How Does it Work that ‘Jesus Died for Our Sins?’

One reason I became and remain a JW is the gift of explaining just how Christ’s death works. Everyone else must settle for a sloppy “Jesus died for our sins to show he loves us.” Pulls on the heartstrings, I guess, but it seems more than a little fuzzy intellectually. Only JWs (to my knowledge) can explain just how that death benefits us. It is right to highlight it:

https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/jesus-sacrifice-ransom/

Note how it all hinges on Adam. You can’t throw away Adam to chase after the evolutionists, tempting though that may be. Keep him as a metaphor if you absolutely must, but keep him. Maybe seeing how everything hangs together by keeping him will be enough to reconsider the “science” that says he is fairy tale.

I’m all for science. I really am. Pour me a double shot of it. E5BE6D8E-3D75-48C2-A2BD-A44A39B42FD3But it is supposed to serve us, rather than we serve it. I hope I can think a little out of the box when “science” says nothing remains beyond the grave. Why the “science” in italics? Because it remains a tool of discovery, a valuable tool indeed, but not the only tool, nor even the most important one.

Writing of certain branches of alternative medicine, Dr. McCabe states (roughly): “These methods, thousands of years old, are unproven by science not because they are untrue, but because of the limitations of science.” Exactly. When you can gather material into contrasting groups, the only difference between them being a single variable, and perform repeatable experiments upon those groups, science is at its best. Not all things lend themselves to such easy classification and repeatability. “Science” in the absence of such attributes becomes little more than speculation, hardly worth discarding the spiritual things which carry far greater benefit.

You don’t even have to toss out all that the evolutionists say. Let scientists be scientists and Bible students be Bible students. Micro-evolution, that essentially amounts to variation within a “kind?” Sure, why not? It is little different than animal husbandry, which people have known about for ages. Maybe you can even play with macro-evolution some. More dicey, but maybe some aspects of it can be accepted. But life arising from non-life, “abiogenesis” it is called? No.

Just make sure you keep Adam in the mix some way, some how, and you retain the key for unlocking just how Christ’s death works to save humankind.

 

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The Far Side and the Spoofing of Science

A scientist pours one liquid after another upon a duck placed on the table. His companion carefully calibrates the results on a chalkboard. Beneath the heading “Like” is “Milk off a duck’s back,” followed by “water off a duck’s back,” followed by “orange juice off a duck’s back.” Next on the list is “acid off a duck’s back,” but this is crossed out. Afterward, there is “syrup off a duck’s back.” More ingredients on the table remain to be tested. The caption: “It’s all rather scientific. Then we publish our results.”

I think I did not reflect until now on how Far Side consistently spoofs “science.” This fits in so well with reality today, when any yo-yo says anything and calls it “the science.”

”Scientific studies” have come to be a standing joke. If a study doesn’t go your way, just hold out for the next one that may.

It is as though a parlor trick vastly over applied. Very effective if confined to a narrow field of focus. But ridiculous when relied upon to evaluate all of life. 

An underreported experiment several years back, to me reveals it all. Volunteers were asked to remember a certain number, then they walked down a corridor to another room in which another researcher awaited to take down that number. 

On the way down, each was met by a woman who thanked them for taking part in the study. To show the researcher’s gratitude, she offered each participant a choice of two snacks—a fruit salad or a slice of chocolate cake.

Now, unbeknownst to each participant, some had been given 2-digit numbers to remember, and others 7-digit numbers. When results were tallied, those who had been given 2-digit numbers were twice as likely to choose the fruit salad as those who have been given 7-digits. What could possibly account for that?

The conclusion researchers drew was that if our minds are not heavily taxed, we choose fruit. We make the rational assessment that it is healthier for us. But if our minds are taxed, rationality goes right out the window! We say, “Yummy! Cake!” and grab for the chocolate. Read it here.

The fatal flaw in relying upon “science” is us. Unless things are very very simple, emotion immediately trumps “critical thinking.” This weakness sabotages most of what passes for science. It make reliance on science the most foolhardy of endeavors. It’s okay as a supplemental tool. But no more than that. It must always be in subjection to superior methods.

To the extent possible, science seeks to address human bias. But the extent possible is often not sufficiently much. In an ideal experiment of discovery, you line up two groups with identical attributes barring just one. Then, by tinkering through repeatable experiments with the one variable attribute, you make your discoveries as to its significance. Trouble is, very few things can be reduced to such simplicity. Humans, life, and reality itself is far too complex. You can applaud the efforts of science as you draw tentative conclusions. But you should never lose sight of how easily those conclusions can be overturned. 

Those who rely upon science as the be-all and end-all generally do just that. Upon reaching a conclusion, they circle the wagons and decry new or contrarian evidence as ‘fake news.’ 

Humans don’t have the integrity to handle science. It is not a moral failing, but it is built into how we are, as the cake-fruit experiment shows. To be sure, moral failings can and do exacerbate the problem, and ours is an age of much moral flexibility. The staunchest proponents of science never seem to notice when money trumps their science. 

There was once a more modest time when medicine was called the ‘healing arts.’ Today it is called ‘evidence-based science.’ The first is a recognition that life is far too complex to imagine its individual components can be isolated and played against one another. The first allows for all laudable human attributes to come into play, not just deduction, but also intuition, empathy, even (or perhaps particularly) love. The second eliminates all these things for cold thought. Nothing wrong with cold thought in itself, but to elevate it over all else creates vulnerability and allows for the baser qualities of humans to rise.

Is it not a bi-product of the evolutionary “science” that is abiogenesis, the idea that life could arise on its own? If you realize life could not do that, you maintain a certain awe of it. If you think it can, you say, “Well, how hard can it be? If blind chance can bring about life, culled only by natural selection, just think what can be done if focused powers of deliberate engineering are brought to bear!”

Thus, scientists are unafraid to tinker with what any godly person would have the common sense to stay far away from. ‘Gain-of-function’ research becomes a nifty tool of of scientific endeavor. Then when it unleashes an unnatural pandemic—that is when such human inventions escape the lab, they do what morally depraved people have done since the beginning of time. They muddy the waters to hide what they’ve done. We are all undone by the modern “worship” of science.

***Yikes! all you who merrily reproduce Far Side cartoons. Look what I’ve just spotted on Wikipedia:

“Since 1999, Larson has objected to his work being displayed on the internet, and has been sending takedown notices to owners of fan websites and users posting his cartoons.[25] In a personal letter included with the requests, Larson claimed that his work is too personal and important to him to have others "take control of it".[26][25] In 2007, he also published an open letter on the web to the same effect.[27] Larson has been criticized for not providing a legitimate online source for the Far Side series and negatively compared to cartoonists who have embraced the internet.[28]”

He wishes you wouldn’t.

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Gain-of-Function Research. Evolutionist Assumptions to Kill us All.

Gain-of-function research is a euphemism for taking something harmless in nature and making it harmful, maybe in order to make a bio weapon, maybe to make a vaccine against one, or maybe for who-can-say what reasons. Newsweek, back in April 2020, reported on U.S—China collaboration over such research. Peter Breggin, a doctor better known as an advocate of psychiatric drug reform, traced it back still further. U.S. government agencies denied it. Dr. Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, even did so before Congress. But recently the National Institutes of Health acknowledged it. “‘I told you so,’ doesn’t even begin to cover it,” said the Senator who had first made the charge.

Dr. Breggin has recently branched out from psychiatric reform to tackle the question of just how the pandemic arose. “How do researchers determine if a virus found in nature can become a pathogen, i.e., “bind to human cells?” The laboratory scientists engineer it into a pathogen and use their success to claim it could also emerge naturally from nature—a conclusion which makes no sense,” he says in his book Covid 19 and the Global Predators

Why does it make no sense to him?

Engineering a benign virus into a lethal one is a complex time-consuming, highly technical process, thereby making an accidental change of that sort in nature extremely unlikely.” he says.

It makes no sense to me, either. Next paragraph of his book, he repackages and runs the claim through again: “When the researchers…believe they have made coronaviruses capable of producing a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in humans…they absurdly claim that natural selection is likely to do the same thing! and use that claim to scare us into giving them further amounts of our taxes to support their dangerous Frankenstein-like activities.

It is dumb as dumb can be. But are these researchers disingenuous in suggesting that natural evolution might do what they could do only with the most painstaking effort? Or do they really believe it? Breggin seems convinced they are disingenuous. I think they really believe it.

The reason I think they really believe it is found in a Watchtower publication, The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking. Evolutionists who think the living cell arose spontaneously through natural selection try to test their theory by building one themselves.  Only ‘Five Questions’ has the common sense to observe:

Similarly, if scientists ever did construct a cell, they would accomplish something truly amazing —but would they prove that the cell could be made by accident? If anything, they would prove the very opposite, would they not?”

Evolutionists think it here too! If they can design it, that must mean it could come through evolution! It is also, as Breggin says, “a conclusion which makes no sense.” It is the reason one must always go easy putting faith in science. In the midst of genuine research comes an assumption so blindingly dumb as to contaminate whatever follows! Moreover, in Watchtower’s brochure, the assumption just puts egg on the face of the scientists. In the current gain-of-function application, it threatens to kill us all!

To sum up: “The work entailed risks that worried even seasoned researchers. More than 200 scientists called for the work to be halted….[since] it increased the likelihood that a pandemic would occur through a laboratory,” per the Newsweek article. Obama banned it. Trump, after initially permitting it, also banned it—probably the only thing the two have ever agreed upon! What emboldens researchers to do end runs around the bans of two presidents and perform the risky research anyway? Their overarching belief in evolution.

Senator Paul made the point as to its dangers, he who tweeted ‘I told you so’ about the gain-of-function admission. It’s not so much that government health agencies were lying, he says. Rather: “Right now we have a virus where the whole world has been turned on its head, it has a 1% mortality. Can you imagine if they create something in a lab that has a 15% mortality or 50% mortality? Some of the viruses they have been experimenting with in Wuhan have 50% mortality.” Evolutionists threaten all humanity when they act on their assumptions.

Interestingly, the NIH letter admitting to gain-of-function research did not use the term, “though the work he described matches its commonplace definition precisely,” says the National Review writer. Of course! It is like when I was asked if nighttime employees really sleep on the job. I replied I had never seen one do that. However I had seen them engage in activity that so closely resembled sleep that it was impossible to tell the difference.

Changing definitions can get you out of many a jam. Even Xi Jinping insists that the government he heads in China is democratic. All you need to do is change your definition of democratic to see it that way. And don’t get me started on how the C-word has changed over the years to target unpopular groups. It once was the case that if you fell under the spell of a charismatic leader, withdrew from society, and began doing strange things, you just might be a member of a cult. These days, simply following Jesus in being “no part of the world” is enough to trigger the hated word.

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Metaphors, Genesis, and Adam & Eve

If someone starts giving me a hard time over Adam and Eve in the ministry, I tell them its okay to treat it as a metaphor, and on that basis, see what can they draw from it. I am even proactive on the point, suggesting metaphor before they can get around to objecting to it.

A certain type of person almost takes that as a compliment—that you are not rubbing their nose in ‘Adam & Eve’ but you are deeming them smart enough that to figure out a metaphor. I even briefly won over my return visit Bernard Strawman on this point.

I used to call such people ones who suffer from “We are wise and learned adults, far too clever to be sold Adam and Eve. What’s next—Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?” syndrome. But now I drop the derisiveness, for it doesn’t do any good, and I just invite them to treat it as a metaphor. After all, science is pretty universal that Adam & Eve is for dumbbells, and we are all taught that science is the be-all and end-all. Training like that doesn’t turn around on a dime.

Sometimes when people see how well the metaphor works out they forget all about “science” and they put their “cognitive dissonance” on the shelf as something to work out later. You don’t have to know everything. It’s the antithesis of humility to think that you do—or can. Is not the phrase “cognitive dissonance” largely an appeal to pride that overall dumbs us down? It is an idea worthy of a pamphlet, probably, but not the volumes dedicated to it.

People cannot simultaneously hold two conflicting ideas at the same time? Of course they can. A little humility solves the problem. Put one or both on the shelf pending more information, which may or may not come, but in the meantime, you can’t rush it. You can’t just check yourself at the door because of a few facts that don’t line up. In the field of mathematics proofs will commence with assuming this or that point is true, and then seeing where that assumption leads. If it leads to a dead-end, the point is disproved. But sometimes it doesn’t lead to a dead-end. You don’t just stop dead in your tracks because you spot an obstacle up ahead. You see where this or that idea leads.

When I first came across Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was astounded that here were people who actually believed in Adam and Eve. They didn’t look stupid, or if so in no greater proportion than anyone else, yet all my life I had heard that only the reddest of the rednecks believed in Adam and Eve.  I couldn’t figure it out. I decided to shelve it for future resolution. I still don’t know how certain things will align. But the answer to the ‘problem of evil,’—why a loving God would permit it, the answer to the reason for and origin of death, the coherent answer to the question of how Christ’s death could benefit us—all these things were so overwhelming, that I decided to give “science” the back seat, not the front seat it usually demands. Without Jesus as the “first Adam,” a perfect man who, by holding the course, repurchased us from that first perfect man who sinned and sold us out, the question of ‘Why Jesus died for us’ devolves into a mushy and intellectually unsatisfying “because he loved us.”

To be sure, the head is not everything, but neither is it nothing. There is some sort of reasoning regarding mitochondrial DNA and the number of generations can be counted. It is from this they determine that all people on earth are related through one woman. Maybe that represents the reconciliation of timelines that otherwise don’t reconcile. It is roundly shouted down by majority scientists today. But we ought to know by now that being shouted down by the majority means nothing. Anything can be spun any way, by people who may or not be disingenuous. The majority team gets the ball and then tilts the field so steeply as to tumble the minority team right off it.

For myself, I am content that the Witness organization in 2010 defined the “days” of creation as “epochs,” their sum total plus all the time before as “aeons.” “It’s about time,” their science critics might cry? As late as 1987, the US Supreme Court took up the question of teaching “evolutionary science” and “creation science,” ruling that if you taught the first in public school, it didn’t mean you had to teach the second. So it takes the Witness organization 23 years to weigh in on an area not their specialty or mission. Is that too long? The world of science has yet to weigh in with any accuracy on the spiritual concerns that Witnesses make their domain.

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Taughannock Man, a Day at Taughannock Falls—With Special Guest Appearance by Bob Dylan

“It was a horrible, nasty, vicious piece of work,” hissed Andy Currant about Piltdown Man. But the reason it was horrible, nasty, and vicious is that it made his revered heroes look like fools. Had it been his enemies made to look foolish, he’d be singing its praises to this day, most likely. Scientists steeped in evolutionary thinking confirmed the prehistoric man was genuine. The fraud remained undetected for 40 years.

However, what is truly a horrible, nasty, and vicious piece of work is that nobody told me such dupes were to be found much closer to home—at nearby Cornell University. It took a trip to Taughannock Falls to break free from the blinders they’d all tried to fit me with. In 1879, local scientists, steeped in evolutionary thinking, had chipped a few small pieces loose from “Taughannock Man,” unearthed in by workmen widening a driveway, and had upon analysis declared the petrified man authentic. But it wasn’t authentic. It had been (literally) cooked up just weeks before in a local mechanic’s establishment, and was made of stone dust, eggs, minerals, iron filings and beef blood.

It had then been slipped in sideways though a tunnel. Tree limbs had been twisted about its neck, as though having grown there ages later. The dirt overhead, therefore, literally had been undisturbed for centuries, and this was among the circumstances that caused the Cornell experts to swoon that they, too, had discovered a prehistoric man—and right in their own back yard at that!

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It took the cautious application of alcohol to uncover the ruse. Or maybe the incautious application of it. One of the local good ‘ol boys drank a little too much of it at the tavern and began boasting of how he and his chums had buried the stone giant just to fool the great men.

Fooling the great men does not appear to be the motivation, as it was with Piltdown Man in at least one of the several theories offered as to its creation. Taughannock Man was a straight-up publicity stunt, aimed to drum up business for the expanding Taughannock Hotel. That same year, its proprietor had hired a stuntman to tightrope-walk the adjacent gorge. It was a lavish hotel build next to lavish surroundings. Railroads dropped off visitors at the north and south ends of Cayuga Lake, steamboats took them to a landing point, and stagecoaches took them to the hotel, which—alas—burned to the ground in 1922. If there is one common feature of magnificent historical wood buildings, it is that they burn to the ground,

The main attraction of Taughannock State Park is Taughannock Falls. You can see it from the visitor center on the northern rim of the gorge (built upon the site of the old hotel—a display legend indicates the location of an excavated wall), but for best results, you hike the easy 3/4 mile trail up the gorge from the main park entrance. The cliff walls close in upon you from either side and in due course you are just before the falls and looking up, not down as you would be from the visitor center. The water drops 215 feet, making Taughonnock Falls the largest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. It drops further than Niagara Falls.

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Besides the Park display legend, I found two other sources telling of the Taughannock Man hoax. One is a bland nostalgic piece from the Ithaca Times, gently chuckling at the outrageous old days that could never happen again because we are so much smarter. The other, from lifeinthefingerlakes.com, leaves open the possibility that it could happen all over again because we are just as dumb as we have always been. The bland piece even seeks to cushion the great men from Cornell University, saying their analysis yielded “decidedly mixed results.” But the fingerlakes piece and the park legend both say that they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

We are just as likely to fall for such pranks again—not the same ones, for we have been forewarned, and it will take a while for that forewarning to wear off—but different ones that we have not been (lately) forewarned against. Pride will blind us. Greed will blind us. Ideology will blind us. Some of today’s realities are yesterday’s conspiracy theories. Are we really to believe that none of today’s conspiracy theories will become tomorrow’s realities?

Gullibility is old and its not going away. Bob Brier, the Egyptologist, tells how pharaohs never recorded their defeats (so, of course, no one else dared to do so either). They only recorded their victories. He relates the exploits of one pharaoh who recorded victory after glorious victory! each one closer to his home base (because he was retreating).

With regard to the evolution theory, the Jehovah’s Witness organization appears to have no problem with “micro-evolution.” It is macro they choke on. Of course, they do not champion either, since that is neither their specialty nor mission, but micro, which is not all that different from animal husbandry, the stuff of what Darwin observed on the island, they can let stand without throwing stones at. It is the “kinds” of Genesis. They even invited Michael Behe over to talk shop.

Taughannock Man, along with the more famous Piltdown Man, is clearly macro. Piltdown is rightly more famous, because with it there was no town drunk to spill the beans within weeks, and the great men were fooled for forty years. However, in an effort to save face, they have declared that they were not fooled at all, they were not that dumb, that they smelled a rat almost from the beginning.

If so, this makes it worse. It replace gullible with fraud, for they said nothing about it. Moreover, it is contemptuous fraud, the sort that rt.com resorts to when reporting on Jehovah’s Witnesses, when whatever reporting they present takes place amidst of backdrop of religious crazies doing truly crazy, bizarre, pugilistic, cultish things that have nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses, as anyone who knows the slightest bit about them will instantly attest. (chapter 13 of this work)  In the case of the evolutionist fraudsters, it is: “Tell the dummies anything you must to keep them on board—who cares if it is true or not.”

Thus it becomes necessary, as it so often is with me, to bring in Bob Dylan with what started as a joke. Explaining a metaphor to Evo-Ann that any child would instantly understand, it reached the point of my posting a tree fallen across the road with the comment that it was blocking “Evolution Row.”

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Sometimes something gets in your head and you knock it around a bit and come up with more. “Evolution Row” is actually not a bad interpretation of the song “Desolation Row.” Take this portion:

At midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew

Come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do

Then they bring them to the factory where the heart-attack machine

Is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene

Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go

Check to see that nobody is escaping to Desolation Row.

Anyone familiar with the Bible, as Dylan is—he did a stint as a born-again Christian; listen to Slow Train Coming, for example, and you’ll see he is thoroughly familiar with scripture—will know who is “all the agents and the superhuman crew.”

At the darkest time, they round up everyone “who knows more than they do.” Well, nobody knows more than does the “superhuman crew,” so it must be a reference to those who think that they they know more than others, who think that are very smart indeed, and that take great pleasure in parading their knowledge before everyone else, quick to disparage anyone in their path, ones who don’t suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees with them.

Despite their self-heralded knowledge, they are “rounded up” and processed, as though in a “factory.” The knowledge that they take such pride in is nevertheless death-dealing, like a “heart attack machine strapped across their shoulders,” with “kerosene” thrown in for good measure. 

Despite their knowledge being death-dealing—settling for a few dozen years lifespan at best and then eternal blackness—nobody must escape this tripe. “Insurance men” see to it. Nobody will escape from Evolution Row. (Dylan actually wrote “to Desolation Row,” not “from Desolation Row,” but it was probably a typo and I will set him straight when I see him next.) Let us not forget that the evolution teaching (in its full measure—not counting the intelligent design variety) is desolation to the Bible based hope of living forever on a paradise earth.

No, I don’t really think Dylan had that in mind. Other stanzas don’t so readily lend themselves to that interpretation. But it’s not a bad interpretation all the same. Dylan often writes in a stream of consciousness and doesn’t necessarily have any underlying message. It’s like decrypting Kafka. The tone is distinct, but the underlying words can be taken any number of ways. He is not inclined to pose as a great man with deep underlying meanings he is cryptically recording for all of humanity if they can but prove their worth by unraveling the message. Naw. He describes himself more like a modern Aaron, who throws stuff into the fire and “out came this calf.” (Exodus 32:24)

To see the Taughannock Giant, if your interest is peaked, you might think you could find it somewhere within Cornell, since it plays a part in that university’s history, even if an inglorious one. However, they red-facededly want nothing to do with it. The baked giant can be seen at the History Center of Tompkins County. Docents there probably retrieved it from Cornell’s dumpster.

 

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One Fine Discussion along Bob Dylan’s Evolution Row

At the daily text discussion, the question was posed: What if you are a young person in school, all your classmates believe in evolution, and you want to defend creation? It was the application supplied to 1 Peter 3:15, “Be] always ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.​“

No one present was actually in school. For most the experience was many years behind them. Roy said how when he had been in school, he told the teacher he believed in creation, and the latter replied, “Well, okay, but you still have to learn evolution.” A lot of school is like that—learn answers that may or may not be relevant (or even true) and spit them back later on a test.

Someone pointed to how it is only a theory of evolution, but in the academic world this doesn’t really wash. The only way to prove it would be to go back and observe, and that’s not going to happen, but they still think the evidence is overwhelming.

Neither can you prove creation. All you can do is establish it is reasonable, and perhaps evolution unreasonable. It’s not unreasonable in every single aspect, but in the overall picture it asks you to swallow... “Most people believe in evolution simply because someone they respect told them that it is true,” the text comment said. That about squares with typical experience. I remember a brother who used to lead off with that question when the topic arose: “Do you believe it because you have personally considered all the evidence for and against, or is it more that so many say it is so that you figured it must be.” Usually the answer was the latter.

The friends present are long out of school, long immersed in the real world of day-to-day activity. Evolution has become irrelevant to them, as it is to most people. The scientists may make much of abiogenesis, macro-evolution, and micro-evolution, but these categories are not especially significant to non-scientists, who just lump them all together as “evolution.” Sometimes they even lump in non-living things—the origin of the universe, for example, as “evolution.” They’re not concerned about these categories. Few people are. They’re concerned about categories of things that count in their own lives. One “category,” micro-evolution, is no more than unremarkable animal husbandry, has been around forever, and is what Darwin extended into other areas.

On “macro-evolution,” I sort of like the series, “Was it Designed?” that has run in the magazines for the longest time, and highlights behavior so incredibly complex that you say, “I may be gullible, but I am not so gullible as to think such behavior could come about just by happenstance. Or some other aspect of copying nature. The reason wing tips on airplanes bend up, for example, is that birds have wings that do such, and when engineers ran the numbers they found they save a lot of energy that way.

On abiogenesis—there you pull the mathematicians in, who routinely declare this or that aspect of cell or protein activity so staggeringly unlikely—odds on the order of all the known atoms in the universe—that for all practical purposes it is “impossible.” You would think this would carry more weight with atheists, but it doesn’t. One of them muttered to me (I hadn’t known this) that proponents of “intelligent design” are almost always mathematicians. Of course! Their branch of science runs the numbers and declares it impossible. Freed from these “inconvenient facts,” their non-specialist brethren continue to build castles in the sky, hiding behind a “fallacy of negation” argument they themselves have designed. Roughly, it runs that, “just because I cannot answer your question doesn’t mean what I say is untrue.

But I think if I were back in school again—it has been awhile—I would bypass all such heady things to focus on Bob Dylan, specifically his song Desolation Row. Sometimes something gets in your head and you knock it around a bit and come up with something more. “Evolution” Row is actually not a bad interpretation of the song. Take this portion:

At midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew

Come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do

Then they bring them to the factory where the heart-attack machine

Is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene

Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go

Check to see that nobody is escaping to Desolation Row.

Anyone familiar with the Bible (as Dylan is—he did a stint as a born-again Christian. Listen to Slow Train Coming, for example, and you’ll see he is thoroughly familiar with scripture) will know who is “all the agents and the superhuman crew.”

At the darkest time, they round up everyone “who knows more than they do.” Well, nobody knows more than does the “superhuman crew,” so it must be a reference to those who think that they they know more than others, who think that are very smart indeed and that take great pleasure in parading their knowledge before everyone else, quick to disparage anyone in their path, ones who don’t suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees with them.

Despite their self-heralded knowledge, they are “rounded up” and processed, as though in a “factory.” The knowledge that they take such pride in is nevertheless death-dealing, like a “heart attack machine strapped across their shoulders,” with “kerosene” thrown in for good measure. 

Despite their knowledge being death-dealing—settling for a few dozen years lifespan at best and then eternal blackness—nobody must escape this tripe. “Insurance men” see to it. Nobody will escape from Evolution Row. (Of course, Dylan actually wrote “to Desolation Row,” not “from,” but it was probably a typo.) Let us not forget that the evolution teaching (in its full measure— not counting the intelligent design variety) is desolation to the Bible based hope of living forever on a paradise earth.

Naw, I don’t really think Dylan had that in mind. Other stanzas don’t so readily lend themselves to that interpretation. But it’s not a bad interpretation all the same. Dylan often writes in a stream of consciousness and doesn’t necessarily have any underlying message. It’s like decrypting Kafka. The tone is distinct, but the underlying words can be taken any number of ways.

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A Watchtower Study to Battle the “False Doctrine” of Evolution

The way it works with humans is we invite people over for a cookout and they all end up sitting on their hands because the gas grill ran out of propane and someone has to go to Home Depot to get some more.

That was my comment on the first portion of last week’s Watchtower Study that had to do with the earth’s built-in recycling. As much as we breathe in oxygen, it doesn’t run out because plants emit it, recycling our carbon dioxide at the same time. Then there is also the water cycle:

All the streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place from which the streams flow, there they return so as to flow again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7) That’s not bad insight for writing 3000 years old.

Not to mention how my daughter the next day told of of her friend who started raising rabbits and, almost as an afterthought, began collecting their poop for the garden and now the garden is exploding with produce. As for the heavens, they belong to Jehovah, But the earth he has given to the sons of men”—the earth that is so good as recycling—says Psalm 115:6

The study article was on three gifts of God, and how one does well to appreciate them as gifts: “Jehovah has given us “a place to live, he has granted us the ability to think and communicate, and he has answered the most important questions we could ask.”

A secondary goal of the material was that “we will also be better equipped to help those who have been misled by the false doctrine of evolution” which is not how it is usually described—as a “doctrine,” let alone a “false” one. I like how the article did not take the form of “if an evolutionist says this, you can say that,” a form that, in effect, allows them to frame the argument. I like also [not stated in the article] that we are not the people who put dinosaurs on the Kentucky ark. Instead, we are the ones who have acknowledged the days of creation as “epochs” and the total time since Genesis 1:1 as “aeons.”

You don’t let evolutionists frame the argument, as though on the defensive. You frame it yourself. A belief in creation is the default condition. It is the condition that will automatically come up after a reboot. It is evident from Romans 1:20:

For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship...” You don’t have to prove it to people. They perceive it. It is the default condition.

Some things are perceived by anyone of good heart. Ones too smart for their own pants will muddy the waters, but anyone of good heart will unmuddy them. Those not will muddy them all the more. To be sure, it is well to have some material specifically to deal with this, as the Witness organization does, but it ought to be supplemental material for an “as needed” basis, and not universal.

It’s a little bit like how the atheists present the analogy of an intelligent puddle of water that naturally thinks the pothole it occupies was specifically designed for it—that analogy concocted to advance the argument that if the earth was anything but perfectly suited, we wouldn’t be around to talk about it. “Whoa! What a brilliant analogy!” I said. “All that is needed to make it complete is to find an intelligent puddle of water!” Just how hard (and why?) is one going to work at the goal of denying God?

I could barely believe it, when I first came across Jehovah’s Witnesses, that I had actually stumbled across people who believed in Adam and Eve! They didn’t look stupid—or at least no more so than anyone else in aggregate—and yet all my life I had accepted that only the reddest of the rednecks believed in Adam and Eve! It didn’t clear up for some time. Instead, I put it on the shelf, for what caught my interest more was that which formed the third point of yesterday’s Watchtower: “By means of the Bible, Jehovah answers the most important questions we could ask, such as: Where did we come from? What is the purpose of life? And what does the future hold?” It is all a matter of priority. Answers to spiritual questions that scientists cannot even touch supersede thoughts about evolution—put the latter on the shelf and come back to it later.

On the second gift—our brain, and the ability to think—I liked the emphasis on how we can choose how to use it. Make it your aim to screen out negative thoughts and hone in on ones of gratitude, since “researchers have found that people who are grateful are more likely to be happy.”

We will relate to the generation to come the praiseworthy deeds of Jehovah and his strength, the wonderful things he has done,” says Psalm 78:4

“We also do well to imitate Jehovah regarding the things he chooses to forget,” said the article, and verses such as the following were cited:

Do not remember the sins of my youth and my transgressions...O Jehovah.” (Psalm 25:7) If he doesn’t, why should we?

If errors were what you watch, then who, O Jehovah, could stand?” (Psalm 130: 3-4) If he doesn’t why should we?

And: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mathew 6:14-15) In that event, one had better be forgiving.

And as to retraining ourselves, the article stated: “Among all the creatures on earth, only humans have the ability to learn moral lessons by remembering and analyzing past events,” as it gave some verses as to how we can tune our conscience that way. I thought of the contrast of Sam Harris the atheist, describing his worst case scenario of how the AI creation of humans will someday wipe us all out!—not with malice, but as a logical consequence of having inadvertently gotten in its way somehow and thus being squished by like an ant. It’s a great world that he has chosen for himself. He’s welcome to it.

The Watchtower article mentioned how William Boyce used his skills of communication to uncover the grammatical rules of the Xhosa language for the purpose of Bible translation—is all that work ever done for any other reason?—and in so doing he laid the basis for many African-language translations. Xhosa is among the “klic klic” languages that doesn’t even have words. After the meeting, Kim said how she used to go to a hair salon in Buffalo where they speak it. “Does it sound like birds?” I asked, and she said it did not—it was more like a musical instrument, pleasing to listen to.

I checked to find that Boyce, a Wesleyan clergyman, had never before been mentioned in Watchtower publications—they are not much for honoring humans in that quarter. Rummaging over that, I eventually thought of the contrast in Morris Kline’s book, Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge, where he seems miffed about his colleagues back in the day not getting the credit.

“Indeed, the work of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and most eighteenth-century mathematicians was, as we shall soon see more clearly, a religious quest. The search for the mathematical laws of nature was an act of devotion that would reveal the glory and grandeur of His handiwork,” he writes, presently advancing the seeming complaint that, “each discovery of a law of nature was hailed as evidence of God’s brilliance rather than that of the investigator.”

I could be wrong, but I suspect that clergyman Boyce, who lived with the people in Africa that spoke the unwritten language, would not huff about not receiving credit. He would be content to be perceived as bringing his gift to the altar. It certainly is true of Geoffrey Jackson, now of the Witness Governing Body, who saw during his missionary life among the Polynesian peoples, that they had no written dictionary—and so he wrote one himself.

But as for Kline, he writes a brilliant book and then takes the wrong side of it. He harkens back to the preceding Greeks, who “dared to tackle the universe, and they refused any help from gods, spirits, ghosts, devils, and angels, or other agents unacceptable to a rational mind.” That’s the world he prefers. Is it any wonder that some shrink from the Christian message? “How can you believe, when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God?” Jesus says at John 5:44. What is it with Kline and his Greeks—aren’t they the original pedophiles?

 

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One Might as Well Collect Hub Caps

If I would leave the book ‘Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?’ with the householder, he’d look it over and tell me what he thought of it next week, he told me. I did. When I returned, it was for a pleasant conversation right there on his doorstep—we both listened to each other’s points, and neither of us gave an inch. Toward the end, he asked why it was so important anyway? What difference did it make how we got here?

I answered that if God had really created the earth and the life on it, he just might have some purpose for it. He just might not stand by idly to see it ruined. On the other hand, if life evolved from nothing as simply a natural process, then if there was any hope for the planet, it lay in human efforts—“and they’re not doing so well.” The man’s wife, who hadn’t said a word during the entire exchange, suddenly found her moment. “That’s a good point,” she said. For once, the law that your best lines always occur to you too late did not hold true.

The line was incomplete, though. If you trash the Genesis account of Adam and Eve—the first three chapters of the book—you discard more than a chance to see light at the end of the tunnel. You lose almost everything of consequence. You lose any possibility of understanding why it is that humans die. You lose any possibility of understanding why a “loving” God would permit suffering and evil. You lose any possibility of understanding just how the death of Christ could benefit you or anyone else—all that remains is a vague and syrupy, “Jesus died because he loves us.” It doesn’t quite cut it for logic, does it?

There used to be a permanent diorama at the local museum of natural history and science entitled Cabinets of Curiosities. Long ago the place expanded and replaced it with dinosaurs—dinosaurs are snazzy, but who doesn’t have them? Cabinets was much more modest in scale, but what it lacked in size it made up for in insight. The exhibit was a collection of stuffed birds, insects, mammals, shells, minerals, plants, leaves, rocks, and so forth. Explaining it all was a sign:

“Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, Nature was seen as evidence of God’s work and people believed that studying it would bring them closer to the Creator. Darwin’s evolutionary theory, which replaced God’s role in creating species with natural selection, shook society to it’s foundations.”

So people collected these things. They showed them off. They studied them. They were part of the Book of Nature; they revealed things about God. Prominent scientists of that previous age, Newton, Kepler, Faraday, and Hertz, to name a few, thought of their work in much the same light, as bringing to light how God operated. But people gradually adjusted to Darwinian thinking. Little by little, natural things lost their appeal. One might as well collect hub caps.

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Standing Up For Your Beliefs in Class

At the Regional Convention, at least half of the videos were directed at young people. This is good because they are under more peer pressure than most not to 'go along with the crowd.' All young people experience this pressure, but Jehovah's Witnesses youth more than usual because what they stand for is more specific and the degree to which they stand is more determined. Besides, there are many young people who resolve the pressure not to go along with the crowd by going along with the crowd. Sometimes they go so far as to answer the wise words of their mama, "If everyone jumped off of a cliff, would you jump off, too?" with a "That's what I'm talkin about!"

Such talks at the convention would feature some Bible character doing something that took guts, and then the modern video application have some young person taking a bold stand based upon consideration of it. I don't remember the specific talk, but I do remember the specific video of a high school girl saying how she was really quite shy but got into the habit of, right from the start, at school's opening intro 'show and tell' session, reveal that she was one of Jehovah's Witnesses and thereafter let it be known, when all the kids are quizzing each other as to what they did on the weekend, that she engages in spiritual activity during much of that time. That is all she did.

"People started coming to me with their problems," she relates. Upon establishing herself as a member of something she thinks works better, all she has to do is be nice, cooperative, friendly, and it is easier for her to stand firm when peer pressure to do something she thinks wrong comes her way. People approached her, she said, and to the extent they did, she was ready to discuss what she had and how she found it had worked for her. Let me tell you, it works way better than haranquing people over religious doctrine, which few in the West care much about anyway, and the ones that do are inclined to do nothing but argue over it.

The Watchtower Study Sunday furthered that basic youth-supporting theme, with paragraphs discussing various situations. When another student approaches her teacher, and you know it is a science teacher because of the ascending apelike creatures on the chart in the background, she does not have to convince him to turn the whole troupe around and march them back into the slime from whence they came; he is not going to do that. All she has to do is tell him that she doesn't buy it. It is undermining to her faith and it is not sufficiently logical to be allowed to do that. To overturn the common sense model seen everywhere else that anything made has a maker and the more complicated the made thing is the smarter the maker must be will take proof more conclusive than what is offered.

Even the teacher, though he may mutter a bit, may be able to live with this because Watchtower publications speak of the six days of creation being "epochs" and the period prior to their commencement being "aeons." Jehovah's Witnesses are not young-earth creationists.

When the Watchtower wants to suggest a biology teacher, always the ascending ape chart is in the background; that's how it is done. It probably is done everywhere, not just in the Watchtower, for that one chart instantly conveys the idea as nothing else does. Icons are everywhere. Sometimes they are not even accurate. When a scientist was impressed with a discussion between he and I and wanted to reproduce it on his own blog, he represented himself with a double-helix. I got stuck with a cross! So I told him Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Jesus died on a cross but on an upright stake. "I knew that, actually," he said, "but an upright stake makes a ridiculous looking icon." What could I say? I had to bear my cross.

Several videos (back to the Regional Convention) feature Witness youths being put down, sometimes even by the teacher, and thereafter mustering up boldness to ask to address the whole class, always (in the cases shown) winning respect from students and teachers alike.

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Epochs and Aeons

Tack as many zeroes as you want onto Earth's age. Jehovah's Witnesses have no issue with it. A billion years? Ten billion? One hundred billion? More? Not a problem. That's not to say we endorse it, necessarily. But we'll have no issue with it. Let scientists be scientists.

“In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” reads the Bible's first verse. This is before the series of creative days commence, that period during which the earth fills with life. Whether each of those days are 24 hours in length, or 24 millenia, or 24 seconds.....it make no difference to the age of “the heavens and the earth.” They were created before.

However, as to the days themselves, what say Jehovah's Witnesses as to that? Even many JWs themselves may not be up to speed, for it was once thought that each day lasted 7000 years...it seemed to fit some prophetic patterns. But that view has been abandoned. (A flip-flop!! I can hear Vic Vomodog screaming now.)

Now, however, each day is described as an “epoch.” And the sum total of them: "aeons":

From the Watchtower of Feb 15, 2011 pp 8-9)

“The Bible goes on to describe what God did during a series of creative days. These are not 24 hour days but are epochs…....By means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals. …....After aeons had passed and God had produced innumerable animate and inanimate works, the earth was no longer “formless and waste.”

This revision of “day” stems from recognition that the Hebrew word need not refer to only the 24 hour variety. Even on the first creative “day,” “God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he called Night,” apparently as the thick clouds enshrouding the earth began to clear, allowing sunlight to reach the surface. So the entire period is a “day,” and also a portion of it is a “day!” Furthermore, after all six creative days are described, the Genesis account refers to all of it as a “day':

This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.    Gen 2:4

Okay? “Day” need not be 24 hours. It can be simply an non specific period of time. Even in English, we've all suffered old-timers carrying on about life “back in my day.” And if scripture doesn't insist otherwise, why squabble when scientists put forth numbers on life's development? We're not anti-science. Science is a powerful tool of discovery. We've nothing against it. To be sure, we don't see it as the be-all and end-all, and when scientists say “jump!” we don't instantly respond “how high?” But we're willing to acquiesce where there's no Biblical conflict. And in the matter of “days”, there is none. Far from being rigid (a frequent criticism), the Witness stand allows for incorporating findings of science.

So it appears with this piece that I might conclude my Sean B Carroll trilogy, the prior two installments of which are here and here. His book impressed me....a book from an evolutionist published post genome mapping. I wonder if our stand on Genesis is good enough for him. Probably not, for he appears to want no trace of God in any evolutionary goings on, whereas we've said  (above) “by means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals.” But when Sean is muttering about the denyers....yes, yes, I know its a misspelling, but he apparently does it for the silly reasons given here, and I am this close to being equally silly and calling the other guys evolootionists....you know....'loo', the British term for toilet......but I just can't make myself be that juvenile, at least not yet. At any rate, Sean laments the denyers are “those straitjacketed by biblically based interpretations of the age of the Earth.” Like most everyone else, he takes for granted that fundamentalists truly represent the Bible....an assumption that burns me up to no end.

Of course, we're not that way. Straitjacketed, I mean. We're not 24 hour people. We've no problem with epochs and aeons. Ought that not make Sean happy?

Now, it occurs to me that if the Biblical days are as long as scientists say they are, well....that allows plenty of time for the evolutionary goings on that Sean Carroll talks about to go on....with the consequence that evolution, in the main, is a battle that we need not fight. Not that we have to endorse it. But much like the age of the “heavens and the earth,” we need not take much exception to it. As that Feb 2011 Watchtower states, “by means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals.” That's not very specific as to method, is it? Might the method through which holy spirit delivers be the one scientists describe? Dunno if that is the case, or to what extent, but I do know that if God molded each “kind” like a potter molding clay on a potter's wheel....well.....he could do that in a literal 24 hour day. So what's the point of the epochs and aeons? Frankly, life programmed to adapt via accumulation of genetic change strikes me as no less miraculous than potter-created life.

No one's being dogmatic, here. Science is accommodated to the maximum extent without ignoring Scripture, which we ultimately consider the most reliable guide to life. The 2010 brochure Was Life Created? states: (page 27) ImagesCAVUV1FW Were these original “kinds” of plants and animals programmed with the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions? What defines the boundary of a “kind”? The Bible does not say. However, it does state that living creatures “swarmed forth according to their kinds.” (Genesis 1:21) This statement implies that there is a limit to the amount of variation that can occur within a “kind.” [bolded print mine] Thus, our current view allows for what's described as micro-evolution (within a “kind”) but not macro-evolution (outside of a kind). But “implies” is not an ironclad word, is it? The point is, for the Christian, if the time element for developing life is indeed epochs and aeons, you need not squabble much with scientists who describe it. Let scientists be scientists. We'll teach the Bible.

What about this statement immediately preceding the lines quoted above: Does this progressive appearance of plants and animals imply that God used evolution to produce the vast diversity of living things? No. The record clearly states that God created all the basic “kinds” of plant and animal life. (Genesis 1:11, 12, 20-25) “Evolution”, as Sean Carroll and others like to describe it, strictly excludes all hints of “programming,” and they positively choke on any mention of “holy spirit.” But if you go and retrieve those words from the dumpster into which they've been tossed, you'll do just fine. For today we recognize a strong (and unnecessary) anti-God element among the evolutionists. From the same brochure (Was Life Created?  page 22):

Why do many prominent evolutionists insist that macroevolution is a fact? Richard Lewontin, an influential evolutionist, candidly wrote that many scientists are willing to accept unproven scientific claims because they “have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.” Many scientists refuse even to consider the possibility of an intelligent Designer because, as Lewontin writes, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

 In this regard, sociologist Rodney Stark is quoted in Scientific American as saying: “There’s been 200 years of marketing that if you want to be a scientific person you’ve got to keep your mind free of the fetters of religion.” He further notes that in research universities, “the religious people keep their mouths shut.”  

Now, I admit, I'm a bit fearful of using these quotes lest grousers suppose I'm implying that the above fellows reject evolution. They don't. “Quote mining” is the charge grousers may level, and who wants to be guilty of that? But I've already dealt with the subject here. I don't know what else I can do. You should never play the God/no-God game with atheists according to their rules, since their primary rule is that you can't move any of your pieces.

But with the acceptance of epochs and aeons, vast areas of conflict between the science camp and the JW camp vanish, and others become largely immaterial. Not all, to be sure. The creation of Adam remains a topic on which I don't yet see grounds for agreement. From that same Feb 15th Watchtower: “Yet, Jehovah had not finished using his spirit for creative purposes. He was about to produce his highest earthly creation. Toward the end of the sixth creative day, God created man. How did Jehovah do so? By using his holy spirit and the elements of the earth.”

Yet if the Watchtower has taken to interviewing guys like Michael Behe, who accepts evolution in the main, but acknowledges it has limits, well.....I mean.....they wouldn't do that if the two hated each others' guts. Our people are not being dogmatic here. They recognize where other views can be accommodated, and are not so presumptuous as to try to instruct scientists on their own turf.

I thought I might be the first to blog such a subject, but no! When googled 'Michael Behe' and 'Awake interview', I find there is a discussion some time ago on “is the Watchtower preparing to accept evolution?” I suppose I should link to it, but I'm not going to. It's a sorehead grouser site, largely populated by those who've abandoned spiritual things upon discovery that God is not Santa Claus....that he does more than just give us stuff, that he has requirements, that the Christian course involves sacrifice and self-discipline, and is not just opening presents, and....gasp!....it involves human organization, which may sometimes decide matters contrary to one's individual preference!.....a violation of freedom and independence!!!! These type of guys exasperate me. Find them yourselves if you must.

Plus, they view any such adjustment in JW viewpoint as a slick marketing ploy. For me any modification of view stems from recent scientific ability to read the genome....to grow fast-reproducing goo and slime, and to track each and every gene involved and spot which ones have reproduced faithfully and which ones have not and what are the accumulated effects of those that did not. It's a major tangible advance for science, and while fundamentalists might ignore it, we don't.

Well, if you were impressed with Sean Carroll's book so much, Mr Sheepandgoats, then why don't you let him dictate everything to you....he makes no allowance for programming or God or holy spirit. The answer is that I've chosen the Christian course represented by Jehovah's Witnesses based upon several lines of reason, present scientific opinion being but one of them.

In the main, it becomes apparent that the greater conflict is not between the Bible (and us) and science. It's between the fundamentalists and science. These religious characters do the same with “day” that they do with trinity and hellfire. They take words and phrases literally....words which in any other context they would instantly recognize as metaphor. If they read of someone shedding “crocodile tears” in a novel, they know exactly what that expression means. If they read it in the Bible, they take it as PROOF that the shedder is a crocodile, since the Bible MEANS what is SAYS and SAYS what it MEANS. They exasperate me to no end, since they make the Bible an object of ridicule to anyone deciding to use the brain God gave us.

 

[edit: 1/20/2012,  see interview between New Republic's John McWhorter and Michael Behe. Sean Carroll & his work comes in for mention, around the 11-12, 22-24 minute marks. He's a nice guy, Behe says.]

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Tom Irregardless and Me                     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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