Friday, 15 August 2014

The Triune God – The Greatest Conceivable Being that Exists, Part 2

Continues form Part 1

Andalusi proceeds to show that he simply doesn’t understand Craig’s argument:

The false premises just pour of this statement by William. Firstly, God knew all of his creation before he created it, would it be not possible for God to love his creation from all eternity even though it hadn’t existed yet? Surely if William had read his Old testament, he would have found the verse where God is reported to have said to Prophet Jeremiah:
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Jeremiah 1:5
‘When I (David) was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.’ Psalm 139:13-16

God exists outside time and space, for him, there is no before, present or after, so he had always loved his deserved amongst creation and always hated the undeserving amongst his creation. How narrow of Dr Craig to have limited God’s knowledge and timelessness so.

Once again, Andalusi doesn’t realize that his objection provides tacit support for Dr. Craig’s point since to say that God loved his creation before it existed actually affirms that a loving being must love someone other than himself. However, by positing creation as the object of God’s love Andalusi has now made God dependent upon creation, thereby denying God’s independence and self-sufficiency. Andalusi has turned God into a contingent being since his view makes God’s love dependent upon creatures.

Andalusi is not the only one to turn God into a contingent being who needs creatures in order to express his qualities, since Andalusi’s own prophet did the very same thing when he said the following


Abu Sirma reported that when the time of the death of Abu Ayyub Ansari drew near, he said: I used to conceal from you a thing which I heard from Allah's Messenger and I heard Allah's Messenger as saying:Had you not committed sins, Allah would have brought into existence a creation that would have committed sin (and Allah) would have forgiven them. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037,
Number 6620)

Abu Ayyub Ansari reported that Allah's Messenger said: If you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah, and He would have granted them pardon. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037,
Number 6621)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger having said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037,
Number 6622)
That Allah needed to create sinners whom he could forgive as a way of showing mercy indicates that even Muhammad understood Dr. Craig’s argument! Muhammad seemed to realize that perfect love can only exist between persons who love one another, among a community which gives itself away in love. However, seeing that he didn’t understand the doctrine of the Trinity he was forced to come up with a view that ended up making Allah dependent upon not just creation in general, but upon sinners in particular! (This further shows that Allah had determined beforehand that there would be sin in the world and therefore created people who would actually sin.)

In fact, this next verse shows that Allah also needs creatures to love and worship him:

I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me. S. 51:56 Pickthall

Notice that the reason why Allah created jinn and mankind was so that they could worship him, which shows that Allah had a need which only creatures could meet.

The following narration further confirms Allah’s dependence on creation:

3) Allah says, "I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognised Me." (
An Introduction to the Sciences of Hadith, Shaykh Suhayb Hasan hafidhahullaah (Published by Dar-as-Salam))

The reason why Allah created was because he wanted to be known!
(Side note: This narrative introduces another problem since it says that Allah wanted people to know him and yet he cannot be known since he has refused to reveal his nature to us. The only thing that can be known about Allah is his will as demonstrated by his actions.)

Although the authenticity of the chain of transmission for this report has been questioned by Muslim scholars there are some that accept its veracity on the grounds that its meaning is supported by Q. 51:56:

3) Ibn Taimiyyah says, "It is not from the words of the Prophet, and there is no known isnad for it, neither sahih nor da'if"; al-Zarkashi (d. 794), Ibn Hajar, al-Suyuti and others agreed with him. Al-Qari says, "But its meaning is correct, deduced from the statement of Allah, I have not created the Jinn and Mankind, except to worship Me, i.e. to recognise/know me, as Ibn 'Abbas has explained." These statements are mentioned by al-'Ijlouni, who adds, "This saying occurs often in the words of the Sufis, who have relied on it and built upon it some of their principles."88 (An Introduction to the Sciences of Hadith,

88. Isma'il b. Muhammad al-'Ijlouni, Kashf al- Khafa' (2 vols. in 1, Cairo/Aleppo, N.D.), no. 2016. (Footnotes)

Hence, the Islamic sources testify that Allah needed to be worshiped and loved by others and so he therefore decided to create individuals who would give him what he needed! As such, Allah cannot be a self-sufficient being who is free of all desires and needs. Allah is actually a contingent being who had to create in order to both express and experience love!(1)

Hopefully, this will help Andalusi see all of the problems that his argument and the narrations attributed to Muhammad pose for his monotheistic beliefs. Perhaps he will now realize how Muhammad’s teachings and his own reply actually confirm, rather than refute, Dr. Craig’s argument and show that it is philosophically sound and logically valid.

All glory to the Triune God the Christian conception of God doesn’t suffer from any of these problems! According to God’s inspired Word, God is love and his nature is to give himself away in love:
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God IS love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God IS love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:8-16
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

At the same time the Holy Bible is clear that the Triune God didn’t need any creature to express and receive love from since the distinct Persons of the Godhead have been loving one another before creation existed. For instance, the Father loved his Son before the world existed:
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’" Matthew 3:16-17 – cf. 9:7
“And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began… Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:5, 24

And because he loves the Son the Father appointed him Heir of everything that exists:
“Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’” Luke 20:13-14
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” John 3:35
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” John 5:20

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and FOR him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,” Colossians 1:13-19
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:1-3

In a similar manner the Lord Jesus perfectly obeys the Father in everything he commands, even to the point of laying his life down for believers, because of his love for the Father:
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:37-40
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

“but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.” John 14:31
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” John 15:9-10

Thus, God didn’t create because he needed someone or something to love, but out of his own free will. God was already expressing and experiencing perfect love in eternity, long before creation ever came into being. Allah is clearly not like the God of the Holy Bible in this regard, and in many other aspects as well.

Furthermore, Andalusi’s statement here,

God exists outside time and space, for him, there is no before, present or after, so he had always loved his deserved amongst creation and always hated the undeserving amongst his creation. How narrow of Dr Craig to have limited God’s knowledge and timelessness so.

Is simply irrelevant to Craig’s argument and is nothing more than a red herring, since even in Andalusi’s view his god is still dependent on creation in order to express love.

Besides, Andalusi is causing more problems for himself by raising this objection. He seems to imply that whatever God is stated to do at a certain time (like loving those of his creation who deserve it) he has been doing for eternity because God is outside of time and therefore there is no before, after, now etc. On what basis would Andalusi restrict this conclusion only to “loving” and not to other actions of God? Would he also say that God was exhibiting wrath and anger towards sinners even before they existed?

Another problem with his assertion is that his position would inevitably mean that God’s act of creation is timeless and so God must be eternally creating the universe. However, seeing that such is not the case doesn’t the very act of creation imply a moment of time that God began creating the universe at a specific moment and then finished that act at a different moment? If so then weren’t these actions of God moments in time?

Moreover, if there is no present and after with God then does this means that God hasn’t finished with his act of creating the universe. If Andalusi actually believes this then he must accept that God is actually still creating the cosmos and cannot stop creating it since there is no after with God! And if there is no before with God then there can never be a time when he wasn’t creating the universe. However, since Andalusi clearly doesn’t believe that God was always creating the cosmos this means that he must accept that there is a before with God since there was an actual moment before God created anything.

In fact, Andalusi himself admits that there is a before with God since this is what he wrote:

God knew all of his creation BEFORE he created it, would it be not possible for God to love his creation from all eternity even though it hadn’t existed yet?

Not only is Andalusi contradicting himself his statements show that even he doesn’t really buy into his own logic!(2)

Andalusi tries to take a stab at refuting Craig’s position that the Trinity exhibits perfect, selfless love:

Dr Craig asserts, self-destructively, that the Unitarian God is unable to ‘give himself away to another’, and therefore ‘cannot be the most perfect being’, and that only a triad of ‘persons’ in a trinity are the ones who can achieve such a ‘giving away to another’

The most fundamental problem with this conclusion, is not just that Dr Craig denies god can love his creation before he made it, and not on the nature of what love is, but also, interestingly enough, on who God needs to love. Craig says that if God only loves himself, then he is not a ‘perfect being’, but Craig’s Trinitarian doctrine attests that the trinity’s ‘persons’ are all part of God and not separate from his being, thus they do not constitute a ‘OTHER’ to the being of God. Thus, Dr Craig has fell into his own trap, for if he claims that God loves himself, then he admits that his conception of God too, cannot be the ‘perfect being’ as well. The alternative is for Dr Craig to say the trinity is, in reality, a pantheon of three Gods who love each other as a relationship between separate beings, and therefore also able to satisfy the (Dr Craig’s) criteria of love, which demands that God love ‘an-OTHER’.

If Dr Craig were to argue that there is love between the ‘persons’ of the trinity within God’s being, but not without, then, according to his logic, the persons maybe individually ‘perfectly loving’ to each other, but collectively as God, they will not be perfectly loving, since God as a ‘whole’ (!) is not loving another, but merely himself. Although I really don’t understand why Craig’s anthropomorphised God cannot be Unitarian and still love itself, when even human beings can love themselves! But I guess Craig’s concept of God cannot do something a ordinary human can.

Thus, Craig will have become stuck on the contradictory nature of the Trinity fallacy, and he will have no other recourse than to exclaim that his premise, a God who cannot love himself while at the same time be the ‘perfect loving being’, CAN in fact love himself and still be the ‘perfect loving being’ without any contradictions. Once again, the trinitarians, in their desparate attempt to find explanations for contradictory doctrines, have created more contradictions then they solve. Perhaps Craig shall have toexplain that his argument is correct but that the reason we don’t understand it is because it is a great mystery

Andalusi erroneously assumes that since the distinct Persons of the Godhead are not separate Gods, but a single God, this means that God is still essentially loving himself. Thus, according to Andalusi God must express love to another being in order for Craig’s argument to work.

The readers should immediately spot the problem with Andalusi’s reasoning since perfect love doesn’t require that a person love another distinct being. All that is required is that a person loves someone else. Here, once again, is Craig’s argument:

As the greatest conceivable being, God must be perfect. Now a perfect being must be a loving being. For love is a moral perfection; it is better for a person to be loving rather than unloving. God therefore must be a perfectly loving being. Now it is of the very nature of love to give oneself away. Love reaches out to ANOTHER PERSON rather than centering wholly in oneself. So if God is perfectly loving by His very nature, He must be giving Himself in love to another. But who is that other? It cannot be ANY CREATED PERSON, since creation is a result of God’s free will, not a result of His nature. It belongs to God’s very essence to love, but it does not belong to His essence to create. So we can imagine a possible world in which God is perfectly loving and yet NO CREATED PERSONS exist. So CREATED PERSONS cannot sufficiently explain whom God loves. Moreover, contemporary. cosmology makes it plausible that created persons have not always existed. But God is eternally loving. So again CREATED PERSONS alone are insufficient to account for God’s being perfectly loving. It therefore follows that the other to whom God’s love is necessarily directed must be internal to God Himself.

In other words, God is not a single, isolated PERSON, as unitarian forms of theism like Islam hold; rather God is a plurality of PERSONS, as the Christian doctrine of the Trinity affirms. On the unitarian view God is A PERSON who does not give Himself away essentially in love for ANOTHER; He is focused essentially only on Himself. Hence, He cannot be the most perfect being. But on the Christian view, God is a triad of PERSONS in eternal, self-giving love relationships. Thus, since God is essentially loving, the doctrine of the Trinity is more plausible than any unitarian doctrine of God. (Emphasis ours)

Notice that Dr. Craig speaks of persons and of loving another person. He says nothing about beings loving other beings. So Andalusi is basically distorting Craig’s position in order to attack a strawman.

With that said, since there are three distinct Persons of the Godhead who love one another this means that the Christian conception of God meets the conditions for perfect love and therefore the Christian God is the greatest conceivable Being.

Andalusi’s argument further likens God to his creation, albeit implicitly. After all, to say that even the Christian concept has God essentially loving himself is to basically liken God’s mode of existence with that of his creatures. Therefore, just as a human being loving himself would not be a display of perfect love, but would be considered a rather selfish act, God loving himself is also not the greatest demonstration of selfless love.

The problem with this argument is that God’s Being is unlike his creation since he is tri-Personal whereas creatures such as humans are for the most part uni-personal. Thus, whereas a human being loving himself would not be an expression of selfless love God loving himself would be since it is not a single Person loving himself, but rather three distinct Persons loving one another.

In conclusion, we must say that Abdullah Al-Andalusi has failed to show any real flaws in Dr. Craig’s argument. In fact, we have seen that many of his very own objections actually presuppose and confirm that Craig’s reasoning is logically valid.

We have also seen that the Christian conception of God perfectly fits the definition of the greatest conceivable Being since the Christian God perfectly loves and has actually exhibited the greatest display of love imaginable.

We further demonstrated that the Islamic conception of God is both morally inadequate and philosophically objectionable and that the Islamic god is not self-sufficient since he is in need of his creation.

Therefore, the Islamic conception of god should be rejected since it demeans God and turns him into a contingent being. Islam posits an imperfect and inadequate figure whose love is no greater than the love displayed by imperfect sinners according to the words of the Lord Jesus since he only loves those who love him or do good.

The following Christian authors show why the Islamic conception of god is morally and philosophically repugnant whereas the Christian concept is not:
There is something profoundly imperfect and therefore inadequately divine in a solitary divine individual. If such an individual is love, he must share, and sharing with finite beings such as humans is not sharing all of one's nature and so is imperfect sharing. A divine individual's love has to be manifested in a sharing with another divine individual, and that (to keep the divine unity) means (in some sense) within the Godhead, that is, in mutual dependence and support.” (Richard Swinburne, The Christian God [Oxford University Press, USA, November 24, 1994], p. 190)

Of all the gods in all the religions of the world, only the triune God of the Bible is truly and wholly personal. This point is often not recognized, so we will dwell on it briefly. First, consider the non-Christian theism embraced by Jews and Muslims, the belief in a single god who rules the world. By itself, theism will not suffice to give us a truly personal god, for a god who is utterly and simply one – a mere monad– fails to have qualities we know to be essential to personality. Although an absolute monad, like the god of Islam, is the most exalted non-Christian idea of a deity, a monad is a being who is eternally alone – with no other to love, no other with whom to communicate, and no other with whom to have fellowship. In the case of such a solitary god, love, fellowship, and communication cannot be essential to his being. Indeed, they are no part of the monad at all. But without these qualities it is difficult to imagine that the deity so conceived is in any meaningful sense personal. To conceive of a god who does not know love, a god who has never shared, for whom a relationship with another is eternally irrelevant, is to conceive of an abstraction, an idea or a thing more than a person.
“If, to make his god personal, a believer in such a deity suggested that his god loved the world after he created it, the result would be a god who changes in time and who needs the world in order to grow into his self-realization as a god of love – a god who becomes personal only with the help of creation. Suppose one asserted that the monad loved the world from eternity? Then the personality of this deity and his attribute of love would still depend for their existence on the world he created. Creation would be a necessary act of self-becoming. For, unless this deity created the world, he could not realize the love that had been eternally hidden in him, waiting for its time to shine forth.
In either case, we would have theism of a sort. Both cases would be attempts to obtain a monad for whom love had some meaning. However, these attempts succeed in exalting the monad ethically by demoting him ontologically, for he is no longer absolute, no longer transcendent. We would have to admit that he could no longer truly be god, and that a god who varies or a god who is dependent on the world that he creates is not worthy to be regarded as a deity. Be that as it may, in either of these cases, though the idea of love has been imported into an inchoate theism, we are clearly far from the biblical concept of a personal fellowship of love among equals. Of course, neither orthodox Jews nor orthodox Muslims imagine their god as a changing or contingent being. They would not think of revising their views of god to enhance his image and compensate for his lack of personal qualities. It follows that they must be satisfied with a god who exists in an eternal vacuum, even though they will find irresistible the temptation to ascribe personality to the monad.” (Ralph Allan Smith,Trinity and Reality: An Introduction To The Christian Faith [Canon Press, Moscow Idaho 2004], Chapter Two. A Personal God and a Personal Word,
pp. 18-19)

Smith reiterates this point when he elsewhere writes that,
The Triune God of the Bible is the only God who is truly and wholly personal. Consider, for example, how different the Triune God is from the Jewish and Muslim conception of an absolute monad. The most exalted non-Christian idea of deity involves a being who is eternally alone – with no other to love, no other with whom to communicate, and no other with whom to fellowship. In the case of such a solitary god, love, fellowship, and communication cannot be essential to his being. But without these qualities it is difficult to imagine that the deity so conceived is actually personal at all. A god for whom a relationship with another is eternally irrelevant is an abstraction, an idea or a thing more than a person.
“If, to make his god more personal, a believer in such a deity suggested that his god loved the world after he created it, the result would be a god who changes in time. Or, if one asserted that the monad loved the world from eternity, the personality of this deity, or at least his attribute of love, would depend for its existence on the world he created. It is also important to note that the idea of a god loving a world that will someday come into existence is far from the Biblical concept of a personal fellowship of love among equals. In any event, a god who changes, or a god who is dependent on the world that he creates is less than a god. Neither orthodox Jews nor orthodox Muslims imagine their god as changing or dependent on the world. They must resolve, therefore, to believe in a god who exists in an eternal vacuum, even though they will find irresistible the temptation to ascribe personality to the monad.
If Muslims and Jews applied their notion of god consistently to their worldview, man's personality, too, would be found to lack ultimate meaning. That man speaks, laughs, and loves can only be accidental truths at best. There would be nothing in the deity to correspond to such things. And what could it mean for man to be created in the image of such a god? If man is to be like such a god, would that mean that the ideal life in this world is one that lacks these personal qualities? Should man look forward to an eternity of silent self-contemplation?
“Nor can polytheism, which may seem to be personal, really provide a source of personal meaning. For in addition to the fact that the gods tend to vary from place to place and time to time, the personal deities of polytheism are not ultimate. They are themselves determined by a higher principle, whether fate or something similar, which again makes the impersonal ultimate. When the gods themselves are struggling to be personal, they cannot be the source of personal meaning for man.
“Only in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is there a personal absolute. In the Father, Son, and Spirit, Christians worship three equally ultimate Persons who are united in one Being. Since neither God's Oneness nor His Threeness is prior to the other, both His unity and His personal diversity are ultimate. Men – created in God's image as persons – have meaning, both individually and as a race, because they are the image of the Absolute. Indeed, the whole creation can only be understood rightly in terms of the Tripersonal God who created all things to reveal His glory. Ultimate explanation is not to be found in principles, nor in ideas, nor in a final theory, but in the Father, Son, and Spirit – the Personal God. All things in the world are what they are by His will – they were created by Him and for Him and in Him alone they subsist (Col. 1:16-17). The history of the world is nothing other than the outworking of His plan "who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11b).”
(Smith, Trinity and Covenant: Christian Worldview,
Chapter One. The Covenant Standard)

In light of these facts a person should therefore reject Islam and its god and embrace the Christian conception of God since not only is it morally adequate and philosophically sound, it is also true!

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It is interesting to see how these specific Islamic texts actually refute the following assertion made by Andalusi:
Furthermore, to say that God possesses an attribute that “by His very nature, He must be giving Himself in love to another.”, is to claim that God is IN NEED of something else other than his (absolutely indivisible) self. God cannot be in need to do anything, as he is uncreated and independent. Thus he possesses no innate desires, instincts or motivations that CAUSE him to do actions. For if he were to possess instincts, natures or desires that are intrinsically part of himself, the question would arise as to ‘who created those causes that cause the first cause (i.e. God)?

The correct and rational conclusion, is that God possesses no needs or any kind, because he has no ‘nature’ or instincts that motivate him to do actions (i.e. are a first cause before himself). Thus God is not a creature which is moved by its own nature; rather God does not have a defined nature, since no one defined him. But rather, he defines his will by whatever he pleases.

Besides misconstruing Craig’s argument Andalusi is going against the teachings of Muhammad at this point, just as the narratives which we quoted earlier demonstrate. After all, if Allah was really free of any need or desire then why did he create jinn and mankind to worship him? Why did he create for the purpose of wanting to be known by others if Allah is truly free from all desires? It is evident that Andalusi’s view of God has been influenced by Greek philosophy and/or medieval Christian theology rather than by the Quran or Muhammad’s sunna.

Lest the readers misunderstand we are not claiming that God exists in time or that he didn’t create time. What we are saying is that the relationship between God and time is much more complex than Andalusi’s statements suggest. The fact is that God’s relationship to time is one of those paradoxes that finite minds will never be able to fully comprehend or reconcile.



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