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Theology Revision

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Theology Revision

Plato lived in Athens in the 5th and 4th Centuries BC
He was the student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle
He was a dualist- believed in the body and the soul
He believed the soul was more perfect than the body
He believed that societies should be run by philosophers
He believed the physical world is a pale imitation of the world of the forms

The allegory of the cave
The prisoners- normal people of society
The prisoner who escapes- philosophers, people that thirst to know the real truth
The people casting the shadows- the leaders of society- shaping the world without knowing the truth
The shadows/statues- what people believe is reality, what they are told to believe, things people deem to be important
The cave- a world without knowledge, the physical world/the body
The fire- controlled, dim light- limited knowledge. An imitation of the form of the good
The journey outside- a difficult journey, acquisition of knowledge
The sun- illuminates the true world- form of the good
The journey back into the cave- the desire to educate and inform others of the truth

The world of the Forms
Plato uses the word ‘form’ to describe the true essence of material objects in the world
This idea of the ‘form’ exists in a non physical (yet more real) realm that can only be understood by the mind. This is called the world of the forms
Plato believed that the forms were interrelated and hierarchical
The highest form
The ultimate principle is the form of the good
The world of the forms
Perfect, eternal, real, a’priori, transcendent, immutable, real
The world of the forms is the philosopher’s world. The ordinary person struggles to see past the illusion of this world because they are confined by their senses. Only the person who investigates and questions learns the truth behind the illusion. Only the philosopher is capable of seeing into the world of the forms as he thinks independently of his senses
The physical world
Imperfect, unreliable, insignificant, temporal, illusions, a’posteriori, reality, transient
Recognising forms
We can recognise forms because we are born with a dim recollection of them from our prior existence in the world of the forms.
There is an inner part of us (the soul) that does not change. It is eternal and, before it became tied down by a body, it was connected with the real world of the forms.

384-322 BC
Aristotle was an empiricist philosopher, devoted to deepening humanity’s understanding of the world based on experience
Aristotle rejects Plato’s theory of the forms
Aristotle was not a dualist- rejects Plato’s understanding of the soul

The four causes
Once all the four causes have been established, the complete explanation for the existence of the item has been found.
Material- the substance something is made from
Efficient- the vehicle that brings the thing into existence (either the person-e.g. designer- or the skill- e.g. artistry)
Formal- the shape/form of the item, without which it wouldn’t exist
Final-the purpose of the item

Changes in form
Aristotle was also concerned with changes in form, particularly with the change from potentiality to actuality
E.g. water is liquid but is potentially ice or steam, solid or vapour
Aristotle knew that everything in this world was subject to change, that it could be moved or acted upon by other things.
Something that is subject to change could not be the cause of everything else, so the cause of everything else has to be an uncaused causer
When Aristotle uses the word ‘form’ he means the shape and structure of something. It is physical rather than abstract
Aristotle believed that all movement depended on there being a mover.
For Aristotle, movement meant more than something travelling from A to B, movement also included change, growth, melting, cooling etc.
Aristotle recognised that everything in the world is in a state of flux
Aristotle argued that behind every movement there must be a chain of events that brought it about. Aristotle argued that this chain of events must lead back to something which moves but is itself unmoved. This is referred to as the prime mover
Prime mover
Exists by necessity- so the prime mover could not fail to exist
Is not capable of change
Is pure actuality
Has a nature which is good as a lack of goodness means that it could be improved- meaning it could change
Is the final cause- i.e. the ultimate explanation for why things exist
Is the goal of all action: this is like attraction because the prime mover is the cause of all motion

Man’s purpose
Aristotle believed that man’s purpose was to live in accordance with their nature- to be rational, acquire knowledge, make good decisions, love a morally good life and achieve eudemonia- a state of goodness and happiness which can be achieved in the physical world

The prime mover and the Christian God
In his book ‘Metaphysics’, Aristotle also links the Prime Mover with God and concludes that God is a “living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God”
God as prime mover is “complete reality”
God in Aristotle’s thinking is a necessary being who is eternal, transcendent and impersonal
The Prime Mover is likened to the Christian God in that something was created from nothing.
They are both all good (omnibenevolent)
Christians act in a certain way in order to achieve salvation and therefore God influences their behaviour without actively performing any action- like the prime mover moving others without itself being moved
The prime mover is not involved in the universe or time whereas God can be (miracles etc.)
The Prime Mover is ‘pure thought’ it has no persona/nature unlike God

The Goodness of God
The Euthyphro dilemma
“Are things good because God says they’re good or does God say things are good because they are good?”
If something is good because God commands it then the content of morality is dependent on God’s whim, similarly there are now some things which are perceived to be good but which are not contained within the bible
If God commands something because it is good then God is subordinate to a higher law, similarly there are some teachings in the bible which we do not now perceive as good which means things cannot always be innately good.

God’s goodness
Goodness in scripture
God’s goodness is visible in the creation and sustaining of the world. God acts for the benefit of the world
Goodness as a quality
Goodness as a quality or Plato’s form of the good is inactive and very unlike the God of the Bible. Goodness is a scale against which things are measured it is not interested in the results of what it is measuring, because qualities do not have the capacity to take an interest.

Interactive goodness
The goodness of God as described in the bible is very different from the ideal of Platonic thought. God’s goodness is interactive and makes demands of humanity
God as a personality
God is seen as more than just an ideal to follow, which remains unaffected and does not care who aspires to it.
God is seen as a personality, reacting to people and caring about the way they behave

The language of God’s goodness
Aquinas stated that there were two types of language that can be used to describe God and goodness and he dismissed both of these
Univocal language
Language meaning exactly the same thing in all situations
E.g. if we say that lesson was ‘good’ then we mean the same when we say God is ‘good’
Clearly we cannot speak about God univocally because God is perfect and infinite and cannot be compared with other ‘good’ things
Equivocal language
Language meaning different things in different situations
E.g. calling God ‘good’ is different from calling other things ‘good’
If we say that calling God ‘good’ means something completely different to any other ‘good’ then God would be unintelligible. So we cannot speak about God equivocally.

The ontological argument
Analytical statements
A statement which is incoherent to doubt or which could never be false
E.g. circles are round or rain is wet
These are based on a’priori knowledge of the world and are also described as deductive

Synthetic statements
Statements that may or may not be true.
Based on a’posteriori knowledge and inductive
E.g. it is raining outside, that girl has red hair

An analytical, a’priori and deductive argument
Original argument
Anselm defines God as ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’ (ttwngcbc)
The greatest conceivable being would not be such if he only existed in the imagination. A greater being would be one that existed in reality also
As we are imagining the greatest conceivable being we must be imagining a being who exists in both the mind and reality
If this definition of God is accepted then he must exist in both
Anselm says non-believers are fools as they cannot accept the definition of God and not accept that he exists
Anselm’s argument seeks to rationalise theists’ belief in God, rather than prove his existence to atheists- ‘faith seeking understanding’
Gaunilo’s objections
‘just because you can conceive of something, it does not mean that such a thing exists’
Gaunilo states that ‘Anselm is trying to move from a definition of God to the suggestion of God’s existence. This is not a valid move’
He uses the example of a perfect island, he argues that just because he can imagine an island with golden beaches and palm trees etc., it doesn’t mean they exist
Anselm’s developments
States that there is a difference between islands and God- islands are physical and contingent whereas God is immutable and perfect
The perfect island is subjective, there is never ‘the best’ island because you could always add another dolphin or palm tree.
There is a perfect God, in that he is ttwngcbc. His perfection is judged by his qualities rather than his physical being and these qualities are good in themselves
Anselm says that God’s existence is necessary; he can’t not exist, whereas the island does not have to exist as it is contingent and changeable.

Argued that Anselm could have responded to Gaunilo by saying that islands have ‘no intrinsic maximum’ (no limit on perfection) you could always improve it
The idea of a greatest possible island is ‘an inconsistent and incoherent idea’.
God is ‘maximally great’- nothing greater is possible.
Therefore the existence of the greatest island and the greatest possible being are not comparable
It is difficult to talk about God- humans have a limited intellect and vocabulary and cannot therefore know what God is like
If we cannot grasp the essence of God then we cannot conceive of a perfect being because we do not know what perfect is
Stated that existence belongs analytically and necessarily to God. For God to lack existence would be for him to lack perfection
Reformulated the ontological argument in 1596-1650
His argument had 3 basic steps:
God possesses all perfections
Existence is a perfection
Therefore God possesses existence- he exists
Descartes’ argument is disputed using the idea of a triangle:
If there is a triangle then it must have three sides. However, all that Descartes is establishing is that IF there is a triangle then it must have three sides, this does not necessarily mean there are any triangles. Similarly, if there is a God the God must exist – but only ‘if’
Because the ontological argument rests on the judgement that a God that exists is greater than a God that does not, it rests on confusion
According to Kant, existence is not a predicate- a property that a thing can possess or lack.
Kant is saying that existence may be part of the concept of God but this does not mean that he exists in reality.
Denied that existence is a predicate, claiming that it only has a propositional function; it asserts that there are beings that answer to that description, but adds no further information about them.
As it is a’priori it lacks evidence
It is a leap too far from existence in the mind to existence in reality- the analogy is too stretched
Karl Bath said “it can tell what theists believe about God but not whether God exists”
The argument does not look at evidence or experience but words, it ends up being a clever language game rather than proof
“The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions. How can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are one?”- Albert Einstein

The cosmological argument
The cosmological argument is a classical argument for the existence of God.
Unlike the Ontological argument, it derives the conclusion that God exists from an a’posteriori premise
The argument is based on what can be seen in the world
Is a’posteriori, synthetic and inductive
Aquinas has 5 ways of proving God’s existence, three of which are cosmological
Argument from motion
Aquinas concluded from common observation that an object that is in motion is put in motion by some other object or force.
From this, Aquinas believed that ultimately there must have been an unmoved mover who first put things in motion
There are 4 steps:
Nothing can move itself
If every object in motion has a mover, then the first object in motion needed a mover
There cannot be infinite regress
There must have been a first, unmoved mover- God

Causation of existence
Aquinas concluded that common sense observation tells us that no object creates itself- some other object had to create it
Aquinas believed that ultimately there must have been an uncaused cause who began the chain of existence:
There exists things that are caused by other things
Nothing can be the cause of itself
There cannot be an endless string of things causing other things to exist
There must be an uncaused first cause- God
Arguments from contingency
Everything in the world is contingent (can exist or not exist)
If things CAN not exist then there must have been a time when they didn’t exist and therefore a time when nothing existed
Things exist now so there must be something on which we all depend which brought us into existence
This necessary being we call God
It is justifiable to infer a causal connection between two events only after observing repeated instances of their conjunction.
If this is so it would be justifiable to infer a cause of the universe only if other universes had all been observed to follow from some event or agency.
Since this is not possible, there can be no inferences made about a cause of the universe
Since our experience teaches that all events are caused by antecedent events, a cause that was not itself caused cannot be hypothesised; ‘our experience, instead of furnishing an argument for a first cause, is repugnant to it’
Since the concept of causation arises within the spatio-temporal world of experience, it is confined to the observable world, so talk of causation outside of this realm ‘has no meaning whatsoever’
A retort to Kant
We can now look back in time by observing space and experimenting with science and so we can in fact know a lot about space and time and their origins.

Teleological Argument
The teleological arguments are arguments from the order in the universe to the existence of God. Also known as arguments from design
‘Telos’- end or purpose. When these arguments speak of the universe being ordered they mean it is ordered towards some end or purpose
“Whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it can be directed, therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end, and this being we call God.”
Imagine you found a watch while out walking and it was the best watch you had ever seen, you are amazed at all the working parts and how well it tells the time. There would be no doubt in your mind that an intelligent designer made the watch
This is the same for the universe- all the parts work perfectly together and so it would be reasonable to assume there is an intelligent designer
Hume’s criticisms
The argument rests on a weak analogy, the universe is organic rather than mechanical- not like a watch
Humans do not have sufficient experiences of universe making to conclude that there is a designer
There might be many designers of the universe as there are many designers of machines
Making an analogy between God and a watch maker makes God more human than divine
The analogy leads to a non-moral God- the design is imperfect (evil and suffering)
The world appears organised but could still be down to a cosmic accident
‘the analogy leads to a non-moral God because there is too much suffering in the world’
It is difficult to say that things in nature are cruel because they don’t have reason and therefore cannot be held responsible for the consequences of actions or events in which they participate
Anthropic principle
FR Tennant developed the Anthropic principle in his book Philosophical theology
Believed there were 3 types of natural evidence in the world in favour of a designer:
The fact that the world can be analysed analytically
The way in which the inorganic world provides necessities for organic life
The progress of evolution from which emerged human life
States that evolution happens by natural selection through mutated genes
Complex organisms evolved over time
The universe was not developed to fit life, but rather life evolved to fit the universe
Has evidence for its conclusions- human eye etc
Things can just happen by chance
Hume’s objections
Inductive argument relies upon empirical senses- not reliable
We may impose this beauty on the world, there might not actually be that level of order
It does not tell us anything about the designer- God could be evil and still have designed the universe
Science and Religion
Big bang theory
Catholic approach

The problem of Evil
“Is God willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” – Epicurus
Also known as the inconsistent triad- the three points- God’s omnipotence and omnibenevolence and evil do not add up. Either God must not be omnipotent or omnibenevolent or there must be no evil. There is an inconsistency
Augustinian theodicy- soul deciding
God didn’t create evil- evil is a privation, not a substance itself it is a lack of goodness
Christians believe that evil entered the world as a consequence of humans rebelling against God
When God created humans, he created the world to be perfect. There was no conflict between man and nature
God gave humans free will but mankind chose to reject this gift and find happiness without God
After the fall, the harmony god had created between humans and the animal/natural kingdom was destroyed, the relationships between humans tarnished. The world was no longer as god intended it to be
Humans still suffer from the effects of the fall. Original sin, which we are all born with, is inherited from adam and Eve. Evil and suffering is a just punishment from God
However, as well as punishment there is also mercy. God sent Christ to die to free humans from sin and humans can also redeem themselves through baptism. They can decide to live without sin and go to heaven
Problems with this theodicy
There is an issue in assuming we are descendents of adam and Eve and that sin is passed down genetically- doesn’t account for evolutionary theory
Why did god create us with the ability to sin?
Counter point- so that we can make choices and our good and moral choices are more valid than if we were merely puppets
If god was good then he wouldn’t punish us
Counter point- parents punish their children, it may be what is best for them
It seems illogical that god can forgive any sins through confession and yet is still punishing the entire human race for the sins of the original humans
Strengths of this theodicy
It fits in with our understanding of god and of our own character
Having free will is more appealing than to be enslaved and it makes sense that this sometimes leads to evil
Evil is not part of god
Based on the bible and therefore does not contradict scripture
Peter Kreft
The problem of evil is the one serious objection to the existence of god.
4 parts to the solution of the problem of evil:
Evil is not a thing, an entity or a being, it is a privation of good. As it is not a thing, it was not created and therefore god is not the creator of evil
The origin of evil is human free will. Without sin and selfishness there would be no evil. There would be no physical evil either- these evils would no longer embitter us as they do not embitter saints
Whilst physical evil does not appear to be linked to moral evil, it is. Because we are made up of body and soul, when the soul rebels against god (sin), the body takes the punishment as much as the soul- both suffer
God doesn’t just ‘allow’ evil to happen, nor did he create it, as he sent jesus to combat it
Humans must fight evil as well by repenting, believing and loving. We have a responsibility for combating evil as it originates with us, we cannot just blame god for our failings
The inconsistent triad can be overcome:
“why do bad things happen to good people?” is a useless question. The question instead should be “why do good things happen to bad people?” rather than complaining about evil we should be grateful for the good god gives us
Without evil we would be ungrateful. Suffering strengthens one and teaches the value of good when it comes
We cannot know god’s intentions- he is omniscient and knows what is best, we must trust his plan
Hell, like evil, is not intentionally created by god to make us suffer, it is merely the result of an absence of god by choice as a result of free will. If you can have evil and eternity then you can have eternal evil- hell.
Irenaen Theodicy- soul making
The point of the world is to test us for heaven, not to be perfect, if the world was perfect then it would be heaven
When humans are born, they are born in god’s image but we have to be made into his likeness (epistemic distance between us)
Our lives on earth are a testing ground and through our lives we are faced with situations which make us more perfect, more like god.
God created the universe with the possibility of evil and he will not intervene as that would stop human free will
However, god is loving, so eventually humans will develop into the image of god and live forever with God.
According to irenaeus Jesus is the second adam. Whilst adam disobeyed god and caused humans to move away from god, jesus brings people back to god. Whereas the Augustinian theodicy is a soul-deciding theodicy, the irenaean theodicy is a soul making theodicy- enabling us to develop
“the world is not designed for the maximisation of human happiness and the minimisation of pain, it may nevertheless be well adapted to the quite different purpose of soul making”- John Hick
Why do we need free will?
Humans are created to have a relationship of love with God. This is the highest good of all and the thing for which we are intended
Love cannot be forced, it must be freely chosen, human freedom is a necessary condition for morality or for love.
If people are free to choose to be loving or compassionate we must also be free to be greedy or cruel
God is omnipotent and could choose to prevent all suffering and pain but the price for this would be to take away human freedom. If he were to do this we would be automatons, rather than genuine human creatures. We would no longer have the possibility of a loving relationship with god or with each other- one cannot love unless one has the opportunity not to love
Support for irenaeus:
Peter vardy- the story of the king and the peasant girl
CS Lewis
Swinburne- problems with a ‘toy world’
Problems with Irenaeus
How does it explain natural disasters such as tsunamis? Do they, in practise, provide us with the opportunity to do good?
Why do some people get more than their fair share of suffering
“could our world not be a little more hospitable and still teach us all that we need to know? Could we not learn through pleasure as well as pain?”- Hume
Counter point- Swinburne would say that our suffering is limited by our capacity to feel pain and our lifespan
Strengths of the Irenaen theodicy
Suffering often has a beneficial effect on life- development of the person etc and allows one to appreciate the pleasures of life
The idea of ‘no hell’ fits with the idea of an omnibenevolent god
Humans have free will which allows them to make the right choices and truly love god as they also have the choice to reject god
Allows for the development of virtues- you could no learn to be compassionate or sympathetic unless you had the existence of suffering- if there is no suffering then there is no need to be compassionate. Similarly there is no requirement for bravery or courage if there is no danger or evil
You cannot be moral unless you have the choice to do wrong
Allows for the theory of evolution- moving towards the likeness of god
Free growth can only come in a world of dependable laws, real dangers, frustration, pain, obstacles etc. that is why there are natural disasters
Counterfactual hypothesis- would you rather have a paradise with no pain or sin or the real earth with pain and suffering but also happiness and joy and achievement
CS Lewis
“unattainability”- pleasure comes from the desire, not the having
God doesn’t want us not to suffer, he wants us to truly love and be loved
Uses the example of a sculpture, becoming perfect whilst having bits chipped off and beaten
“when we hurt we live”
“pain is god’s megaphone to raise a deaf world”
Suffering takes us from being infants- we grow up
The process theodicy
Restates the problem of evil- God is powerful, god is all loving and evil exists. Does not say god is ALL powerful
Two process theologians were david Griffin and AE Whitehead
Claims that evil exists, because God’s power is fundamentally limited in a real sense
God is not an omnipotent being and he did not create our universe because the universe in itself is an uncreated process, in which god forms a part, meaning he is bound by natural laws
God’s role in creation was to start off the evolutionary process that led to the development of humans
God doesn’t have total control and humans are free to ignore him
God cannot stop evil since he lacks the power to change the natural process, yet he bears some responsibility for it, having started off the evolutionary process knowing that he would be unable to control it
God’s actions are justified on the grounds that the universe has produced sufficient good to outweigh evil- the faulty universe is better than no universe at all
Monism is not a theodicy but a challenge to the existence of evil
Monists argue that the universe is perfect and good and the concept of evil is an illusion that evokes the feeling of suffering
Spinoza argued that we access things wrongly. We make judgements from our anthropocentric perspective only. We ask only how useful things are to us and miss their true value independently of us
Spinoza reasoned that if we look at everything objectively we would see that everything has an intrinsic value and there is no good and evil
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science Movement, argued that evil and suffering are in the mind. She claimed that if sufferers would only realise that there is no reality to their suffering, then their pain would instantly stop
Monism is not very widely accepted and is counter-intuitive i.e. it just seems false to claim that because pain is ‘mental’ it can be stopped by an effort of the will. The view assumes substance dualism, a view that most philosophers reject
Why would a benevolent god allow the illusion of evil when it causes a feeling of suffering?
The theory trivialises evil and suffering: if evil is an illusion, on what basis is morality important? Why should I feel the moral obligation to avoid (imaginary) evil actions and pursue good ones? Why should I ease the imaginary suffering of others?

The moral argument
This argument seeks to show that in the existence of God, we find the best solution to the common experience of moral obligation
There is a shared moral law that we come to through reason. In order for there to be moral law, there must be a law giver
The moral argument is Aquinas’ fourth argument for the existence of God. He says that different degrees of perfection, supremacy and noble truths are found. The ability to recognise these only makes sense if there is a transcendental being which is the ‘ultimate’ of perfection and morality.
There is a standard of morality against which we judge our actions, if such a standard exists then there must be a creator of such standards
CS Lewis said that human beings are subject to laws such as the laws of nature and the moral law. We have a choice as to whether to obey the moral law. We all feel the weight of moral law on us regardless of culture but we disobey it all the time. There must be a source of this law
Postulates of pure practical reason/morality
Freedom- for kant morality and reason are the same things. If we cannot freely reason the right thing to do there could be no such thing as a moral action
An afterlife- where the universe becomes just. Eschatological (after death)
God- to provide such an afterlife
Kant’s moral argument
Kant is a deontologist, he thought we should act out of duty alone
If we all use our reason correctly then we will all come to the right conclusion about how to act
If you have a duty to do something, you must be able to do it- “ought implies can”. If we feel the duty to improve our actions and strive towards a more just and good world then it must be possible.
However, on earth this is not possible and so kant reasons that there must be an afterlife where the universe can be completely just and that there must be a provider of this afterlife- God
Kant thinks that in order for morality to exist we must be immortal- humans naturally seek an ultimate end or a supreme good. This should be the union of goodness and happiness- summum bonum
This does not happen on earth but the universe ought to be essentially just and it therefore must happen elsewhere, after death
Problems with Kant
His theory is too black and white, as a logical and a’priori argument it doesn’t talk about it with any meaning- all hypothetical
No description of what happens to those who do not strive to fulfil duty on earth
If there is such an afterlife, what motivation is there to behave morally on earth
You cannot act for duty’s sake alone if there is the reward of an afterlife
Is it logical to believe that “ought implies can” this might not actually be the case
Assumes that there are universal moral goods
Hobbes ‘State of Nature’ in which there are no rules and no laws, at some point in early humanity life must have been like this. There must, therefore, be a social contract which is morality
Moral laws may not be objective
The moral argument does not prove the existence of god, just because our conscience points to a source it does not mean that source is god- socially engineered/other being
People disagree as to what the moral laws are. E.g. should you tell a lie to pretect someone’s life? The Categorical imperative would say no, WD Ross argues that the life is more important ?(prima facia duty)
Cultural relativist argue that morality is based on cultural expectations
Freud argued that our sense of an objective moral law is really generated by our minds as a result of the conflict between our deepest desires, society and socialisation by our parents
Freud believed that conscience is the result of conditioning of a growing being. He argued that the human psyche is split into three parts: ID, EGO and SUPEREGO
ID- immediate desires
EGO- rationalisation of desires
SUPEREGO- regret, guilt and shame.
Freud said that our subconscious desires (such as sex and aggression) are very powerful and can be dangerous
According to Freud, the role of the ego conscious part of the mind is to control the desires within the limits placed on us by society
Restraining our desires causes tension, resulting in the creation of the super-ego
Rather than directing out aggression towards others, the super-ego internalises it, reflecting it back on the self. This is the voice of conscience which restricts our behaviour and banishes our innermost desires. It is also the source of guilt as our super-ego punishes us when our desires become too strong
Freud also argued that our consciences are created by the rules of our parents. Parents are the first people to limit a child’s behaviour. The standards and ideals of the parents are internalised by the super-ego

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