The Instigator
wallfly
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Talkingisfun
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Anyone who claims God is unlikely to exist is not an atheist

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/2/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 479 times Debate No: 78337
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)

 

wallfly

Pro

I will be arguing for pro and burden of proof is on me to prove that anybody who claims that God is unlikely to exist or that God is as likely to exist as the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not an atheist, as per the mainstream definition of atheism.

First round is for acceptance.

Atheism: Lack of belief in the existence of Gods.

This is a quote from atheism.org: "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods."

http://atheists.org...?

The foundation of this debate will be placed on the above defintion first and foremost

First round is for acceptance
Talkingisfun

Con

I accept this debate. Quick question about the rules: Are we allowed to give new arguments in the final round? I propose that we won't allow that, but you started this debate so it's obviously your call.
Debate Round No. 1
wallfly

Pro

Let's get this party started


Believe: (oxford) 1. Accept that (something) is true, especially without proof:"the superintendent believed Lancaster’s story"
2. Hold (something) as an opinion; think:"I believe we’ve already met"

I have provided the above definition to demonstrate that belief does not imply certainty but confidence without proof.

Anti-theism: The belief that God does not exist


A1) To say God is unlikely to exist is to imply a belief about the existence of God. Mainly that God is non-existent. Belief goes both ways; to believe and to believe not. To not believe is to remain neutral. If i claim non-belief then I'm claiming neutrality. atheism is to claim non-belief. For example, I'm neutral as to the existence of jujubaba because I do not know what this is, therefore, I'm not in a position to believe it exists or not. I'm an a-jujubaba'st. And because I do not know what it is, I cannot have any opinion as to the plausbility of it's existence, for if I did this would demonstrate that i hold beliefs about Jujubaba. At the moment, Jujubaba is just as likely to exist as not depending on what Jujubaba means. I would not compare Jujubaba to the Easter Bunny or pink unicorns because Jujubaba could be a type of natural mineral or it could be a candy filled cave monkey living on Mars.

So, to say that God is as likely to exist as the flying spaghetti monster is to claim a belief about God's existence. In this case it's that God's existence can be likened to a flying spaghetti monster. One holds a belief that flying spaghetti monsters are implausible effectively stating that God is implausible. Then to go on to deny any held beliefs about God is intellectual dishonesty.

To assert any opinion onto God's existence is to imply belief. Belief in regards to the existence of God falls under 2 categories: i) theism (believe) and ii) anti-theism (believe not). Thereby, anyone with an opinion about God's existence cannot be an atheist by the very definition of atheism.

A2) An atheistic world-view is one that holds no opinion as to the existence of God:

SCENARIO 1

Atheist Bob: Big bang caused the universe

Theist Bill: It was God

Atheist Bob: It wasn't God it was the big bang

Theist Bill: Are you saying God does not exist?

Atheist Bob: No, I'm just saying he didn't cause the universe

Theist Bill: Then what's the point of God?

Atheist Bob: That's up to you

As you can see, atheist Bob has an opinion on the universe that exludes God without making assertions about him.

SCENARIO 2

Anti-theist Barney: Big Bang caused the universe

Theist Bill: It was God


Anti-theist Barney: God is unlikely to exist, therefore, it wasn't God it was Big Bang

Theist Bill: Are you saying God doesn't exist?

Anti-theist Barney: No, I'm saying it's unreasonable to believe so

Anti-theist Barney claims that God is unlikely to exist and it's unreasonable to believe he does. These claims are opinionated beliefs. Anti-theist Barney makes statements in relevance to God which directly oppose God's existence. Therefore, Anti-theist Barney cannot be considered an atheist because he holds negative beliefs as to the existence of God as opposed to Atheist Bob who holds no beliefs about God.



A3) Categories of atheism:

There are quite a few different categories of atheism:


Implicit atheism: A non-belief in God without a conscious effort. I.e. infants and babies.

Explicity atheism: a conscious rejection of God

Agnostic atheism: A non-belief in God without claiming knowledge of God's existence.

Gnostic atheism: A non-belief of God and certainty that God doesn't exist

Weak atheism: A non-belief in God without making claims of God's non-existence

Strong atheism: A non-belief in God and certainty of God's non-existence.

2 of these categories are false and 1 of them is a contradiction.

Weak and strong atheism: Weak and strong atheism makes no sense because you cannot have a weak or strong lack of belief about something. Either you believe, you do not believe or you believe not. There are no varying degrees of non-belief. This is a prime example of the atheist trying to have their cake and eat it. Many "atheist" will proclaim that atheism is soley a lack of belief in God's existence then go on to express their beliefs that the existence of God is implausible.


And finally, Gnostic Atheism: The term gnostic atheism is a contradiction in itself. How can someone know God doesn't exist yet not believe God doesn;t exist? It is an incoherent statement. If you are certain something is or is not then you should believe something is or is not. And out of all these categories, where does anti-theism reside? One cannot be an anti-theistic atheist because anti-theism implies belief about God and atheism implies a lack of belief about God.

This makes it quite clear that any contention towards or against God's existence falls under the following 4 categories:

1) Agnostic theism: a belief in God's existence without knowledge

2) gnostic theism: a belief in God's existece with knowledge

3) agnostic anti-theism: a belief that God doesn't exist without knowledge

4) gostic anti-theism: a belief that God doesn't exist with knowledge

As you can see these 4 categories summarize peoples claims of God's existence comprehensively. A final category of atheism should be saved for complete non-belief about God, as it does. To claim that atheist can also have opposing opinions on God's existence and remain athiest merely creates confusion as it directly contradicts the meaning of atheism and cannot be distinguished from anti-theism.

Talkingisfun

Con

Thank you for your argument.

You've made a convincing argument that claiming that god is very unlikely makes you an anti-theist. I won't disagree with you on that. However, that does not mean that people who claim that god is unlikely are not atheists.
Your argument only works with the definition of atheism that "atheism is to claim non-belief". However, that is not the definition that was agreed upon in the beginning. We agreed on the definition from atheism.org: "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods."

A claim of non-belief on a certain topic is not the same as a lack of belief in that topic. If for a certain event there are two possible explanations (I'll call them A and B) which are mutually exclusive, but neither of them have any evidence, I could believe in A, I could believe in B or I could not believe in any of them.
If I believe in A I don't claim a non-belief in B: I will claim that I don't believe it. I will however lack a believe in B.
This shows that a certain position on a topic does not mean that you can't lack a believe: In the topic of the event in my example I have a position (I believe in A) but I still lack a believe in B.

I realize that this is a very subtle difference, and it may not yet be very clear, so I'll attempt to clarify by using a deductive argument: If the premises are true, the conclusion necessarily follows:

Premise 1: Believe is to accept that something is true.
Premise 2: Atheism is the lack of belief in the existence of god(s).
Premise 3: If you think that the existence of god is unlikely, you don't accept that it is true and therefore you do not believe (see premise 1).
Premise 4: If you don't believe in god you lack a belief in god.
Conclusion: If you think god is unlikely you are an atheist.

You might also claim to know that god exists, but that doesn't change any of the premises or the conclusion. You may also be called an anti-theist, but that doesn't make you any less of an atheist: If you are an anti-theist you lack a believe in a god, and you are also an atheist.

To conclude: My opponent has made a very good argument that atheists who claim that god's existence is highly unlikely could be considered anti-theists. However, he has not made a convincing argument why an anti-theist cannot be an atheist. I've attempted to show why thinking that god is unlikely to exist makes you an atheist by definition, and I'm very curious how he will counter that argument.

I'm eagerly awaiting your reply.
Debate Round No. 2
wallfly

Pro

Thanks Con

I'm not sure what Con means in his example of A and B and how they demonstrate a belief against something qualifies as lack of belief or non-belief.

i'll move on to Con's 4 premises that he presented.

Con's premise fails a 3.

Premise 2: atheism is the lack of belief in God's existence
Premise 3: if you think that the existence of god is unlikely, you do not accept that it is true and therefore you do not believe.

If you think the existence of God is unlikely, not only do you not think God is true, you actively believe it is false. This conflicts with the definition of atheism being not a disbelief or denial of God but solely a lack of beleif.

One cannot prove how unlikely a negative is. In order to have an opinion as to whether a negative is unlikely is to make a leap of faith. This is why atheist say "I do not believe in God" because the lack of evidence offers no reason to believe, it doesn't offer reason to deny though. To deny something you must have a reason. I can deny the existence of pink unicorns for many reasons -- such as the high number required to maintain a population's existence would make undeniable evidence inevitable. This gives me reason to believe no pink unicorns exist on Earth. If i was stuck in my room all my life and had no access to the outside world, i could not believe they didn't exist I could only choose not to believe they did.

If an atheist has reasons to believe God is unlikely then they disqualify from holding the title of atheist because he/she now holds active beliefs against God's existence.

so anyone who claims God is unlikely is an anti-theist because an atheist cannot make such claims from the very definition.

Con: "If you are an anti-theist you lack a believe in a god, and you are also an atheist."

If you are an anti-theist you actively believe God doesn't exist. This active belief conflicts with the definition of atheism allegedly being void of disbeleif or denial.


As you can see, to think something is unlikely is to believe it is unlikely. To believe something is unlikely is to hold active beliefs against that something. To hold active beliefs against that something is to disqualify you from lacking beliefs of that something, thereby, disqualifying you from being an atheist
Talkingisfun

Con

Pro: Thank you for your arguments.

In this round I will do two things: I will attempt to defend premise three, and show why it does not fail. Furthermore, I will use Richard Dawkin's scale of belief to illustrate why an anti-theist is also an atheist.

First of, premise 3. The opponent alleged that "If you think the existence of God is unlikely, not only do you not think God is true, you actively believe it is false. This conflicts with the definition of atheism being not a disbelief or denial of God but solely a lack of belief."

The problem with your rebuttal is that it gives the wrong definition of atheism. The definition does not state a lack of belief. It states a lack of belief in god. Those last two words are essential, because they give the sentence an entirely different meaning. A belief is simply accepting that something is true without proof. However, a believe in something is accepting that that specific something is true, without proof.

Believing IN something is a positive assertion. It implies a faith on a specific position. I can clarify this with expanding on my deductive argument:

Premise 1: Believe is to accept that something is true.
Premise 2: Believing in a specific thing means accepting that that specific thing is true
Premise 3: Atheism is the lack of belief in the existence of god(s).
Premise 4: If you think that the existence of god is unlikely, you don't accept that it is true and therefore you do not believe (see premise 1+2)
Conclusion: If you think god is unlikely you are an atheist.

You have asserted that people who claim that god is unlikely are anti-theists (That term is usually used differently, but I'll just go with that term because the debate is clearer when both sides use the same terms). You once again argued why not believing in god due to a lack of evidence can be considered anti-theism, and while I could also argue about that, since I think the default position on any topic should be a disbelief until there is any evidence, but I don't see the need for that. Whether or not equating the probability of god with the flying spaghetti monster could be considered a belief is completely irrelevant, because the definition of atheism does not talk about believe in general. It talks about a belief in god. Your believe in god can be put on a 7 point scale, like Richard Dawkins did in his book 'the god delusion':
1: Strong believer (Knowing god exists)
2: De facto believer (Not being 100% certain, but accept that god exists)
3: Weak believer (Sceptical, but leaning towards believing)
4: Agnostic (No position whatsoever. God may or may not exist, both options are plausible and we can't be certain)
5: Weak atheist (Sceptical, but leaning towards not believing)
6: De facto atheist (Not being 100% certain, but accept that god does not exist)
7: Strong atheist (Knowing god does not exist)
Someone who claims that god is very unlikely (or as likely as the flying spaghetti monster) would be a 6 on this scale.

If you belief in a god (1, 2 and 3) you accept that god exists on some level. If you don't belong in one of these categories you lack this believe, and are therefore by definition an atheist. This implies that even the position of complete agnosticism is in fact a very weak form of atheism. You would probably define 6 and 7 as anti-theism, and you may or may not be right about that, but that is irrelevant for the question if they're atheists. They don't believe in god so they are atheists.

To conclude, in this round I have attempted to show why the two words of the definition of atheism that the proponent ignored are in fact crucial to understanding what atheism is, improved the deductive argument and given Richard Dawkins' 7 point scale to illustrate how anti-theists are also clearly atheists.

Once again, I eagerly await your arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
wallfly

Pro

Thanks Con

Con: "The definition does not state a lack of belief. It states a lack of belief in god. Those last two words are essential, because they give the sentence an entirely different meaning."

I agree. If those last two words were not included then we wouldn't know exactly what someone lacked belief in. I'm not stating that atheism means to simply lack belief in general as if i cannot have any beliefs about anything if I'm an atheist. I'm stating that I cannot have beliefs about God's existence if I'm an atheist. I can be aware of all kinds of things about God as people describe God but I'd have to remain in a suspension of belief until I am convinced of God's existence or non-existence.

Con is asserting that a lack of belief in god is exclusive to rejecting that God exists. This is not what lack of belief in God means, Hence the phrase: "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods." Disbelief/denial and lack of belief are mutually exclusive. To lack belief in God is to hold no beliefs in relation to God. Which means, I do not believe that God is red, angry, likely to exist, or unlikely to exist.

positive belief in God: God is love, God is red, God is angry, God exists

Negative belief in God: God is man-made, God is unlikely, God is illogical, God does not exist

Con: Believing IN something is a positive assertion. It implies a faith on a specific position.

Yes, I agree with this and it is pricesly what I'm using to support my case. Believing in something is to have an assertion on it's nature. However, that assertion can be a negative or a positive. For example, I believe my Brother has no money. My Brother tells me has money but I believe he is lying and in fact has very little or no money. I believe it's very unlikely my Brother has money. In this case, I am believing in something; I'm believing in the abscence of money. I am applying a negative attribute to the status of my Brother's financial situation.

To lack belief that my Brother has money is to not assert that he doesn't have money: Until I see the money, I will not believe my Brother has money, however, it's equally possible he does have money so I will not assert that he doesn't.

This is the same with the God argument: I believe God is unlikely to exist. People tell me God exist, however, I have the belief that they are wrong and God most likely does not exist. In this case, I'm putting my faith into then negative assertion that God doesn't exist.

As you can see, to claim God is unlikely IS to believe in God. It's to believe in God's non-existence.

Unlikely: (definition) not likely to happen, be done, or be true; improbable

Unlikely is an adjective.

Adjective: (definition) a word naming an attribute of a noun, such as sweet, red, or technical.


Premise 1: Unlikely is an adjective
Premise 2: An adjective is an attribute
Premise 3: An attribute is a specific thing

Conclusion: Unlikelihood is a specific thing




Premise 1: Believe is to accept that something is true
Premise 2: Believing in a specific thing means accepting that that specific thing is true
Premise 3: Unlikelihood is a specific thing
Premise 4: To believe God is unlikely to exist is to believe a specific thing in relation to God
Premise 5: Atheism is the lack of belief in God

Conclusion: To believe God is unlikely is to not be an atheist.


Con uses Richard Dawkin's 7 point scale to argue that lack of belief means you can be skeptical or %100 certain that God doesn't exist and still lack belief. This assertion conflicts with the very definition of denial

Denial: a statement that something is not true

If you know God does not exist then you are stating to yourself or to others that something is false. This is what it means to deny something. Aheism.org explicitly states that atheism is not a denial of God it is a lack of belief in God so one cannot be a strong atheist. They can only be a strong anti-theist.

In regards to Richard Dawkin's scale, the whole thing is an inaccurate depicition of belief or non-belief.

1. Strong believer - Knowing God exists/ Believing God exists and being certain (Also known as a Gnostic Theist)
2. De facto believer - Believing God exists without %100 certainty (also known as an agnotic theist. I don't see why Richard adds to the confusion by creating a whole new titles)
3. Weak believer - Still invsestigating but leaning towards believing

As you can see, #3 -- the weak believer -- is in a state of suspension of belief. They are making no assertions as to whether God exists or not even though evidence is leaning toward yes. The investigation is pending. Therefore, this person is not a believer. They are an atheist; They lack belief in God. So how can Richard call #3 a believer of any kind?

4. agnostic
5. weak atheist - still investigating but Leaning towards the belief that God doesn't exist

#5 is in the exact same state of non-belief as #3. They are both still investigating the existence of God whilst in a state of suspension of belief. Even though evidence is starting to prove God is made-up, #4 still holds no negative belief because it's still plausible that God exists

6. de facto atheist - Believing God does not exist without being %100 certain. (Also known as an agnostic atheist)
7. Strong atheist - Knowing God does not exist/believing God does not exists with %100 certainty (also known as a gnostic atheist)

However, where does the anti-theist fit into all this? It makes more sense that anyone who believes God does not exists is labeled an anti-theist because it describes their objections to God's existence.

Here's how the scale should look

1. Gnostic theist: investigation concluded - I believe God does exist - I'm not wrong - let's take this to trial
2. Agnositic theist: Still investigation - I believe God does exist - It's unlikely I'm wrong
3. Atheist: still investigating. Evidence is leaning toward theism. Suspension of belief remains
4. Agnostic: Investigaion concluded. - No one will/can know if God exists or not
5. Implicit atheist: Unaware of God. No investigation or opinion. (usually babies, infants or people that don't care)
6. Atheist: still investigating - evidence is leaning toward anti-theism. Suspension of belief remains
7. Anti -theism: Still investigating - I believe God does not exist - It's unlikely I'm wrong
8 .Anti-theism: Invetsigation concluded - I believe God does not exist - I'm not wrong - let's take this to trial


As you can see, someone who lacks belief in something is either in a state of suspension of belief due to equal plausibility or in a state of lack of belief due to indifference or unawareness

You don't pursue a suspect with prejudice until you believe they are guilty. Just like you don't rule out a suspect unless you believe they are innocent. Once you know they are guilty or innocent then you stop the investigation and bring them to trial.

If you think a God is unlikely to be Guilty you wouldn't be prusuing him. You'd no longer hold a suspension of belief. Your belief would now reside in the presumed innocence of God existence.

God is guilty of existing: It is unlikey God is innocent. Further investigation is pointless as we are certain God is guilty

God is not guilty of existing: due to lack of evidence we were unable to rule either way, however, you did not prove God's innocence so it is reasonable to believe God is guilty, further investigation may have proved this.

God is Innocent of existing: It is unlikely God is guilty. Further investigation is pointless as we are certain God is innocent

As I've demonstrated from the above example, stating that God is unlikely to exists is the equivalent to passing conviction. To pass conviction on something you must have invested beliefs IN that something.

Atheism is the lack of beleif IN God. Therefore, to pass conviction on to the status of God's existence is to believe IN God





I have addressed and contended every one of Con's arguments and I have supplied further arguments to support my case.

I look forward to Con's rebuttal
Talkingisfun

Con

First of, I wish to thank my opponent for his eloquent post and apologize for being so slow. I've been very busy with work, unfortunately.

In this final round I will address Pro's rebuttals and arguments, and repeat (and perhaps clarify) my own.

Pro used my statement "Believing IN something is a positive assertion. It implies a faith on a specific position." to argue that believing in something implies a faith on any specific position. However, that was not the intention of this sentence. I mean that Believing in something implies faith on only one specific position. In the case of believing in god, it implies faith in the position that god exists, and no other.

The whole debate can be boiled down to one apparently simple question, and it's nothing more than semantics: What does the phrase "believe in god" mean?
Pro argues that this phrase means having any position on god. He used examples like 'god is love' and 'god is man made'. According to him "I believe in god" can be equated to "I have a believe that is related to god"
I on the other hand argue that the phrase "believe in god has" a very different meaning. I argue that believing in god can be equated to accepting the specific position that god exists.

It is difficult to say which one is correct, because after all, it is a matter of interpretation. You can interpret the phrase your way, and I could interpret it my way. However, both interpretations are not equally good and accepted. The best explanation is obviously the one that most people agree with. After all, I could also interpret the word big to actually mean small, but that would clearly not be an equally good interpretation because it would confuse people.
I haven't done any empirical studies on which interpretation is most widely accepted, but I do have some good indications that my interpretation is the widely accepted one. However, since this is the last round and I can't bring in new arguments, I unfortunately can't provide much evidence for it. All I will do is appeal to the common sense of both my opponent and of the voters:
If anyone says "I believe in god", what is your first though? Do you think that that person has a (yet unknown) position on god, or that he accepts that god exists and is true?
I sincerely doubt if anyone falls in the first category.

With that in mind, let's look at Pro's deductive argument. All the separate premises are correct. However, the conclusion that leads from it is not. Atheism is indeed the lack of a belief in god, which is the same as being without a belief in god (or with very little). I've established in the paragraphs above that the most obvious and therefore best definition for "believing in god" is believing that god exists, and believing that god exists is not the same thing as believing that god is unlikely to exist. Once again, my deductive argument still stands. With all this in mind I can further clarify my deductive argument, which shows that people who think god is unlikely are in fact atheists.

Premise 1: Believe is to accept that something is true.
Premise 2: Believing in a specific thing means accepting that that specific thing is true
Premise 3 : (follows from 2) Believing in god means accepting that god exists
Premise 4: Atheism is the lack of belief in the existence of god(s).
Premise 5: If you think that the existence of god is unlikely, you don't accept that it is true and therefore you do not believe (see premise 1+3)
Conclusion: If you think god is unlikely you are an atheist.

Finally, let's go back to the scale of belief. You made some points which I disagree with. The de facto believer is not an agnostic believer. That's a contradictio in terminis. If you are an agnostic you don't accept that any position is true. If you are a believer you accept that the position that god exists is true. You can't be both.
#3 is not at all an atheist. They accept that god exists, even though t hey are not certain. They make the assertion that god exists, even though there is no evidence. The investigation is pending, but there is already a preliminary conclusion, which is that god exists. The opposite goes for #5. (Also, I disagree that thinking that god doesn't exist is a belief, but that's irrelevant)

You asked where anti-theist fits into all this, but I already told you. What you would consider to be anti-theists would fall under category 6 and 7: your anti-theists are not only anti-theists, but also de-facto atheists or strong atheists.

You then presented another scale, which quite frankly, I found rubbish, but I think that that is obvious from the definition of atheism that I have defended in this debate. I could correct you on all of them, but I'm pretty sure that it is clear what I disagree on.

In this round I have attempted to show why pro's arguments don't make sense, and why my definition is the superior one. I have done this by giving examples and using a solid deductive argument. I will conclude with the same analogy that pro used. Guilt.

Believing in someone's guilt means accepting that someone is guilty.
Believing there is not enough evidence to say that someone is guilty means that you lack a believe in that someone is guilty.
Lacking a believe in someone's guilt means not accepting that someone is guilty.

Just replace "Someone is guilty" with "God exists", read the definition of atheism again, and it becomes clear that anyone who thinks that god is unlikely to exist is an atheist.

I wish to end by thanking Pro for this debate, and by asking anyone reading this to vote on who you think won this debate. It was fun.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by missmedic 1 year ago
missmedic
Criticizing bad ideas does not make someone anti anything. I do not believe in gods this makes me an Atheist, however I also believe religion, faith and belief in gods are very bad ideas. I do no know if a god exists but I do not in fact "choose" atheism. Instead, atheism is the only possible position given my present state of knowledge. I can no more "choose" to just believe in the existence of a god than I can choose to believe that this computer doesn't exist. Belief requires good reasons, and although people may differ on what constitutes "good reasons," it is those reasons which cause belief, not choice.
Posted by wallfly 1 year ago
wallfly
cheers for the debate. I've posed this question on reddit for a few days now and after a lot deliberation here and on other forums i came to realize Theism means to have a POSITIVE belief in God. Therefore, to be a-theism you must lack only a positive belief in God, and a-theism at is most basic level is just a lack of that positive belief.
Posted by wallfly 1 year ago
wallfly
ok then let's go with that. thanks
Posted by Talkingisfun 1 year ago
Talkingisfun
Not entirely sure about the standard procedure, but what you said makes sense. I'm fine with no new arguments for con only.
Posted by wallfly 1 year ago
wallfly
New arguments in the final round: I don't debate often but am I correct in saying not for Con only, because Pro will not be able to rebut them?

What's the standard procedure for this?
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