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Good Reasons To Believe In God!


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I found this in one of the posts (can’t find it or I would have brought if forward) but it is really worth its own topic. Thank you to whoever posted it.

 

‘Reasons to believe in god’ or ‘reasons for trying to believe in god’. Dan Dennett

Dan really feels that most people don't believe deep down inside, but to admit to it, would bring about these dilemmas........

 

The you tube is worth the watch!

 

Fear of a vengeful god.

 

Fear of people telling others (especially friends and family) that they really do not believe in god which hurts them dearly because you are going against the ‘standard’ and it’s almost classified as ‘betrayal’. (So you are trapped in a pretense)

 

Fear if we all admit to not believing – We will have a societal collapse.

 

Fear of giving up ‘The gold Standard’ which protects us from subversive criticism, which would also lead to a catastrophic collapse of values.

 

Guilt for all the same reasons as above.

 

Shame for all the same reasons above.

 

I can’t stop believing now or I will lose everything that I have invested in this.

 

We would all have to face factual realism and practical realism based on behavioral adaptation. This would be hard...... Maybe we’d have to believe in science and evolution?

 

It’s easier to believe the fairy tale....There MUST be a happy ending???

 

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I don't yet have the time to watch the video (I'm watching Ken Burns' Prohibition right now), but the reasons listed are reality based. I think lots of people experiencing unbelief go through more than one of those items.

 

I think those are pragmatic reasons why many people persuade themselves that they are believers. But I don't think they are good reasons because they lead to an inauthentic expression of one's own humanity. It ultimately dehumanizes a person because their true self is being manipulated and repressed by coercive social forces based on false premises.

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I But I don't think they are good reasons because they lead to an inauthentic expression of one's own humanity. It ultimately dehumanizes a person because their true self is being manipulated and repressed by coercive social forces based on false premises.

 

you are right - He does say that oddbird. very good point.

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I found this in one of the posts (can’t find it or I would have brought if forward) but it is really worth its own topic. Thank you to whoever posted it.

 

‘Reasons to believe in god’ or ‘reasons for trying to believe in god’. Dan Dennett

Dan really feels that most people don't believe deep down inside, but to admit to it, would bring about these dilemmas........

 

The you tube is worth the watch!

 

Fear of a vengeful god.

 

Fear of people telling others (especially friends and family) that they really do not believe in god which hurts them dearly because you are going against the ‘standard’ and it’s almost classified as ‘betrayal’. (So you are trapped in a pretense)

 

Fear if we all admit to not believing – We will have a societal collapse.

 

Fear of giving up ‘The gold Standard’ which protects us from subversive criticism, which would also lead to a catastrophic collapse of values.

 

Guilt for all the same reasons as above.

 

Shame for all the same reasons above.

 

I can’t stop believing now or I will lose everything that I have invested in this.

 

We would all have to face factual realism and practical realism based on behavioral adaptation. This would be hard...... Maybe we’d have to believe in science and evolution?

 

It’s easier to believe the fairy tale....There MUST be a happy ending???

 

I like what Dennett says and I think it's all true. But I think he leaves out some important points about some Christians. There are not only negative reasons why people believe in god. There are also positive ones. Some of them include:

 

1. Some people are convinced on a rational level that there is a god and the Christian god in particular. Though we may not like him, I point to people like William Lane Craig who does a remarkable job with his reasoning. I have watched many of his debates on Youtube and I have yet to have seen his arguments "demolished." You and I may disagree with these conclusions that people make, but they are there and, for them, convincing.

2. Belief in the Christian god provides hope and comfort to a lot of people. These people do not fear hell, but see positive benefits from their religious views. For many it is the hope of seeing dead loved ones in heaven, of having eternal life, of answering the big question about the purpose of life, and spending eternity with an all powerful, all knowing, and all loving god.

3. I believe there is something within many people akin to what Christians often refer to as the "god shaped" hole in one's heart. It is this feeling deep within many of us which tells us there must be more to life than just the physical world where death is simply the end of existence. There is an interesting experiment in which the "god experience" can be reproduced by the use of electromagnetic fields. Here's a short video about it:

 

 

This experiment can prove that the "god" experience may be built into our brains and, therefore, it is not an outside force or god at all. But there's something else, something important, it proves. It proves that there is something within each of our brains that tells us, under certain circumstances, that there is a "god" or a "presence" that we perceive. And if we perceive such a presence, then it is natural for us to try to explain it. So when we hear of religions like Christianity which provides us with an explanation, we may grab ahold of it. And this would also explain why one's particular religious persuasion is largely social and cultural. That's why the major western religion is Christianity, the middle eastern one and parts of Africa is Moslem, and why the eastern religions are Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. We all look for an explanation for that "god" experience and grab onto that which our culture offers us.

 

My ultimate point is that we should not look down upon those with religious views. And, to an extent, I think Dennett does look down upon them by describing their reasons for belief in negative terms.

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I have yet to have seen his arguments "demolished."

 

Because of debate tactics? I've been on this site a long time and have seen pretty much every apologetic approach that exists discussed at length and I have yet to see one that isn't easily demolished and dismissible based on poor logical reasoning and unsupported claims. You're a pretty sharp guy so I'm really curious to see you elaborate a bit on this.

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I have yet to have seen his arguments "demolished."

 

Because of debate tactics? I've been on this site a long time and have seen pretty much every apologetic approach that exists discussed at length and I have yet to see one that isn't easily demolished and dismissible based on poor logical reasoning and unsupported claims. You're a pretty sharp guy so I'm really curious to see you elaborate a bit on this.

 

I think Craig's argument on "first cause" is very well done. Here's a video example of what he says:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZU-_lRGLcQ&feature=related

 

There are other examples in which Craig goes into more detail if one wanted to search to find them. This is a fairly good argument, in my view, because it attempts to go back and back and back in time and searches for that which "caused" the existence of the universe. I know one of the major counter arguments to Craig's view is that if everything has a cause, then how does one explain god's existence? And I happen to agree with that problem in Craig's argument. But where does that lead us? It leads us nowhere and with no explanation at all other than, perhaps as Craig points out, that the universe may be eternal and without a cause at all. If we say the big bang was the beginning then we are still left with questions because we must ask what caused that and from where did the infinitely small and infinitely dense mass come from?

 

Now, I want to make it clear that I think where Craig falls flat on his face is moving from the first cause argument to his arguments that the first cause, god, had to be the Christian god.

 

Even so, his arguments even on the issue that the first cause (god) had to be the Christian god are at least reasonable, meaning not totally spurious. So when I say his arguments have not been "demolished," I mean they have not been so totally destroyed that a reasonable person could not agree with him. Though, I do find them weaker than other arguments.

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I have yet to have seen his arguments "demolished."

 

Because of debate tactics? I've been on this site a long time and have seen pretty much every apologetic approach that exists discussed at length and I have yet to see one that isn't easily demolished and dismissible based on poor logical reasoning and unsupported claims. You're a pretty sharp guy so I'm really curious to see you elaborate a bit on this.

 

I think Craig's argument on "first cause" is very well done. Here's a video example of what he says:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZU-_lRGLcQ&feature=related

 

There are other examples in which Craig goes into more detail if one wanted to search to find them. This is a fairly good argument, in my view, because it attempts to go back and back and back in time and searches for that which "caused" the existence of the universe. I know one of the major counter arguments to Craig's view is that if everything has a cause, then how does one explain god's existence? And I happen to agree with that problem in Craig's argument. But where does that lead us? It leads us nowhere and with no explanation at all other than, perhaps as Craig points out, that the universe may be eternal and without a cause at all. If we say the big bang was the beginning then we are still left with questions because we must ask what caused that and from where did the infinitely small and infinitely dense mass come from?

 

Now, I want to make it clear that I think where Craig falls flat on his face is moving from the first cause argument to his arguments that the first cause, god, had to be the Christian god.

 

Even so, his arguments even on the issue that the first cause (god) had to be the Christian god are at least reasonable, meaning not totally spurious. So when I say his arguments have not been "demolished," I mean they have not been so totally destroyed that a reasonable person could not agree with him. Though, I do find them weaker than other arguments.

 

Agree completely. The guy's almost like a con man playing three card monte. "Look here, look here. I'm honest, trying to help you find your way. Woops where'd it go?"

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If we say the big bang was the beginning then we are still left with questions because we must ask what caused that and from where did the infinitely small and infinitely dense mass come from?

 

I guess I don't see this as an argument that in any way boosts the idea of a god or even more so, that there is the xian god. It's a weak god of the gaps argument that has been used by countless apologists from the beginning of the xian era.

 

Moreover, it also presents the idea of "first cause" which then begs the question. We don't know there was a "first cause." For example, Einstein proved that mater can come into and go back out of existence without any apparent cause and from apparent nothingness. Or from another angle, there may have been many, many, many little 'causes' for lack of a better word that added up obscuring any real meaningful 'beginning.'

 

What is a certainty is that while we don't know everything, we have been able to close countless gaps where god lived and the trend is 100% in the natural explanation column. Extrapolating from that, his arguments are even weaker even if you accept the faulty premises he proposes setting up his conclusions.

 

I can understand how these types of arguments and more specifically, how well they are articulated, can be persuasive when talking about the general population, but they easily fail when just the basics of logic are applied to them as they all rely on logical fallacy.

 

they have not been so totally destroyed that a reasonable person could not agree with him.

 

I must be unreasonable then. :P

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I must be unreasonable then. :P

 

No, I have never found you to be unreasonable. A "reasonable" argument is not one that persuades everyone and one who disagrees with an otherwise "reasonable" argument is not an unreasonable person so long as they, like you do, have their/your own reasons for disagreeing, thus making them, and you, reasonable.

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There are other examples in which Craig goes into more detail if one wanted to search to find them. This is a fairly good argument, in my view, because it attempts to go back and back and back in time and searches for that which "caused" the existence of the universe. I know one of the major counter arguments to Craig's view is that if everything has a cause, then how does one explain god's existence? And I happen to agree with that problem in Craig's argument. But where does that lead us? It leads us nowhere and with no explanation at all other than, perhaps as Craig points out, that the universe may be eternal and without a cause at all. If we say the big bang was the beginning then we are still left with questions because we must ask what caused that and from where did the infinitely small and infinitely dense mass come from?

As an atheist, I don't know if his argument is all that good...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv8muJOYiGA

 

And this video ignores the obviously fatal flaw that you acknowledged and are willing to ignore. The flaw that makes his argument not really good at all. A bad answer is not better than no answer at all. So I'm willing to accept that the "universe may be eternal and without a cause at all" or even the less popular we might never know the answer to this question.

 

Now, I want to make it clear that I think where Craig falls flat on his face is moving from the first cause argument to his arguments that the first cause, god, had to be the Christian god.

I guess I get lost when people talk of a "god" living in limbo, nothingness, sitting there all inert and...suddenly...getting lots of ideas in its mind and getting all full of motion and creating things for no real reason. Then just moving in next door to keep an eye on the place.

 

No signs are pointing to any "god" type, supernatural, or mythical creatures. There has yet to be a question in all history where this answer has grown stronger and stronger instead of weaker and weaker. There are no reasons whatsoever to think this is going to be the question that changes all of that.

 

mwc

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I have yet to have seen his arguments "demolished."

 

Because of debate tactics? I've been on this site a long time and have seen pretty much every apologetic approach that exists discussed at length and I have yet to see one that isn't easily demolished and dismissible based on poor logical reasoning and unsupported claims. You're a pretty sharp guy so I'm really curious to see you elaborate a bit on this.

 

I think Craig's argument on "first cause" is very well done. Here's a video example of what he says:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZU-_lRGLcQ&feature=related

 

There are other examples in which Craig goes into more detail if one wanted to search to find them. This is a fairly good argument, in my view, because it attempts to go back and back and back in time and searches for that which "caused" the existence of the universe. I know one of the major counter arguments to Craig's view is that if everything has a cause, then how does one explain god's existence? And I happen to agree with that problem in Craig's argument. But where does that lead us? It leads us nowhere and with no explanation at all other than, perhaps as Craig points out, that the universe may be eternal and without a cause at all. If we say the big bang was the beginning then we are still left with questions because we must ask what caused that and from where did the infinitely small and infinitely dense mass come from?

 

Now, I want to make it clear that I think where Craig falls flat on his face is moving from the first cause argument to his arguments that the first cause, god, had to be the Christian god.

 

Even so, his arguments even on the issue that the first cause (god) had to be the Christian god are at least reasonable, meaning not totally spurious. So when I say his arguments have not been "demolished," I mean they have not been so totally destroyed that a reasonable person could not agree with him. Though, I do find them weaker than other arguments.

 

Agree completely. The guy's almost like a con man playing three card monte. "Look here, look here. I'm honest, trying to help you find your way. Woops where'd it go?"

 

I think he's ok until he says that the first cause must be a personal being. His reasoning why the first cause must be a personal being is faulty and makes no sense to me. He says, "How else could blah blah blah?" If we don't have any explanation then just plug god in as the answer. What might be interesting to hear is his explanation of what happened after the big bang....then the garden of eden was created , etc etc? Or what? :)

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This is an interesting discussion and one worth taking some time with.

 

For background purposes, I am no Craig apologist. Far from it. I personally do not accept his major thesis in his first cause argument. I think it is fair to characterize it as his belief that for everything that exists there must have been a first cause. For him, that first cause had to be god, but a god as he defines the being. That being is eternal and, therefore, had no cause.

 

I find the argument that there had to be an eternal being who acted as the first cause to be a cop out. All he does is to create a being who does not require a first cause and then asserts this being must have created all that is. And I don't ignore this flaw in his argument. My point is that, though I disagree with his conclusion, the argument itself is reasonable. By reasonable I do not mean necessarily correct or even convincing. An explanation is reasonable if it posits reasons to support it. What is left after a reasonable argument is made is whether it is convincing. I do not find Craig's argument convincing, though I find it reasonable.

 

Let's think a little bit about Craig's argument on first cause. One way around it is to posit that the universe is eternal. I also find that argument to be reasonable, though I do not necessarily find it convincing either. In a way, the argument that the universe is eternal is a retelling of Craig's argument. For Craig, to establish the first cause as god, he has to have a god who was eternal and thus not subject to his major thesis that all things that are must have a first cause. If we substitute the universe for this "god" and call it eternal, then we are doing the same thing that Craig does, but rather than defining "god" as eternal, we define the universe as eternal and thus end up the same place where Craig ends up except our non-created "thing" is the universe rather than god.

 

What I find far more elegant and fascinating is Stephen Hawking's view. He recently published a book which I have not yet read, but I think I will. This is the book:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Design-Stephen-Hawking/dp/0553805371/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317689049&sr=1-1

 

Hawking did a most interesting documentary on the Discovery Channel in which he discusses whether we need a god to explain our universe. As you can imagine, his answer is no. But what I find most fascinating is that Hawking does not suggest that the universe is eternal. Rather, he states it has a beginning point. And with that he makes a statement that I hope to be able to understand. If you are interested in seeing the documentary, it is on Youtube. I will post only part 3 because I want to quote part of it.

 

 

Part 3

 

 

This a transcript (which I prepared) from the video:

 

For the first time in human history we are able to describe how this world we see around us came into being. Our theories take us back to when the universe was born but people always want to know what came before. There have been various ideas but for me the most attractive is that the universe was spontaneously created out of absolutely nothing.

 

So Hawking, I think, is the one person who really attacks the issue head-on. He acknowledges that the universe had a beginning, but he denies that it needed a first cause such as a god.

 

All three arguments, first cause a la Craig, an eternal universe, and spontaneously created from "absolutely nothing" a la Hawking, are reasonable, but for me, Hawking's is the most elegant and convincing.

 

Now to try and bring this back to Margee's original post. She posted Dan Dennett's view on reasons to believe in god. They were all negative in nature. I disagreed with Dennett because I think there are other reasonable reasons to believe in a god. I cited Craig's argument on first cause as a reasonable argument. However, when I say something is reasonable, I do not mean it is convincing nor do I mean it is correct. I find other arguments, Hawking's argument in particular, more convincing. But just because I do not find Craig's argument convincing, does not mean that people who accept it are unreasonable people.

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For background purposes, I am no Craig apologist. Far from it. I personally do not accept his major thesis in his first cause argument. I think it is fair to characterize it as his belief that for everything that exists there must have been a first cause. For him, that first cause had to be god, but a god as he defines the being. That being is eternal and, therefore, had no cause.

 

[...]I do not find Craig's argument convincing, though I find it reasonable.

 

Let's think a little bit about Craig's argument on first cause. One way around it is to posit that the universe is eternal. I also find that argument to be reasonable, though I do not necessarily find it convincing either. In a way, the argument that the universe is eternal is a retelling of Craig's argument.

But this isn't so.

 

Hit the magic rewind button.

 

In one version you wind up with an "invisible" all-powerful man sitting alone in a void. He has to be explained somehow. But we ultimately just ignore him.

 

In another version you wind up with a singularity at about Planck time. This has to be explained somehow. So a number of hypothesis and theories appear to try to do just this. Hopefully these can be reviewed, revised, tested and refined until they become as accurate as possible or discarded as the case may be.

 

So what is really more reasonable? Just putting forth an argument that boils down to "ignore the magic man behind the curtain" or "we're working on it but here's what we have so far." His argument is specious. It's all sizzle with no steak. There is no work being done. No information to add. It's "goddidit" in a fancy wrapper. Doesn't matter who or what that "god" is. He simply inserts his favorite flavor. He could start and finish his speeches just by quoting the first few words of Genesis "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." and that would be the sum total all the research he will ever do. Tacking on relativity or quantum physics is just to appeal to those senses. And if you don't case for the Judeo-Christian God we just say that some sort of "higher power" is the one who did the creating. "In the beginning a higher power created the heavens and the earth..." same exact thing. It never need change other than what it takes to appeal to the audience.

 

Now to try and bring this back to Margee's original post. She posted Dan Dennett's view on reasons to believe in god. They were all negative in nature. I disagreed with Dennett because I think there are other reasonable reasons to believe in a god. I cited Craig's argument on first cause as a reasonable argument. However, when I say something is reasonable, I do not mean it is convincing nor do I mean it is correct. I find other arguments, Hawking's argument in particular, more convincing. But just because I do not find Craig's argument convincing, does not mean that people who accept it are unreasonable people.

If people who accepted unreasonable arguments were themselves unreasonable we would all be in pretty sorry shape. :) One of the problems people on this site tend to do is underestimate many xians. We were xians and accepted unreasonable arguments while rejecting perfectly reasonable ones. It's just the way things are. Critical thinking often takes a back seat when emotions are involved. But this is why I can now see that Craig's arguments really aren't as reasonable as they appear. They are well rehearsed but not much more. If I were simply sitting in the audience it would be difficult to find fault with much of what he says since it's well spoken. I would come away thinking I really heard something when I hadn't heard anything more than a maze of words and ideas that led me nowhere.

 

mwc

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If people who accepted unreasonable arguments were themselves unreasonable we would all be in pretty sorry shape. :) One of the problems people on this site tend to do is underestimate many xians. We were xians and accepted unreasonable arguments while rejecting perfectly reasonable ones. It's just the way things are. Critical thinking often takes a back seat when emotions are involved. mwc

 

When I think about it - the whole religious experience was emotional for me. I loved all the emotionalism! When my brain would 'kick back in' and start asking all the same old questions about the reality of god - I would just push them aside and get out to church to get my 'high'!

Plus add to that - the high emotion that 'someone up there' was lookin out for your life....BONUS!! High emotion!!

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When I think about it - the whole religious experience was emotional for me. I loved all the emotionalism! When my brain would 'kick back in' and start asking all the same old questions about the reality of god - I would just push them aside and get out to church to get my 'high'!

Plus add to that - the high emotion that 'someone up there' was lookin out for your life....BONUS!! High emotion!!

I don't think there was much emotion it it for me. In my case it was just a clumsy band-aid over my existential angst. I just wish I hadn't pulled off the scab when I quit, and I wish it had quit bleeding.

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His argument [referring to Craig] is specious. It's all sizzle with no steak.

 

I really like that phrase, "all sizzle with no steak." Well done (or medium rare). :HaHa:

 

But this isn't so.

 

Hit the magic rewind button.

 

In one version you wind up with an "invisible" all-powerful man sitting alone in a void. He has to be explained somehow. But we ultimately just ignore him.

 

In another version you wind up with a singularity at about Planck time. This has to be explained somehow. So a number of hypothesis and theories appear to try to do just this. Hopefully these can be reviewed, revised, tested and refined until they become as accurate as possible or discarded as the case may be.

 

So what is really more reasonable? Just putting forth an argument that boils down to "ignore the magic man behind the curtain" or "we're working on it but here's what we have so far." His argument is specious. It's all sizzle with no steak. There is no work being done. No information to add. It's "goddidit" in a fancy wrapper. Doesn't matter who or what that "god" is. He simply inserts his favorite flavor. He could start and finish his speeches just by quoting the first few words of Genesis "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." and that would be the sum total all the research he will ever do. Tacking on relativity or quantum physics is just to appeal to those senses. And if you don't case for the Judeo-Christian God we just say that some sort of "higher power" is the one who did the creating. "In the beginning a higher power created the heavens and the earth..." same exact thing. It never need change other than what it takes to appeal to the audience.

 

Again, well said.

 

As for Craig saying god is eternal and some saying the universe is eternal being a retelling of the same argument, I believe it is in an important way. They both attempt to get around the argument that something can't come from nothing. Craig does it by calling god eternal and thus not having to explain where he comes from. And those who declare the universe eternal avoid having to explain how it all started by denying it ever "started."

 

But I do agree with you that there is a difference. When one posits that an eternal god created everything, that pretty much ends the inquiry for them. There is just god and god did it. However, those who believe the universe is eternal, do not stop there because they at least try to give evidence for it's alleged eternal nature. It's the beauty of science that there is constant inquiry.

 

If people who accepted unreasonable arguments were themselves unreasonable we would all be in pretty sorry shape. :) One of the problems people on this site tend to do is underestimate many xians. We were xians and accepted unreasonable arguments while rejecting perfectly reasonable ones. It's just the way things are. Critical thinking often takes a back seat when emotions are involved. But this is why I can now see that Craig's arguments really aren't as reasonable as they appear. They are well rehearsed but not much more. If I were simply sitting in the audience it would be difficult to find fault with much of what he says since it's well spoken. I would come away thinking I really heard something when I hadn't heard anything more than a maze of words and ideas that led me nowhere.

 

I agree with this completely. Sometimes I'm embarrassed when I think back on what I accepted as a Christian. Leaving the religion allowed me (and I'm sure you and many others) to open my mind and consider other options. I wasn't left with that backward reasoning of assuming certain "truths" like the existence of an eternal creator god, but could drop that notion and explore the options which were available outside of that rather limited mindset.

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that backward reasoning of assuming certain "truths"

 

That's the lock right there. If people could simply get past the presupposition, their brain would unlock and their true intelligence, whether great, small or average, can be revealed. But like a small lock can guard a little or a lot of money, so too can this really very simple thing lock one's brain.

 

[Ok, so I had a bit of Thai stick...]

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