Hell (for real this time)

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Hell (for real this time)

Postby wigginboy » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:16 pm

(DISCLAIMER: I do not capitalize the word hell except when used at the beginning of a sentence)

Hey all, just wondering what your concept of hell is. The idea of hell is very old indeed and over time many religions and cultures have developed their own opinions regarding hell.

To me, hell is not so much a place where souls go to be tortured. The soul, if there is one, is an ethereal form, not a physical one, thus it cannot possibly be tortured. To a soul, the only torture that could work is the absence of God. That is my concept of hell. The complete and eternal absence of God would be so terrible that this would be coeval with the fiery hell we are used to thinking about.

It would be great if others could share their concepts. If you are religious, share the version your religion or denomination believes in.

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Postby shadow_8818 » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:22 pm

Hell is not real it there just to scare people.
Daniel- you know speaking in the third person has proven that your crazy.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:29 pm

Hell is a real and present danger to all humans.






Now what makes your statement more valid than mine?
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Re: Hell (for real this time)

Postby steph » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:39 pm

. To a soul, the only torture that could work is the absence of God. That is my concept of hell. The complete and eternal absence of God would be so terrible that this would be coeval with the fiery hell we are used to thinking about.
I agree with this. In fact, I have nothing more to add than that at this time!
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I see so much magic, though I missed it at the time." - Jamie Cullum

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Postby Rei » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:53 pm

I have to say, that is what I believe as well. And a further statement on why absence of God would be so torturous, if God is complete goodness, complete absence of God is complete absence of anything good. It would be an existence devoid of any happiness of even the most sadistic or masochistic sort.
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Postby surditate_vero » Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:02 pm

I'll discuss my thoughts about hell in another post. (I suspect Rei will articulate them soon enough - he's far more capable at articulating thoughts such as these than I am.)

One of the most vivid descriptions of Hell in literature is Dante's Inferno. There are nine circles in Hell itself, each corresponding to a particular sin. For instance, the gluttonous are forced to wallow in great mounds of refuse; false prophets have their heads twisted around so they're looking backwards - a perversion of their ability to see into the future. Hell is, of course, populated with demons and mythical beasts - Cerberus guards the entrance to Hell; Minos is the judge of the dead (he determines which circle damned souls belong in); and Geryon, the great winged monster.

Dante's view of Hell is not that it is a place of torture, but more geared towards giving "life" lessons (albeit for all eternity): Alexander the Great, for his bloody adventures across Asia and India, is forced to stand in a river of blood as penance for his wars.

However, God is still present even in Hell. Dante walks past stones that were broken at Christ's Harrowing of Hell, and when he reaches Satan in the ninth circle, he realises that Satan has three heads. It is a perverse representation of the Trinity, but it is a trinity nonetheless, one which brings to Dante's mind the Trinity. And of course, before entering Hell, Dante wanders through a garden inhabited by virtuous pagans, those people who died before Christ came among us - he sees Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Saladin, and many others.

Even though Hell is a terrible place, Dante's guide, the Roman poet Vergil, reminds him that it is not gratuitous violence and punishment in Hell: people are punished according to their sins. (In fact, this ethos exists in Purgatory as well, where souls are cleansed of their sins before being allowed to continue on to Paradise.)

And, of course, who could forget that demon Dante meets around circle six or seven who, to use Dante's words, "made a trumpet of his ass" in Dante's direction?

Oh, Dante.....
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Postby surditate_vero » Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:03 pm

And thank you, Rei!
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Postby Rei » Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:07 pm

Hee, you're welcome :P
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Postby lyons24000 » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:10 pm

And for the first time I realize that I don't need to come in with a lot of Bible verses and some commentary...unless someone asks, of course. I just have nothing to say at the moment, although that might change tomorrow afternoon!

My opinions do differ from the popular one presented (although I mostly agree with Shadow_8818 on the point that hell does not exist).
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Postby wigginboy » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:38 am

And for the first time I realize that I don't need to come in with a lot of Bible verses and some commentary...unless someone asks, of course. I just have nothing to say at the moment, although that might change tomorrow afternoon!

My opinions do differ from the popular one presented (although I mostly agree with Shadow_8818 on the point that hell does not exist).
So does your assertion that hell does not exist conflict at all with your JW beliefs? If so please explain also the JW version of hell.

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Postby surditate_vero » Sun Nov 09, 2008 4:55 am

Also, anyone who's into epic poetry (think Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, for instance) might also like Milton's Paradise Lost.

Hell isn't discussed as much as it is in Dante, but Milton really brings the Rebellion of the Angels and the Fall (of both the rebel angels and of man) to life in this wonderful epic poem.

More than anything, Milton really places Hell into a Christian context, particularly where the Devil is concerned, when Hell is discussed in the poem.
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Postby lyons24000 » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:37 am

So does your assertion that hell does not exist conflict at all with your JW beliefs? If so please explain also the JW version of hell.
In the Bible, there are four different words translated "hell". Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus. (This is mostly in older translations such as the KJV and newer translations by people who think that the KJV was inspired)

Really, Sheol (a Hebrew word) is the grave (note many people also translating it as grave). Hades is the exact Greek equivalent of Sheol. Now, in Bibles today, the word Gehenna is mostly translated as hellfire. Tartarus is a completely different type of "hell" reserved for the devil and his angels. (Most people only transliterate Sheol, Hades, and Tartarus and leave them untranslated)

Now, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that when you die, you are just dead--sleeping. If you die you go to one of two places, Sheol/Hades or Gehenna. Sheol/Hades is for the people who are getting resurrected back to life on earth. The patriarch Jacob and Job both prayed to go to Sheol/Hades and the Bible even says that King David and Christ Jesus went to Sheol/Hades. The Bible makes it clear that these people will be resurrected. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that nearly everyone goes to Sheol/Hades, good and bad, and so people who were Jehovah's Witnesses and people who were not Jehovah's Witnesses all throughout history will be resurrected.

Now, the people who Jehovah and Jesus decree are not to receive a resurrection go to Gehenna. In ancient Israel, Gehenna was a garbage dump where the criminal and those otherwise seen as unfit to receive a burial were thrown. This dump was a giant hole in the ground that was very deep. Fire was going at the bottom. All the way down, there were protrusions in the cliff were most of the bodies would fall. They'd end up rotting away.

Since death is just sleep, none of these people are feeling pain or otherwise being in torment (physical or not) because they are concious. Hell, as people seem to believe in it is not real.

(I'm to tired to put Bible verses. If you'd like me to you'll have to wait until tomorrow. I'm going to a large assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses today and I'll be gone all day. Then I have to come home and work!)
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Postby wigginboy » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:52 pm

thanks. That is probably the best description I have ever heard. I have skirted a few different faiths in my lifetime, namely Catholicism, Seventh-Day Adventist, Lutheranism and LDS. Most of these have the same version of hell that most other Christian faiths do, the fiery pit where one's soul is tortured for eternity. I even had on person, who became an SDA pastor not long after, that hell is an event, at the end of days, as described in revelation, all the bad souls will be burned up at once, leaving the good to rule with Christ. It has just always occured to me that hell cannot be a place of fire and torture because the soul cannot be tortured, except with the complete absence of God. So, Lyons, your faith's idea that death is just sleep seems the most logical. The body is asleep and the soul, if there is one, is dormant as well.

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Postby starfox » Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:37 pm

Hell is not real it there just to scare people.
Hell is a real and present danger to all humans.
Now what makes your statement more valid than mine?
The first statement makes no extraordinary claims. The second does, and thus the burden of proof lies with you.

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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:36 am

Image

Good job being a parrot, young Grasshopper.
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Postby Jebus » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:25 am

I have to say, that is what I believe as well. And a further statement on why absence of God would be so torturous, if God is complete goodness, complete absence of God is complete absence of anything good. It would be an existence devoid of any happiness of even the most sadistic or masochistic sort.
So the root of sadistic happiness is God?

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Postby starfox » Mon Nov 10, 2008 8:53 am

Good job being a parrot, young Grasshopper.
It makes my point no less valid.

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Postby Rei » Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:08 am

So the root of sadistic happiness is God?
In part, yes. The fact that it can bring happiness at all shows that God is not completely and utterly absent from the person. People are sadistic because they are looking for happiness like the rest of us, but they are doing it in a disordered way and any happiness they find will not be fulfilling, but really a shadow of the true happiness that they and all of us are looking for.
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Postby zeroguy » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:42 am

Image

Good job being a parrot, young Grasshopper.
Unless I'm missing something from prior posts or something, I'm somehow seeing the newbie's point more than yours, EL, which is confusing me.

One contends a place doesn't exist, another contends it is a real danger. I can't see the place; without any further evidence, isn't the former more credible?
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Postby surditate_vero » Tue Nov 11, 2008 3:32 am

To Jebus' comment about sadism:

I wonder if you were thinking of self-mortification? Granted, that's been practised in Catholicism, and still is, to an extent.

In a sense, that's a form of sadism, yet it's practised in order to bring oneself closer to God. What makes this more - or less - valid than prayer?
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Postby surditate_vero » Tue Nov 11, 2008 3:56 am

Hell is not real it there just to scare people.
Hell is a real and present danger to all humans.
Now what makes your statement more valid than mine?
The first statement makes no extraordinary claims. The second does, and thus the burden of proof lies with you.
Why do you say that the first statement - shadow's - makes no extraordinary claims? Granted, according to Occam's Razor, it appears to be the simplest solution: that hell cannot exist.

However it does not explain why so many people rationally have believed and do believe in such a place as hell and do not follow religion from fear of it. While their testimony is not empirical evidence of such a place, it makes it difficult to write it off as being simply not there without further thought.

(Thanks to Rei for his thoughts on this post!)
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Postby starfox » Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:24 am

Why do you say that the first statement - shadow's - makes no extraordinary claims? Granted, according to Occam's Razor, it appears to be the simplest solution: that hell cannot exist.
Because non-existence of something is the default belief. If you say such-and-such exists, you have to prove it does, I don't have to prove it doesn't. Do you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Invisible Pink Unicorn, or Russell's Teapot?

We have two scenarios: hell either exists or it doesn't. We have never seen ANY evidence for hell. I didn't say hell cannot exist. However, we have no evidence for it. The burden of proof is on the person making the extraordinary claim.
However it does not explain why so many people rationally have believed and do believe in such a place as hell and do not follow religion from fear of it. While their testimony is not empirical evidence of such a place, it makes it difficult to write it off as being simply not there without further thought.
This is a fallacy that goes by the name of argumentum ad populum. A lot of people believed Zeus threw lightning bolts once. Didn't mean they were right. How many people believe in something is not related to how easily it can be dismissed. In this case, with no evidence for the existence of hell, it can be written off without further thought.

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Postby Eaquae Legit » Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:56 am

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Good job being a parrot, young Grasshopper.
Unless I'm missing something from prior posts or something, I'm somehow seeing the newbie's point more than yours, EL, which is confusing me.

One contends a place doesn't exist, another contends it is a real danger. I can't see the place; without any further evidence, isn't the former more credible?
It was the wording, primarily, that got to me. I'm so dang sick of hearing that exact phrase spouted off almost as a creed. And with nothing else to say, as if it should be obvious to any person with half a brain. It never, ever seems to come from a person who's spent any time at all in the serious study of religion, and I've gotten to the point where it's just not worth it to type a long reply because the person on the other end isn't even interested. I have never seen that line followed by a thoughtful, educated conversation. Why shouldn't I laugh? Why should I think it's anything more than a parroting of the latest pop-atheism book?

And in this case especially, no one can make a concrete claim as to what happens to a person after death. The claim that existence ceases has pretty much exactly as much evidence for it as the claim that hell does. The Undiscovered Country hasn't been discovered by atheists any more than by theists. Any claim at all is an "extraordinary" claim. Are you speaking from beyond the grave? I'm not.
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Postby starfox » Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:12 am

It was the wording, primarily, that got to me. I'm so dang sick of hearing that exact phrase spouted off almost as a creed. And with nothing else to say, as if it should be obvious to any person with half a brain. It never, ever seems to come from a person who's spent any time at all in the serious study of religion, and I've gotten to the point where it's just not worth it to type a long reply because the person on the other end isn't even interested. I have never seen that line followed by a thoughtful, educated conversation. Why shouldn't I laugh? Why should I think it's anything more than a parroting of the latest pop-atheism book?

And in this case especially, no one can make a concrete claim as to what happens to a person after death. The claim that existence ceases has pretty much exactly as much evidence for it as the claim that hell does. The Undiscovered Country hasn't been discovered by atheists any more than by theists. Any claim at all is an "extraordinary" claim. Are you speaking from beyond the grave? I'm not.
Okay. Want to have a thoughtful, educated conversation? EL, I agree with your point that simply parroting it without understanding it is bad. However, I disagree that any claim is an extraordinary claim. The burden of proof must lie with the believer, otherwise we would believe in everything.

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Postby Eaquae Legit » Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:37 am

See, the problem is, you're just repeating yourself. You haven't said anything new. This is exactly what I mean when I say it's never followed by actual dialogue. You're not interested in listening. Nothing I say will result in anything but that same statement.

I've been down this road before. Not interested, sorry.
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Postby Aesculapius » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:53 am

I've always beleive Hell to be the place of complete eternity, where the souls cannot come back to visit the living, to "haunt" them, or, as many such as I believe, be reincarnated as another being.

Though, that's only my opinion if there is no God.

If there is a God, well, then, I think Hell would be the place as wigginboy descirbed it to be:
To a soul, the only torture that could work is the absence of God. That is my concept of hell. The complete and eternal absence of God would be so terrible that this would be coeval with the fiery hell we are used to thinking about.
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Postby starfox » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:49 pm

See, the problem is, you're just repeating yourself. You haven't said anything new. This is exactly what I mean when I say it's never followed by actual dialogue. You're not interested in listening. Nothing I say will result in anything but that same statement.

I've been down this road before. Not interested, sorry.
No, I'm honestly interested. Do you disagree with what I said earlier?

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Postby surditate_vero » Tue Nov 11, 2008 3:22 pm

See, the problem is, you're just repeating yourself. You haven't said anything new. This is exactly what I mean when I say it's never followed by actual dialogue. You're not interested in listening. Nothing I say will result in anything but that same statement.

I've been down this road before. Not interested, sorry.
No, I'm honestly interested. Do you disagree with what I said earlier?
Does not the burden of proof lie with both of you, actually? That hell does not exist is a belief in and of itself as well.

You might come back and say that it's not a belief, but rather a lack of belief. It's still a belief, though, because one cannot unconsciously believe - or not believe - in something; it requires conscious effort either way.

I think the problem here is you're both trying to approach this question from different stances. Would it help if you both agreed to proceed from the premise that both of your positions require a conscious acknowledgment, rather than operating from the stance of belief v. non-belief or extraordinary v. non-extraordinary?
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Postby surditate_vero » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:06 pm

Why do you say that the first statement - shadow's - makes no extraordinary claims? Granted, according to Occam's Razor, it appears to be the simplest solution: that hell cannot exist.
Because non-existence of something is the default belief. If you say such-and-such exists, you have to prove it does, I don't have to prove it doesn't. Do you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Invisible Pink Unicorn, or Russell's Teapot?

We have two scenarios: hell either exists or it doesn't. We have never seen ANY evidence for hell. I didn't say hell cannot exist. However, we have no evidence for it. The burden of proof is on the person making the extraordinary claim.
However it does not explain why so many people rationally have believed and do believe in such a place as hell and do not follow religion from fear of it. While their testimony is not empirical evidence of such a place, it makes it difficult to write it off as being simply not there without further thought.
This is a fallacy that goes by the name of argumentum ad populum. A lot of people believed Zeus threw lightning bolts once. Didn't mean they were right. How many people believe in something is not related to how easily it can be dismissed. In this case, with no evidence for the existence of hell, it can be written off without further thought.
But who is it a fallacy for? Them or you? It's true that I don't believe in Zeus or that he threw lightning bolts, but that doesn't mean that the Greeks didn't genuinely believe in Zeus and the pantheon of gods on Mount Olympus.

You're implying that religion is fallacious on some level because of argumentum ad populum. I'm not saying that this is what you're saying, but you may want to qualify your earlier comments because we're beginning to get on to a slippery slope in regards to logical fallacies here, I think.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:29 pm

Mm, I do agree with that. I don't claim that the burden of proof lies with anyone - or rather, it lies with everyone (and if you dig enough in this forum you'll find me making that point). When a person makes a claim about the numinous, either positive or negative, it creates a burden of proof. Really, I think the agnostics are the only ones who can legitimately say "we don't have to prove it."
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Postby shadow_8818 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:44 pm

hells not real
Daniel- you know speaking in the third person has proven that your crazy.
Rodney- crazy like a fox

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Postby starfox » Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:51 pm

Does not the burden of proof lie with both of you, actually? That hell does not exist is a belief in and of itself as well.
I don't think so. This is what Russell's teapot is all about. It's ridiculous to say you need to disprove the teapot exists. I could assert there are infinitely many teapots, do you have to disprove them all?
But who is it a fallacy for? Them or you? It's true that I don't believe in Zeus or that he threw lightning bolts, but that doesn't mean that the Greeks didn't genuinely believe in Zeus and the pantheon of gods on Mount Olympus.
What I was trying to say was that you should believe something or not based on its own merits, not based on how many other people believe in it. That's the fallacy.
Mm, I do agree with that. I don't claim that the burden of proof lies with anyone - or rather, it lies with everyone (and if you dig enough in this forum you'll find me making that point). When a person makes a claim about the numinous, either positive or negative, it creates a burden of proof. Really, I think the agnostics are the only ones who can legitimately say "we don't have to prove it."
I feel like agnosticism and atheism deal with different questions. Agnosticism is the answer to the epistemological question of whether or not we can know, and atheism is the lack of belief in a god/gods. You can be one, or both, or neither.

As I understand it, an agnostic says, "if God doesn't exist, we'll never know."
An atheist says, "We know a lot about how the world works, and none of it points to the existence of God. I think it's pretty likely God doesn't exist."

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Postby wigginboy » Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:05 am

So what do you call someone (like me) who believes there is a higher power, but does not know whether it is God or not, and believes no one really can know? am I still Agnostic or am I something else altogether?

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Postby zeroguy » Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:30 am

I'm so dang sick of hearing that exact phrase spouted off almost as a creed. And with nothing else to say, as if it should be obvious to any person with half a brain. It never, ever seems to come from a person who's spent any time at all in the serious study of religion
And you're driving them away from doing so even further. When you respond like that, all the other side thinks is that they are right and you're a bitch. That you're avoiding the argument because you'd rather make fun of them, or you're not competent enough to, or you know you're wrong, or... other possibilities, maybe, I don't know.

In my mind, there are a few basic reasons for responding: trying to change the other party's mind, trying to further discussion on the topic to help arrive at more refined conclusions, making one feel superior over the ignorance of others, simply blowing off stream, or for humor. This isn't the place for blowing off steam, and these responses haven't seemed funny.

Hm, to quote this again:
It never, ever seems to come from a person who's spent any time at all in the serious study of religion
So, people have to have reached a certain level of education before receiving a reasonable response from you?

Edit:
So what do you call someone (like me) who believes there is a higher power, but does not know whether it is God or not, and believes no one really can know? am I still Agnostic or am I something else altogether?
You have basically paraphrased the first sentence of the first sentence in the Wikipedia article on agnostic theism.
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Postby Rei » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:45 am

So, people have to have reached a certain level of education before receiving a reasonable response from you?
As much as I agree that that sort of response doesn't win any favours, she has a point. The number of times people here who sound like they're in grade 9 and just learned a phrase about not having to prove a negative have put down that challenge and then flat out ignored anything and everything that someone who has actively studied the field of religion for years is absurd. No, you don't have to have a degree in religious studies to get a reasonable response, but you do have to at least try and not hide behind your pathetically passive shield of not having to prove a negative.

If anyone wants to get a reasonable response, they'd better damn well be reasonable themselves by accepting that just maybe having a degree in a subject might give a little credibility. But for some reason, the atheist who's never thought about it beyond a few catch phrases always seems to be treated as more credible than the religious person who has fervently studied the very topic of religion as a whole along with their own religion and other religions.

And for the record, I'm sick of that phrase, too. It's an empty-headed rote response for empty-headed rote people.
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