The “Bronze Age Mythology” fallacy

A common tactic from New Atheists is to use the term bronze age mythology to dismiss Biblical views, as if the time period when truth claims were documented can be used to categorically refute them.

But the age of an idea does not impact its truthfulness.  Older ideas have usually often gone through more scrutiny than newer ones and are often better supported.

Sure, many old ideas were wrong.  But they weren’t wrong because they were documented a long time ago, they were wrong because they were didn’t correspond to reality.

So the bronze age dig proves nothing, and even if it was true it would undermine atheistic arguments as well. The real bronze age myth is that you can live how you want and never be accountable to your creator.

As Psalm 14:1 points out, the claim that there is no God is also bronze aged:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds . . .”

And of course, Romans 1:

Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

And as you can see from reading St. Augustine and others, the arguments of the New Atheists aren’t new at all.  They are the same old arguments presented with less civility and with the volume turned up to 11.

So don’t buy into the myth that the bronze age myth argument means anything.

0 thoughts on “The “Bronze Age Mythology” fallacy”

  1. Great post Neil. I find it funny when atheist act like the idea of atheism is a new idea. Men have been denying His existence from the beginning of time in an effort to justify doing whatever they wanted. That is really at the core of atheistic belief: not having to answer to anyone for their actions.

    Of course they deny this, but at the base level that is exactly what motivates them to turn a blind eye towards the overwhelming evidence of God’s existence. That is why I pretty much don’t even listen to atheists anymore, because it is a tired debate, and their side is based on humanistic egoism.

    As the saying goes, everything new is old.

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      1. If there was a god defining good and evil, it’s just as arbitrary as man defining it. If there is some notion of good that is higher than a god, then god isn’t defining it. So which is it?

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      2. I think you may be referring to something known as the Euthryphro Dilemma (I’m sure I misspelled that!). The answer is that God doesn’t “make” good and He also doesn’t sit under “good” in the sense that He is under authority to some standard. Good is simply part of his essence.

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      3. Plus, christians regularly “redefine what is good” themselves, in theory, by overriding god/Jesus in the bible, by (rightly!) ignoring the morally repugnant parts of the bible. So is god actually god or not?

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      4. I look at it differently. God is good, all the time. It is part of his essence. In our fallen nature we may misunderstand him, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t good.

        There are plenty of morally repugnant things in the Bible, as an overarching theme is that we are fallen sinners in desperate need of a Savior. The Bible records many such acts. But God is perfectly holy and sovereign and just, so He can punish as He sees fit.

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      5. If you’re redefining ‘good’ as “what god does”, you might as well make up a new word for it, or write “what god does”, rather than poisoning the word “good”.

        When defined that way, “good” becomes completely meaningless.

        “Holy and sovereign and just” — this just sounds like word-salad as a stand-in for “might makes right”. If an all-powerful being made everything, and they can do what they want, it makes them right and good? Nope. Why on earth do you naturally equate power with goodness and rightness? Because it says so in a book? A book which you don’t have independent confirmation of the rightness of? It’s very circular.

        A little thought experiment here. Suppose you thought you heard god speaking to you and he commanded you to kill your neighbour. What would you do?

        By accepting the (unsubstantiated) claims in a book about your supposed inherent guilt and then getting on your knees to an unpleasant, immoral violent maniac character, you’ve fallen for one of the oldest cons in history. You’ve allowed your rational mind to be cowed by fear.
        In what way could eternal punishment in a hell ever be a moral thing to do to someone?

        I’m also curious as to why you’re a Christian, and not a Muslim, or some other religion. They can’t all be right (and I believe it’s vastly likely none of them are right).

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    1. Men have been denying His existence from the beginning of time in an effort to justify doing whatever they wanted. That is really at the core of atheistic belief: not having to answer to anyone for their actions.

      I for one can tell you that what motivated my atheism (I prefer to say my exit from Christianity, as I don’t feel the need or desire to have to suddenly identify with a whole new creed, I am no different a person now to what I was when I was “saved”), was most certainly not the need to feel free to do whatever I wanted. This has been a painful, wrenching experience, and has not been at all easy.

      Most days I miss the voice in my head that tells me what I should be thinking, chastises me when I curse, and steers my thoughts in a more austere direction. I miss talking back to it, telling it how much I love it, even though I’ve never felt this; that is what I was told I was supposed to say. And yes it was comforting, and for me, just somehow totally dishonest.

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    2. LoneWolfArcher, your belief that there is an all-powerful creator who cares about the little details of our lives and your disbelief that we might actually just be here, without being created or having a bigger purpose — THAT is egoism at its finest.

      The core of my atheistic beliefs, and the core of many others, is the lack of any evidence of a creator or god. Atheists who act well are actually more moral than the religious, since the religious are acting out of doctrine or fear of hell. Atheists acting well are doing it for exactly the right reasons — compassion, empathy, and knowing what is right with having it threatened into us with a big stick (hell etc.).

      Speaking of not having to answer for your actions: if you believe in a biblical god, you can be a ten time murderer and as long as you accept Jesus etc. you go to heaven. An atheist who murders no-one and acts charitably all their lives, but doesn’t accept Jesus or whatever nonsense it is, goes to hell. THAT is not having to account for your actions, or in fact, the very opposite. Your god is a sick joke and to dress it as morality is wrong wrong wrong.

      If your god actually exists, then they’re welcome to actually show up and communicate with us. But if they exist and are doing an extremely good impression of not existing by hiding, then they might as well not exist at all at this point.

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      1. LoneWolfArcher, your belief that there is an all-powerful creator who cares about the little details of our lives and your disbelief that we might actually just be here, without being created or having a bigger purpose — THAT is egoism at its finest.

        Isn’t the real question whether or not it is true? If my kids claimed that my wife and I created them, cared deeply about the details of their lives, sacrificed for them, had their long-term best interests at heart, etc., would they be unjustified in claiming it?

        And under atheism, where would be the rationale that egoism is wrong? Wouldn’t that be expected? And where would be the grounding to criticize any behavior as universally wrong?

        The core of my atheistic beliefs, and the core of many others, is the lack of any evidence of a creator or god.

        Have you studied the cosmological, teleological, moral, etc. arguments for his existence? If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog — http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/ or especially Stand to Reason at http://www.str.org or http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com

        Atheists who act well are actually more moral than the religious, since the religious are acting out of doctrine or fear of hell.

        I concede that many atheists behave relatively well on human terms. But they have no philosophical grounding for universal morality.

        In their nothingness to molecules to life to man view, my conversion from atheism to trusting in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is solely due to Darwinian evolution (or some such thing), so why would they criticize what their worldview created?

        Also, in Christianity, we are acting properly because we think it will gain us entrance into Heaven. No amount of good deeds can undo my countless sins against God. We act differently because God has changed us and out of gratitude for what Jesus did for us. We believe He is God in flesh and that we should see the world as He does and act accordingly.

        Atheists acting well are doing it for exactly the right reasons — compassion, empathy, and knowing what is right with having it threatened into us with a big stick (hell etc.).

        But on atheism you have no reason to say those are the “right” things.

        Speaking of not having to answer for your actions: if you believe in a biblical god, you can be a ten time murderer and as long as you accept Jesus etc. you go to heaven. An atheist who murders no-one and acts charitably all their lives, but doesn’t accept Jesus or whatever nonsense it is, goes to hell. THAT is not having to account for your actions, or in fact, the very opposite. Your god is a sick joke and to dress it as morality is wrong wrong wrong.

        Technically, you are right. Grace, by definition, isn’t fair. If you want fairness, you’ll get it. You will be punished in Hell for your sins. That is fair. If you want unfairness, then trust in Jesus and how He paid for your sins on the cross. Was that fair for him to pay the penalty I deserved? Not at all. But I’m eternally grateful for it.

        If your god actually exists, then they’re welcome to actually show up and communicate with us. But if they exist and are doing an extremely good impression of not existing by hiding, then they might as well not exist at all at this point.

        He did show up. We killed him.

        He also reveals himself through the Bible. I highly encourage you to read it carefully, even if it is just so you can be more effective at criticizing us.

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      2. “Isn’t the real question whether or not it is true? If my kids claimed that my wife and I created them, cared deeply about the details of their lives, sacrificed for them, had their long-term best interests at heart, etc., would they be unjustified in claiming it?”

        No, it probably wouldn’t be unjustified. That’s because a) you clearly exist and can be commnuicated with, b) evidence probably exists in abundance that you are their parents, c) there’s not records of you being cruel to them (I’m assuming), d) plenty of evidence exists for two human beings being able to produce another human being as offspring.
        None of those items A to D apply for this god thing.

        Egoism can be wrong because a) it can hurt others (as well as yourself), b) it can lead to incorrect beliefs and reasoning.
        Why do you think Atheism would demand, or lead to, egoism?
        Atheism doesn’t provide a grounding for what you call “universal wrong”. However, neither does christianity or other religions. “A big powerful being made stuff and can crush me like a fly and says X is right and Y is wrong, therefore they are right and wrong” isn’t a basis for “universal morality” or whatever you want to call it. It’s a edict, a demand, a laying down of the law. Finding a bit of paper with wild unsubstantiated claims on it about certain events and taking your morality from that is lazy. Looking at how your actions affect others and making a working morality on that basis is a much better way of doing things.

        Atheists can be moral by considering how our actions affect other people, and if they would cause others to suffer unnecessarily, etc. And I consider myself more moral than the horrible character called god depicted in the bible — *way* more moral. I wouldn’t chuck people into eternal suffering forever, or have a bear rip apart some children for mocking a bald man. That sort of thing.

        “Have you studied the cosmological, teleological, moral, etc. arguments for his existence?”
        I’ve seen plenty of arguments for god, but nothing yet that wasn’t flawed. Why do you even need arguments? Why isn’t god making themselves known, if they exist? Hint: holy books don’t count. There are a lot of them and they contradict each other.

        “In their nothingness to molecules to life to man view, my conversion from atheism to trusting in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is solely due to Darwinian evolution (or some such thing), so why would they criticize what their worldview created?”
        — eh? What does your conversion to jesus have to do with evolution?

        “God is good, we mortals just can’t understand his reasons for doing some things.” If you don’t understand his actions and god himself, then that not understanding also extends to not being able to claim god is “good”.

        “Also, in Christianity, we are acting properly because we think it will gain us entrance into Heaven.” — exactly. It’s not because behaving badly would hurt others, but because it will get you something. That’s wanting a carrot, rather than wanting to not hurt other people.

        “Countless sins against god” etc. — sorry, but I see you’ve bought a guilt trip that you read about in a book. God surely could just forgive you, without all this rigmarole with sacrificing himself (?). He’s supposedly all powerful, right? Why are you as a person responsible for something you didn’t do (fall from grace etc.)?

        “But on atheism you have no reason to say those are the “right” things.” — yes, I do have a reason. The reason is that it reduces suffering of people. On the other hand, “A big man in the sky said X is right” is not a reason to say “those are right things”. It’s just taking someone or something’s claim and taking it at face value without thinking about it.

        “Technically, you are right. Grace, by definition, isn’t fair. If you want fairness, you’ll get it. You will be punished in Hell for your sins. That is fair. If you want unfairness, then trust in Jesus and how He paid for your sins on the cross. Was that fair for him to pay the penalty I deserved? Not at all. But I’m eternally grateful for it.”

        I’m afraid I can’t even begin to understand the convoluted logic above. Why on earth would being punished in hell forever be “fair” in any sense?
        As I said earlier, you’ve bought into a guilt trip from a book and from cultural sources. It’s a guilt trip that makes you accept the most nonsensical things, and it looks like you’ve abdicated your sense of self-worth in the process. There’s no sin and there’s no christian god. The god depicted in the bible is a monster. If they did exist, they’d be unworthy of worship. I know you believe I’m going to hell etc. but as I said, these are particularly strange ideas that have wormed their way into your head perhaps because of a guilt trip/fear mechanism caused by the bible. I know that the bible is made up by men and it’s a shame you can’t see this.

        Have you read the Koran? Why aren’t you a muslim? The Koran makes many claims similar to the bible. How can you discount the Koran? Or other religious books?

        “He did show up. We killed him.”

        Proof please? The bible isn’t proof. “We”? Were you there?

        “[Jesus] also reveals himself through the Bible.”
        Spiderman reveals himself through Marvel Comics. Do you believe in Spiderman?

        All this doubt amongst non-believers would be so easily solved if god/jesus showed up and demonstrated who they were and that they existed. But they never do, do they? Strange that.

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      3. You started off so nicely in your original comments, but have now resorted to a typical irrational atheist tantrum. That’s disappointing. I encourage you to re-read all you’ve written and add up your moral claims, including your criticisms of God, then remember that your nothingness to molecules to life to humans worldview gives you no grounding for making any moral claims. Darwinism is a big joke, but even if it was true it would only select for survivability, not truth or rationality. You have no rational reasons to trust your rationality. Oh, we know it exists, but that is one of the many evidences for God. On your worldview you couldn’t trust it.

        “Also, in Christianity, we are acting properly because we think it will gain us entrance into Heaven.” — exactly. It’s not because behaving badly would hurt others, but because it will get you something. That’s wanting a carrot, rather than wanting to not hurt other people.

        Sorry, I had a typo there. It should have read, “Also, in Christianity, we are acting properly NOT because we think it will gain us entrance into Heaven.” The Bible — which you obviously haven’t studied and just refer to from your Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites — could not be more clear that we are saved by faith and not works. Please read the Book of Romans — only 16 short chapters — to see what I mean. At least you’ll be able to better understand what you are criticizing.

        Your worldview couldn’t explain why wanting a carrot would be bad. In fact, your worldview is solely about carrots. Yes, we both know it is wrong to hurt people, but your worldview can’t explain why it is wrong, and would even justify it if it would help you.

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  2. Racing Boo,

    I don’t think “honesty” is important, either, in the sense you seem to imply. If I wanted to be honest with myself, then I would be so to totally indulge whatever desire arose within me, regardless of moral/immoral implications. If someone insulted me, my “honest” reaction is to insult them or smack them. If I see something I like, my “honest” impulse is to take it for myself. If I feel like a good buzz, grab a doobie, or down a few shots. If I see a hot babe…

    For me, and I suspect others, belief is not always something that results in total joy in serving Him as if doing so were the only thing that fills our hearts and minds. We still have to live life as it presents itself and do so as fallen creatures with the constant choice of pleasing ourselves or pleasing Him. Not being perfect, we will too often choose the former over the latter.

    I took a look at the facts that are available and despite no hardcore evidence, there is enough for anyone who’ll look to give one an intellectual reason to believe until one’s heart and spirit are convinced. I can’t not believe anymore, even though I am still drawn to those things I know I should avoid. It’s part of carrying one’s cross.

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    1. Honesty, of course, has nothing to do with impetuously acting with no regard for consequences (grabbing a doobie. etc.). It has to do with acknowledging what is real to the best of your abilities, without self-deception or invention. All spiritual and philosophical traditions hold it as a virtue, even if their adherents find it difficult to practice.

      I’m no big fan of the New Atheist writers, but I know for myself and my atheist and agnostic friends, we were not “motivated” to not believe the claims of Christianity by a need to not be responsible for our actions. We were thoughtful and ethical when we held to our parents’ Christianity, and we’re thoughtful and ethical now. The claim that people that don’t believe in God can’t or don’t control themselves is not born out by the facts. And if you also came to the honest conclusion that the claims of Christianity don’t hold up, you probably wouldn’t go off the deep end either (although that would be up to you).

      I have no motivation to not be adhere to Christianity other than the urge not to believe things that are not factual. It’s the same motivation you or any one else has not to believe in claims that are not supported by evidence.

      Racing Boo, I missed the imaginary friend in my head that Christianity provided for awhile, but that went away eventually, along with the guilt about being born a (“fallen”) human being. We can live good, ethical lives without a king in our heads and without the threat of eternal damnation. It just takes practice.

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      1. Hi Co-opR8,

        Thanks for visiting and commenting.

        The claim that people that don’t believe in God can’t or don’t control themselves is not born out by the facts.

        Who made that claim? I haven’t read the comment thread for some time but I’m sure I didn’t make it. I make the opposite claim: God writes moral laws on the hearts of believer and non-believers alike so we are without excuse. You can control yourself on many things, but ultimately your sin nature will cause you to sin. But go ahead and prove me wrong.

        Christianity is completely factual — http://tinyurl.com/ykzpu42 . The best explanation for the evidence is that Jesus rose from the dead.

        We can live good, ethical lives without a king in our heads and without the threat of eternal damnation.

        Relative to other humans you can. You just can’t explain why you should bother. No lawgiver = no laws.

        And I am sorry you either misunderstood sound teaching or received bad teaching, because the threat of eternal damnation is not what should drive you to live “good, ethical lives.” As a sinner, Hell is your default destination. Knowledge of your sin should drive you to trust in Jesus, your only hope for salvation.

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  3. Not that I think this will be posted, but you simply attack a strawman without adressing the critisism that a bronze age source is used as science.

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    1. Please expand. I’ve seen that reference many times and addressed it in the context it was presented.

      Is the fact that the author of Genesis knew thousands of years ago that there were countless stars part of that mythology? http://tinyurl.com/ykzcnfb Most ancients thought there were only ~1,100, yet Moses got “lucky.”

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      1. Something being right, or not wrong, in a book doesn’t make everything the book claims correct. Lots of stars, yes. Doesn’t prove that the bits about a god are true.

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      2. Hi Cdrum,

        Thanks for visiting and commenting! I appreciate your questions and tone.

        As to the point you made, I agree. My claim wasn’t that one true statement makes everything in the book true. It was merely that this was a rather significant claim and one that, in my experience, is completely (and conveniently?) ignored by skeptics. Seems like in fairness they’d want to give some credit for it.

        On the flip side, I assume you’d agree that even if a book contained errors that other parts could be true and would have to be evaluated as such. I believe in the inerrancy of the original writings of the Bible, but I don’t need to prove that to share the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection with people. We have plenty of evidence to point to.

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  4. The point of this post is spot-on — it’s a good point which I hadn’t paid much attention to in the past. “Bronze-age” does seem like a lazy slur. The fact that it is used doesn’t mean the people who are using it are wrong, either, but yes, it’s lazy.

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  5. in the end we will all find out the truth.
    i for one Believe the Bible, it offers Hope and a purpose for being here, and life after death
    ,Athiesm offers no hope or purpose for being here or life after death, only clever arguments whilst alive.

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  6. It is impossible to read your blog with dozens of little white dots falling over the text. It is extremely distracting, absolutely impossible to read.

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  7. Calling the Bible a “bronze-age myth” is by no means a logical fallacy. It’s very clear that the knowledge presented in the Bible is from that time period. Most of the explanations for the universe whether directly or indirectly inferred follow from the “God of the gaps” perspective, whether the initial creation myth, the concept of a flat earth, or the moon.

    eMatters said: Not at all. You don’t get a flat earth from the Bible. Really, do some research on who believed in a flat earth and when, and what the Bible teaches about the properties of the earth. Just because some people misunderstood the Bible doesn’t mean it is wrong.

    Re. the “creation myth” — so you don’t believe that the universe came into being at a point in time? That is the specific claim of the Bible, even though the people of that time thought it existed eternally.

    What IS a logical fallacy is backing up your position with verses from the Bible. Saying that people who deny God are “fools” does not say anything about why it is foolish, and using it to support your belief is just an easy way to feel like you won the argument without providing any substance. All the Bible can do is keep people in its own circular logic by demanding faith, demonizing doubt, and threatening Hell for failing to comply.

    eMatters said: It isn’t circular logic to demand faith when that is what the Bible requires. The threat of Hell is very real, so it is legitimate to share it. You can try to comfort yourself for this brief time on earth by lying to yourself about how you won’t be accountable for your sins, but you’ll regret that for eternity.

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  8. But… it IS bronze age mythology. You have the same sort of idea that refuses to admit it isn’t. The only difference is that one has proof, and one makes extraordinary unprovable claims, fueled by ulterior motivations and indoctrination.

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    1. I found your comment to be ironic. We have whole lines of evidence — teleological, cosmological, moral, logical, historical, archaeological, etc.

      You have extraordinary unprovable claims. You have nothing to explain how the universe came into being from nothing. You have nothing to explain how life came from non-life. Even the evolutionists know there are huge holes in the Darwinian evolution philosophy.

      You have ulterior motivations and indoctrination. Who has the media, politics, education and entertainment industries on their side? Who punishes dissent by killing careers with question-begging policies?

      Here are some great books to read — that is, if you really want to know about science and evidence.

      Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer http://www.amazon.com/Signature-Cell-Evidence-Intelligent-Design/dp/0061472794/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1307907110&sr=8-1

      Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-Doubt-Explosive-Intelligent-ebook/dp/B0089LOM5G/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364310570&sr=1-2

      Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels — http://www.amazon.com/Cold-Case-Christianity-Homicide-Detective- Investigates/dp/1434704696/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366286399&sr=8-1&

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  9. I’ve never seen an atheist claim that atheism is new… “New Atheism” was coined by others, noticing a more “firebrand” type of atheist. Of course there has always been those who deny Gods in their many forms all throughout history …

    You wrote nothing clever, or witty … or illuminating.

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    1. I encourage you to read more closely. I never made the claim that atheism is new. I spent half the post pointing out how old it is!

      Perhaps I wrote nothing clever, witty or illuminating, but what is clear is that you didn’t read it well enough to make that assessment. It makes one wonder if your other conclusions about Christianity and atheism were researched as thoroughly.

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