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Author Topic:   Immaterial "Evidence"
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 91 of 154 (522880)
09-06-2009 12:45 AM
Reply to: Message 90 by NosyNed
09-04-2009 8:46 PM


Re: degrees of acceptance
Assigning different levels of acceptance is not retarded. It is exactly what we do everyday. It is the only rational behavior.

Of course.

Now, what about Mountain Lions in Missouri?: Message 9

It all about where you put those levels of acceptance.

Perdition seems to be going the "scientific only" route, which Straggler seemed to start with but has slowly allowed a little bit of leeway. I'm a bit farther to the accepting side, myself.

I don't think we can say that one specific placement of that line is THE rational one.


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 Message 90 by NosyNed, posted 09-04-2009 8:46 PM NosyNed has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 94 by Straggler, posted 09-08-2009 10:52 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 442 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 92 of 154 (522925)
09-06-2009 12:32 PM


The magic organ between the ears
Human bodies have organs.

A fact I think, we can all agree on.

If I have a stomach ache, I feel something nobody else feels. It cannot be empirically tested that it aches. It can be empirically supported that signals are going to the brain which are consistent with pain - but the experience itself is unobtainable to science.

However, if I have a stomach ache, I can usually pin it down thusly:

1) Something I ate.
2) Some bacterial or viral invasion.
3) Acid reflux
4) Something else

Normally, unless there were some extraordinary circumstance I would not associate this private experience being caused by an immaterial entity or even a material entity whose influence cannot be detected conventionally (or it can but those who are capable are unwilling). So if I said demons were causing my stomachache, or a secret government agency, I'd be met with very high levels of scepticism.

Likewise, if my stomach felt warm and comforting and I associated this not with having a good meal and fine wine but with the benevolent influence of otherwise undetectable fairies (that is, they can only be detected by the positive influence they exhibit upon the stomach) - people might think my ideas are 'harmless' but they'd still be (quite rightly) sceptical.

This is true of any organ in the body. Strange occurances with the heart, even pleasant experiences, are generally associated (upon reflection at least) with physical causes. If they are suitably unusual one might even recommend seeking medical attention just to be sure.

The commonality of stomach aches, satisfied appetites, and chest pains is very rarely cited as evidence for immaterial entities, but rather as evidence for a common anatomy and common physical things that can affect them.

However, if an unusual experience occurs within the brain, it is not unusual for people to associate that experience as being indicative of a magical, immaterial or otherwise 'publically' undetectable entity. It is almost always associated with an entity that is commonly believed by the culture of the person involved. Instead of thinking that the commonality of these experiences is due to a commonality of brain anatomy and associated physical causations, many people take that commonality to mean that there is 'something out there' causing it. Many even go so far as to commit to defining certain characteristics to that 'something'.

Even though, in our age, we know that identical experiences can be replicated due to epilepsy, tumours, strokes, and other discoveries of neurotheology and associated knowledge of neuroscience and psychology - brains find it difficult to shake the conviction that it must 'mean something' as long as what it means is not disappointing.

The result is that a great number of people take 'but it could be something' open mindedness too far, but seemingly only when it comes to the magic organ between the ears.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


Replies to this message:
 Message 95 by Straggler, posted 09-08-2009 7:40 PM Modulous has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 93 of 154 (523087)
09-08-2009 10:27 AM
Reply to: Message 79 by New Cat's Eye
09-04-2009 2:46 PM


Still Inventing Gods Still Inventing "Evidence"
No, I'm not. I'm allowing for the possibility of reliability.

I do allow for that possibility. I even allow for the possibility that the IPU is real. I allow for the possibility that the Immaterial Pink Unicorn is an inspired guess. Do you?

You're the one claiming that its been demonstrated that there's no difference.

No. I have stated that the immaterial forms of evidence you cite are indistinguishable from biased guesses in any practical sense. Thus it is on the basis of irrational personal conviction (faith by any other name) that you request that they be distinguished. Yours is not a rational position. It is a faith based personal conviction position.

I'm not assuming it does have reliability, I'm just not accepting that it doesn't.

Then you cannot rationally claim that the objects of belief evidenced by means of immaterial subjective evidence alone are any more reliable as conclusions than apparently making things up by means of possible "divine inspiration". Things such as the Immaterial Pink Unicorn. Both are effectively random guesses in terms of demonstrable reliability. Both are possibly true in a philosohical sense but very probably human inventions based on the objective evidence available.

3) The concept in question actually exists and has been detected by sporadic objective evidence.

etc.

Aha - I see you are now abandoning subjective evidence alone and invoking objective evidence of gods as a reason to insist that I be agnostic rather than atheistic as the most rational conclusion. To some gods at least.

Can you give some specific examples of the objective evidence that you are now citing as evidence that some gods actually exist?

Can you also explain why for any given immaterial god concept that is not objectively evidenced in any way that the contrary and deeply objectively evidenced fact of human invention is not the rational and superior conclusion for me to make?

You've presented a False Dichotomy.

Apparently only if the god concept in question is objectively evidenced.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 94 of 154 (523089)
09-08-2009 10:52 AM
Reply to: Message 91 by New Cat's Eye
09-06-2009 12:45 AM


Re: degrees of acceptance
Perdition seems to be going the "scientific only" route, which Straggler seemed to start with but has slowly allowed a little bit of leeway. I'm a bit farther to the accepting side, myself.

Whenever Straggler was not pounding his fists with frustration at the desperate bid by deists/theists to lead the conversation down evasive blind alleyways by invoking aliens, the Loch Ness monster, cats, lions and all manner of other very material concepts that have nothing to do with the deities under discussion he has been thoroughly consistent in his acceptance of the philosophical possibility of gods that cannot actually be disproven. Including the philosophical possibility that the Immaterial Pink Unicorn actually exists.

I don't think we can say that one specific placement of that line is THE rational one.

Yes we can. The one that is overwhelmingly the most evidenced at the expense of the other mutually exclusive alternative. The human invention of gods and the ongoing ability of humans to invent gods is a deeply evidenced fact. The actual existence of gods remains utterly unevidenced by any form of evidence that is demonstrably superior to biased guessing in terms of reliability.

The rational conclusion with regard to any given god concept is therefore a degree of atheism. You continue to deny this but have failed to give a reasoned argument as to why this position is flawed.

Now, what about Mountain Lions in Missouri?

Is the mountain lion immaterial? Can they be seen? Can they be heard, touched etc. etc. Are lions empirical entities? Do we know lions exist? Do we know mountains exist? Is the possibility of lions living in mountains thus an evidenced (no matter how unlikely it may seem) possibility? If so none of this has any relevance whatsoever to immaterial gods inhabiting an immaterial realm.

Mountain lions are off topic unless they are invisible immaterial lions inhabiting immaterial mountains.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 91 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-06-2009 12:45 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 110 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-17-2009 11:35 AM Straggler has acknowledged this reply

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 95 of 154 (523200)
09-08-2009 7:40 PM
Reply to: Message 92 by Modulous
09-06-2009 12:32 PM


Re: The magic organ between the ears
The result is that a great number of people take 'but it could be something' open mindedness too far, but seemingly only when it comes to the magic organ between the ears.

So are you saying that "subjective evidence" as the basis of faith amounts to nothing more than a warm and fuzzy equivalent of a tummy ache for the mind? That we might as well make conclusions about the nature and existence of immaterial reality based on our internal gastric experiences?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 92 by Modulous, posted 09-06-2009 12:32 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 96 by Modulous, posted 09-08-2009 9:29 PM Straggler has acknowledged this reply

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 442 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 96 of 154 (523209)
09-08-2009 9:29 PM
Reply to: Message 95 by Straggler
09-08-2009 7:40 PM


Re: The magic organ between the ears
So are you saying that "subjective evidence" as the basis of faith amounts to nothing more than a warm and fuzzy equivalent of a tummy ache for the mind? That we might as well make conclusions about the nature and existence of immaterial reality based on our internal gastric experiences?

It seems as good a method as any. If this god is meant to move in mysterious ways then what better way to detect it than my own mysterious movements... No wait, I've got it, If the brain is the seat of consciousness maybe the digestive system is the stool of the soul.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 95 by Straggler, posted 09-08-2009 7:40 PM Straggler has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 97 by Kitsune, posted 09-17-2009 3:21 AM Modulous has responded

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2638 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 97 of 154 (524481)
09-17-2009 3:21 AM
Reply to: Message 96 by Modulous
09-08-2009 9:29 PM


Re: The magic organ between the ears
Hi Modulous and others,

Sorry I dropped out of the conversation a while back. I've had some difficulties; these are the sorts of things that test whatever faith a person has. I've often found myself during that time, thinking about what I believe or what I'd like to believe, and what people have said in this thread and elsewhere. I think it's good to be made to question. I'd like to re-join the discussion and I'm aware that there are several lengthy posts awaiting my reply; it's been problematic for me to be able to do this in detail for them all. I'd like to summarise here what I've been thinking and if anyone feels that there are still questions they have that I have not answered, please let me know and I will do so.

I think we're all agreed that we can't measure the divine by empirical means. For some that's the end of the matter: if it can't be detected in such a way, it doesn't exist. As I've expressed before, I believe this is a closed-minded approach. I've outlined ways that we could study someone's claims of having had a spiritual experience, and at the very best we can end up with the conclusion of "We don't know." Where do we go from there?

I can't remember if I posted this link before, but I think it's a good case in point:
Man Warned Away from Explosion

He says he considers himself a "rational person" and set about trying to find such an explanation for what he experienced. This would seem to be an ordinary person going about ordinary day-to-day activities who would neither desire nor expect such an experience. Possible explanations that occur to me:

This story could be fictional, or truth embellished.
It could be coincidence (though I find it difficult to see how).
Someone might have been hoaxing him (though it would be an elaborate one).

Out of the above three, I'd pick the first as the likeliest possibility. Let's assume that this story is true in all relevant details. Then:

Maybe the warning was some form of telepathy.
Maybe the man was experiencing precognition.
Maybe there was a spirit or a god giving the warning.

There are many similar cases like this. Not everyone tells them, for fear of being ridiculed by self-styled rational people.

IMO the only explanation that invokes the divine is the last one. Telepathy and precognition aren't necessarily undetectable spiritual manifestations and they don't require the existence of the divine. If someone chose to believe that God or a guardian angel was protecting the man, it's a belief that is unprovable and one which does no harm to the believer or others. Maybe this is really all we can say with certainty about faith: that it's a choice someone makes. We can use the existing evidence to steer us as far as we can, and avoid choosing to believe in things that are proven to be false. Then, it's perhaps a matter of what ideas appeal to us. Sometimes it's a matter of deciding to listen to one's inner voice. There's no proof that it exists but nonetheless I'm pretty sure I've got one.

By the way Modulous, you said in your last post about the brain being the seat of consciousness . . . not everyone believes this. It's interesting that something like 95% of your serotonin (that neurotransmitter that SSRI antidepressants target) is in your gut. This is one reason why people get side effects from the meds: they work indiscriminately everywhere in the body. That's a lot of serotonin that's not in your brain. (Though maybe this is a discussion for another thread, as the nature of consciousness is a topic in itself.)

Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 96 by Modulous, posted 09-08-2009 9:29 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 98 by Straggler, posted 09-17-2009 6:29 AM Kitsune has responded
 Message 100 by NosyNed, posted 09-17-2009 9:05 AM Kitsune has responded
 Message 107 by Modulous, posted 09-17-2009 10:57 AM Kitsune has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 98 of 154 (524488)
09-17-2009 6:29 AM
Reply to: Message 97 by Kitsune
09-17-2009 3:21 AM


Re: The magic organ between the ears
I think we're all agreed that we can't measure the divine by empirical means. For some that's the end of the matter: if it can't be detected in such a way, it doesn't exist.

Actually I don't think this is a true representation of any of those you have been debating with. I realise it would be easier for you to debate unreasonable zealouts who hold simplistic, black and white positions based on certainty and definiteness at every point. But that just is not the case here. It is about likelihood not certainty.

I can't remember if I posted this link before, but I think it's a good case in point: Man Warned Away from Explosion

The main thing you miss in your example is that it is an objectively evidenced possibility (unlike any of the mystical possibilities that you cite) that a combination of selective memory, the human inclination to make connections that exist only in the mind, coincidence and that fact that phrases like "watch the red" might well be exceptionally common in dangerous jobs where danger areas are marked by red, offer a superior if more mundane explanation. How many times had he heard this particular phrase before without any mystical significance whatsoever?

Appearing to hear something the source of which cannot be ascertained and then a week later connecting that to something that happens is not evidence. He could have missed red light and avoided a traffic accident and come up with the same sort of mystical connection. How about a year later? A decade later? At what point do we consider the connection contrived? People make honest and genuine attempts to understand the experiences they have and the connections they make. Nobody disputes this. But are those connections evidence of the supernatural? Or, based on the empirical evidence of human psychology, better and more reasonably explained as products of the mind? That is the question here. Which possibility is superior in terms of likelihood based on the evidence? Which is the rational conclusion?

Maybe the warning was some form of telepathy.
Maybe the man was experiencing precognition.

If either of these human abilities exist then it is the methods of science that will eventually allow us to understand them. Should this happen they will be "natural" rather than "supernatural". Telepathy has been tested, and as far as I am aware, has failed those tests. Precognition would require abandoning the laws of physics as we know them and seems an exceptionaly unlikely possibility.

Maybe there was a spirit or a god giving the warning.

Maybe there was. But even if we accept that such supernatural entities might exist how an immaterial empirically undetectable entity external to the mind of the experincee can be detected remains a problem for this position. A sixth sense capable of such immaterial detectionas as per the OP is still required.

Then you also have the fact that there are countless cases of people who hear voices inside their head. I would suggest that getting people to make predictions based on these voices rather than relying on connections made with hindsight would result in conclusions that are no better than guessing in terms of reliability. The form of "evidence" you are citing in favour of the supernatural would seem to be of no worth at all in terms of reliability.

If you are determined to find cause to believe in the supernatural then of course you will. Humans are arguably very inclined to do just that. But whether you like or agree with the empirical conclusions, whether you consider them closed minded or not - The fact is that based on the material objective evidence, the evidence with a proven record of reliability, the human mind is a far more likely and rationally justifiable explanation than the actual existence of gods, spirits and the like.

This much is undeniable.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 97 by Kitsune, posted 09-17-2009 3:21 AM Kitsune has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 99 by Kitsune, posted 09-17-2009 7:37 AM Straggler has responded

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2638 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 99 of 154 (524496)
09-17-2009 7:37 AM
Reply to: Message 98 by Straggler
09-17-2009 6:29 AM


Re: The magic organ between the ears
Hi Straggler,

quote:
Actually I don't think this is a true representation of any of those you have been debating with.

Not all of them, but quite a few, including you I thought. Can you tell me how your own position is different from "I don't believe the divine exists because it cannot be measured by empirical means"?

I agree with all the possibilities you cited about the "Man Warned Away from Explosion" story. And I think that if anyone wants to get at the objective truth, then all of these things need to be considered. But they are possibilities. We will probably never know how much of this particular story represents reality. I do think, however, that if we decide to make these rational explanations the default explanations, we run the risk of missing some true phenomena. When I first joined this forum I shared a particular experience that someone close to me had, and all the evidence that makes it credible to me, and not a single person I spoke with here seemed to consider the possibility that it could actually be true. They ended up insisting that all people involved, whom I know and they do not, must have been mistaken or lying. Having said that, this story -- like the one I linked to here -- doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the divine, unless you choose to believe so.

quote:
If either of these human abilities exist then it is the methods of science that will eventually allow us to understand them. Should this happen they will be "natural" rather than "supernatural". Telepathy has been tested, and as far as I am aware, has failed those tests. Precognition would require abandoning the laws of physics as we know them and seems an exceptionaly unlikely possibility.

I agree that such abilities would be natural, not supernatural, and as such could be investigated by science.
There have been successful tests of telepathy in the past and some are ongoing.
I don't see why that or precognition has to "abandon the laws of physics."
This is all off topic here though really, because if these abilities do exist, they don't necessarily have anything more to do with the divine than me brushing my teeth. This of course is part of the problem of looking for evidence of the divine. We shouldn't credit it for everything we do not currently understand; that's no different from people thousands of years ago thinking that lightning bolts were hurled by the gods.

quote:
I would suggest that getting people to make predictions based on these voices rather than relying on connections made with hindsight would result in conclusions that are no better than guessing in terms of reliability.

Well you'd have to find some voices that wanted to predict the future and actually were able to do so (as opposed to, conceivably, spirits having some fun with you by claiming they have knowledge that they don't). Various cultures and religions have prophecies; I was reading some Native American ones the other day. Of course, there are all kinds of problems with prophecies. I don't personally know anyone who claims to have had voices tell them the future but I don't see why you couldn't study someone who did.

quote:
based on the material objective evidence, the evidence with a proven record of reliability, the human mind is a far more likely and rationally justifiable explanation than the actual existence of gods, spirits and the like.

I agree with you to an extent. I don't personally draw the conclusion that therefore humans are always mistaken, and the divine does not exist. Do you? If you do, I'm wondering what the purpose of this thread is, because I can't see what anyone could say that would cause you to question your beliefs.

Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 98 by Straggler, posted 09-17-2009 6:29 AM Straggler has responded

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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8868
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 100 of 154 (524514)
09-17-2009 9:05 AM
Reply to: Message 97 by Kitsune
09-17-2009 3:21 AM


Warnings
I have received warnings of various sorts lots of times. Every single one was followed by absolutely nothing happening. The voice was me, I worry too much. But sometimes I do get strong feelings of doom.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 97 by Kitsune, posted 09-17-2009 3:21 AM Kitsune has responded

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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2638 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 101 of 154 (524515)
09-17-2009 9:13 AM
Reply to: Message 100 by NosyNed
09-17-2009 9:05 AM


Re: Warnings
I get those every time I have to drive into the middle of town and go to the shopping mall

Seriously, this is the problem. Instinct might guide us correctly sometimes but not others; and sometimes we might think we're listening to our instinct when something else is going on. I've had depression and I know for a fact that the feelings of doom I got were from my neurotransmitters and hormones being messed up. If I were suddenly hit by a feeling of doom for no apparent reason -- say, upon entering a certain place -- and the feeling lifted when I left the place, I'd be tempted to consider that it was telling me something. All of this is just guessing of course. I can understand why many people don't want to go there; it's not reliable.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 100 by NosyNed, posted 09-17-2009 9:05 AM NosyNed has not yet responded

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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5872
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 2.4


(1)
Message 102 of 154 (524522)
09-17-2009 10:02 AM
Reply to: Message 101 by Kitsune
09-17-2009 9:13 AM


Re: Warnings
There are several phenomena that exist like Deja vu', feelings of impending doom, ESP, etc, that lend some superficial credence to the paranormal. There are plently of Eastern medicine's and philosophies that aren't explained very well by Western thought. Deja vu', in particular, really messes with my head. I have heard many people attempt to rationalize it and their explanations may very well be true, but I think it is worth taking a closer look for further examination.

There are three kinds of people when it comes to topics like. You have your cynics and skeptics who desire to rationalize everything with their own standardized understanding of how the world works. They deny these kinds of claims right off the bat and attempt to debunk it. Then you have the dreamer types who are given over to all things mystical. They desire to look beyond the normal to find answers, and even when a more scientific answer is demonstrated by science, they still tend to hold on to their dream. Then you have people like me that remain neutral for the most part and open to all possibilities.


"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind." -- Bertrand Russell

This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by Kitsune, posted 09-17-2009 9:13 AM Kitsune has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 103 by Kitsune, posted 09-17-2009 10:29 AM Hyroglyphx has responded
 Message 104 by bluescat48, posted 09-17-2009 10:41 AM Hyroglyphx has not yet responded

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2638 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 103 of 154 (524527)
09-17-2009 10:29 AM
Reply to: Message 102 by Hyroglyphx
09-17-2009 10:02 AM


Re: Warnings
I'm interested in the paranormal too; I aim to be an open-minded skeptic. But for the purposes of this thread, I think it can be hard to differentiate which phenomena labelled "paranormal" point to the existence of the divine. If science eventually explains them, then how is that any closer to finding God?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 102 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-17-2009 10:02 AM Hyroglyphx has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 105 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-17-2009 10:43 AM Kitsune has responded

  
bluescat48
Member (Idle past 2527 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 104 of 154 (524530)
09-17-2009 10:41 AM
Reply to: Message 102 by Hyroglyphx
09-17-2009 10:02 AM


Re: Warnings
You have your cynics and skeptics who desire to rationalize everything with their own standardized understanding of how the world works.

The true skeptic doesn't totally reject such ideas, but is skeptical of them do to the lack of concrete evidence. The point of rationalization is simply that most of these paranormal things can simply be coincidence.


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969

Since Evolution is only ~90% correct it should be thrown out and replaced by Creation which has even a lower % of correctness. W T Young, 2008


This message is a reply to:
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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5872
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 2.4


(1)
Message 105 of 154 (524531)
09-17-2009 10:43 AM
Reply to: Message 103 by Kitsune
09-17-2009 10:29 AM


Re: Warnings
If science eventually explains them, then how is that any closer to finding God?

I doubt that it would. There's just too many unknowns to account for.


"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind." -- Bertrand Russell

This message is a reply to:
 Message 103 by Kitsune, posted 09-17-2009 10:29 AM Kitsune has responded

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