Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Atheist Professor vs. Christian Student

I was organizing my mailbox and came across this forwarded email about an atheist professor vs. a christian student. This email has been going around for many years, I'm sure many have read it. I thought it'd be interesting to post it here:

An atheist professor of philosophy speaks to his class on the problem science has with God, The Almighty.

He asks one of his new Christian students to stand and.....

Professor: You are a Christian, aren't you, son?

Student : Yes, sir.

Prof: So you believe in God?

Student : Absolutely, sir.

Prof: Is God good?

Student : Sure.

Prof: Is God all-powerful?

Student : Yes.

Prof: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But God didn't. How is this God good then? Hmm?

(Student is silent.)

Prof: You can't answer, can you? Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?

Student :Yes.

Prof: Is Satan good?

Student : No.

Prof: Where does Satan come from?

Student : From...God...

Prof: That's right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Student : Yes.

Prof: Evil is everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything. Correct?

Student : Yes.

Prof: So who created evil?

(Student does not answer.)

Prof: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don't they?

Student :Yes, sir.

Prof: So, who created them?

(Student has no answer.)

Prof: Science says you have 5 senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son...Have you ever seen God?

Student: No, sir.

Prof: Tell us if you have ever heard your God?

Student : No , sir.

Prof: Have you ever felt your God, tasted your God, smelt your God? Have you ever had any sensory perception of God for that matter?

Student : No, sir. I'm afraid I haven't.

Prof: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student : Yes.

Prof: According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.

Prof: Yes. Faith. And that is the problem science has.

Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Prof: Yes.

Student : And is there such a thing as cold?

Prof: Yes.

Student : No sir. There isn't.

(The lecture theatre becomes very quiet with this turn of events.)

Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don't have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

(There is pin-drop silence in the lecture theatre.)

Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Prof: Yes. What is night if there isn't darkness?

Student : You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light , bright light, flashing light....But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? In reality, darkness isn't. If it were you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?

Prof: So what is the point you are making, young man?

Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Prof: Flawed? Can you explain how?

Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Professor, is there such a thing as immorality?"

Prof: Of course, there is...

Student : Again, I'm sorry sir, but you are wrong. You see, immorality is merely the absence of morality. Is there such a thing as injustice? No, injustice is the absence of justice. Is there such a thing as evil?"

(The Christian student pauses. He speaks very slowly.)

Student : "ISN'T EVIL THE ABSENCE OF GOOD?" If there is evil in the world, Professor, and we all agree there is, then God, if He exists, must be accomplishing a work through the agency of evil. What is that work God is accomplishing? The Bible tells us that it is to see if each one of us will, of our own free will, choose good (the result of the love of God) over evil (the result of independence or the absence of the love of God). There is nothing greater than love. God is love and God is good. If He is good, then the innate act of His goodness would be to give man the opportunity to experience the greatest thing that exists - love. But love cannot be forced on someone or else it is not love. There must be a choice involved. God loved us enough to allow us to make the choice. Evil is the result of the choice of independence from God.

Prof : As a philosophical scientist, I don't view this matter as having anything to do with choice; as a realist, I absolutely do not recognize the concept of God or any other theological factor as being part of the world equation because God is not observable.

Student : I would have thought that the absence of God's moral code in this world is probably one of the most observable phenomena going. Tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from the same ancestor as a monkey?

Prof: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The Professor shakes his h ead with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument is going.)

Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavour, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

(The class is in uproar.)

Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor's brain?

(The class breaks out int o laughter.)

Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor's brain, felt it, touched or smelt it?.....No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

(The room is silent. The professor stares at the student, his face unfathomable.)

Prof: I guess you'll have to take them on faith, son.

Student : That is it sir.. The link between man & God is FAITH. That is all that keeps things moving & alive.


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12 Comments:

At 3:50 AM, January 14, 2008, Blogger Rich Rodriguez said...

"Dialogue with a young theist." by Todangst.

A philosophy professor challenged his students with a form of the Euthyphro dilema: Did 'God' create everything that exists?" A student replied, "Yes, he did!" (The 'bravely' part is removed, seeing as civil disagreement is the very point of philosphy courses, no bravery is required for dissent. In fact, civil dissent is often rewarded in a philosophy class.)

"God created everything?" the professor asked. "Yes," the student replied. (The 'sir' part is removed, as no student in the 21st century addresses a college professor in this fashion, and the use of 'sir' is just a pretense of 'respect' from the theist mouthpiece who's actually feeling little more than contempt for the professor.'

The professor answered, "Well then, here's a logical puzzle for you: If God created everything, then God created evil; since evil exists and, according to the principal that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

The student became silently enraged over his worldview being 'attacked'. He began to project out his feelings of inadequecy as smugness coming from the professor.

The student then said: "Can I ask you a question professor?"

"Of course," replied the professor. That's the point of philosophical discourse. (The writer of the original story clearly has little experience with a real college classroom. The whole point of a philosophy or theology course is to foster discussion.)

Student: Is there such thing as heat?"

Professor: Yes, the professor replies. There's heat.

Student: "Is there such a thing as cold?"

Professor: "Yes, there's cold too."

Student: "No, sir, there isn't"

The professor doesn't grin or frown or react with any emotion other than curiosity. (The desire to see the professors 'smug smile wiped off his face' is just another projection of the feelings of inadequecy found in theists who argue like this sort of pablum...)

The student continues. You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold, otherwise we would be able to go colder than 458, You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it"

Professor: (Nodding his head in dismay, and working out how many times he's heard this bad logic by now). Do you remember the section in your workbook on semantic fallacies? By your "logic" we could also say there is no 'heat', only differing degrees of cold.

Student: ( gives a confused look a dog might make)

Professor: Your choice of 'heat' over 'cold' was arbitrary. In reality, both 'heat' and 'cold' are subjective terms... what the philosopher John Locke properly called "secondary qualities". The secondary qualities refer to a very real phenomena: the movement of atomic and sub atomic particles. We refer to their different rates of movement as 'temperature.' So what we 'really' have is temperature.... the terms 'heat' and "cold' are merely subjective terms we use to denote our relative experience of temperature. So your entire argument is specious at best. You have not 'proven' that 'cold' does not exist, what you have done is shown that 'cold' is a subjective term. Removing the term we use to reference the phenomena does not eradicate the phenomena.

Student: (a bit stunned) "Uh... Ok.... Well, is there such a thing as darkness, professor?"

Professor: You are still employing the same logical fallacy. Just with a different set of of secondary qualities.

Student: "So you say there is such a thing as darkness?"

Professor: "What I am telling you is that you are repeating the very same error. "Darkness exists as a secondary quality.

Student: "You're wrong again. Darkness is not something, it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, Darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker and give me a jar of it. Can you give me a jar of darker darkness, professor?

Professor: Sure, right after you give me a jar of light. Seriously, what we call 'light' is actually a reference to photons. You've confused a secondary quality with an attribute again. "Light and dark' are subjective terms we use to describe a measure of photons. The photons actually exist, the terms 'light' and 'dark' are just subjective, relative terms... Doing away with a subjective term does not eradicate the actual phenomena itself - the photons.

Student: (gives a look not unlike a 3 year old trying to work out quantum physics)

Professor: I see your still struggling with the fallacy hidden in your argument. But let's continue, perhaps you'll see it.

Student: Well, you are working on the premise of duality", the christian explains.

Professor: Actually, I've debunked that claim two times now. But carry on.

Student: "Well, you assume, for example, that there is a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure.

Professor: And here, my class, we have a special plead fallacy. Be careful, my student. If you want to place your god beyond the grasps of reason, logic, and science and make him 'unmeasurable', then you are left with nothing but a mystery. So if you use this special plead to solve the problem, you can't call your god moral either. You can't call him anything. You can't say anything else about something beyond reason. So your solution is akin to treating dandruf by decapitation.

Student: (Gulps. Continues on, oblivious to what was just said) Sir, science cannot even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism but has never seen, much less fully understood them.

Professor: You just said that science cannot explain a thought. I'm not even sure what you mean by that. I think what you mean to say is this: there remains many mysteries in neuroscience. Would you agree?

Student: Yes sir.

Professor: And, along the same line of thought, we accept that there are things like thoughts, or electricity or magnetism even though we have never seen them?

Student: Yes!

Professor: Recall the section in your textbook concerning fallacies of false presumption. Turn to the entry on 'Category error'. You'll recall that a category error occurs when an inappropriate measure is used in regards to an entity, such as asking someone what the color a sound is. Asking someone to see magnetism commits such an error. However, there is yet another error in your argument: it assumes that empiricism relates to vision alone. This is false. Sight is not the sole means of knowing the world. We can use other senses to detect these phenomena. And we can view their effects upon the world. Furthermore, Again, you are conflating the fact that science is incomplete with the ridiculous implication that science knows 'nothing' about these phenomena... so you'll also want to review the section on 'arguing from ignorance.' Do you have more to say?

Student: (The student, continues, mainly unfazed, due to the protection his shield of ignorance affords him.) .... Um....... to view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, merely the absence of it"

Professor: You are really in love with this secondary quality fallacy, aren't you? You are again confusing a secondary quality with the phenomena in of itself. "Death" and "life" are subjective terms we use to describe a more fundamental phenomena - biology. The phenomena in question, however, does exist. Biological forms in various states exist. Doing away with the subjective term does not eradicate the existence of death.

Nonplussed, the young man continues: "Is there such a thing as immorality?"

Professor: (Reaches for an asprin in his desk) Son... you're not going to again confuse a secondary quality for an attribute, are you? Please... what can I do to help you see this problem?

Student: (Continues on, fueled by ideology and oblivious to reality) You see, immorality is merely the absence of morality. Is there such thing as injustice? No. Injustice is the absence of justice. Is there such a thing as evil?" The christian pauses. "Isn't evil the absence of good?"

Professor: So, if someone murders your mother tonight, nothing happened? There was just an absence of morality in your house? Wait, I forgot... she's not dead... she's just experiencing an absence of life, right?

Student: Uh.....

Professor: You're beginning to see that something is missing in your argument, aren't you? Here's what your missing. You are confusing a secondary quality... a subjective term that we can use to describe a phenomena, for the phenomena itself. Perhaps you heard me mention this before? (The class erupts in laughter, the professor motions for them to stop laughing.) 'Immorality' is a descriptive term for a behavior. The terms are secondary, but the behaviors exist. So if you remove the secondary qualities, you do nothing to eradicate the real behavior that the terms only exist to describe. So by saying that 'immorality' is a lack of morality, you are not removing immorality from existence, you are just removing the secondary attribute, the term. And notice how dishonest your argument is... in that it speaks of morality and immorality devoid of behavior, but 'evil' exists as a behavior, evil is an intent to do harm. By the way, are you really trying to imply that immorality or evil are merely subjective qualities?

Student: Gulp! (Reeling from the psychological blows to his corrupt worldview....) Sir, Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"
The professor soothes his aching forehead, and prepares for the 1 millionth time that he will be subjected to the 'can you see the wind' argument.

Professor: What an interesting turn this conversation has taken. Can I advise you to read Brofenbrenner's suggestion against arguing over subjects over which you are uninformed? It's in your textbook.

Student: "Professor, since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a priest?

Professor: Interesting indirect comment on the priesthood. But let's leave that aside... We do observe the process of evolution at work, for the process works at this very moment. As for the implication in your argument that one must 'be there' to observe a process at it occurs, surely you realize that we can infer the process through examining the evidence that these processes leave behind? In a sense, we 'are there' when we observe artifacts. Consider for example the science of astronomy. How do we know about super novas? Because we can observe diferrent supernovas in different stages of super nova, by observing their 'artifacts' in the night sky. The same stands for any historical science. Your mistake here is that you think science is merely observation, and 'real-time-observation' at that...This is a strawman of science. Science is both direct and indirect observation... it also allows for inference.

Student: "But sir! You stated that science is the study of observed phenomena.

Professor: No, this is a strawman of what science is... Science is more than just real time observation, we also make inferences. But continue....

Student: (Responds to this as a goat might respond to a book on calculus) May I give you an example of what I mean?"

Professor: Certainly.

Student: "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen air, oxygen, molecules, atoms, the professor's brain?"

The class breaks out in laughter. The christian points towards professor, "Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain... felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain?" "No one appears to have done so", The christian shakes his head sadly. "It appears no one here has had any sensory perception of the professor's brain whatsoever. Well, according to the rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science, I declare that the professor has no brain!"

Professor: You mean, according to your strawman view of science. I am glad that you are here in my class so that I can help you better understand what you criticize. Science is not merely 'looking' at things. Science is empirical, but also rational. We can make inferences from evidence of things that we do see, back to phenonema that we might not be able to directly see. And one inference I can make from observing your behaviors here today is that you've wasted the money you've spent on your logic textbook so far this year. I strongly advise, for your own sake, that you crack open that book today, and start reading

 
At 10:43 AM, September 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS REPLY IS REALLY DUMB.

 
At 2:47 PM, March 09, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your reply to this reply was really dumb.

 
At 4:27 AM, June 09, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot the most important part to the story....

'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,' the student continues. 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?'

Now uncertain, the professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world.. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.'

To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'

The professor sat down.

 
At 10:49 AM, September 25, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha the first reply had it right. Shown by the comment above, you really can't reason with these people.

 
At 4:35 PM, October 27, 2009, Blogger Eugene said...

Evil most obviously does exist and it is most certainly NOT just the absence of good. If I pass a beggar and I give him money for food then I did good. If I walk by him and do nothing then I did not do good but I hardly did anything evil. If I walk past the beggar and stab him 15 times in the back THEN I did evil! How is that not obvious to some people?

For bonus points, what about these passages:

Isaiah 45:7 "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."

Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

Lamentations 3:38 "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"

Jeremiah 18:11 "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you."

Ezekiel 20:25,26 "I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts...

 
At 10:10 AM, November 09, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there!

Here are just a few commentaries from the ESV Study Bible that will hopefully assist you in your reading of God's Word. As you can see from the commentaries, each of the verses you bring up are put into a broader context of the particular book, and sometimes even the entire Bible itself! These commentaries may not completely satisfy you, but I do hope they help! =]

Isaiah 45:7 "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."

Beyond the case of Cyrus (main subject in chapter 45 of Isaiah), the Lord's creative will and wise purposes stand behind everything. Therefore, His people should not be discouraged when the appearances of history seem contrary to His promises.

Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

With a series of questions, Amos shows that imminent danger is for Israel. He points out that in the world of nature, certain sequences of events can lead to predictable outcomes. If a lion (vv. 4,8) roars, then it has taken, or is about to take, its prey. What he, the prophet, is doing is simply telling Israel that the Lord GOD (v.7) has announced judgment and that unless Israel takes immediate corrective action, the outcome is certain. The ESV (English Standard Version) has correctly captured the sense of the Hebrew word ra'ah in this verse, a word which has a very broad range of connotations (occurences of the key word (ra'ah = "evil", "disaster", "discomfort"). Often translated "evil," it is used to express everything from "moral evil" (Gen. 6:5) to "disaster" (as here and also Jonah 3:10). If there is disaster occuring, the people should not attribute it to bad luck but should take note that God is at work, in his sovereign wisdom, and they should respond accordingly to his judgment.

Lamentations 3:38 "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"

Lam. 3:38 good and bad. As experienced by human beings (cf. Isa. 45:7; Amos 3:6). The God who sent judgment can also send renewal.


Jeremiah 18:11 "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you."

Jer. 18:11 God is shaping disaster (vv. 7–8), so Judah must amend (lit., “make good”; 7:3, 5) its ways (patterns of living) and deeds.

Ezekiel 20:25,26 "I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts...

Ezek. 20:22–26 The final phase in the history includes a passage notoriously difficult to understand. Although the giving of laws in v. 11 held out the possibility of life, in v. 25 God asserts that he gave Israel statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life. The Mosaic laws were in fact good and were the means by which the people could enjoy God's presence and blessing among them. The laws that were “not good” refer rather to the infiltration of pagan customs of the surrounding nations, with which the people of Israel increasingly aligned their understanding of their own law. Verse 26, offering up all their firstborn (cf. v. 31), points this way. This phase is analogous to God giving up people to their own idolatrous desires and the consequences thereof (Num. 11:4–6, 31–35; Rom. 1:24, 26, 28; cf. Acts 7:42).

 
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At 3:17 PM, December 22, 2012, Blogger Unknown said...

Hey Guys, I cut and paste another article here.

Will God be angry with these 3 guys ?

I would like to share the stories of three guys I know. All three are Malaysians – 1 Iban, 1 Malay and 1 Indian. Let’s call them A, B and C. These are real people.

A is from a small village, an hour’s drive from Kuching. During his childhood, he was never really interested in religion. His family was then too poor to be bothered by organized religion. In his late teens, things changed and almost his entire village became Christians. Despite the cajoling by and to the great disappointment of his family, A simply wasn’t interested in religion. Even when he went to the university on a government scholarship, he politely declined all invitations by his well-meaning friends to attend church. In his mind, he had other more important things to do. When we met recently, A told me that the last time he went to a church was in 2006 – to attend a friend's wedding.

Over the past 15 years, A has been working with many remote communities in Sarawak, focussing his energy in improving the education of the rural children. Earning very little and living a very modest life, he conducts classes for poor children, motivates teachers posted to remote villages, and raises funds to buy books and equipment for rural schools in Sarawak. When he returns to Kuching a few times a year, it is always to raise money and support for the rural schools that he is trying to help. So focussed is he on his mission that he hasn’t got a girlfriend nor is marriage anywhere in his mind. In his own words “I have got no time for church, I have much more important things to do”.

Will God be angry with him ?

 
At 3:17 PM, December 22, 2012, Blogger Unknown said...

Let’s now talk about B who has been my friends for over 20 years. B is from Muar, Johor. His father was an ustazand his mother taught in a government primary school. His family was quite conservative and B was rather pious in his early years. Later in the university, B studied economics. It was at the university that B said he became “disillusioned” with religion – mainly because of the hypocrisy that he witnessed amongst his “religious” friends. B is now busy in Gua Musang. He will, of course, get into trouble if people knew that he has not been to the mosque for the past two years.

Why hasn’t he been going to the mosque ? Because he says he is busy in the Orang Asli villages in Hulu Kelantan. B works with the Temiar villages in the highlands of the Gua Musang district. He helps them protect their ancestral land, he helps them find funds for their children’s schooling, he helps them sell their produce, he takes them to hospital in Cameron Highlands when they are sick, he helps them deal with bureaucrats. Despite having been hit by malaria twice in the past 5 years (he almost died), B is persistent. He says he will continue helping the Temiars as long as he is able. God, he says, “can wait”.

Will God be angry with him ?


Now, it C’s turn. C is a childhood friend who is now a very successful doctor / professor specialising in hepatology. C, who grew up in a Hindu family, says he didn’t believe in religion. He doesn’t pray nor does he go to any temple. He told me that once he was chased out of a temple because he questioned the priest’s methods. He gets very very annoyed if people preach about religion and thinks that all priests, imams, monks, etc are con-men.

C is a big name in his field – and has been the brains behind many ground-breaking research work in Malaysia and also in Singapore. He lives, eats, sleeps, walks and shits hepatology. Many of his pioneering work has helped the medical fraternity develop better treatment methods – and of course saving many lives along the way. C is also a great teacher / mentor – simply loves teaching and has mentored many doctors who have become successful in their own right. His patients love him. The nurses adore him. His colleagues have the highest respect for him. And despite his extremely tight schedule, C is also an active social worker – working with two orphanages in the Kelang Valley. He also donates quite a bit for charitable causes as long as it is not for any religious cause.
Will God be angry with him ?





A, B and C – despite coming from different socio-economic and religious backgrounds – have some things in common. All three are committed to improving the lives of their fellow humans. All three serve selflessly. All three have made the world a better place. All three could not be bothered with religion. All three do not go to mosques, or temples or churches to pray.

Do you think God will be angry with them ? I don’t think so.


What say you ?

 

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