Prophacy fullfilled/law of probabilities/ proving scripture

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William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 11 2014 8:08 AM

Rick Ratzlaff:

"Of course you can manufacture endless absurd results when you dabble in indeterminate arithmetic."

I'm not sure what you mean by "manufacture"? Math is math, 2 + 2 has always = 4. This math principle is undeniable. Unless one is trying to undo the authenticity of scripture.

Rick, I'm with you there. Perhaps you misunderstand what I'm saying, because I'm talking about a special case of math where you can draw almost any conclusion you like while dealing with indeterminate expressions [read here]. That's how the recent "proof" that the sum of all natural numbers from 1 to infinity equals -1/12. 

The first trick someone taught me was the following:

Let a=b

a^2 = ab

a^2 + a^2 = a^2 + ab

2a^2 = a^2 + ab

2a^2 - 2ab = a^2 + ab - 2ab

2a^2 - 2ab = a^2 - ab

2(a^2 - ab) = 1(a^2 - ab) [divide both sides by (a^2 - ab)]

2 = 1

There you go, I just proved that 1 = 2. Math, is math, right? Why does it work, because the only case that the second to last line holds is if a = b = 0. You end up dividing by zero on both sides (indeterminate) and you end up with the "proof" that 1=2. When you start with this class of mathematical fallacy, you can actually prove just about anything mathematically, like that the sum of natural integers to infinity equals -1/12. What that proof conveniently ignores is that fact that sums actually operate at the limit. If you brush that under the rug, then we're back to being able to prove anything mathematically.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 11 2014 12:30 PM

Rick Ratzlaff:
I'm dealing with a group of "bright" collage kids who claim to be atheists (bordering on hate literature) who purport "science" to be the "end all to be all". And you know where their getting that from.  

That is a simple problem to deal with. Give them a correct understanding of science which is reasoning to the best fit - interested in explanation/prediction as definition of best fit and always open-ended, subject to change and error. Some of the essays in This Will Make You Smarter edited by John Borckman address this well - and the essays are written by people smart college kids will have heard of and be impressed by. This article http://news.illinois.edu/news/04/0802sci.html gives you a hint as to the real nature of science. To attempt to convince them by statistics is doomed to fail - they should all be able to identify the holes in the application of statistics.

If you really want to impress them, once you have shown that science is the wrong model for evaluating religious claims, introduce them to defeasible reasoning -- not only does it fit but you can make a strong case AND prepare them for law school.Big Smile

You might also get some hints from the notes developing at the Faithlife group https://faithlife.com/guy-p-harrison-50-simple-questions-for-every-christian/activity which is reading through a skeptic/atheist text.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 11 2014 8:57 PM

Rick Ratzlaff:

WOW that's precisely what I'm looking for but my search comes up with absolutely nothing. And I have the second book that you have on the screen.  I copied what you have in the search box explicitly. Please help.    

Personally have Match all word forms checked when searching All Text in Entire Library for:

(probability,odds) WITHIN 12 WORDS prophecy WITHIN 12 WORDS fulfilled

Rick Ratzlaff:
Math is math, 2 + 2 has always = 4.

Assuming math symbols have non-variant meanings.  If 0 = 1 then 2 + 2 = ???

Keep Smiling Smile

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 11 2014 10:03 PM

We obviously need Is God a Mathematician? by Livio, Mario

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1048
William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:06 AM

Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :):

Rick Ratzlaff:
Math is math, 2 + 2 has always = 4.

Assuming math symbols have non-variant meanings.  If 0 = 1 then 2 + 2 = ???

Keep Smiling Smile

Mathematicians seem to have a kind of sick fun changing axioms to see what comes out the other end of the grinder.

c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternion

What surprises me is how often these tweaks can lead to useful processes in places like physics.

Posts 2375
David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:37 AM

William Gabriel:

The first trick someone taught me was the following:

Let a=b

a^2 = ab

a^2 + a^2 = a^2 + ab

2a^2 = a^2 + ab

2a^2 - 2ab = a^2 + ab - 2ab

2a^2 - 2ab = a^2 - ab

2(a^2 - ab) = 1(a^2 - ab) [divide both sides by (a^2 - ab)]

2 = 1

Number the lines 1 to 8

From 1) a=b

From 2) a^2 = ab

Leads to a^2 - ab = 0

So in 7) the expression (a^2 - ab) is (0)  For all values of a = b.

So 7) reduces to 2 * (0) = 1 * (0)   Anything times zero is zero.  Step 8 is thus not valid.

"because the only case that the second to last line holds is if a = b = 0" Step 7 holds for all values not just a = b = 0.

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:37 AM

Rick,

Hard Questions About the Bible Made Easy has a compelling case on page 30 quoted below:

==========

“Is the Bible a Reliable Book of Genuine Divine Prophecy?”


WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

“How do the prophecies in the Old Testament tie in with what happened in the New Testament? Can’t you just explain away all the so-called prophecies?”

The prophecies about Jesus

The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies.
Over 60 prophecies in the Old Testament are distinct predictions about Jesus.
Some of these prophecies were made 1,000 years before Jesus lived his life on earth.
Many of these prophecies concern Jesus’ crucifixion. These prophecies were made over 500 years before crucifixion was first used anywhere in the world as a form of capital punishment.

Could it just be a fluke that Jesus fulfilled all these prophecies?

A scientist picked out 48 such prophecies and determined that the probability of one man randomly fulfilling them all is 1 in 10 to the exponent of 157. That is 1 followed by 157 zeros!

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Your chances of winning a typical lottery jackpot is about 1 in 108,000,000. Yet, Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies.

OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES ABOUT JESUS’ BIRTH

Prophesied
Fulfilled
1  Born as a descendant of a woman,

2  Born of a virgin,
–25
3  Born as a descendant of David,

4  Born in Bethlehem,
–6
5.  Herod kills the children,
–18

OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES ABOUT JESUS’ DEATH

Prophesied
Fulfilled
1  Betrayed by a friend,
–27
2  Sold for 30 pieces of silver,
–15
3  Forsaken by his disciples,
,
4  Accused by false witnesses, , –21
–61
5  Silent before accusers,
–14
6  Wounded and bruised, –6
–25
7  Beaten and spat on,
–68
8  Mocked, –8
Matth ew 27:27–31
9 Hands and feet pierced,
–28
10
Crucified with thieves,

11  Prayed for his enemies,

12  People shake their heads, ;

13  Cloths gambled for,
–24
14  Became very thirsty,

15  Gall and vinegar offered to him,

16  His forsaken cry,

17  Committed himself to God,

18  Bones not broken,
–36
19  His side pierced,
,
20  Buried in rich man’s tomb,
–60


WHAT’S THE CONCLUSION?

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” –11


A QUOTE TO CHEW OVER

“Jesus said, ‘Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” –27


Water, M. (2000). Hard Questions about the Bible made easy (pp. 30–31). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

==========

--Bro Mark

"I read dead people..."

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 7:00 AM

Another good resource is Weldon & Ankerberg's Know The Truth About Jesus The Messiah (which is in my Logos library, but I can't find it on the website so that I could link it for you), where he says:

==========

3. If specific prophecies were fulfilled by the Messiah, does the science of probability consider this “proof” there is a God?


Anyone can make predictions—that is easy. Having them fulfilled is another story. The more statements you make about the future and the greater the detail, the better the chances are that you will be proven wrong.


For example, how difficult do you think it would be to indicate the precise kind of death that a new, unknown religious leader would experience a thousand years from today? Could you describe and predict a new method of execution not currently known—one that won’t even be invented for hundreds of years? That’s what David did in 1000 B.C. when he wrote Psalm 22.


Further, if you did think up 50 specific prophecies about some man in the future you will never meet, how difficult do you think it would be for that man to fulfill all 50 of your predictions? How hard would it be for him if 25 of your predictions were about what other people would do to him and were completely beyond his control?
It might be possible to arrange one or two of these prophecies, but it would be virtually impossible for any man to arrange and fulfill all these predictions in advance. If it can be proved that such prophecies were predicted of the Messiah hundreds of years in advance, and one man fulfilled all of them, then that man would logically have to be the Messiah.


God gave a great number of prophecies (more than 400) about the Messiah for at least two reasons. First, it would make identifying the Messiah obvious. And second, it would make an imposter’s task impossible.


Now let us ask an intriguing question. If we assume some 456 prophecies are fulfilled in one person, what does the science of probability say about this? In brief, it says, if accurate predictions were made about a future Messiah and fulfilled years later by one person, this is reasonable proof4 that there is a God.


Here is why. The science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling some of the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by 12 different classes of 600 college students.


The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was, finally, unanimous agreement even among the skeptical students.


But then Professor Stoner took their estimates and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair. Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a Committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented.5
After examining eight different prophecies, Professor Stoner and his students conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 1017.


To show how large the number 1017 is (a figure with 17 zeros), Stoner gave this illustration. Imagine covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars to a level of two feet deep. The total number of silver dollars needed to cover the whole state would be 1017. Now, choose just one of those silver dollars, mark it, and drop it from an airplane. Then thoroughly stir all the silver dollars all over the state.


When that has been done, blindfold one man, and then tell him he can travel wherever he wishes in the state of Texas. But sometime he must stop, reach down into the two feet of silver dollars, and try to pull up that one specific silver dollar that has been marked.


Now, the chance of his finding that one silver dollar in the state of Texas would be the chance the prophets had for eight of their prophecies coming true in any one man in the future.


Professor Stoner concluded: “The fulfillment of these eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of those prophecies to a definiteness which lacks only one chance in 1017 of being absolute.”6 Another way of saying this is that any person who minimizes or ignores the significance of the biblical identifying signs concerning the Messiah would be foolish.


But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation Stoner used 48 prophecies (even though he could have used 456) and arrived at the extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 10157.


And how big is 10157? In 10157 years, an ant could actually move all the atoms in 600,000 trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion of our universes a distance of 200,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000 miles. He could do this moving one atom at a time, moving each atom a distance of 30 billion light years, and traveling only at the speed of one inch every 15 billion years!7


This incredibly large number illustrates why it is impossible for anyone to have fulfilled all the Messianic prophecies by chance. In fact, a leading authority on probability theory, Emile Borel, states in his book, Probabilities and Life, that once we go past one chance in 1050, the probabilities are so small it’s impossible to think they will ever occur.8 (10157 is almost infinitely beyond 1050.)


What all this means is it is impossible for these 48 prophecies to be fulfilled apart from divine prediction. This is proof that there must be a God who supernaturally gave this information. The question is, can it be shown that such prophecies do, in fact, exist?


We will now examine several prophetic passages that give us specific statements about the Messiah. As you read through them, ask yourself the following questions: Is this truly a prophecy about a future person? Does Jesus Christ fulfill it and no one else? How was it possible for each of these prophecies to find fulfillment in one man hundreds of years in the future? In other words, if each prophecy is admitted to be about the Messiah and Jesus Christ fulfills all the prophecies, isn’t this proof that Jesus is the Messiah?


Ankerberg, J., & Weldon, J. (2011). Knowing the truth about jesus the messiah. Chattanooga, TN: ATRI Publishing.

==========

--Bro Mark

"I read dead people..."

Posts 9946
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 7:23 AM

Brother Mark:
3. If specific prophecies were fulfilled by the Messiah, does the science of probability consider this “proof” there is a God?

The problem is that the gospels are not simple histories detailing precisely what happened in the sequence in which things occurred.  The gospels were rather written with INTENT.  Rudolph Bultmann called our attention to this fact.  So why does the account show Jesus as the fulfillment of "prophecy"?  Because that's what the author intended.  One cannot therefore calculate statistics to show an overwhelming probability that Jesus was the Messiah, the seed of the line of David and that God is thereby proven.  You can accept the claim of Jesus as God's working among men to bring about reconciliation or not without thereby having to be dependent upon the historical accuracy of the events depicted (glaring example:  the enrollment under Quirinius during the reign of Herod).  You are looking for the god of the philosophers and not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his Christ.

31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Jn 20.31

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 7:30 AM

Brother Mark:

Another good resource is Weldon & Ankerberg's Know The Truth About Jesus The Messiah (which is in my Logos library, but I can't find it on the website so that I could link it for you),

This is because it's on Vyrso - and free: https://vyrso.com/product/29292/knowing-the-truth-about-jesus-the-messiah  

Running Logos 8 latest beta version on Win 10

Posts 10039
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 7:32 AM

True, George.

The 'prophesied' knew of the 'prophesy', and so the logic collapses to the source for both.

But walking around Texas with stacks of silver dollars does sound attractive.  In Mark's quote, I was impressed the author didn't get past the first argument before violating a simple Las Vegas-style statistical principle.


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NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 7:39 AM

NB.Mick:

Brother Mark:

Another good resource is Weldon & Ankerberg's Know The Truth About Jesus The Messiah (which is in my Logos library, but I can't find it on the website so that I could link it for you),

This is because it's on Vyrso - and free: https://vyrso.com/product/29292/knowing-the-truth-about-jesus-the-messiah  

There seems to be a much larger version for some two dollars (on Vyrso as well). https://vyrso.com/product/29293/the-case-for-jesus-the-messiah Walter Kaiser is listed as an author of it, too, but maybe he just wrote one of the appendices.

Running Logos 8 latest beta version on Win 10

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 8:08 AM

George Somsel:

The problem is that the gospels are not simple histories detailing precisely what happened in the sequence in which things occurred.  The gospels were rather written with INTENT.  Rudolph Bultmann called our attention to this fact.  So why does the account show Jesus as the fulfillment of "prophecy"?  Because that's what the author intended.  One cannot therefore calculate statistics to show an overwhelming probability that Jesus was the Messiah, the seed of the line of David and that God is thereby proven.  You can accept the claim of Jesus as God's working among men to bring about reconciliation or not without thereby having to be dependent upon the historical accuracy of the events depicted (glaring example:  the enrollment under Quirinius during the reign of Herod).  You are looking for the god of the philosophers and not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his Christ.

31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Jn 20.31

GREAT perspective!  I like the way George thinks... well, occasionally.... ummm, rarely; but this post is spot on!  --Bro Mark

"I read dead people..."

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 8:10 AM

NB.Mick:

cause it's on Vyrso - and free: https://vyrso.com/product/29292/knowing-the-truth-about-jesus-the-messiah  

There seems to be a much larger version for some two dollars (on Vyrso as well). https://vyrso.com/product/29293/the-case-for-jesus-the-messiah Walter Kaiser is listed as an author of it, too, but maybe he just wrote one of the appendices.

Good catch, and thanks for the links!  --Bro Mark

"I read dead people..."

Posts 2822
Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 8:35 AM

There is a little discussion of the probability of fulfilled prophecy as evidence of the inspiration of Scripture in Josh McDowell's books, which are in Logos.

I agree that one needs to be careful with statistics, and present the facts of fulfilled prophecy without claiming more than is there.  Still the fact of fulfilled prophecy can be an impressive argument.  I would stay away for getting specific about probabilities.  Just the fact that prophesy was fulfilled is impressive enough.  Less is often more, and I would not over use this argument.

Of course, the world view of the person to whom you are speaking is crucial.  If a person does not believe in divine inspiration, that person will assume the prophecy was written after the event.  You need to be aware of that, and if possible give evidence that it was written before the event prophesied.  Still, you will find that the majority of lay people in the United States, and many other places, have a world view that does accept the divine inspiration of Scripture, even if they are not Christians.  Those people will be the ones who will be impressed by fulfilled prophesy.  So it is important to know your audience - their philosophy and world view.

Of course, the listener may not necessarily interpret a prophesy as you do. 

Still, I do believe there is a case to be made with fulfilled prophesy so long as it is presented carefully, and more is not claimed than can be demonstrated. 

On the other hand, I believe the Bible is a self-authenticating book by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I believe it does more good to proclaim it than to try to prove it.  I found this quote from Luther in the Logos edition of his Works:   "Like a lion among the beasts of the forest... This is metaphorical language with which he indicates the power of the Word and the might of the Spirit. It is as if he were saying: "As a lion puts to flight, knocks down, and seizes its catch when it attacks a herd, so also the Word of the Gospel will make all things its subjects.".

From Luther's comparison of the Word as lion, I think it better to simply turn the lion loose than worry about how to defend him.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 10039
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 9:15 AM

I definitely agree with Michael, relative to the discuss-ee. Where the problem lies, is that discuss-ees are becoming quite familiar with the logic problem, whether the internet, 'Bart' and so forth.

So, trotting out weak arguments simply confirms the discuss-ees prior conclusion .... the apologetic achieves just the opposite of its intent. What's worse, as the claimed evidence collapses, the discuss-er tends to 'clam up' (similar to the Pastoral's recommendation).  A Bart-enthusiast loves to debate with our Pastor.  The exhausted Pastor eventually clams up .... and everyone around concludes that the points must be valid.

The solution (and one recommended by the NT itself) is to be fully cognizant of the arguments. My personal view is that witnesses who knew the prophesy make the evidence useless (for apologetics). Miracles are similar ... they may indeed be a miracles, but only the initial witness can actually know.

What's interesting is that the NT really has very little apologetics, and the little that it has, makes for weak arguments.  And given its source (the Holy Spirit), I'd assume there's a lesson there.


Posts 2822
Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 9:21 AM

Denise:

What's interesting is that the NT really has very little apologetics, and the little that it has, makes for weak arguments.  And given its source (the Holy Spirit), I'd assume there's a lesson there.

Yes

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 4753
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:19 PM

Denise:

Just make sure you're arguing with someone not familiar with statistics (not trying to offend but there's quite a bit of false logic under the heading 'statistics').

Yeah, sometimes. But probability isn't "just" statistics...and if you aren't convinced, there are plenty of folks in Vegas who can make the case. The prophecy statistics are literally off the chart. And like I said above, when doing my calculations, I deliberately throw away 90% of the odds "just because", and I still end up blowing through a googol or two before you have a chance to blink...AND...I AM NOT EVEN CONSIDERING THE MESSIANIC PROPHECIES FULFILLED BY YEISHUU`A. For anyone to poo-poo these numbers and the idea behind them sight unseen is extremely irresponsible. Given the info presented above, my figures seem to mesh pretty well with the 8 events producing 10^17 figure.

But the additional trump, as I mentioned before, is that there are hundreds of prophecies that have already come true, and more to follow, that are almost universally unrecognized. Not only that, but most people, believers and non-believers alike, will have a built in disposition to deny and dispute the data, but since it is all a matter of historical record, that perspective will be impossible to take seriously. Point being, when Christians themselves are found attempting to deny the prophetic fulfillments--when it is obvious to all that no one even suspected that there was a target that needed to be hit--no one will be able to credibly suggest that anyone was engaged in the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. This is deliberate Design on His part. You see...no one honestly expects and no one apparently realizes, that the bulls-eye is actually painted on their own chest. EVERYONE sees. No one is blind. And that bit of group psychosis is what leads to Hab. 1:5.

The apparent inclination in this thread to dismiss prophecy and its purpose...I don't know, perhaps "pathetic" is too strong a word, but it is certainly sad, all of this, "Oh, be careful not to say too much!"

Let me be plain: THE BIBLE says that prophecy and its fulfillment is the ultimate evidence. Can I get a witness??

Mt. 24:25

Thank you. And a second?

Mk. 13:23

Thank you. A third wouldn't hurt...

Jn. 13:19, Jn. 14:29, Jn. 16:4

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Posts 10039
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:36 PM

David ... you miss the point. When you're singing to the choir, no problem. Extravagent claims work fine. The more extravagent, the more impressive.

 It's after church where claims need support.  Or in your example of Las Vegas, putting real money on the table.


Posts 4753
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:45 PM

My point, Denise, is that MATH IS GOD to the science crowd. That's actually understandable, given their frame of reference. It is the language of the universe, just as prophecy is the language of YHWH. I respect scientists and scientific endeavor, as long as they don't take themselves too seriously. However, they usually always do. Sam Harris is an example. Bright guy...until he isn't. But the one thing these guys almost HAVE to bow to is the math.

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