No Proof
Johnny Skansi, a.k.a. Tommy Starr


These letters are posted exactly as they were received -- with e-mail addresses later removed because of the Abraham Smith affair.


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The above letter presupposes that unbelief is belief and that the lack of faith is faith. We did not respond to it because it was so rude and because it says nothing.

It is not this magazine's purpose to set people straight, neither is it our purpose to provide instruction regarding grammar and spelling.


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We did not respond to this one, either.

Again, this second letter argues that people who lack faith have faith, that unbelievers believe, and that the lack of religion (atheism) is religion. It goes further to proclaim (falsely) that evolution teaches that life evolved out of nothing. After this, the writer goes on to refute his own false description of what he thinks evolutionists say. This form of deception is called the "Straw-Man" fallacy. His rudeness (particularly his poorly written implication that we are stupid) is known as the Ad Hominem attack which, instead of addressing the idea at hand, the debater attacks the person presenting the idea.

You can study various logical fallacies and other forms of deception in Positive Atheism's Clues section.


Though continuing his abusive tone, we chose, finally, to respond to this letter. He makes some claims which, though false, are at least understandable.


From: Cliff Walker <>
To: Johnny Skansi
Subject: Re: No proof
Date: Sunday, April 18, 1999 1:42 AM

Not use theistic evidence? What does that mean?

"God" as described by the Christian Bible does not exist.

"God" as described by the Koran does not exist.

"God" as described in the Jewish writings does not exist.

"God" as some modern mystics (including modern theologians) try to describe "God" does not make sense or is logically impossible, thus I rightly ignore such claims. In cases like this, I am not a "strong" atheist, I am an atheist of the noncognitivist variety.

An atheist disbelieves god-claims that are conceivable. I have studied all the major (and many obscure) conceivable god-claims, I don't believe any of them.

Nobody can believe or disbelieve a claim that makes no sense, so my responsibility as a noncognitivist is to point out when a claim makes no sense.

What evidence do we need? It is the Christians (and others) who claim that a god exists, not the atheists.

I don't understand what you mean when you say that we would be laughed out of a courtroom. Your courtroom analogy is inverted: it is the theist who must bring proof.

And, historically, it is the theists who have brought atheists before the law and have had us burnt alive and had our breasts cut off and our tongues ripped out and hot lead poured down our throats and into our ears. Atheists have not brought theists to court over their beliefs, but theists have used the laws to torture, maim, despoil, and kill millions of atheists and other nonbelievers throughout history.

If I went to court and made the claim that you have a large bomb in your garage, the court would want me to prove that my claim is true. If I did not go to court and make this claim, the court would rightly leave both of us alone. You would never go to court to try to prove that you don't have a bomb in your garage.

Similarly, while I am minding my own business, not thinking anything, a theist comes up to me and makes the claim that a god exists. Since I can see no god, nor can I see anything that even remotely indicates that a god might exist, I rightly have some questions for the theist. The theist, being the one who made the claim, has no business insisting that I prove him wrong. If the theist minds his own business, though, there is nothing for either of us to prove or disprove. In either case, the atheist has nothing to prove, because the atheist is not the one making the claim.

Similarly, if a schizophrenic walks up to me and tells me that an invisible gnome lives atop his Cincinnati Reds baseball cap, do I have to prove him wrong? No. But he is going to have to do better than simply make the claim and expect me to believe it. In any case, I am not the one making the claim, so I don't have to prove anything. I am free simply to disblieve the schizophrenic's claim.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine


The following three messages arrived within a few hours of each other. Comments below.



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The writer continues to make false claims about what we believe, and to ridicule us for believing the way he says we believe. I finally lose my patience over his abusive tone, but not after presenting some solid arguments for the nonexistence of God.


I am not your friend -- in any sense of the word.

What is this supposed to mean? You keep saying it. Please explain.


(I had a feeling this was going to be a tough one.)

Read what I said again:

In other words, the character called "God," described as existing by each of these writings, does not, in fact, exist at all.

-- and --

Wrong again.

I don't know what you mean when you say "necessarily," but the Bible does, in fact, claim that "God" exists. The Bible even makes fun of those who say that no gods exists (Ps. 14). The Bible goes to great lengths to explain why so many people do not see a god when they open their eyes and look.

So, then, why is "God" in hiding, if his existence is as self-evident as you here claim?

Your analogy falls apart in that it is a very simple matter to detect the existence of motor cars, and to verify that they are, in fact, motor cars and not hallucinations or something else.

If it were equally as simple to detect "God" we wouldn't have as many nonbelievers as we have in this world, and we certainly would not have as many disputes as to what this god's characteristics are or what his will for us is.

There is no evidence, outside of the four Gospels of the New Testament, that a man named "Jesus Christ" even existed. All other historical mentions of a literal, physical Jesus Christ, having lived during the administration of Pontius Pilate, were written after the first Gospel was completed and put into circulation (Mark, ca. 90 C. E.).

To explain the existence of the Christian religion, it is not necessary to posit the literal existence of Jesus. Paul makes little if any mention a historical setting -- a time frame -- when his "Jesus" character lived. There were many, many messiah claims circulating at the time. There was even a "Jesus" ("Joshua") myth that predated Paul by a couple of hundred years.

Meanwhile, we have paintings of George Washington, and examples of his writings. We even have his instructions for growing marijuana, for gaud sakes, and numerous examples of the expenses he incurred as the result of his drinking habit.

Independent mention (even hostile mention) of George Washington predates the Declaration of Independence (that he opposed a Revolution as late as the final months of 1775).

The Jesus of Nazareth character enjoys absolutely no contemporary mention: he was not written about by Paul until decades later (and Paul gives no details as to the time frame of his life or activities); the gospel writings were not circulated until at least 40 years after Jesus of Nazareth is supposed to have lived (probably as late as 60 years later); no one independent of the Bible writers mentions a historical Jesus until after the gospels were in circulation.

To simply declare that "there is literally more historical evidence that Jesus Christ exsisted and rose from the dead than George Washinton was the first Pres. of the USA" may work for unsophisticated, uneducated, unthinking people, but it doesn't work for the rest of us.

Martin Luther (who probably never really believed the Gospel tales) encouraged one of his students, "If you're going to lie, tell a big lie." In other words, Luther knew that some people would believe anything, so you might as well make the most of it if you are going to lie at all.

Unfortunately for me, nature was not kind enough to numb my sensibilities in this respect, otherwise, I probably would not be worried about money today.

The Bible only says that God raised Jesus, not that he raised himself.

This being so, how does Jesus differ from the Widow of Nain's son?

To me, there is no difference in that they are both old wives' tales, told by around a campfire of camel dung by rug merchants and goat-herders.

And earlier you would call me "idiootic" if I would resort to the fact that I have seen neither?

Which 500 witnesses?

Or is this just hearsay?

One person said there were 500 witnesses, and you would bet your life on this one person's claim?

Out of all his writings, Paul (allegedly) said this once and only once. Other Christian mythmakers would have found this information useful in bolstering their claims, if it were true, but they did not resort to the one about there having been 500 witnesses.

We could expect them to use it if it were even in circulation, but they did not use it. Nothing is elsewhere said about 500 witnesses.

This raises suspicions as to whether this line about 500 witnesses was original with Paul, or whether some Church authorities, at a much later date, ordered it to be inserted into the text. Please keep an open mind and do your historical research.

Minds are like parachutes you know............They work best when open.

There is such a thing as being so open-minded that your brains fall out.

My mind has never worked better than since I became a skeptic. I have not fallen for a whacky, preposterous falsehood since that day.

By the way, have you done any historical research yourself? or have you simply read a couple of Josh McDowell books? Why do so many Christians -- people who would find McDowell's material useful it they thought it were true -- why do these Christians completely disregard McDowell's material? They tell me that they have found serious flaws and outright falsehood in McDowell's writings. I know about the falsehood, but since falsehood is the very basis of the Christian religion, I cannot call McDowell's work "flawed" in this respect.

Wrong again. Wrong! Wrong! And wrong!

(Where do you get this baloney? And you want me to believe you about unverifiable things such as the meaning of the Cross?)

The process of photosynthesis is very easy not only to detect, but also to verify and explain. If you graduated from a public high school (without cheating), then you know that:

CO2 + 2H2A + light energy > (CH2) + H2O + H2A

The complete, balanced equation for photosynthesis in which water serves as the electron donor is

6CO2 + 12H2O > C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O

A major (big-time) project among nations is to develop a molecule that will produce photosynthesis artificially. This looks promising, and will probably save our species both from the effects of overpopulation, and from the strife that inevitably results from famine and poverty. This project would not be in the works were photosynthesis an "unexplained phenomena" as you claim.

Again, who said this? After all the errors you have presented above, you need to tell me: (1) who says it (how many scientists?), and (2) how they derive the initial 100 percent figure (of what can be known) in order to arrive at the estimate that we only know two to three percent of that figure. This is bizarre! It doesn't sound like what a scientist would say, because this is not how most scientists think. Scientists cannot take an unknown value (100 percent being what can be known, but is not presently, known) and use that to compare what we do know (only two or three percent of that unknowable amount of what can be known).

No. This does not sound like what a scientist would say. It sounds more like something a preacher would say.

Be careful when making declarations about me, considering that you do not know me.

I am writing this when I ought to be in bed (but my sense of boredom got the best of me, and here I am, writing to you). I cannot predict when I will fall asleep or wake up; I've had this problem for years. Lately, my hands and feet will swell up unexpectedly (both hands and feet are swollen now). I also suffer severe pain in the upper back.

I cannot predict how my digestive system will react to what I have eaten: it's not the food, it's something else. This becomes so painful that I often don't think I'm going to survive it when I'm in the middle of it -- and occasionally don't even want to survive it! This is because the pain, when it is happening, affects my judgement.

Neither can I always trust my senses: Last night (feet swollen), I had to go out and find a lost kitten. I kept "hearing" his bell when he was not there, and "hearing" his cry when he was not there, and "seeing" him when it turned out to be a plant or a spot in the pavement.

As I said above, I never said that the Bible does not claim that its "God" does not exist. The Bible does claim that its "God" exists.

In fact, you were the one who said that the Bible does not make this claim, but only assumes it. You said, and I quote: "The Bible does not necessarily claim that God exsists, it proclaims it by virtue of assuming it throughout."

However, I am not making a claim about the existence of gods. You asked me what I believe, and I said I don't believe there is any such thing as a god. I only become aware of the concept of gods when other people (theists) tell me that gods exist. Then, it is my responsibility to ask the theist what she or he is talking about. (I never know from one conversation to the next what the word means god even means, because every theist has a different understanding of the meaning of that word, so I must ask for a definition each time a new person claims that gods exist.)

Once I find out what the person thinks the word "God" means, I have two choices: If the god is anthropomorphic and unsophisticated (such as the traditional gods of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), then I am a "strong" atheist because I believe there are no such things as those gods. If, on the other hand, I am dealing with a mystic, someone who says that it is impossible to describe or define "God," such as a Hindu or a Tibetan Buddhist or a panentheist, then I am a noncognitivist in that I cannot take a meaningless statement as being either true or false. I am still an atheist in that I lack a god belief, but I do not assert that such a god exists: it is simply a meaningless statement, and that is the end of the discussion. If someone wants me to believe that a god exists, that person must supply me with (even) a remotely meaningful statement.

In other words, if you can describe the Christian god, I can tell you my objections to that description and the questions I have about it. If you cannot describe the Christian god, then why waste my time trying to get me to believe in something you can't even describe? This is the difference between "strong" atheism and noncognitivism and why, depending on the circumstance, I can be either a "strong" atheist (calling the god-claim falsehood) or a noncognitivist (still lacking a belief because I cannot make sense of the claim).

In any case, I have nothing to say about any gods until a theist (or a mystic) approaches me with his or her god-claims. Then, the description must follow the claim, or we do not have a discussion. If the description is remotely meaningful, we have grounds for a discussion; if the description is meaningless, we might as well pucker our lips and whistle "Dixie."

One more thing: Do you even know what empirical evidence is? If you did, I doubt you'd be demanding that an atheist come up with empirical evidence, seeing as how it is not the atheist who is making the claim, it is the theist who makes the claim. Thus, the theist, the one making the claim, is responsible for backing up the claim with strong argument (which may or may not include empirical evidence).

Why? Can't you handle the Russian alien argument?

(If the Russian alien argument is that much of a stumper for you, I don't think I can make things better for you.)

So are you here suggesting that the Christian god lives somewhere in Russia?

(By the way, Russia is not a continent.)

I do not need to take into consideration everything about a claim in order to falsify that claim.

If someone tells me about an all-powerful, loving being, I do not need to know whether this being is allegedly transcendent or triune. I can take the description of "both loving and all-powerful," point to the suffering and premature death on this planet, and see -- clearly -- that no being exists which is both loving and all-powerful. It matters not, for this discussion, whether this being is also said to be truine, transcendent, imminent, black, female, omnipresent, homoousian, homooisian, homosexual or none of the above. I only want to know whether an all-powerful, loving being exists, and I don't need to look very hard to see that such a being clearly does not exist.

All-powerful means that he could easily minimize or eliminate suffering and premature death, and loving means that He would want to do this. However, suffering and premature death abound on this planet. Therefore the evil in this world is a strong case that no loving, all-powerful god exists.

No deity exists who is both all-powerful and who wants humankind to know Him. There are many viciously conflicting opinions as to the nature and existence of this proposed being. I don't need to consider whether this being has a backside or eyes or ears or is a spirit, because the fact that there are many mutually-exclusive opinions about this god, and that hundreds of millions of people disbelieve in His existence, tells me clearly that no all-powerful exists who wants us to know Him.

All-powerful means he could easily make us aware of many details about himself. But mankind is far from unified on whether there is a god, and if so, what He is like and what His will is. Therefore, the unbelief and controversy regarding a god (or gods) points strongly against the claim that an all-powerful being wants us to know Him.

If you were to make a claim that the Xiuhtecuhtli complex of deities exists, then I have other explanations as to why I think they do not exist, and why I think these deities are simply the subjects of myths and stories told around a campfire of coyote dung, after drinking beverage of extract of peyotl cactus.

If you were to make the claim that the goddess Nerrivik exists, I have even different reasons to explain why I think Nerrivik is simply the subject of myths told by the light of whale blubber by fishermen whose hands and feet (and brains) were numbed by the incessant cold. A successful fishing expedition is certainly no proof that Nerrivik exists.

Wrong and wrong.

Nazism is based squarely upon the Christian gospel. No manifestation of Nazism was ever atheistic. Open at random to any section of Mein Kampf and read for about two pages, you will see clear evidence of this. Read Hitler's speeches: He differs very little from Pat Robertson today.

Actually, Nazism, in addition to being based in and inspired by the Gospel of Peace, also exploited people's Christian sentiments. In the same way, Stalinism exploited atheism.

Some atheists are Marxists, and others are not. In fact, almost all atheists are not Marxists.

Saying what you said is like saying that since David Berkowitz was raised in a Jewish home, therefore Judaism is the sole cause of the Son of Sam murders.

Meanwhile, Christianity still holds the trophy for the greatest amount of persecution and bloodshed in world history (not to justify any atrocities as being superior or inferior to other atrocities). Christianity is so devious, so insidious, that the bloodbath and the auto-da-fé reigned unchecked for hundreds and hundreds of years, whereas neither Stalinism not Nazism reigned for more than a few decades before they were overthrown.

I will explain how we evolved from nothing on condition that you first tell me how to draw a square circle.

Again you misrepresent the evolutionists' viewpoint -- just like you did in your last letter.

Dig this: Evolutionists have never taught that we evolved from nothing.

In fact, you did not even read my last letter, or you wouldn't have repeated this mistake.

Okay. No more. No. I am not here to teach you logic or to correct your errors in science. That is what your high school teachers would have addressed, had you paid attention (or even attended -- which is doubtful, considering that your abuse of logic and your misuse of science is as frightful as your ignorance of the basics of the English language and your complete lack of decorum and well-learned politesse).

No. I am not responding to any more of your blitherings. I will not even read them. Have a nice life.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
P.O. Box 16811
Portland, OR 97292

"Is there an intelligent man or woman now
   in the world who believes in the Garden
   of Eden story? If you find any man who
   believes it, strike his forehead and you
   will hear an echo. Something is for rent."
            -- Robert Green Ingersoll

"A stupid man's report of what
   a clever man says is never accurate
   because he unconsciously translates
   what he hears into something
   that he can understand."
            -- Bertrand Russell

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Cliff responds here, but not to the writer:

I asked you to stop writing because you are being rude, not because you are stupid.

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Here's a new twist we've have never experienced before: After we announced we'd no longer respond to his e-mail, the writer logs on to his online service (WebTV) with different username, and starts to go at it again. It is not difficult to discover that this is the same fellow.

First, he makes the same mistake as the "previous" writer when presenting the "thermodynamics" argument (no creationist uses the First Law of Thermodynamics because this law is so utterly damning to their case; it is the Second Law, misstated and misapplied, that appears to make a case for an obscure variant of the doctrine of Original Sin).

Secondly, he continues with the falsehood that evolutionists think we evolved from nothing. No. As I told the "first" writer, evolutionists to not teach this. In fact, it's the biblical creationists who think this world is made from nothing.

Thirdly, like the "first" writer, this one still wants me to look for God -- as if any theists these days beleive in a visible god. This idea is way passe!

The final clincher, though, is that he misspells several words with the same misspelling as the "previous" writer -- most notable is his misspelling of the word "exists" ("exsists"). In the following letter I point this out and imply, obliquely, that he is the same guy.

He completely misses my cue and accuses me of an ad hominem attack (of sorts) for my criticizing his spelling rather than his argument.


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From: Cliff Walker <>
To: Tommy Starr
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Sunday, April 25, 1999 10:08 AM

I keep going over these same fallacies so often (with the same misspellings of the same words) that I am beginning to wonder is some of you just cut and paste this stuff from some anti-atheist board, log on to some freebie online service with a new and different screen name, and send it to us without even considering what you are saying.

Have you considered what you are saying? or did you just blurt it out? Do you really believe what you said about the First Law of Thermodynamics? Are you prepared to back it up and answer any questions I may have about what you said?

You, on the other hand, sent this letter from the opening page of our website, and haven't even bothered to find out what we say. You accuse us of having not scoured the entire universe looking for gods and leprechauns and egg-laying bunnies, yet you write this letter without having gone past page one of our website. You can never refute atheism if you do not study to find out what atheism is and what atheists claim.

Unlike Christians and Muslims and others, we are not out to convert anybody. We are satisfied to talk amongst ourselves. This website and magazine exists for this purpose: It is my reflections on atheism and theism made available to other atheists. It is excerpts from writings, old and new, that have profoundly influenced my outlook on life. I only wish there was something like this when I was a teenager, cowering within myself, afraid to stand up to the bullies -- the Christians at my school -- not knowing what to say or how to express my doubts without being seen as a bigot and worse.

Tell me: How can you refute atheism when it is clear, by the lies you tell about what atheists believe, that you don't even know what atheism is? (When you talk about a god being "somewhere" it sounds like you don't even know what modern theism is -- but you believe it anyway.) I at least know what atheism is and what it is not. To do this, I must know a little about theism, too.

If you are willing to have a polite, honest discussion of the issues, I am willing to take the time to discuss these with you.

The theories of science can be demonstrated in any laboratory, including the Theory of Evolution. The laws of science make very accurate predictions, such as those required to land men on the moon or to keep a nuclear reactor from going into meltdown.

If you distrust the theory of evolution, then do not, under any circumstances, ever take a vaccine of any kind. Do you know how we are able to keep up with all the different strains of flu that used to be a leading cause of death 100 years ago? We are able to use the Theory of Evolution (which, to scientists, means it's a proven fact -- not just some idea that someone came up with). We use the Theory of Evolution to predict which strains of flu will be around with enough advanced notice that we can produce huge quantities of a molecule that fools our immune system into thinking it has this year's flu already, and that it had better gear up to fight it off. Not just any molecule will do: it must very closely resemble the flu that will be here two years from now, as it takes that long to produce enough vaccine.

But, you think evolutionists are liars or are mistaken, so obviously, they cannot predict what next year's flu mutations will be. So don't take any vaccines. Instead, you may pray, our count your beads, or light your candles, or bang on your tambourine, or "fertilize" the fields next Friday (Beltane), or shed your container, or even (get this) lie about atheists.

I hate to disappoint you, but none of the over 5,000 gods that mankind has endorsed can make predictions like science can. None of them -- not one -- can even show himself (or herself). If there is a god, and if that god wants mankind to know that he or she (or it?) exists, then why are about 20 percent of humans non-believers in any gods? The existence of God is certainly not as plain as the existence of the sun and the moon. Why does he hide himself if it is important for all of us to be correct in regards to (1) that he does, in fact, exist; (2) who he is, which of the 5,000; (3) what his will for us is, if any? Meanwhile, if you look a little harder into our website, you will find many articles about how creationism is a fraud, how atheists can make some very powerful and convincing cases for the nonexistence of any of the gods, and (you're gonna like this one) links to all the major evolution webpages where they carefully detail all the things that (it appears by your letter) you've never bothered to check out. Had you done this, you would not be asking the questions you asked in this letter, and you would not be accusing atheists and evolutionists of believing things that they do not believe -- thereby refuting your own fantasy.

I highly recommend that you take the beam out of your own eye before you launch into us with another letter like this. Your letter misrepresents what evolutionists teach. You chide evolutionists for believing "that we literally evolved from nothing" when this is not the case at all. No evolutionists say what you accuse them of saying. In fact, it is the Bible god that says that this whole mess was created from nothing. St. Augustine taught that this is why there is so much evil in the world: "nature could not have been depraved by vice had it not been made out of nothing" (Civ. Dei, lib. XIV, c. 13).

Cliff Walker, publisher
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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Ahh, we begin to sound a bit reasonable. Perhaps we can begin to see that there are a lot of things that we simply do not know. Maybe we will eventually conclude that honesty and dignity are good policy. I still don't believe he looked at the website very carefully, becasue what he accuses us of believing does not even remotely resemble what we say on our website. Postive Atheism clearly and adamantly endorses the "weak" atheism of Anthony Flew and George H. Smith, which means that atheists make no claims and thus are under no obligation to prove anything.


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From: Cliff Walker <>
To: Tommy Starr
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Sunday, April 25, 1999 9:17 PM

I have no motive to help you learn such things as to capitalize the name of a language: this should have happened by the time you were in the sixth grade. My only motive in even mentioning it is that you came on very hard, trying to sound like you're educated and then attempting portraying me as being stupid. In all this haughtiness, few if any of your sentences were complete sentences. Your understanding of science and philosophy is woefully inept. You basically made the very same errors -- in science, philosophy, spelling, and grammar -- as Johnny Skansi, the last fellow who did this. You both used the same manner of indenting all but the first paragraph with between 12 and 25 spaces, and you each have the same fondness for long rows of dots in lieu of traditional punctuation. This does not help your case at all. For me to try to respond to letters like yours is not unlike trying to discuss politics with a Frenchman if the only language you speak Cyrillic.

As for my errors, I have a severe visual problem (which no amount of work or study on my part will cure) and the use of my hands and fingers is impaired. Top that off with a sleep-pattern disorder, the "peak" of which I had just completed (over 40 hours without sleep by the time I wrote you, which I just now awoke from). Then, just sitting in a chair for more than an hour is extremely painful. In spite of all that, just this morning I completed the HTML conversion of an 800-page book that was published in 1878. (Can you say, "broken type"? Can you say, "smudged ink"?) My HTML edition is at least as accurate as the book itself, if not more so, owing to the fact that most written works contain typographical errors.

Could you at least tell what I was trying to say? Was I even making an effort to be clear? I cannot say this about your first several letters.

You have a lot of nerve telling me to be courteous, after you came on like you did: telling lies about what evolutionists and atheists believe, and then proceeding to ridicule your own fantasy of who we are and what we say?

My questions to you:

Cliff Walker

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