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Religion when it had real power!


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I think I will end up repeating what I have been saying all along which is a personal belief, based on my limited understanding and reasoning and also following my education. I have doubts, I have asked myself questions which I cannot answer. As far as I can ascertain, the Abrahamic God Yahweh, Ela/Allah are the same. It was the God that called Moses to duty. I am not going to argue that one religion gave rise to the later two. Let people believe what they want to, as a fundamental human right. IMO, I disagree with the idea of an interfering God. However, I do believe in the illusion of freewill which provides a sufficient condition for a choice which then has consequences which are specific to the choice (this sounds more and more like Harry Potter, I know). IMO, God made the Universe as a single act in which everything was predetermined. My prayers which get answered or not, all predetermined. The creation of evil people to show others what is good, predetermined. This is my personal opinion.

Thank you for this explanation, jimmydasaint. It clearly seems like a personal belief, your own God tailored from the Abrahamic one into something that you feel (cognitively and spiritually) comfortable with. You have done it in such a way that the traditional version(s) of said Abrahamic God is almost unrecognisable, which begs the question as to why bother with the tag? It is almost as if you are afraid to let go... Your approach seems akin to the kind of freedom of interpretation that the Bahá'í Faith exhibits. I don't have an issue with personal spiritualism/faith and if you prefer to stay within the comfort zone of the familiar (culturally inherited) God-identity, it is perfectly understandable. There are, of course, certain repercussions of this kind of religious freedom of interpretation as is evident from evangelistic movements and other fringe religions/sects (Jehovah's, Preterits, Mormons, etc), but no harm if it is merely your own personal spirituality. I find your inclination towards a deterministic environment interesting. It is reminiscent of the Block Universe theory and would be equally valid within a Pantheistic mind set. The underlying (scientific and/or cognitive) challenges of sticking to the Abrahamic God are extensive, but then I am sure that you would have toyed with all of these ideas already. For example your references to the illusion of freewill and to evil being predetermined. I trust that it would then also imply no hell..? From where I am standing and as an evolutionist I see humans and animals alike, as part of nature, so not only do I agree with you re the illusion of freewill and evil (sinful nature), but also that all religions (aka superstitions) are but human inventions.

 

I have met people of other faiths who are truly religious and call themselves as such. I find some common features in them and myself:

1. a moderate nature,

2. tolerance to all other people,

3. a thirst for knowledge,

4. compassion to people and animals

5. care for the environment

6. easily emotional (not in anger) in kindness and empathy to others

 

Why is it that I find these to be typical features of religious people and others don't see them?

These attributes are definitely not exclusive to religious people, most secular-thinking people exhibit these same features. In fact, most staunch religious people are typically known to be more conservative, ignorant, pro-hunting/anti-environmental, gun lobbyists, homophobic, in favour of the death penalty, to name a few.

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Yes; they were. Because none of them did anything to stop the cruelty of those barbaric beliefs.   How could anyone be in a position to say "actually folks- let's stop persecuting people for no goo

Hard for me to agree with your last point. Christianity is often cultural more than theistic. Same with Judaism, and likely a number of others.   That's why there are cultural Christians and cultur

Not sure what you are referring to. Personally, I never disagreed that it would still be the case that there would still be conflict in the world if religion disappeared, but merely emphasized as my o

Religion is based upon false hopes and dreams and therefore it never had any real hold or basis in the cruel world we live in.

 

We live in a cruel world and the human condition is a truly sad state and anyone who thinks that this universe has any compassion for human life and aspirations and that religion ever had any basis in our reality is a fool.

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You've mentioned empiricism a few times: it would be good to see the actual evidence from which you've formed your opinion. At a cursory glance I could only find this.

 

 

 

Then you've allowed the terrorists to win.

 

They want people in the west to abandon reason and freedom and to fear and hate Islam so that Holy War can erupt and engulf the world in the end of all times.

 

Don't get me wrong, hatred itself is not wrong - it is a reasonable response if you've had friends or family involved in these atrocities. But an enlightened society needs to consider a myriad other details too, and not turn it into a simple us vs them war as our animalistic bronze-age ancestors might have.

I completely disagree with you. I think the religion is to blame. When Muslims convert to atheism, they no longer have these feelings or thoughts. That's because the influence for them is gone. You pretty much refuted your own argument here by saying the terrorists are not pious, then saying they want to bring on holy war. That's a religious purpose.

 

And you're wrong, Jihadists totally do what they do for religious reasons. They love death more than the infidel loves life remember?

Religion is based upon false hopes and dreams and therefore it never had any real hold or basis in the cruel world we live in.

 

So when a Republican senator tries to ban gay marriage or thwart the teaching of evolution in schools, that's not religious? Edited by Tampitump
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I completely disagree with you. I think the religion is to blame. When Muslims convert to atheism, they no longer have these feelings or thoughts. That's because the influence for them is gone. You pretty much refuted your own argument here by saying the terrorists are not pious, then saying they want to bring on holy war. That's a religious purpose.

 

Where did i say Islamic terrorists are not pious?

 

It's obvious you think religion is to blame, but you claimed your position to be empirically established. My challenge to you was to produce that evidence.

 

 

And you're wrong, Jihadists totally do what they do for religious reasons. They love death more than the infidel loves life remember?

 

I'm not saying religion isn't one part of the equation, but you must be blind to think it's the only one. Socio-economic and geo-political factors, among others, are in play in all these theatres. Even the role of social media should be considered.That you claim to have quantified all these factors, understood how they interact and concluded religion is the greatest factor is either quite a feat or hyperbole.

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I'm not saying religion isn't one part of the equation, but you must be blind to think it's the only one. Socio-economic and geo-political factors

The 9/11 hijackers were about as educated and economically prosperous as it gets. They were middle class or better. So we can throw that one off the table. Many of these middle eastern countries are very wealthy from oil. Give them money and better geo-political circumstances and they would still follow the barbarism of their religion.

I'm not saying religion isn't one part of the equation, but you must be blind to think it's the only one.

Wrong, you have to be blind to take YOUR position and be so stubbornly obscurantist. It couldn't be more painfully, blatantly, exquisitely obvious that these acts of martyrdom, suicide bombings, plane hijackings, genital mutilations, throwing gays from roofs, dressing women in bags and beating/displacing them for wanting education is 100% PURE RELIGION. You CANNOT, repeat CANNOT, link this to geopolitics or socio-economics. There is no doctrine in either of these things that encourage this behavior. But there are specific instructions in Islam that explicitly sanction every one of these things. Third world countries without this religion do not engage in these types of practices in this way. Sure, some of them may commit crimes out of anger or frustration. They may steal or pillage, or even murder in some cases, but nothing like the barbarism of the Islamic world. They don't commit these specific atrocities in such staggering amounts.

 

You can draw depictions of Jesus, the Buddha, or any other god without fearing for your life in these countries, But you can't do that with Mohammad. You cannot be atheist, or gay, or anything in these countries without fearing for your life either. It is perfectly acceptable in many of these countries for a brother to kill his sister in honor if he thinks she's a whore or is violating her role as a woman. This is PURE religion.

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Prometheus, I know my responses to your arguments seem strident and rude, but please keep in mind that these are just my opinions. Also keep in mind that my debating prowess is limited to a significant degree by my low level of intelligence. I'm not a very smart or bright individual, so many of my statemens can seem indicative of that. I'm more of a reactor than a thinker, so the possibility of me adding much of substance to a conversation on religion or science is very low to none. That should be kept in mind.

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keep in mind that my debating prowess is limited to a significant degree by my low level of intelligence. I'm not a very smart or bright individual

Please, for the love of Thor, STFU about your neurotic (almost dismorphic) perceptions of your own intelligence and focus on making a quality argument.

 

I promise you, nobody here here gives a rats ass about your score on online IQ tests. Those that do are morons.

 

Your posts are coherent. Your logic mostly consistent. Your words well chosen and focused.

 

Comments like these do little more than distract from the inherent merit of your point and annoy those who otherwise tend to agree with the position being elucidated.

 

Prometheus is a member worth taking seriously. So are you.

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Would it be fair to say that religion is a reflection of cultural mores at the time of introduction ?

And afterwards it acts as a 'brake' to the development of cultural mores ?

 

While Christianity was 'introduced' in the 4th century the last several centuries have seen some developments that try to keep pace with cultural development. The Vatican actually encourages scientific enquiry these days ( unlike Galileo's time ).

Islam on the other hand, seems to have almost stopped its development about 10 centuries ago, after a brief period of about three centuries, where it spread its influence and culture across North Africa, Southern Europe to Spain, and as far eastward as the Punjab.

 

I would also assume that the fact that Islam doesn't have one coherent voice ( like the Pope for Christianity ), makes it more susceptible to the whims and personal agendas of the individual imans who 'interpret' the Quran ? One might preach peace, another death and destruction to the West by suicide bombings to gullible followers.

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It couldn't be more painfully, blatantly, exquisitely obvious that these acts of martyrdom, suicide bombings, plane hijackings, genital mutilations, throwing gays from roofs, dressing women in bags and beating/displacing them for wanting education is 100% PURE RELIGION. You CANNOT, repeat CANNOT, link this to geopolitics or socio-economics. There is no doctrine in either of these things that encourage this behavior. But there are specific instructions in Islam that explicitly sanction every one of these things. Third world countries without this religion do not engage in these types of practices in this way. Sure, some of them may commit crimes out of anger or frustration. They may steal or pillage, or even murder in some cases, but nothing like the barbarism of the Islamic world. They don't commit these specific atrocities in such staggering amounts..

 

Religion either comes from the people (i.e., God is an anthropomorphic social construct), or else it comes from some transcendental realm (i.e., from God). If the latter, we should be blaming God, but I don't think that is the case here.

 

If the former, than you can blame religion for being so conservative and resisting any advancements without blaming the people who originally devised the religion. Religion is only a tool for maintaining power. Even though many people do not personally hate gays, for example, they publicly express and act out hatred for them because their religion dictates that they should do so. But again, one should not criticize any particular religion in this regard: Many people in South America either adhere to their religion's ban on birth control with the result that they have children that they can't afford to support, or use birth control and (secretly) ignore the teachings of the Church.

 

But humans themselves are not really all that different from one country to the next. For example, I suspect that many people secretly feel like throwing gays or adulterous wives from the rooftops and would probably do it if they lived in a culture in which the country's religion encouraged (or at least allowed) such behavior.

 

So the real issue is that many religions are not flexible, shut the door on critical thinking, and do not advance in tandem with advancements in culture.

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The 9/11 hijackers were about as educated and economically prosperous as it gets. They were middle class or better. So we can throw that one off the table. Many of these middle eastern countries are very wealthy from oil. Give them money and better geo-political circumstances and they would still follow the barbarism of their religion.

 

So again you've offered no statistics to back up your claims. That's fine, it's a difficult topic to research. But you must be aware that taking such a strong position without data is how zealots are made.

 

 

This is where the we in the west must be very careful: passing this off as simply religious shenanigans stops us from thinking it could ever grow in our hearts. But look at the hatred you wield with your words - this is where it begins, and you are not religious.

 

 

Wrong, you have to be blind to take YOUR position and be so stubbornly obscurantist. It couldn't be more painfully, blatantly, exquisitely obvious that these acts of martyrdom, suicide bombings, plane hijackings, genital mutilations, throwing gays from roofs, dressing women in bags and beating/displacing them for wanting education is 100% PURE RELIGION.

 

 

I have never claimed that religion isn't part of the problem: particularly the Abrahamic religions, although Hindus have their fair share of fanatics. In their current form they are certainly not part of the solution either.

 

 

You CANNOT, repeat CANNOT, link this to geopolitics or socio-economics. There is no doctrine in either of these things that encourage this behavior. But there are

 

Poverty has no doctrine at all - does that mean it does not motivate people? Strange idea.

 

I suggest you learn about the Crusades - even if it's just the first one. You will learn that religion only played a part in that charade. We have the Byzantine empire instigating the whole thing as a way to reclaim lost lands, a pope in France trying to one-up a pope in Rome, minor nobles trying to carve out their own dynasties and Germanic counts whipping up local hatred for the first mass slaughter of Jewish people (opposed and resisted by local Catholic priests). Most of these are simple power plays.

 

Religion, much like nationalism today, simply provides a pliant population to execute these plans. That is no small thing, religion is absolutely culpable here. Without an ignorant and pliable population it would be much harder to raise men to these atrocities.

 

But to say it is only religion is to remain dangerously ignorant of the darkness that is in everyone's heart.

 

 

Now, if Islam were the sole cause of these atrocities then we should see it throughout it's entire history. We don't. So what else changed?

For a proper study of the rise of Islamic terrorism the end of World War 1 would be a good place to start.

 

 

You can draw depictions of Jesus, the Buddha, or any other god...

 

Just a small correction: Buddha's not a god.

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Without an ignorant and pliable population it would be much harder to raise men to these atrocities.

 

But to say it is only religion is to remain dangerously ignorant of the darkness that is in everyone's heart.

 

Yes, when it comes to needless aggression, religion often acts as a catalyst.

It is absurdly myopic to gloss over centuries of violence fueled by Christian zealotry (e.g., British and Spanish Imperialism, as well as U.S. attempts to "convert" Native Americans) and to focus on contemporary upheavals in Islamic countries, as if the past did not matter or as if past Christians were not really Christians:

According to Jake Meador, "some Christians have tried to make sense of post-colonial Christianity by renouncing practically everything about the Christianity

of the colonizers. They reason that if the colonialists’ understanding of Christianity could be used to justify rape, murder, theft, and empire then their

understanding of Christianity is completely wrong.

Meador, Jake. "Cosmetic Christianity and the Problem of Colonialism..." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_colonialism#cite_note-7

To cherry pick those things about Christianity that are flattering and to lemon pick those things in Islamic history is absurd, particularly since both religions grew from the same Abrahamic tree.

The problem with this particular tree of knowledge is that it resists progress on the basis that its doctrine is allegedly based on the inerrant and eternally valid word of a deity, albeit the deity of primitive tribes flourishing a couple of thousand years or so ago, so that to even question its appropriateness for contemporary society is seen as a sacrilegious act.

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I have to throw the disclaimers out there, otherwise people think I'm crazy and an asshole.

 

Don't apologise for ignorance, do something about it.

 

 

Would it be fair to say that religion is a reflection of cultural mores at the time of introduction ?

And afterwards it acts as a 'brake' to the development of cultural mores ?

 

I guess it's like the echo chamber of modern media: starts off reflecting society, gets retold a myriad times, ends up a distorted reflection of how it started which people then use to inform themselves. But historically with religion they had to rely on the priests on the retelling.

 

 

I would also assume that the fact that Islam doesn't have one coherent voice ( like the Pope for Christianity ), makes it more susceptible to the whims and personal agendas of the individual imans who 'interpret' the Quran ? One might preach peace, another death and destruction to the West by suicide bombings to gullible followers.

 

Maybe that fracturing is a good thing: a greater variation of interpretations might mitigate against violent interpretations just by (memetic) competition. I personally think the decentralisation of religion is the best way to deal with it.

 

For instance the reformation allowed northern Europe to progress - the Church of England today is relatively benign.

 

 

The problem with this particular tree of knowledge is that it resists progress on the basis that its doctrine is allegedly based on the inerrant and eternally valid word of a deity, albeit the deity of primitive tribes flourishing a couple of thousand years or so ago, so that to even question its appropriateness for contemporary society is seen as a sacrilegious act.

 

Agreed. But given the majority of the world is religious, and will not just give it up overnight, how should we proceed to soften this hardline? Is the Church of England a good template?

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I guess it's like the echo chamber of modern media: starts off reflecting society, gets retold a myriad times, ends up a distorted reflection of how it started which people then use to inform themselves. But historically with religion they had to rely on the priests on the retelling.

 

 

Very well put +1, The point is When it was new and well understood all the major religions spread far and wide to almost all cultures; how would that be possible if the message was as garbled and nonsensical as it seems now?

And in answer to the OP, religions real power was when it's very simple message was fully understood; The sort of power you're talking about, happens when time distorts the message, then the politicians take advantage and use the distortions to create fear and hatred, it's at this point in a religions evolution that suffering and unthinkable atrocities begin.

As a non religious example, I give you the 2nd amendment.

Just to make the above clear, religions/guns don't kill people, people kill people.

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Is the Church of England a good template?

Founded so that a maniacal king could continue screwing around, and the basic reason why the UK has yet to break the link between the state religion and the legislative system.

 

Somehow I think humanism looks like a better template for behaviour

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I'm officially withdrawing from this conversation. I think it just boils down to the fact that I have my opinions, as misinformed and baseless in reality as they may be, and I realize that I really just don't have the evidence or education on the subject to really back up what I'm saying. When people put on scary looking masks, and stand in rows with their machine guns against a desolate dessert backdrop committing their lives to jihad, it just seems like pure concentrated religion to me. But I cannot get inside the heads of these people, so I don't know their motivations. I don't see behavior of this scope and scale in other parts of the world or other cultures, but I see where there is some pretty profound prescriptions in the Islamic religion for actions of this sort. I've also always heard about the horrors one might face for going against the religion in these countries. But again, that might be complete lies for all I know. I look at acts like 9/11 and think that its no mystery why is was people of an Islamic culture who did this and not some other culture. I think the evidence is plain for all to see without even having to reference statistics. But again, that's probably another fault of my argument. So, I'm just going to let the big boys handle this conversation.

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Your opinion is certainly valued here, and you have every right to that opinion.

Just like Jimmydasaint had a right to his opinion.

 

But, until backed up with facts ( as Prometheus asked ), that is all they are.

 

You can continue the discussion if you wish, as it has been fairly well behaved so far; I found it interesting ( and may even share some of your ideas ).

Or you can take your ball and go home.

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Founded so that a maniacal king could continue screwing around, and the basic reason why the UK has yet to break the link between the state religion and the legislative system.

 

The key word here is "maniacal." Despite the whitewashed versions we have of Henry VIII (not to mention Henry VII), these two characters apparently perfected and relished the use of torture (e.g., crushing with weights on the chest) for even relatively minor offenses.

 

Somehow I think humanism looks like a better template for behaviour

 

I tend to agree in that focusing on empathy and the value of humanity actually puts into practice the somewhat hypocritical claim made be some religions that one should love one's fellow human beings, while, in practice, they end up emphasizing the alleged superiority of one group of people over another.

 

 

I guess it's like the echo chamber of modern media: starts off reflecting society, gets retold a myriad times, ends up a distorted reflection of how it started which people then use to inform themselves. But historically with religion they had to rely on the priests on the retelling....Maybe that fracturing is a good thing: a greater variation of interpretations might mitigate against violent interpretations just by (memetic) competition. I personally think the decentralisation of religion is the best way to deal with it.

 

Well, I think that the simple example of stoning will suffice to show that retelling and having a variety of interpretations does not necessarily in itself lead to the mitigation of violence and prejudice. Stoning was an activity that was widely practiced in ancient times by people from various religions. Perhaps rather than deride some factions of Islam for continuing to utilize this torture, even for what seems rather minor offenses, we should examine why it is that such persecution, partly in the name of religion and partly as a reflection of current social attitudes, continued to exist in certain areas.

 

For instance the reformation allowed northern Europe to progress - the Church of England today is relatively benign.

 

Again, cherry picking a slice from the pie of a particular countries history while ignoring the rest (aka, the big picture) gives a distorted impression of the impact that a religion has had in general upon any given society.

 

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Somehow I think humanism looks like a better template for behaviour

 

I don't know much about humanism: is it able to to perform the functions that many people expect of religion? Things like marriages, funerals, christenings, community activities and charities, pastoral support especially for the dying (something otherwise desperately lacking in hospitals)etc...

 

If it can then it may be a good way for people to move away from theism.

 

Maybe this is too off topic, but there's a new thread on atheism and spirituality that might be appropriate.

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I don't know much about humanism: is it able to to perform the functions that many people expect of religion? Things like marriages, funerals, christenings, community activities and charities, pastoral support especially for the dying (something otherwise desperately lacking in hospitals)etc...

 

If it can then it may be a good way for people to move away from theism.

 

Maybe this is too off topic, but there's a new thread on atheism and spirituality that might be appropriate.

Good point. There are churches and ministers that are trying to do just that, e.g., Unitarian churches in both Canada and U.S. Often they call themselves secular theists, or atheistic worshippers, or the like, which does sound rather oxymoronic. It seems that they are close to being Nature worshippers of some sort and in some cases. (Jefferson himself wrote a version of the NT shorn of miracles that he distributed to schools, as if to say that Jesus was a great thinker, just as one might say that Confucius was, but that one should not be swayed by the theological hype).

 

But yes, people need pomp and circumstance rather than dull, metaphysical abstractions.

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If we don't learn from our mistakes/history we're doomed to repeat it, Jefferson clearly knew that.

Yes, the founding fathers, and Jefferson in particular, wanted to set up a government that was not a theocracy, wishing to avoid the sort of violent religious conflict that plagued Europe for centuries.

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Yes, the founding fathers, and Jefferson in particular, wanted to set up a government that was not a theocracy, wishing to avoid the sort of violent religious conflict that plagued Europe for centuries.

 

 

Many are not aware of it but such violence plagued the new world colonies as well. Persecution over religion via violence and intimidation was rampant in the New World...

 

If I remember correctly a Catholic army (Spain) wiped out a whole Protestant village in Florida in the mid to late 1500s. I may have the time incorrect but the massacre happened... They killed everyone, even women and children, over dogma!

 

http://www.heretication.info/_schismatics.html

 

Some Protestants sailed to the Americas to practice their faith. One group settled in Florida, at a place now called St Augustine, where they thought themselves safe from the horrors of European Christian strife. A Spanish expedition discovered them in 1565 and exterminated them.

 

 

The same sort of thing continued in the colonies not only between Protestants and Catholics but between various protestant denominations as well...

 

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/americas-true-history-of-religious-tolerance-61312684/?no-ist

 

First, a little overlooked history: the initial encounter between Europeans in the future United States came with the establishment of a Huguenot (French Protestant) colony in 1564 at Fort Caroline (near modern Jacksonville, Florida). More than half a century before the Mayflower set sail, French pilgrims had come to America in search of religious freedom.

The Spanish had other ideas. In 1565, they established a forward operating base at St. Augustine and proceeded to wipe out the Fort Caroline colony. The Spanish commander, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, wrote to the Spanish King Philip II that he had “hanged all those we had found in [Fort Caroline] because...they were scattering the odious Lutheran doctrine in these Provinces.” When hundreds of survivors of a shipwrecked French fleet washed up on the beaches of Florida, they were put to the sword, beside a river the Spanish called Matanzas (“slaughters”). In other words, the first encounter between European Christians in America ended in a blood bath.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Moontanman
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