt them all together. Mixing the colors merely results in an oozing mud of ideas without any import.
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 11:38 pm
@Extrain,
[QUOTE=Extrain;155137] You apparently fail to notice that all mystics in the world come from very orthodox systems, whether Easter or Western, and they adhere to that orthodoxy rather strictly and with utmost zeal. Without some backbone of orthodox "correct teaching," mysticism is no longer a religious phenomenon at all, but becomes a stale and lifeless imitation copy of the real path to the Divine. Joseph Campbell, the greatest melting pot thinker of myth and symbol would tell you just that, too. [/QUOTE] The mystical Christian understanding of the incarnation, the atonement and the resurrection is not at all the same as the literalist or fundamentalist understanding. They adhere to the practice, to the rituals, to the symbols as a path to the divine (one of many) but their understanding of the reality to which these things point is much different that the majority of practitioners of these religions. Mystics have more in common with each other than they do with the majority parishioners of their individual traditions.

[QUOTE=Extrain;155137] Shared ethics among religions is merely a shared ethic, nothing more, nothing less. But if you are talking about the "divine" in some form or another, one requires the tried and tested "correct teaching" of the ancients. That is why that teaching is there anyway. I would trust the Dalai Lama before I trusted someone without a system at all. [/QUOTE] I did not disagree with that in my post. In fact I suggested cafeteria style new age religion lacked depth. It is not my suggestion that the great religious traditions be abandoned only that they be understood in terms that are not literal and not fundamentalist and which are not incoherent and incompatible with modern science and the facts of experience. There are many roads to Chicago and many routes to the peak of mt Everest. The great religous traditions properly understood and practiced all point to the same transcendent reality and immanent spirit.
Mystics do not argue about which tradition is the path to god or kill each other over differences in dogma, creed, doctrine, ritual or practice.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 11:40 pm
@north,
north;155129 wrote:
the perfect god and evil god would both become extinct

god is to much of a pacifist to have any fight in it and therefore survive and the evil god is so aggressive as to wipe out any life and therefore survive

both are imblanced , and hence die out


Can a perfectly balanced god exist?
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 11:42 pm
@Extrain,
Extrain;155137 wrote:
But you are not even talking about religion at all anymore.
What is religion anyway? If I am not talking about religion what am I talking about? Religion attempts to provide answers to the fundamental existential questions of human existence, our relationship to the world, to the universe, and to each other. Not how but why?
0 Replies
 
Extrain
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 11:48 pm
@prothero,
prothero;155140 wrote:
The mystical Christian understanding of the incarnation, the atonement and the resurrection is not at all the same as the literalist or fundamentalist understanding. They adhere to the practice, to the rituals, to the symbols as a path to the divine (one of many) but their understanding of the reality to which these things point is much different that the majority of practitioners of these religions.


That's just the religious demographic of any religion. The laity will always lack a certain depth of understanding of their own myth and symbol since their concerns are largely temporal. But I will say that this is not always true. One does not have to be a celibate monk or nun to be "a saint." I know quite a few married couples who are more deeply religious than most quasi-monks or nuns.

[QUOTE=prothero;155140] Mystics have more in common with each other than they do with the majority parishioners of their individual traditions.[/QUOTE]

Not true. That's just the New Age melting pot of the Westernized East talking.

[QUOTE=prothero;155140] I did not disagree with that in my post. In fact I suggested cafeteria style new age religion lacked depth. It is not my suggestion that the great religious traditions be abandoned only that they be understood in terms that are not literal and not fundamentalist and which are not incoherent and incompatible with modern science and the facts of experience. There are many roads to Chicago and many routes to the peak of mt Everest. The great religous traditions properly understood and practiced all point to the same transcendent reality and immanent spirit.[/QUOTE]

Fair enough. But I don't think that last part is true. If you read interfaith dialogue between mystics of different religious traditions, in spite of their commonalities, there still remain non-dogmatic, yet drastic differences in the phenomenology of those experiences.

prothero;155140 wrote:
Mystics do not argue about which tradition is the path to god or kill each other over differences in dogma, creed, doctrine, ritual or practice.


That's right, not typically, it seems. But it's because they are already well-informed and entrenched in what they believe that they feel they don't have to. They literally live out those symbols intensely, and don't just abstractly philosophize about them in a detached way like us. And they always believe the best "witness to the faith" is to live that faith, not argue about it--I think it's fair to say this goes for both East and West.

---------- Post added 04-21-2010 at 11:52 PM ----------

prothero;155143 wrote:
What is religion anyway? If I am not talking about religion what am I talking about? Religion attempts to provide answers to the fundamental existential questions of human existence, our relationship to the world, to the universe, and to each other. Not how but why?


I was under the impression you were trying to throw everything into a melting pot. Sorry if I misinterpreted you.
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:07 am
@Extrain,
Extrain;155144 wrote:
Fair enough. But I don't think that last part is true. If you read interfaith dialogue between mystics of different religious traditions, in spite of their commonalities, there still remain non-dogmatic, yet drastic differences in the phenomenology of those experiences.
I would probably respond that those differences are cultural, social, historical and traditional. It does not imply that they are experiencing or worshiping a different god or deity; just that the manner in which they can understand and express their experience is different because of their different traditions, worldviews, experiences, societies and cultures. There is one god who is called by many names. In most religions god is too small and too provincial. The enduring religous traditions are different paths to the same god; not different paths to different gods.

For me god dwells in the world and acts through natural process or god is not. God is not a person (anthropomorphism) and god is not a supernatural interventionist (contravention of the laws of nature). God is spirit. Divine perfection is not eternal, immutable changeless being but an endless process of creative advance into novelty and higher levels of experience (emmantion or manifestation). This view is not incompatible with science or with the mystical tradition of the worlds great and enduring religious traditions.

"A perfect god can not exist?" Only because our notion of "perfection" is itself flawed by our anthropomorphic and supernatural conception of god.

---------- Post added 04-21-2010 at 11:26 PM ----------

Extrain;155144 wrote:
I was under the impression you were trying to throw everything into a melting pot. Sorry if I misinterpreted you.

Well I think diversity is divine. God likes diversity. In fact I think creativity and novelty are ultimate principle and process is ultimate reality.
The last thing the divine seems to desire is that we should all be the same. The world is in balance between order and predictability and novelty and creativity. A perfect god can exist. It just depends on what you mean by god and what you mean by perfection.
Extrain
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:32 am
@prothero,
prothero;155147 wrote:
I would probably respond that those differences are cultural, social, historical and traditional. It does not imply that they are experiencing or worshiping a different god or deity; just that the manner in which they can understand and express their experience is different because of their different traditions, worldviews, experiences, societies and cultures. There is one god who is called by many names. In most religions god is too small and too provincial. The enduring religous traditions are different paths to the same god; not different paths to different gods.

For me god dwells in the world and acts through natural process or god is not. God is not a person (anthropomorphism) and god is not a supernatural interventionist (contravention of the laws of nature). God is spirit. Divine perfection is not eternal, immutable changeless being but an endless process of creative advance into novelty and higher levels of experience (emmantion or manifestation). This view is not incompatible with science or with the mystical tradition of the worlds great and enduring religious traditions.

"A perfect god can not exist?" Only because our notion of "perfection" is itself flawed by our anthropomorphic and supernatural conception of god.


Unfortunately, much of this sounds too much like a hasty generalization to me. When you start characterizing the end goal of mystic experiences as "the same," you gloss over these differences. So I don't think these differences are merely historical, cultural, traditional, or social. I am talking about the phenomenology of their spiritual ascent.

For instance, for the Western mystic like St. John of the Cross, Therese of Avila, Chrysostom, Therese of Lisieux, etc., God is described primarily in terms of relationship with this personal being guided by Agape--Divine Love. But God is also described as both personal and transcendent, supernatural and immanent, uniting both flesh and spirit, not beyond the flesh and changing circumstances, etc. And above all, the very person of Christ is always at the center of their spiritual ascent.

Everytime I read interfaith literature, I am surprised by the differences, not the similarities. Generalizations too often lose sight of these differences.

And FYI, I don't see any of this alleged incompatibility of traditional orthodoxy with the results of science at all. So you will have to explain that one.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:36 am
@Extrain,
Extrain;155131 wrote:
So it was permissible for WWII Germany to torture and exterminate 6 million Jews in the Nazi death camps just because Hitler thought it was the right thing to do? I seriously doubt that.


I have absolutely no idea how you failed to understand what I wrote. You are implying that I am saying what ever is decided it becomes universal. No. I did not say that what ever is decided as being good, does not mean it is accepted by everyone to be good. Same for evil.

But to answer your question. Pretty much many Germans supported Hitlers decision. So they must have thought it was alright. I mean Hitler didn't round them all up himself and kill them each by himself. He had thousands of people involved not only that but the creation of these camps with their chambers had to be designed and constructed. I would not be surprised if practically all of germany knew what was going on. Or they had some vague notion that something was happening. Information gets out rather easy on large scale plans.

If a large group of people decide on what is good or evil, generally they will adopt those ideals. However it does not make them universal.

Should I repeat for you again, or are you going to cherry pick my comments? Good and evil are completely subjective.
Extrain
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:43 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;155154 wrote:
I have absolutely no idea how you failed to understand what I wrote. You are implying that I am saying what ever is decided it becomes universal. No. I did not say that what ever is decided as being good, does not mean it is accepted by everyone to be good. Same for evil.

But to answer your question. Pretty much many Germans supported Hitlers decision. So they must have thought it was alright. I mean Hitler didn't round them all up himself and kill them each by himself. He had thousands of people involved not only that but the creation of these camps with their chambers had to be designed and constructed. I would not be surprised if practically all of germany knew what was going on. Or they had some vague notion that something was happening. Information gets out rather easy on large scale plans.

If a large group of people decide on what is good or evil, generally they will adopt those ideals. However it does not make them universal.

Should I repeat for you again, or are you going to cherry pick my comments? Good and evil are completely subjective.


Again, if good and evil are merely relative to culture, then it is permissible for Hitler, for the Nazi party, and whatever participating german in the atrocities to do this. That's what subjective, or cultural relativism, is. Moral and immoral are not absolute, so Hitler and his culture are prefectly within their "rights" to decide what right and wrong is. Do you need a philosophical dictionary?
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:45 am
@Extrain,
Extrain;155155 wrote:
Again, if good and evil are merely relative to culture, then it is permissible for Hitler, for the Nazi party, and whatever participating german in the atrocities to do this. That's what subjective, or cultural relativism, is. Do you need a philosophical dictionary?


Well don't you see that the word "permissible" is just as subjective? Who is calling it permissible? Everyone? Or just a select group? If it is only a group then by all means it is not universal. It is their subjective decisions to call it permissible.

Just because one person thinks something is good, it does not mean that it is good for everyone. Same goes for evil, but I have already said this three times now. Yet you keep ignoring that as if I never said it.
Extrain
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:48 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;155157 wrote:
Well don't you see that the word "permissible" is just as subjective? Who is calling it permissible? Everyone? Or just a select group? If it is only a group then by all means it is not universal. It is their subjective decisions to call it permissible.


Precisely. Your thesis of cultural relativism logically entails that you cannot rightfully make any objective moral complaint against what other countries do on any objective moral grounds, since there aren't any. If you try, that would be just your own subjective opinion. So you would have a hell of time trying to make a case against Hitler in an International Court of Law for any Crimes committed against humanity if cultural relativism is true. That's precisely your pickle.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:52 am
@Extrain,
Extrain;155153 wrote:
Unfortunately, much of this sounds too much like a hasty generalization to me. When you start characterizing the end goal of mystic experiences as "the same," you gloss over these differences. So I don't think these differences are merely historical, cultural, traditional, or social. I am talking about the phenomenology of their spiritual ascent.

The first time I read this paragraph I read the last phrase as "spiritual accent" which I suppose has connotations that run contrary to your point. And I like your point. The commonalities are overemphasized. It is much better to focus on the differences. Probably the motivation for overemphasizing commonalities and finding commonalities that aren't really there are noble enough i.e. the desire to see everyone as human and the same equally valuable and all that jazz. Yet the resulting homogenization of spiritual experience is more likely to silence or muffle the unique spiritual experiences of the various traditions and individuals who have them and at the same time dumbing down (or perhaps mundaning down) such experiences to the lowest common denominator. Post-modern approaches like Lyotard's recognition of disjunct and incommensurable grand narratives and his ethic of "bearing witness to the differend" is, I think, a far wiser approach.

We should not mistake a different spiritual ascent for merely a different spiritual accent!
 

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