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Passions in Poetry

How can omniscience exist independently of a predetermined future?

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Allan Riverwood
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0 posted 02-26-2002 09:40 AM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

I've been discussing this with a friend of mine as of late.  He's agnostic, I'm atheist (you can imagine we have some really good debates)... and one day I came up with something I'd like to share...

Let's theoretically say that something is omniscient.  It knows absolutely every bit of knowledge that is known.  It knows the past, present, and future.  And it has a 0% rate of error.

Let's take the obvious example of God... He created the universe with complete and total knowledge of all things that would transpire in that world.  So the future was known to him.

Bill, a 20-year-old agnostic, is told that he is given the chance to repent from his sins before God and accept Christ into his heart.  God already knows whether or not he will, however, so the choice is not his.  Let's say for example that God knows he will never be converted to Christianity.  If Bill suddenly converts, then God will have been wrong.  And therefore will not have been omniscient.

An omniscient creature can never be wrong, or it will not have been omniscient to begin with.  If it is never wrong about the future, then the future must be pre-determined.  

Any thoughts or refutations?  

All images begin in mirrors and end inside our subconsious.
~Genesis P-Orridge, "Thee Reversal of Fate"

Silver Streak
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1 posted 02-26-2002 10:31 AM       View Profile for Silver Streak   Email Silver Streak   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Silver Streak's Home Page   View IP for Silver Streak

Allan,

I believe in God and I believe that God is omniscient, in the sense that, as man tries to measure, he simply cannot go there.

I also believe that in that omnicience, there is a Wisdom God has that we lack, simply because God is all life and we are not all life, but merely one life form.

And the theoretical case that you suggest, may or may not even exist, and if it does exist, or it does not exist how could we even know with our limited perceptions.

Rene Descarte suffered the same quandry. And concluded I think therefore I am.

And I would like to add that if I believe that if I am, the reality of my awareness of this fact is life enough to be defined as God.

I define God simply as the connection of all life. And this mutual attraction between life forms I call Love, and I interchange the terms God and Love, as is done in certain Scripture. And when life forms are attracted to each other in Love, there seems to be a helping spirit that builds the bigger life form from the smaller life forms, and intergrates all life for the benefit of the total life creature. And destroys non cooperating life forms with disease and death.

Man has been studying this phenomonon for thousands of years, and over time has intercoursed with the spirits of these realities, concluding and writing of God as he, man, interpreted life presence spiritually and physically. And terms like omniscience, infinity and zero were simply created by man, defined as tools to study our existence in God and God in us.

Whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant, and whether omniscience applies or not is irrelevent, what is relevent is that we live and have spirits which give us sadness and joy. And I believe that the life in all of our integrated spirits is the essence of a One and Only Living God, regardless of terminology man creates to prove or disprove man's question.

According to Scripture God is simply, I Am. So the question is simply Does "I am" exist?  And the fact that you can ask it would say, Yes! I Am, I exist, I am in God, God is in Me. QED.
-newell        

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Copyright: 2002 Newell Elsworth Usher

Silver Streak
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2 posted 02-26-2002 10:47 AM       View Profile for Silver Streak   Email Silver Streak   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Silver Streak's Home Page   View IP for Silver Streak

Allan,

A postscript addressing your posed question:

How can omniscience exist independently of a predetermined future?

Omniscience is man's term for an infinity of means. Infinity is another term invented by man for something beyond man's ability to understand. A predetermined future is simply a hypothesis posed by other men who lack the intelligence and analytical skills to be able to accurately define reality and so, in a sweep of genius or illusion, man simply, impatiently creates hypothesizes, he accepts as truths, that an infinite (man's term) God naturally, by definition knows it all. But a living God exists in reality, not a set of hypotheses based on questions.

In reality, the question you pose doesn't even make sense.
-newell

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Copyright: 2002 Newell Elsworth Usher


[This message has been edited by Silver Streak (02-26-2002 10:51 AM).]

serenity blaze
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3 posted 02-26-2002 12:00 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

hmmm...well I look at it this way. Just because I have knowledge of a situation does not necessitate a burning desire to DO anything about it. But in truth, what I believe is actually a little more complicated. Will be back later, after more coffee and the boyfriend is asleep.
Ron
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4 posted 02-26-2002 12:50 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
And terms like omniscience, infinity and zero were simply created by man, defined as tools to study our existence in God and God in us.


I don't think you can dismiss the questions as nonsensical quite that easily. The terms were created by man, but what those terms represent was not. You might as well argue that five plus seven has no answer, because after all, five and seven are terms that were simply created by man. You can't show me a five, you can't point at a seven, because both are abstract constructs. Yet in spite of that, the right answer is still twelve. The terms, though invented by man, still have real meaning.

Following your argument to its logical conclusion, one could just as easily say that God is a term invented by man, so any questions about God don't make sense. Is that really where you wanted to go with this?

How much is half of infinity? Can God create a stone so heavy He cannot lift it? Is there more than one kind of determinism? Is there any kind of determinism? Can God tell a lie? These are all legitimate questions. Not knowing the answer doesn't necessarily make them nonsensical.
Brad
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5 posted 02-26-2002 03:37 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

"Bill, a 20-year-old agnostic, is told that he is given the chance to repent from his sins before God and accept Christ into his heart.  God already knows whether or not he will, however, so the choice is not his.  Let's say for example that God knows he will never be converted to Christianity.  If Bill suddenly converts, then God will have been wrong.  And therefore will not have been omniscient."

--I don't understand this. Knowledge doesn't interfere with free will, force (widely defined) does. You may not like the idea that I can predict what you're going to say but that doesn't mean you're not free to say it.

--Someone next week will know what you do tomorrow (providing that there is a tomorrow and a next week and a person). In that sense, the future person has knowledge that you don't now, does that make your decision any less free?

--The future person can't interfere. God doesn't interfere.

--Am I missing something?
Denise
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6 posted 02-26-2002 04:01 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

I was just thinking the same thing,Brad, I don't see why foreknowledge impedes the man's choices in any way. I don't see the connection.

p.s. not that this is the point but repenting and asking Jesus into your heart is not what the Bible teaches for salvation...just wanted to clear up that very popular misconception.
Allan Riverwood
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7 posted 02-26-2002 04:59 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

Brad -

What I'm saying is that knowledge would HAVE to interfere with free will, otherwise it would be incorrect knowledge.  It's kind of a difficult concept to grasp, I admit, and I'm trying hard to word it just correctly.  Just give it a little thought, you might see what I'm saying... another simpler example...

I am omniscient, which we will assume to mean that I know all that is, that will be and that ever was.  You flip a coin.  If I am omniscient, I know that the coin will turn up heads.  If it can be known beyond any doubt that it would turn up either heads or tails, then that means that there is no other option than the one that is known.

So it cannot turn up tails, otherwise the omniscient being's knowledge of the result would have been incorrect.  Which is impossible, assuming that the being is omniscient beyond any doubt.

If any one thing can know the turnout of any event, without possibility of error, then that turnout must occur.  

What you were saying, Brad, I will agree with... just because he has knowledge of what our free choices will be, doesn't make them any less free, of course.  But if he has knowledge of what the choices will be, then there is no chance that your choice itself will be any different.

On a side note... I'm really trying to discuss both omniscience and randomness/free will as concepts.  It was probably an error of mine to go into any religious discussion as a branch of either of these.  (However, the omniscience vs free will argument is something that I use a lot when arguing religion   )

All images begin in mirrors and end inside our subconsious.
~Genesis P-Orridge, "Thee Reversal of Fate"



[This message has been edited by Allan Riverwood (02-26-2002 05:09 PM).]

Allan Riverwood
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8 posted 02-26-2002 05:21 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

and Silver Streak...

"Omniscience is man's term for an infinity of means. Infinity is another term invented by man for something beyond man's ability to understand."

If all worldly concepts are simply imperfect and unreliable conclusions of the flawed human logic, what makes you so accepting of the teachings of your doctrine?  Whether you like it or not, those things all exist as concepts as well.  While you propose that they exist "in reality," the concepts of them exist in your mind, they are human concepts.

So if you willingly reject inconvenient concepts due to unreliability, why do you so willingly accept anything you are taught from scripture?  The scriptures were written by hands as human as yours.
Silver Streak
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9 posted 02-26-2002 05:32 PM       View Profile for Silver Streak   Email Silver Streak   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Silver Streak's Home Page   View IP for Silver Streak

I restate the question:

How can omniscience exist independently of a predetermined future?

May I ask two questions? Is there a reality such as omniscience? Or is this just an assumption?

Is predetermination a reality? Or is this simply another assumption?

Because that there are many Worship Templates that define God in man configured ways, why should we accept their definitions of God? If God is the true, "I am", then God is reality, as I describe above.

And so I still discount the question as being a hypothetical with no possible answer in reality. Unless you can prove the existence of your two premises.

Othewise, this is simply a fun exercise in opinion ping pong.

-newell

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Copyright: 2002 Newell Elsworth Usher

Allan Riverwood
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10 posted 02-26-2002 05:36 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

Silver Streak, I refuse to accept that argument unless you can, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, completely and accurately prove that each word you used in that statement exists as a concept, and isn't simply another assumption.  Every concept you just used to argue me must be proven fully, otherwise I will not even waste my time.

Yep.

All images begin in mirrors and end inside our subconsious.
~Genesis P-Orridge, "Thee Reversal of Fate"

[This message has been edited by Allan Riverwood (02-26-2002 05:40 PM).]

Ron
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quote:
However, the omniscience vs free will argument is something that I use a lot when arguing religion

I sure hope it's not one of your stronger arguments.  

Take a look at your last post, Allan. Read it carefully. Is that the ONLY way you could have written it? Were you forced, through omniscience, to use exactly those words in that specific order? If you feel you had any choice at all, you've pretty much blown your own argument out of the water.

You've implied omniscience includes the ability to know the future, and have concluded that knowing something is going to happen means it MUST happen. By your argument, if I knew you were going to type those exact words, then you had no choice but to type those words?

Well, believe it or not, Allan, I'm about half-omniscient.  

No, I don't know the future. But I do know the past. I know you typed those exact words, otherwise I wouldn't have read them, and therefore you had no choice but to type those words. You didn't have free will, because if you had typed anything else they wouldn't be sitting there for me to read right now.

If that sounds far fetched (and it does), it's only because we're trapped in a linear time line. We think in terms of things that have happened, are happening, or will happen. Omniscience, however, would necessarily yank you right out of that linear trap. We see the past as immutable because we know it happened. If you could know future events with the same certitude, it would be equally immutable. Time would cease to exist, at least in any kind of linear fashion.

But if knowing the past doesn't violate free will, why then should knowing the future violate it? Omniscience exists outside of time. There is no past, no future, only certain knowledge.
Allan Riverwood
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12 posted 02-26-2002 06:30 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

"But if knowing the past doesn't violate free will, why then should knowing the future violate it?"

Simple, Ron.. our free will is our ability to change the future, not our ability to change the past.  It's not hard to grasp the idea of future and past being different.... and for a half-omniscient person, I can't say I'm impressed.     

Don't treat past and future as though they were the same thing.

I admit that I assume the ability to know the future when I use the term "omniscience."

Your argument doesn't have a lot of relevance.  We have the ability to know the past because the past determines the present.  The difference between past and future is that the future has yet to happen.  Could you change the past if you wanted to?  No, of course not.  Our free will is based on our ability to determine the future alone, not the past.

That is why knowledge of the future and predeterminedness are interlocked.  Total and unwavering knowledge of the future cannot exist without universal predeterminedness, otherwise there would always be a chance that certain knowledge of future events is incorrect.  This possibility of incorrect knowledge defies that something is omniscient.

"By your argument, if I knew you were going to type those exact words, then you had no choice but to type those words?"  

Yes, but only if you had total and unwavering knowledge with a 0% chance of being incorrect.  If you knew for certain (which we as human beings are obviously incapable of) what I was to type, without possibility of error, then of course I had no choice than to type it.  

(can someone tell me how to quote someone else?  this italics method is getting tedious)

[This message has been edited by Allan Riverwood (02-26-2002 06:55 PM).]

Allan Riverwood
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13 posted 02-26-2002 06:50 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

Just to clarify:

When I say "no choice" but to do something, I really mean no possibility.  It's what we choose that is beyond our control.  Theoretically, if there's a 100% chance I'll choose chocolate chip cookies over oatmeal cookies, then although it's my choice to have chocolate chip, there's still zero chance of me having oatmeal.  And if there is zero chance of me choosing something else, then what is my choice must be beyond my control... because there is only one possible choice I could make without the pre-knowledge of my choice having been wrong.
Christopher
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14 posted 02-26-2002 07:00 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

well... lol, allan - there is a LARGE difference between choice and possibility.
Allan Riverwood
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15 posted 02-26-2002 07:02 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

Yep.  But if our choice is predetermined, isn't choice just an illusion anyways?
Ron
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16 posted 02-26-2002 07:18 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

But, Allan, I have total and unwavering knowledge with a 0 percent chance of being incorrect of what you DID type in the past. I think we agree that doesn't in any way violate your choices. If you had typed something different ten minutes ago, I would STILL have unwavering knowledge now - it would just be different knowledge.

You admit that me knowing what you did in the past doesn't forsake free will. Why? Because the past, you say, cannot be changed. But if I KNOW what you're going to do ten minutes from the now, the future is JUST as unchangeable. No matter what you did in the past, no matter how you exercised your free will, my knowledge of what you did in the past is perfect. You have the same exact free will in the future - even if the knowledge of what you do is already perfectly known.

You accuse me of treating the past and future the same, and you're absolutely right. Because they are the same. Your future is someone else's past. The "me" of six hours from now knows exactly what your next post is going to be - because that me has already read it.

If it helps, think of omniscience as someone who sits at the very farthest reaches of time and remembers everything that has ever happened. The past. That's not any more inaccurate than thinking of omniscience as someone sitting at the beginning of time and knowing everything that will eventually happen, nor is it any less unlikely than someone sitting at this precise moment and knowing both.

Your problem is that you're trying to cram omniscience into a time line, and it ain't gonna fit. By its very nature, omniscience exists outside of time.

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17 posted 02-26-2002 07:19 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

predetermination, in my mind, is a closed loop - it negates choice and yet requires choice. a cancelling affect if i've seen one.  
Allan Riverwood
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18 posted 02-26-2002 07:27 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

"Your problem is that you're trying to cram omniscience into a time line, and it ain't gonna fit. By its very nature, omniscience exists outside of time."

This is great, as an assumption.  Can you prove that omniscience exists outside of time, or maybe just say why it does?

By its very nature?  How does total knowledge of all things exist outside of time, when all things themselves exist inside of time?

All images begin in mirrors and end inside our subconsious.
~Genesis P-Orridge, "Thee Reversal of Fate"

Allan Riverwood
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19 posted 02-26-2002 09:06 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

Ahh.... gotcha...

Yes, I agree that given enough time anything is possible.  

Even the collapse of time itself?  Hmm... that would be a stinker...

OK Ron, let's run with this then... omniscience is independent of time.  Which means that time already must exist in all states, if you can be independent of it and observe it at any place.

So the future already exists, you are saying?  And can be observed from outside of time?  I'm not being skeptical, I'm trying to clarify what point you are making.

All images begin in mirrors and end inside our subconsious.
~Genesis P-Orridge, "Thee Reversal of Fate"

Ron
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20 posted 02-26-2002 09:07 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Actually, you've already done that, Allan.

If any meaningful definition of each precludes the other, that leaves us exactly three possibilities. We can conclude that past/time/future doesn't exist as we perceive it (which is a definite mathematical possibility), we can conclude omniscience doesn't exist (which is obviously where you wanted to go), or we can conclude they must exist separate from each other.

Stephen Hawking has said that if you stand next to a black hole long enough, you will eventually see a dragon emerge. Because the mathematical forces at play guarantee that anything is possible given sufficient time. Based on that, and given his success rate, I'm reluctant to lightly deny the existence of anything.

Besides, how could you possibly know everything there is to know and still not know how to escape the constraints of time?
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21 posted 02-26-2002 09:10 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
So the future already exists, you are saying?  And can be observed from outside of time?

Yes. And before you jump all over that, Allan, remember it is equally true of the pastů  

Indeed, the edge between past and future gets a little blurry.
Allan Riverwood
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22 posted 02-26-2002 09:20 PM       View Profile for Allan Riverwood   Email Allan Riverwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Allan Riverwood

Well now I am going to get skeptical.  

Pardon me for being unwilling to accept that the future already exists, without reasonable backing to the statement.  You can't just state it is so and expect me to believe it fully, of course.  

But for the sake of brevity, let's use it as an assumption... if the future already exists, then all that we are doing is sliding along a panel on the way to the future, aye?  Which would mean that the future is predetermined.

And if the future is predetermined, then although we choose our actions... there is no escaping the inevitability of what our choices will in fact be.  So there is no randomness, only events that already exist, that we move into.

To be omniscient is to step outside of time, as you say.  And to be able to step outside of time is to say that the future exists already, and is simply waiting for us, as you stated.  

I'm going to have to interperet this as you agreeing with me, that omniscience (which exists outside of time) and universal predeterminedness (which is implied by your statement that the future already exists) are like peas in a pod.

"The future already exists" is just another way to say that "all things are predetermined."  You linked the concept of omniscience to this as something that exists independent of and examines time.  

So with no predetermined future, there is nothing to step away from and examine.

That's my original point.     Glad you agree.

All images begin in mirrors and end inside our subconsious.
~Genesis P-Orridge, "Thee Reversal of Fate"

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23 posted 02-26-2002 10:18 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, no, that's not your original point. Your original point is that this has a connection to free choice but a determinate or indeterminate future is irrelevant to free choice.

As Christopher said, choice and possibility are two different things. Your assumption is that if one being knows what you're going to do with a 100% certainty (predetermination)you, in fact, have no choice at all but you're confusing your own perspective with someone else's. You can't know what will happen with a 100% certainty unless you are no longer in the four dimensional space/time continuum. This limitation forces us to look at our choices as free or forced.

If we see, free choice as merely 'the possibility of changing the future', you can put a gun to my head and my hand tell me to kill my daughter or myself (easy decision given these strict parameters actually) and still call it free choice.

Because you leave out intent.

Your assumption, again and again, is that you can get outside yourself in order to determine any of these things -- you have become God (don't worry, a lot of people do this.).

The question then is not whether a determinate or indeterminate future has any relation to our free choice but whether God has free choice.

From our perspective in the time line, you would have to say no -- God defined as omniscience at any rate and a certain manifestation of God at any rate.

From God's perspective (a contradiction in terms), the question has no meaning. God has both no perspective and an infinite amount of perspectives.

Freedom is not an objective value, it's a value solely concerned with beings that we ascribe intent to.

Does a rock have free will?

Brad  
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24 posted 02-26-2002 10:58 PM       View Profile for Silver Streak   Email Silver Streak   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Silver Streak's Home Page   View IP for Silver Streak

What a ping pong game. Gee this is fun!

"Pardon me for being unwilling to accept that the future already exists, without reasonable backing to the statement.  You can't just state it is so and expect me to believe it fully, of course."

Well let's see. Let's take the beginning of time. And subtract one from it. Hmmmmm!

Well let's see. Let's take the end of time. And add one to it. Hmmmmmm.

Would this infer that time is circular?

Well if time is circular, I guess we could travel back in time and see what tomorrow brings. Hmmmmmmmm.

Just a thought.

-newell

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