I’d Like to Know: Why? #3 Religion

Image of Religious Symbols courtesy Wikimedia.

This is the third in an occasional series of posts asking sometimes awkward questions. Some topics are trivial, some serious, and others vital. I’d love for you to join in any ensuing debate using the comments at the foot of the post. Enjoy!

Why Are We Required to Respect Religion?

This question has been at the back of my mind for many years, but came to the fore a while back when I was reviewing a book: ‘The First Muslim’ subtitled ‘The Story of Muhammad’. In attempting to find a way of expressing my reaction to truths learned in those pages, it became clear that my very thoughts on the topic were deeply constrained by a rational fear of possible retribution from religious extremists.

So, what is it about religion that provides it with special protection almost worldwide? What quality does this strange phenomenon possess that gives it immunity from criticism and mockery?

Let’s look at what religion actually is. The SOED defines religion thus: ‘Belief in or sensing of some superhuman power or powers, entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship, or in a system defining a code of living, especially as a means to achieve spiritual or material improvement; acceptance of such belief (especially as represented by an organised Church) as a standard of spiritual and practical life; the expression of this in worship, etc.’

So, we all probably know what’s generally meant by the term, religion. Of course it takes many different forms. We’d need an entire book just to list the names of the millions of gods that have appeared throughout humanity. Most religions appear to be exclusive and isolationist: i.e. their adherents reject the dogma, rites, rituals, beliefs and specific rules of all other religions. Though there is some overlap, of course.

But my question is aimed at understanding what special quality excludes religion from the normal rules of discussion. Those of us who live in democratic and free societies are willing, able, and often vocal in criticising, mocking, and questioning authorities in political, historical, social, economic, judicial, and most other matters. But we mock, question and debate religion at our peril. Why? How has religion achieved this privileged position?

Perhaps we should examine some fundamentals, look at what religion entails?

As defined, religion involves belief in a supernatural being or power. This entity, often referred to as either a specific deity or simply as ‘God’, is the subject of awe, respect, and reverence. Often, it is also a source of fear, and requires followers to subject themselves to certain sacrifices, to proclaim it the one true deity and to worship it in ways not unlike a needy child crying for confirmation of his/her worth. But, universally, each deity demands that followers declare a belief in it, a belief generally based on nothing more substantial than selected words written by adherents.

However, the existence, or absence of any god isn’t the real issue, since we’re unlikely ever to know for certain whether such a force exists. If it does, it must, of necessity, be so far beyond our understanding as to be incomprehensible and therefore unrecognisable.

The real issue is religion and its often divisive insistence on forming various tribes, clubs, sects, churches, cults or whatever else we call them. Such tribes require membership. That membership is frequently exclusive and often leads to tribal warfare.

The drive to increase membership leads to forms of recruitment other organisations are denied because of the subversive and duplicitous nature of such techniques. The offspring of many cults are cynically brainwashed from birth to accept the dogma of their religion as the only truth. Such indoctrination denies innocent children any opportunity to think for themselves. It instils a way of thinking designed to exclude serious questioning of the beliefs taught. A god demanding that it be followed by such zombie-like disciples, clearly has no confidence in its own being or the message it purveys to followers.

The very language we use daily is peppered with words stemming from belief systems, words that subtly reinforce the messages fed to believers in their early years. It is difficult, almost to the point of impossibility, for conscripts to shed this early indoctrination and reach the point where they dare question what they’ve been forced to believe. If that step isn’t taken, free thought disappears altogether. Such brainwashed individuals spend their lives never knowing they are subject to indoctrination and assuming they lead ordinary lives.

Any other type of organisation using such methods would be declared illegal and banned from the public arena.

Religion predisposes people to accept lies as truths; it also predisposes people to superstition; a harmful and negative fiction that denies reality.

Ancient religions (Greek, Roman, Norse, and many others) are now widely accepted as myth and legend. Currently, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are taught as repositories of truth. History provides evidence of the myths and legends that created these Abrahamic religions, so why are the historical facts not taught in all schools to balance the education children receive?

Religion is faith-based. It relies on adherents to accept its teachings without proof. In fact, most religions require belief in the face of considerable evidence contradicting those beliefs, and encourage those who show faith by rewarding them in various ways. There is at least as much evidence for the existence of fairies, a theory that Earth is flat, and an idea that the Moon is composed of green cheese, as there is for most religions. Yet religions are respected where these other fatuous beliefs are rightly mocked, denigrated and dismissed as utter piffle by all rational folk.

What this means, in real terms, is that religion is respected for the lies it perpetrates. We all know what we think of lying politicians, lying journalists, lying industrialists and bankers. But lying clerics are, apparently, immune from such rational considerations. We mustn’t mock belief in any of these millions of gods. Why? Well, because they represent people’s faith. So, even though faith is based on lies, myths, legends, the words of ancient men attempting to explain natural events inexplicable at the time, and the inventive fictions of their creators, we are required to respect it. In enforcing that respect we remove the opportunity to thoroughly examine the phenomenon, to open it up for true debate. It is given a built-in protection it manifestly fails to deserve.

There are states where the rule of law, and even governments, are founded on religion. In many of these states it is illegal to question the ruling religion. This makes such governments both despotic and subject to the whims of the ruling elite who manipulate their interpretation of so-called sacred scriptures that dictate how their subjects are required to live their lives. In some countries, any disagreement with that very human interpretation is considered blasphemy and is punished by death. Why should we be required to respect such blatant dictatorship?

Many countries, the UK among them, have rules in place to prevent effective criticism of religious beliefs. No such protection applies to secular opinion and philosophies. This is clearly unjust and anti-democratic.

There are a great many religious adherents who are good people. There is an argument that such goodness stems from religion. However, there is a counter argument, backed up by evidence, which shows that human beings are capable of goodness without having to endure the indoctrination of religious dogma. Some of the most hypocritical and unpleasant people I’ve encountered have been pious attendants of various religious establishments and some of the most admirable, truthful, generous and good people I’ve had the privilege of meeting have been spared the indoctrination of any religious belief.

This is a topic that could fill a large volume and I’ve barely skimmed the surface here. But this post is intended to stimulate debate and to find answers to the initial question. So, I repeat that here in the hope that someone can resolve this issue: Why are we required to respect religion? I open the floor to you. Please feel free to express your opinions in the comments section below.

29 thoughts on “I’d Like to Know: Why? #3 Religion

  1. Certainly a thorny question – and particularly relevant today when religious fundamentalism is colliding with Western liberalism. Another interesting question is how liberalism has developed in certain cultures – in Europe and North America we seem to have given up witch burning, although anti-semitism (which has Christian intolerance at its heart) still refuses to die.

    Sorry to add to the question(s) rather than solving anything – but a fascinating question.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Any comment that leads to actual thought and possible further discussion and exploration is a welcome addition, Bill.
      I do wonder how much influence the Israeli stance against the Palestinians, and their continued use of their superior military strength to permit them to steal territory, has on general public opinion. The Jewish population was subject to inexcusable cruelty and prejudice from the Nazis, but the country now seems to be subjecting the original population of their relatively new territory to similar tactics. Some compromise is all that’s needed to resolve the problems faced by both nations in the newly created state. But, it seems to me, their mutual culture of revenge, an eye for an eye, prevents real dialogue. I’m reminded of the situation that persisted in Northern Ireland for so long, where two other (Christian) cultures fought against each other with extreme violence even though their respective religious dogmas spoke against such violence. In the end, they both became so sickened by the continued pointless deaths and maiming that they found the courage to actually talk to one another and found common ground.


  2. Peter’s blog post seems to equate a religious person’s belief in the existence of an omnipotent supernatural being with a non-religious person’s ‘belief’ that the laws of nature and science run the grand show we call the Universe. I personally would not classify the later as a ‘belief’ but rather just seeing what is around us (with the help of telescopes, microscopes and all manner of other advanced technology) and observing how things ‘work’.

    Since the Supreme One has never shown him/her/itself directly, to believe in something that has no empirical evidence to support it’s existence can only be categorised as a principle of ‘faith’. I don’t see secular persons views as constituting a faith but rather judging the veracity of ideas on measurable and observable evidence.

    I believe Stuart’s question – “Why are we required to respect religion” is a legitimate one since religions do not appear to feel the need to supply empirical evidence for the justification of their beliefs beyond ancient scriptures written by semi-literate ancestors who resorted to godly explanations for just about anything they could not readily make sense of (eg a volcanic eruption, a bad crop harvest, stillbirth, or even rain).

    Any contention from the world of science, on the other hand, (eg the theory of plate tectonics that proved back in the 1960’s that the continents move around) has to go through intense scutiny and peer review before it becomes accepted as fact. That is why, to my mind, unproven ‘beliefs’ will always be chasing respect in a way that scientifically evaluated and observed processes and principles don’t need to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A response to this question was posted on his blog by Peter Kazmaier. Here’s the link to that response: https://peterkazmaier.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/a-response-to-stuart-akens-blog-on-why-are-we-required-to-respect-religion/ for those who’d like to read it.
    And here’s my response:
    An interesting comment on my question, but one that rather misses the point, I’m afraid. The issue the question is raising is that of the way in which religion, as a phenomenon, is granted special status. Unlike politics, philosophy, food preferences like veganism, pacifism, or any of a number of outlooks, religion carries both a social aura of prohibition and, in many countries, a legal restriction on adverse comment. It is that ‘required’ respect I am raising in the question. In other words, why does society and, in many cases, government, accord religion (of whatever flavour) a special status that prevents open and full discussion?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Stuart, you raised the question: “Why are we required to respect religion?” Thank you for raising this important question. I can see that my own views differ from yours and from many (perhaps all) of your readers.

    How you ask a question can channel the answers in a certain direction. I believe to get a fair discussion of this topic it would be better to ask the question:

    “Am I required to respect the World Views of others, even if their World View differs from my own?”

    My reasons for arguing for this question change can be found on my own blog site, PeterKazmaier.com [ http://wp.me/p4cZo4-9p ] if you’re interested. Thank you for raising this important and interesting topic.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please see my response below, Peter. I placed this response from your Tweet, before I had seen that you’d commented here, so sorry if there’s any confusion.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Religion and Nationalism do seem to go hand in hand; something, I suspect, to do with the appeal of tribalism, clubs, etc. Both seem to attract people who feel the need to be part of a recognised grouping, almost as if they’re afraid of their own place as individuals.
    Belief, especially when there is no evidence to back it up, is always a dangerous quality, yet it has, for centuries, been held up as a desirable, admirable state of mind. The fact that such faith encourages belief in other things for which there is no evidence makes it a danger to society, since it allows charlatans and manipulators to do their worst with those who have been indoctrinated to accept unsupported dogma as truth. I suspect this tendency for such people to accept irrational arguments as ‘truth’ is laregely responsible for the recent election of the narcisistic egomaniac, Trump to the Presidency, and the illogical UK vote to leave the EU. Both sad events that will impact on those who voted for them as greatly as those who voted against.
    As for my next ‘Why?’ post, I’ve a few ideas lined up, some serious, others quite trivial. But which I’ll choose depends on my mood at the time.
    I’ll take a gander at your post, Nan.


  6. I recognized my Orwell/Koestler error almost immediately but was unable to correct my error. I did, however, locate Koestler’s book, and in struggling to understand it myself I took many liberties with it–roughly. (some from pp 240-246).
    A defiition from wiki:- A holon is something that is simultaneously a whole and a part. The word was coined by Arthur Koestler in his book The Ghost in the Machine (1967, p. 48). According to Koestler, Mankind has a paranoid streak in him, as well as the ability to make triumphant achievements. He notices the contrasts, and inquires as to its causes. He points out that all our emotions consist of “mixed feelings,” in which both self-asserting and self-transcending tendencies participate. They can interact in beneficial ways–some beneficial, some disastrous. The most normal reaction is mutual restraint, with competitiveness restrained by the rules of civilized conduct. But let tensions wax or integration wane, the competition turns into ruthlessness… However, the ravages of excesses of self assertion alone is relatively small compared to those which result from misplaced devotion.

    The integrative tendencies of the individual operate through the mechanisms of empathy, sympathy, projection, introjection , identification, worship–all of which make him feel that he is a part of some larger entity which transcends the boundaries of the individual self. The psychological urge to belong, to participate, is as real as its opposite. The all-important question is the nature of that higher reality of which the individual feels himself a part….Historically, the psychological process by means of which his identification was achieved, was mostly of the primitive, infantile kind of projection which populates heaven and earth with angry father-figures, fetishes to be worshipped, demons to be execrated, dogmas to be blindly believed. This crude form of identification is something quite different from integration into a well-ordered social hierarchy. It is a regression to an infantile form of self-transcendance, and in extreme cases almost a shortcut back to the womb…

    …The process of identification may stimulate the urge of anger, fear and vengefulness –which although experienced on behalf of another person, nevertheless express themselves in the well-known adreno-toxic symptoms….Thus the glory and the tragedy of the human condition both derive from our powers of self-transcendance…..It is a power which is equally capable of turning us into artists or killers…Identification in the primitive form always entails a certain impairment of individuality, of an abdication of the critical faculties and of personal responsibility… (Apparently religious fervor and nationalism have an equal ability to precipitate insanity, which is a word Koestler uses)….

    Does all this suggest that we need to watch out when we feel swept away from ourselves, by anything?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A cogent argument, Nan.
      Broken down to basics, this suggests to my mind that a fundamental influence on our behaviour is education; it’s content, level and bias or neutrality. It’s noticable that the majority of those people who show prejudice against those who are not like them, have had defective educations. In many cases, they are the sons and daughters of prejudiced people who were themselves the sons and daughters of prejudiced people and so on, ad infinitum. The passing on of ignorance, often disguised as custom, tradition, or simply poorly informed opinion, continues the endless chain of prejudice. That religious fervour and nationalism have equal propensity to lead to insanity comes as no surprise. Both are the result of custom and tradition that elevates tribalism to ludicrous heights. Narrow minds appear to form narrow minds; the offspring of those with restricted experience are often themselves driven into lives with equaly restricted experience. Tolerance and a wider view of the world generally needs varied experience and openness to cultural difference, which, in itself, is largely dependent on openmindedness.
      So, the influences Koestler cites apply equally to all of us, but how we react to those influences depends very strongly on how we have been educated.
      That’s whay I’d like to see all schools as secular institutions and all faith schools, with their tendency to indoctrinate, outlawed. Surely, in the 21st century we have reached the stage where we can recognise that teaching our children to respect and even worship superstition is hardly a wise way forward?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Have we now got to the place where Religion is on an equal footing with Nationalism? The same kneejerk response, Or maybe it does boil down to us-them, a holdover from gene preference (Can’t think of the word just now). The gun lobby is an example of Koestler’s belief in a paranoid streak underlying human behavior, All of which brings us to our predicament in the White House today and the overt move to minimize education for the poor, and even strip the charter schools of standards. . What would your next column be titled? Also, you are invited to take a look at my page on “Our Shadow Selves” at nanmykel.com. Talking and thinking is fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. For those who profess to practice a religion or live a spiritual life, my belief is that we are all unique and have our own paths. This also applies to those who would not agree to either the words “religion” or “spiritual.” Therefore, I respect your choice in this area just as I expect you to respect mine. You can’t take my journey for me. Nor can I take yours. Even those within the same religion rarely have identical beliefs. If we routinely refused to respect another person’s beliefs, there would be more upheaval than there is in the political arena today.

    The only time this statement might seem to come into question is when we consider the aggressive and/or harmful actions that people take in the name of their religion. As far as I am concerned,this is a case where I do not disrespect the formal religion, but more often disagree with their interpretation of the teachings in an attempt to align them with their ego issues. Any so-called religion or spiritual system that condones the killing of a fellow human does not rise to the definition of either of these terms.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you rightly point out, Dannye, the roads we take are our own. However, it is undeniably the case that certain sects and traditions are so controlling that they reject their offspring’s right to make an informed choice as they set out on their own route. Such control denies the child the ability ever to think for him/herself and generally prevents the maturing individual from realising that their entire life has been mapped out and directed without their consent or even their awareness. Also, whilst we may follow our own path, we cannot avoid contact with the signs, waymarkings, and directions that line our route. The influence of such prompts is necessarily dependent on how able the individual is to give them due consideration free from the imposed dogma of the cults of their upbringing.
      The issue with religion, in particular, is the restrictive nature that legal frameworks place around informed discussion, making such debate almost impossible. We can debate politics openly and without fear of legal action being taken against us (unless, of course, we live in a despotic regime) but we are prevented from such free discussion of religion because laws supposedly placed to prevent prejudice are actually perceived as barriers to satire, mockery and ridicule, which all allow a healthy discussion of politics. It is that type of official respect I am concerned with.
      An example: If I want to point out that the custom, among the Jewish and Islamic groups, of the prohibition of pork is outdated, I can point out that this tradition initially came about because pigs carry a large number of parasites that early consumers noticed caused health problems. It is now known that proper cooking of pork prevents the dangers these parasites can otherwise present. However, if I want to send that message in the form of a cartoon, a satirical sketch or a jocular comment, I am very likely to be accused of prejudice. Such restrictions on freedom of expression permit extremists to continue using their controlling dogma to suppress objective debate. (please note, I separate the terms ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist’, since the latter have no real connection to the religions they purport to follow).
      It is difficult to respect any form of philosophy, organisation, club, or grouping that is so sensitive about its ruling passions that it sees any mockery as a personal attack. Satire and the ability to debunk the arrogant stance of authority have been responsible for maintaining a fair level of freedom in western democracies. If religion is excluded from this culture, then it adopts a protective cloak that not only allows it to function without serious question but also elevates its status to that of the undisputed, a status it manifestly fails to deserve.


      1. I don’t disagree with the logic of your reply. I guess my stance is that it isn’t my place to judge or critique someone else’s religious or spiritual practices. If they don’t want to eat pork, I don’t care. I realize that you are more interested in the reaction of others to anything said about the practices of any religion or spiritual practice. These days, I would say that you can barely utter a word about anything without suffering backlash in the form of being accused of being prejudiced; however, my stance is more that we shouldn’t feel entitled to mock someone’s spiritual beliefs if their actions do NOT harm anyone else. If we do, then we have to accept the consequences because we might well strike out at someone attacking our own beliefs as well.

        As for the children who grow up in strict cultures, you may feel that they have no choice, but everyone has choice. Are there consequences for their choices at times? Quite often yes. My family is unable to process how I believe, and it created serious breaches for a while, but I made my choice. Do I care what other people think about what I believe? No. Am I going to try and mitigate their attitudes? No. I did at one time, but I realized that I didn’t need to do this. Their attitudes were their problems, not mine. Am I willing to discuss my beliefs? Of course, but not so that the other person can embark on a mission to show me how wrong I am.

        Bottom line is that a person can say whatever they like as long as they recognize that the critiquing can go both ways.

        For example, I do not agree with what I’ve heard about the Christian Dominionists, which is apparently the belief system for several officials in the administration. Do I care what they believe? No, as long as they do not try to force upon me their way of life. Should I freely mock their beliefs because perhaps I find them limiting? No. IMHO, the only entitlement I have would be If they did try to force me to follow the path of their beliefs culturally and spiritually. Then they open themselves up to backlash.

        So I hold to the idea that my religious beliefs are mine. Theirs are theirs. Yours are yours. And, none of us have to understand the other’s beliefs or feel entitled to discuss in any forum its “shortcomings.”

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Glen Donaldson

          If a grown adult holds firmly to the belief that fairies with magical powers reside in the bottom of their garden – a belief that hurts no one but makes me seriously doubt their grip on logic – privately I will struggle to respect their belief and may be inclined to discuss it’s shortcomings within my own circle.

          And I’ll own that.


        2. If a fully grown adult fervently believes that fairies with magical powers not only reside but do the jitterbug at the bottom of his/her garden – a belief that hurts no one – I will definitely find it challenging to repect that belief and not point out it’s shortcomings to my trusted social circle of friends and family.


  8. Nici Lilley

    I would say there is no reason at all to respect religion. It is a socio-cultural artifice, designed to appeal to those who have either not been taught to think for themselves or choose not to, and thus to control these people. It is much easier not to take personal responsibility for the course of one’s life. If each individual who finds religion an abhorrent fairytale rejects its precepts and challenges its adherents whenever possible (bearing in mind safety if confronting fundamentalists of all persuasions), eventually – albeit slowly – it will fade away. The sooner, the better…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Nici. Whilst it’s easy enough to empathise with those who have been brought up in a overwhelmingly religious society (the Bible Belt, and much of Islam, some Hindu and the extremes of the Jesuits, amongst others, come to mind) and therefore have never had that chance of free thought, it’s much more difficult to understand the drive toward religion by those adults who convert in their more mature years. Once assumes they must be seeking some external cause for their unhappiness or that some personality defect requires tham to seek an authority figure that will allow them to deny personal responsibility for their lives.
      The sooner we get rid of religion, the better: and we can start that process by moving toward a society that outlaws faith schools and requires them all to be entirely secular. It’ll take time, but in the way that current moves are finally helping to rid the guilty tribes of FMG by preventing it’s imposition on their daughters, we must start somewhere, and it’s with the children we have most hope of starting such a change.


  9. Absolutely agree, Mick. Until our cowardly government makes a stand and faces up to those who wish to indoctrinate the rest of us, we’ll never end the cycle of hatred, dishonesty, and the violence and conflict it inevitably stirs up.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Why indeed? We’d need forever to discuss this, so perhaps just a couple of bullet points:
    * It is very difficult to mock the religion without mocking the followers. It is one thing to say that this or that religion is bunkum, but it’s followers then immediately decide you are calling them stupid.
    * The stronger a person believes in something, the more vigorously they will defend it – to the point of physical violence, of course.
    * Holy books tend to be written to a formula that says ‘(a) everything in this book this is true, because God says so. (b) everything in this book is God’s word because the book says so’
    * Because of all the above, it becomes dangerous to challenge the religion.
    * For that reason, rulers and governments are frightened of doing so, and side with the religious hierarchy to ensure there are no challenges.
    * This, in turn, strengthens the religious hierarchy.

    There are plenty of other reasons, but…we’d be here all day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make some interesting points, Mick. In particular, the tendency of the religious to assume that any question about their particular sect is necessarily an attack on them, personally. And, the cowardice of our supposedly representative governments, who allow the problems inherent in relgion to continue without redress, and, in fact encourage their continuation by drafting laws that favour them.
      High time we brought in legislation to outlaw all faith schools so that the next generation has the opportunity to grow up free from questionable tradition and the one-sided opinion of those who believe in fairytales rather than history and scientific fact.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d certainly agree about banning all faith schools – there should be a standard syllabus in all schools, not just state ones.
        All religious orders should comply with the laws of the country, so that (for example) any form of discrimination would be illegal, along with any attempts to impose arbitrary rules on divorce or marriage.
        Finally, all forms of missionary activity should be banded, which would cover the whole swathe of activity from Jehovah’s Witnesses going around door-knocking, through to the recruitment of jihadists.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m looking for my copy of Ghost in the Machine (I think it is) by George Orwell. Was just reading it earlier his week and altho a couple of his chapters may be out of date, he seems right-on about the way violence works–more out of a strong righteous belief backed by culture than by anger and hate. He attempts a connection to evolution. Made sense to me. I have a page on Our Shadow Selves, but it’s not right smack on topic. This is a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Ghost in the Machine is, I think, a book on philosophical psychology by Arthur Koestler, Nan. Mind you, the title has been borrowed by a lot of novelists as well, but I can’t find a version by George Orwell. Your info makes me suspect the one you’re referring to is the Koestler book, which I haven’t read. Maybe I should add it to my ever expanding ‘to read’ list?


  12. I gave up believing in imaginary beings like Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy a great many yesterdays ago. These days the only imaginary friends I entertain are the ones my 6 year old daughter brings home and even those are starting to drop off.

    My favourite thing about religious people is how open they are to other people’s opinions.
    I also am rather fond of how many of their type will try to explain how their faith is superior to logic – using logic!

    As has been observed before, reason has been a part of organised religion ever since two nudists took dietary advice from a snake.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You forgot about the frequent coincidence between the right wing and religion, Glen, surely another reason to love them?
      It’s always been a bit of a puzzle why their god didn’t want those two nudists to be aware of the knowledge of good and evil: seems a little odd to me. But, then, who knows the logic of a snake, eh?


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