Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Explaining Evolution Without Appealing to a Creator God (Part 2)

In part 1 (1), I discussed how the assertion "I can sufficiently explain Evolution without appealing to a God, so God must not be necessary" is a statement which has no force at all; I did this by attacking premise 2.  I concluded that this atheistic argument underlying their assertion is unsound (2) - but this underlying-atheistic argument has yet another defect.  Let's look again at the underlying argument of atheists who use that force-less statement:
Premise 1:
If you can sufficiently explain (x) without appealing to (y), then (y) is not necessary for (x).
Premise 2:
If something (y) is not necessary for (x), then (y) does not exist.
Premise 3:
Evolution (x) is a given.
Premise 4:
I can sufficiently explain Evolution (x) without appealing to a God (y)
Premise 5:
Therefore, God (y) is not necessary.
Conclusion:
Therefore, God (y) does not exist.

I will refuse to attack the 3rd premise, even though I believe the premise is open for attack.  I will, however, attack the 4th premise.  In Part 1, I argued that there is no reason to accept premise 2, and absolutely no reason to make the jump from premise 5 to the conclusion.  In this post, I'm arguing that evolution cannot be sufficiently explained, therefore, the 4th premise is false.

Evolution has yet to be sufficiently explained.  Fodar and Piattelli-Palmarini, in their book, "What Darwin Got Wrong" (3) attacked the idea of natural selection.  Importantly, these authors believe God does not exist; the authors believe evolution happens, but they do not believe Natural Selection is the process by which it happens.  Without natural selection, evolution is left unexplained.  Also, about 1,000 scientists have signed a statement that says, basically, that they are skeptical of natural selection being able to account for life's complexity (4).

Evolution has yet to be sufficiently explained.  And so the statement, "I can explain evolution sufficiently, without any necessity of appealing to a Creator" is false.  You cannot explain evolution sufficiently without appealing to a Creator, because you cannot sufficiently explain evolution, period.

Premise 2 is false and premise 4 is false.  Or at least premise 2 is definitely false, and there is good reason to doubt premise 4; therefore, there is no reason to accept the conclusion.  If the conclusion were true, then the truth of the conclusion would have absolutely nothing to do with this atheistic argument.  And if an atheist says that their assertion does not have an underlying argument behind it that resembles the one I've provided, then that atheist has just saved us all the trouble by admitting his assertion is pointless.

Perhaps the atheist can weaken the argument by changing his conclusion to "Therefore, God most probably does not exist."  However, I don't see it coming out any better. Why?  Because with the definitive denial of premise 2, along with premise 4 being most likely false, the whole argument will break down no matter what the conclusion is.

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1.  Explaining Evolution Without Appealing to a Creator God (Part 1)
2.   Validity and Soundness
3.  What Darwin Got Wrong
4.  Dissent From Darwin

Friday, September 21, 2012

Explaining Evolution Without Appealing to a Creator God (Part 1)


Many atheists assert that evolution can be sufficiently explained without appealing to God, as if their assertion holds any force.  There is an underlying argument for that assertion, though the fact that most atheists are unaware of the assertion's underlying argument suggests they are simply repeating something they've heard. Allow me to lay out the argument underlying their assertion.
Premise 1:
If you can sufficiently explain (x) without appealing to (y), then (y) is not necessary for (x).
Premise 2:
If something (y) is not necessary for (x), then (y) does not exist.
Premise 3:
Evolution (x) is a given.
Premise 4:
I can sufficiently explain Evolution (x) without appealing to a God (y)
Premise 5:
Therefore, God (y) is not necessary.
Conclusion:
Therefore, God (y) does not exist.

I'll focus most on premise 2.  Think about your television.  A person can give an account of how that TV functions, and even how that TV was manufactured, without appealing to evolution – appealing to evolution is not necessary in order to explain how the TV works, and yet you still believe in evolution.  But it would be silly for me to explain how the TV works and how someone made it, and then say to you, “Since I can explain the TV sufficiently, without any necessity of appealing to evolution, then evolution must be a false theory.”  Perhaps the only thing more silly would be for me to expect my assertion to carry any force.
It’s silly for you to assert, “Since I can explain evolution sufficiently, without any necessity of appealing to a Creator, then a Creator must not exist.”  Perhaps the only thing more silly would be for you to expect your assertion to carry any force.  Let's apply the logical form of the atheistic argument to the TV and evolution. You'll see we needn't go any further than the second premise to see the silliness of the argument.

(1) If you can sufficiently explain the TV (x) without appealing to Evolution (y), then Evolution (y) is not necessary for the TV (x).
(2) If Evolution (y) is not necessary for the TV (x), then Evolution (y) does not exist.

That's how silly the argument is; it breaks down in the second premise. Really the only point is this: if the argument which asserts, "Appealing to God is not necessary for explaining how things evolve" is used to conclude anything about the existence of God, then it's a bad argument--the argument has no force whatsoever.  It has no force, in that it gives no reason to believe anything, pro or con, about the existence of a Creator.
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In this post, I attacked Premise 2, and I attacked the jump from Premise 5 to the Conclusion--they're both really the same thing. This particular atheistic argument is unsound.  The argument is valid, because if all the premises are true, then the Conclusion must be true (1).  But at least one Premise is false; there is no reason to accept the 2nd Premise, which says, "If something (y) is not necessary for (x), then (y) does not exist." And there is certainly no reason to make the jump from Premise 5 to the Conclusion.

In the sequel (2) I will attack the argument by way of the 4th Premise, and show that even a weakened form of the argument will not work.  That is, even if we change the conclusion to "Therefore, God most probably does not exist," the argument would still fail.  It would be a less-silly argument, for sure; however, I don't see it coming out any better. Why?  Because with the definitive denial of premise 2, along with premise 4 being most likely false, the whole argument will break down no matter what the conclusion is.
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1.  Validity and Soundness
2.  Explaining Evolution Without Appealing to a Creator God (Part 2)


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Skepticism, God, Science, and the Physical Universe

The scientific method cannot prove the existence of a physical universe.  This is so because science assumes the physical world exists - its existence is a premise in any scientific hypothesis (1, 2).  It's illogical to have as your conclusion one of your premises.  Therefore, science can never prove that a real physical universe exists - any scientific argument for its existence would be begging the question (3, 4).

Yet we all (hopefully) believe the physical universe exists.

Conclusion:
We all believe in the existence of things that enjoy absolutely no scientific evidence to support their existence. We believe the physical universe exists external from our mind, and that it would continue to exist even if we stopped existing--science cannot prove this because science assumes it.


So am I irrational to believe in the existence of God?  I suppose I might be.  But if I am, and if the reason is that there's no scientific evidence, then I am also irrational to believe in the existence of a real physical world.
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Basic Assumptions of Science:
(1) Research Methods/Assumptions of Science
(2) Assumptions and Limitations of the Scientific Method
Logical Fallacies:
(3) The Writing Center
(4) Logical Fallacies Hand-list








Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cruel Reminders

Cruel reminders happen all the time
When my mind is at peace I see a picture, taken when you were fine
I toss and turn in my bed
Over and over, remembering things you said
When I want to think of you, the pain is so great
I cannot run away, I cannot win this fray
I cannot break down the strength of this gate
I cannot hear your voice, the cruelest cut of all
How many more times can I lose you
I love you, but you never call
Not like you used to
No, never again
How can I now make things right
They will never be right
You would have made it, you would have been a light
People could have seen the way out of the terror
and the fright
But I didn't listen
I didn't hear
Now it's too late
I'm left alone with my fear

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Richard Dawkins Crappy Logic

I have been accused of giving a straw-man argument, with respect to the post below (1).  Straw-man arguments are arguments that are very weak, and that the opponent doesn't really use anyway (2).  This accusation is false for two reasons.  First, I have had conversations with many different atheist, and this is an argument they used.

Second,  This atheistic argument is taken from Richard Dawkins, in his book "The GOD Delusion" (3).   If this atheistic argument I presented is weak, it is not my fault - it is the fault of one of the leading Atheist, because he is the one using it.  I cannot help it if many atheists use weak arguments.  I agree, this is weak, and atheist shouldn't use it.  However, the leading atheist does use it, so I have no choice.


Dawkins says that you can't appeal to God as the maker of anything, because God would have to be more complicated than what He made - that's more or less what he said... and this makes me question Dawkin's sincerity, because the objection is ignorant and I don't think Dawkins is ignorant.


Read "The Dawkins Confusion", by Alvin Plantinga, it's only 7 pages (4).  This will open your eyes to how illogical (lacking in good logic) Richard Dawkin's arguments are.

 Here is one of Richard Dawkin's arguments:
1.  We know of no irrefutable objections to its being biologically possible that all life has come to be by way of unguided Darwinian processes;
2.  Therefore, all life has come to be by way of unguided Darwinian processes.

This argument can be broken down to the following form:
1.  We know of no irrefutable objections to its being possible that (p).
2.  Therefore, (p) is true.

That is how crappy Richard Dawkin's logic is.

For the best book on Theistic Philosophy, by the best Christian Philosopher of our time, read Warranted Christian Belief, by Alvin Plantinga (5).  In Plantinga's book he shows how Theistic belief, and Christian belief, can be rational.  It is a Must Read for anyone who thinks belief in God is irrational.
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(1) The Complicated Creator
(2) The Writing Center
(3) http://books.google.com/books/about/The_God_Delusion.html?id=yq1xDpicghkC
(4) The Dawkins Confusion by Alvin Plantinga
(5) Amazon - Warranted Christian Belief (about $23)

Bonus:  FREE Book (PDF Format):
Warranted Christian Belief, by Alvin Plantinga (PDF) 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Complicated Creator

We've all heard the question.  Who then, created God?  An atheist will ask this question as if the question is an ultimate attack, against which there can be no defense.  When a theist gives "God" as a perfectly rational answer to the question of where life came from, an atheist will call a foul.

The atheist will say, "That's not an answer to the question of where it came from.  Appealing to a Creator only complicates the issue.  Anything that could create something would necessarily be more complicated than the thing created.  So, appealing to God doesn't answer anything, it just complicates the issue."

Example:
John and Bill flew on a rocket to the moon.  Upon arrival, they noticed a bunch of machinery that resembled tractors.  John looked at Bill and said, "Who made this stuff?!"
Bill said, "No one made this stuff."
John said, "Yes, someone did."
To which Bill responded, "Appealing to a maker only complicates the issue.  Anything that could make it would have to be more complicated than the things that were made.  So, appealing to a maker doesn't answer anything, it just complicates the issue.  I mean, who then made the maker?"

John responds in the only rational way, "I don't know why you always forget to take you crazy medication, I'll go get them for you."

Readers, the whole point of the post is this: It doesn't matter if the Maker is more complicated than the thing made.  The statement "The Maker is more complicated than the thing made" is no reason to neglect mentioning a maker as an explanation.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Disconnect

There is disconnect between my existence.  My soul receives glimpses of reality.  Once, my soul saw only what was real, and it devastated me.  Now my soul experiences as a glance the reality I found.  Like everyone else who found this horrible reality, I only found strength to hold it steady but for a while.  I was willing to never let go of that awful reality.  I tried with all my might to never let my sight grow dim through the weakness of human frailty.
            I was eager to always live in the agony.  I was in much the same state as Saint Augustine described himself to be.
“Grief darkened my heart.  Everything on which I set my gaze was death.  My home town became a torture to me; my father’s house a strange world of unhappiness; all that I had shared with him was without him transformed into a cruel torment.  My eyes looked for him everywhere, and he was not there.  I hated everything because they did not have him.  Only tears were sweet to me, and in my soul’s delights’ weeping had replaced my friend.  I was in misery, and misery is the state of every soul overcome by friendship with mortal things and lacerated when they are lost.  Then the soul becomes aware of the misery which is its actual condition even before it loses them.  I thought that since death had consumed him, it was suddenly going to engulf all humanity.  All that was not he made me feel sick and was repulsive – except for groaning and tears.  In them alone was there some slight relief.  But when my weeping stopped, my soul felt burdened by a vast load of misery.  The lost life of those who die becomes the death of those still living” (1).

I hated everything for not being real, because I knew the only reality was death.  But the same things I hated I also loved.  That is the disconnect that kept me alive.  To ultimately and entirely hold onto the reality is the same as giving up the dream/delusion.  That is why the only people strong enough to hold onto that reality are the ones who are willing to leave the falsity of this world.  I hate myself for being able to sometimes remember without the agony (which sometimes is the worst agony).
            But I could not function while fearing my wife would get run over while she checked the mail.  Something had to change, and I suppose my love for what I hated was greater.
I will end with the lyrics of Creed:  “Who’s got my back now, when all we have left is deceptive, so disconnected?  What is the truth now?” (2)
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I know now that death was not the only reality.  The gift given to me was the reality of what actually matters.  As I went through the days, or hours, I questioned everything.  I barely found a reason to put my foot off the breaks and accelerate when the light turned green - I actually had no reason but habit.  The trivial things (petty arguments/rights/expectations of others or myself/etc.), which make up the falsity of this world, meant nothing any longer.  Appreciating the important people in life and loving them was the only thing that meant anything.  Everything else was a pointless and exhausting lie.  What bothers me is this - I feel that I lost that gift.  I lost it because like anyone else, I am not strong enough to hold on to the torturous reality of death.
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(1) Confessions of St. Augustine (free-read online)
(2) Creed song on YouTube
(3) Amazon - my favorite translation of The Confessions (about $7)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

When will God fix me?


Jesus was walking with His disciples one day and came upon a fig tree.  He walked up to the fig tree in order to get some figs.  But the tree had no figs because it was not the season for the tree to bear fruit.  Jesus became agitated at the tree when he saw that it had no figs available.  Apparently He was irritated enough to curse the fig tree.  Jesus said, “Let no man eat fruit from you forever” (1).
The disciples probably wondered what was up with their Master, but soon forgot about the incident as they went about the day.  On the next day the group left back out of the city.  When they came by the fig tree the disciples were shocked.  One of the disciples said, “Look Master, the fig tree that you cursed has withered up from the roots!” (2 3)
It is important here to note that not all of the disciples remember it this way.  At least one disciple remembers that the tree died immediately.  This is a natural way for memories to function.  It is more likely that the tree withered up over the course of a day.  The important thing to understand from the difference in memory is this:  After a miracle is accomplished, it really doesn’t matter anymore how long it took.  The stretch of time becomes one of many minor details that are not very important anymore in light of the miracle that was experienced.
The fig tree can represent our defects.  It can be so frustrating when we pray to God to save us and turn us into a better person, only to continuously fall back into our defected sinful patterns.  We can ask God to save us from all of these defects and really feel that He will, only to forget God’s promises to save us as we go on about our days.  We think that God has not heard our prayer, or that He has chosen not to help.  However, God has answered our prayer.
Our defects are being dried up from the roots.  Think about this:  If only the tree’s limbs dried up then everyone would immediately see it, but in a year or so the limbs would be back.  It is better for us if our defects are killed from the roots up.  One day we will be going about our day and it will suddenly occur to us, “That defect is gone!”  Something we have been struggling with for years is gone.  At that time, to us, it may seem immediate.  We know, however, that it was anything but immediate.  The stretch of time between our pleading with God and the moment that the miracle becomes obvious begins to lose meaning.  Not much about it matters anymore except the understanding that once we were lost, but now we are found; once we were blind, but now we see!
It is easy to get tired of doing good.  Paul said to not get exhausted in doing good, because in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not faint (4).  Doing good can mean many things.  For an addict it can mean doing what it takes to stay clean and sober.  Doing good can be the act of praying persistently even though we cannot see the roots of our defects drying up.  The reason it is easy to get exhausted in doing good is because we cannot see the roots.  Not only do we not know how long the process will take, but at times we doubt that the process has even begun.
Daniel prayed to God for an answer.  Eventually an angel of God appeared to Daniel and gave Daniel the answer he was seeking.  The angel made it clear that God sent the angel the very instant Daniel made the request.  The angel said that the delay was due to a fight between himself and another fallen angel.  In fact, God sent another angel to assist in the fight (5).
So we see that there are different reasons why we may not see the miracle we so desperately need.  If we keep trusting in God and trying to move toward better things then we will reap a harvest in due time.  When we finally see the results, it will no longer matter much that it was not all accomplished immediately.
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(1) Mark 11:14
(2) Mark 11:12-25
(3) Matthew 21:18-22
(4) Galatians 6:7-10
(5) Daniel 10-12-13 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Meditation on the Lord's Prayer Part 1

PRAY IN THIS MANNER

Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom
And the power
And the glory forever.
Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven.

This teaches me that I am not alone, I have many brothers and sisters.  I am not to isolate, even when alone in prayer.  I am part of a whole.  When I pray for things, it is for us, not just me.  This teaches me partnership, and removes me from my self-centeredness.  I am not the center of the universe.  I should want God to help me, but not at the expense of my family.  God is our Father.

 As our Father, He deserves our respect and obedience.  As our Father, we look to Him for protection and provision.  As our Father, we try to imitate Him.  We learn from Him.  He is our Father in heaven.  His throne is far above any throne on earth.

Hallowed be Thy name.

There is a difference between hallow and holy.  Hallow is “to make holy”, and “to respect greatly” (3).

A definition of holy is exalted (4).  Therefore, to hallow is to exalt.

To exalt is to enhance the activity of, or to intensify; to exalt is to raise in rank, power, or character; to exalt is to elevate by praise, or to elevate in estimation - in value, worth, and opinion (5, 6).

A person’s name is their nature, authority and character.  It is the attributes that distinguish (separate) a person from others (7).

“Hallowed be” is in the passive.  It does not indicate who is doing the hallowing.  It does, however, indicate that what is being hallowed is more important.  So whether it is God doing the hallowing, or us, may be less important than what is being hallowed – His name (8).

We can hallow His name by praise and thanksgiving.  But this is probably a result of God first hallowing His name in us.  God can hallow His name in our hearts and mind.  He can increase our estimation of His character and attributes.  He certainly has increased our estimation of His name.  He has saved us from the misery of our addiction.  He has given us a way out.  He has shown us His principles.  God probably already estimates His name to be worth exactly what it is actually worth.  WE are the ones who have an incorrect and insufficient estimation of His name.
God can intensify His character within us.

Thy kingdom come.

God is our King.  Kingdom speaks of a realm; it speaks of someone’s rule; it speaks of royalty.  God's kingdom is His realm of dominion and is His way of doing things.

"The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field" (9). 
“To what shall we liken the kingdom of God?  …  It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade” (10).
“To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (11).
“The kingdom of God is within you” (12).

God sows His kingdom within our hearts.  It starts out smaller than the other seeds, but it becomes great and takes over the other parts of our hearts.  We may ignorantly or stubbornly hold on to part of our heart, as if it belongs to us.  However, His kingdom spreads within our hearts.  With Gods Spirit, our hearts become more and more submissive to His rule.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

A persons will is their choice.  It is what they have purposed.  It is the goal they have in mind – their end game.  It is their decree.  It can be an inclination.
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(1) Matthew 6:9-13
(2) Luke 11:1-4
(3) Hallow
(4) Holy
(5) Exalt
(6) Estimation
(7) Name (Greek)
(8) Hallowed in the passive voice
(9) Matthew 13:24-30
(10) Mark 4:30-31
(11) Luke 13:20-21
(12) Luke 17:21
Bonus Site on the Lord's Prayer:
http://www.lords-prayer-words.com/

Meditation on the Lord's Prayer Part II

Give us this day our daily bread.

This re-affirms Who our provider is.  This reminds us to take things one day at a time, and to not be fearful about tomorrow.

“I am the bread of life” (1).
"If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will  he give him a stone?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (2)
"And the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep" (3),

God is giving us of Himself.  He is the substance our lives depend on.  מְרַחֶפֶת is the Hebrew word for hovered (4).  This word means ‘to brood’.  It is to brood, like a bird would brood over an egg.  The parent bird is causing and aiding the babies development.  The parent bird maintains conditions favorable for development   It is kind of like incubating.  God is incubating us perfectly each day.  We do not need tomorrows brooding, because too much heat could stop our development.  He gives us exactly what we need for our spiritual development, day by day.  And remember, we are developing, we have not already arrived.  His Spirit is nurturing and developing His character within us.  God moves in our hearts and transforms us day by day into His image.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

We are motivated to forgive when we think of the debt we owed God, a debt so great we could never repay it (5).  Consider the parable of the unforgiving servant (6).  The master did forgive the servant of his debt.  The servant said he would pay the master back, but the master already forgave his debt.  So it seems the servant did not understand what really happened… what the servant did not understand is that his master forgave him of a debt that he could never pay off.  So the servant cheapened what his master did for him.  Then the servant went out and chocked someone who owed the servant money.  The master heard about it and sent for the unforgiving servant.  The master then ‘took back his forgiveness’.  God has forgiven our debt.  Our trespasses are no longer held against us.  If they were still held against us, we would have no hope of paying it off.  So if we do not forgive others, will God forgive us, will He withdraw His forgiveness?
If we think we can earn our salvation or forgiveness, like the unforgiving servant thought, then we too do not understand that God has forgiven us of a debt we could never pay off.  Do we believe we can pay our debt?  If so, then in our hearts we are cheapening what God did for us.  If so, we will not appreciate the goodness of God and, therefore, we will not be repentant.

To forgive is to not hold someone accountable for the wrongs they have done to us.  If I fail to forgive, misery is assured.  The Lord’s prayer also says “as we forgive those”.  We still need each other.  God never meant for us to grow alone.  He wants us to grow together.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

"We are tempted when we are drawn away by our own lusts and enticed" (7).
The evil is very near.  The kingdom of God is within our hearts.  God's kingdom in our heart started out small, but is growing.  It has yet to encompass all.  God is the one that delivers us from evil; we don't deliver ourselves.  He is the one Who saves us from our sins and addictions.
God delivers us from our inner struggle.

Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.

The kingdom is of God.  Power is the word meaning force.  It also means miraculous power, it can even mean the miracle itself (8).  Glory is praise, honor or distinction extended by common consent.  it is worshipful thanksgiving.  God is great, and everyone who is anyone knows it.



Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Your character and authority are above all,
And more powerful and effective than any other character.
Please help me value Your attributes more and more,
Until Your character and nature are worth more to me than any other.
Please intensify the development of Your nature within me.
Let this earth be Your kingdom also.
Do whatever You choose to do here.
Attain Your goals, whatever they are, in us and on this earth.
Give us a strong inclination to be what You want us to be.
And give us the urge to do what You desire.
Nurture Your nature within us.
Give us what we need this day to grow into what You would have us be.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Help us not to try and get even with people.
But give us the desire to outdo each other with love.
Lead us not into temptation.
Do not carry us inward into adversity,
But draw us away from the evil that is so near.
Our Father,
Please save us from our inner struggle.
The kingdom and the miracle and the glory belong to You.
Amen.
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Bonus Site: it's hard for me to express how awesome this site is...