A Moment of Clarity?

Question from Chris:
I’m an atheist and have been all my life but I went to church with my girlfriend who is also an atheist to watch her sister and her husband give a talk at the church her mum and dad run.

But I had a weird moment of clarity were I felt that I was loved and everything was going to be ok. I wasn’t thinking about anything so it wasnt an emotional feeling it just randomly happened, its something I’ve never felt before and it’s made me question my ideas on religion. Got any advice for me??

Answer by SmartLX:
What you had sounds like a textbook “religious experience”, if not an exotic one. No visions of holy figures, no voices in your head, just a sudden good feeling. It may be unexplained, but it’s not inexplicable.

I’m sure your girlfriend’s sister would want you to think God snuck up and hit you with a joygasm. That would be a more credible explanation if similar episodes of “religious ecstasy” weren’t common to churches of every denomination, as well as other religions entirely. If it were really a god handing them out without any further information, wouldn’t he restrict them to members of whichever subgroup was “right”, or at least to his own religion?

You were lucky enough to get yours spontaneously, but people usually have to work for them. Buddhists and members of other Asian religions meditate for years to get closer to the divine, and experience that feeling of peace. In the Philippines people get themselves temporarily crucified to feel closer to Jesus, or to atone for their sins. American televangelists and megachurch pastors tailor their services to create an emotional journey for their audience, culminating in an explosion of joy and praise (sometimes accompanied by fainting, speaking in tongues, faith “healing” and other shenanigans).

So, why did it come so easily to you? My guess is based on one of the only things I know about you: you’ve been an atheist all your life. Perhaps you’ve never been to that kind of enthusiastic, charismatic church before, and never been surrounded by a crowd of people so fixated on the words of someone preaching worship. Never mind the crowd, maybe you’ve just never been subjected to flat-out proselytising as a captive audience member long enough for it to have an emotional impact. If you weren’t concentrating, it could have hit you as if from nowhere. A church service can be a powerful thing, no doubt about it, though probably not for the reasons churchies would like to think.

Whatever caused your “moment of clarity”, it was at least based on something true. You are loved, I’m sure, by your girlfriend and probably by many others. A sense of optimism for the future is justified even if it flows from that alone.

Lewis’ Polylemma

“Lewis’ Trilemma” according to William Lane Craig:
1. Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.
2. Jesus was neither a liar nor a lunatic.
3. Jesus was Lord.

Other short versions:
“Liar, lunatic or Lord?” (most common; the order may change)
“Mad, bad or God?”

Answer by SmartLX:
This argument by C.S. Lewis remains puzzlingly popular, despite the fact that apologist idol Craig introduces it in Reasonable Faith and calls it unsound on the same page. It’s a comparison of the different possibilities suggested by the story of the Gospels.

A trilemma, if you’ve never seen one before, is like a dilemma but with three difficult options or “horns” instead of two (therefore “tri” instead of “di”, from the Greek roots). We’ll consider them one by one.

1. Lord
Jesus was genuinely divine – he was God, or the son of God, or both (let’s avoid the whole Trinity quagmire).

The whole point of the Trilemma is to convince people that the other options should be dismissed and this, as the only remaining option, is the truth. (Outside of the Trilemma, people attempt to support this using either arguments for a historical Resurrection or supposedly fulfilled prophecies, and I’ve discussed both plenty. Look around the site.)

2. Liar
Jesus only claimed to be divine, knowing it wasn’t true.

This would mean that Jesus was a fraud and a hypocrite, preaching honesty in the midst of a great deception, and on that basis alone most Christians dismiss it. To me, the main objection boils down to, “Jesus wouldn’t lie. He was Jesus.”

I don’t see an insurmountable conflict here; if he had to lie about himself to get his teachings across, perhaps it was worth a bit of secret hypocrisy by him, his closest followers or everyone involved. Cognitive dissonance has caused other similarly striking contradictions in behaviour.

3. Lunatic
Jesus genuinely thought he was divine, but was not.

Is someone who believes what Jesus supposedly believed, and is wrong, necessarily a lunatic? Misguided, yes, delusional, probably, but fundamentally of unsound mind? Would it really be impossible to convince a sane person of the same thing? “Lunatic” is a needlessly harsh word for a scenario in which Jesus was simply mistaken on a major issue. (This is moot if you establish that the Resurrection happened, which many try to do, but that’s another subject as I said.)

That covers Lewis’ Trilemma, but as you may have realised it is in fact a false trilemma because it does not cover all the possibilities. If you’re going to establish one option as the truth by eliminating everything else, you can’t leave anything out of your considerations. Thus, we use related Greek roots to turn the trilemma into a tetralemma:
4. Legend
Jesus either did not claim to be divine, or did not exist at all.

This essentially challenges the reliability of the Gospels where the non-supernatural acts and words of Jesus are concerned, which again is a separate battlefield. The relevant point for this topic is that it’s yet another possibility.

Shall we go for a pentalemma?
5. Lunkhead (or Lamebrain)
Jesus was not the true source of the teachings now attributed to him, including the idea that he was divine. He got it all from somewhere else. (Of course this wouldn’t actually mean he was stupid, but the other one-word options are needlessly derogatory, so what the heck.)

It seems to be very seldom considered that Jesus might have learned what he taught from other human beings, perhaps during the period when he travelled east and disappeared from Scripture for years. What if he found spiritual masters who convinced him of his own divinity? (Modern cult leaders come close to this fairly often.) There’s some overlap between this and “Lunatic”, given that Jesus is misguided in both cases, but it goes to show how many different ways the true story might have gone.

6. And so on…
Think of another possibility which is at least possible, and you’ve made it a hexalemma. And then you can keep going for as long as you keep thinking. Ultimately we must throw up our hands and apply the root for “many”, leaving ourselves with a polylemma. Apologists have limited it to a trilemma to keep it small and manageable, but ancient history is not determined through a process of elimination; at least, not one that simple.

Christian Crimes

Question from Willard:
I grew up in Iowa until a freshman in high school when we moved to Fayette, Mo.in 1956 where the school was integrated. In 1955 there were no separate water fountains or restroons marked white and colored, but everything else was Jim Crowed where blacks were not allowed to use the big city park with baseball,tennis,swimming pool, sat in the balcony at the theater, not allowed to eat in the restaurants, pool hall, not one decent job in the town of 2500. It was a college town also.

My observation as a lifetime athest activist, a history major and long time political activist is why doesn’t the atheist movement ever refer to the Christian claim of being moral by pointing out specifically the history of vicious racism and slavery? Extremely undemocratic in the extreme. On top of that they are serial law breakers. Again in the extreme. I do not see any punishment when they break the law. Oh yes FFRF and others sue but threaten to sue and once in a while win some damages suits. Seems like a soft glove approach and we lose when we do not use the tactic that would also help to educate.

There is not just propaganda value for “our” side but educational value that they are breaking the law and say so. Especially in the South their history of “morality” has been criminal in highly unfair treatment of all “nonwhites” with injustice rather than justice.

Answer by SmartLX:
Some outspoken atheists regularly refer to the religious rationales people have applied to institutionalised racism and slavery in recent history. The problem is that modern Christians are free to denounce whatever theology contradicts theirs, and claim that the perpetrators of these evils were “not true Christians”. Exposure to Christianity’s dark past leads people to distance themselves from previous Christians more often than Christianity itself.

You raise a good legal question: is there actually a prescribed punishment for violating church-state separation, besides being ordered to stop? If a list of the Ten Commandments or a crucifix is removed from a classroom or a courthouse, what damages are due for the time it spent there? I doubt I’d know that even if I were an American. Where it crosses the line into serious criminal conduct, such as electoral fraud or physical violence, it is usually well-concealed. If you’ve got some examples of specific activities that could be targeted for lawsuits and arrests, I’d love to hear them.

What is my question?

Question from Michael:
Ever since puberty I have suffered from very heavy and constant depression. Having grown up with being nearly deaf, gay and somewhere between agnostic and atheist, I haven’t had a lot to fall back on in the way of faith, god and other such crutches, nor have I had many folks to speak candidly with. I don’t think I’m in search of a reason in the sense that others may be. I believe we are largely products of our society and upbringing (except where free thought and opinion manages to take us thru alternate routes) and subject to the firing of neurons and chemicals in our brains and little else. While some things about my life may suck a great deal, I find that when chemicals are on one side of the scale (be it nice weather, antidepressants, or other chemicals, legal or not–caffeine or alcohol for me) such things don’t bother me and I carry on with life, trying to be a good person, having fun and helping others…because that’s what I want out of life. But when chemicals are on the other side of the scale, I despise my body for its imperfect conditions (hearing and various other physical and mental issues), hate the general zombie-ness, close-mindedness and stupidity of society (tho I know I am far from perfect) and can hardly stand all of the wrongs and frustrations of the world and see little point of continuing on. Three things have kept me from ending my life….1) The sadness it would bring to my friends and family 2) The idea that killing myself could in the end be a terrible mistake (its a big decision to make and one that can not be undone, mind you) 3) My logic. I can tell myself that the feelings i am feeling are not normal….they are real feelings, but not necessarily a good indicator oh how things in my life are going. I remind myself that “all of this” is subjective…and tomorrow my outlook on life may be different.

Never the less I feel that some day my strength will wear away and I will have had all I can stand. The pain of being alive will overtake the three things that hold me to this world. It is also my belief that if one isn’t enjoying the party, one has the right to leave.

I feel as if I am waiting for my epiphany. Tonight I have learned of the Angelic quote “If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do” It struck a chord and raises in me some curiosity and am giving things in that area some thought. My main question is…..”what is my question?”

Am I looking for reason? I don’t think so. If nothing really matters, then should I care when things don’t go the way I’d like them to? Perhaps if I quit wanting things, maybe I wouldn’t be so disappointed when I don’t get them? Should I go against the grain or with the grain? Is it worth it to fight for what I want, or just enjoy life and quit giving a crap about so many things? I guess my real question is, what do you guys think about such things?

Answer by SmartLX:
Firstly, folks, in case anyone gets the wrong idea about the “Angelic quote”, it’s from the TV show Angel and it was either written or approved by Joss Whedon, a confirmed atheist.

It doesn’t matter if “nothing really matters” in some absolute, ethereal sense, because we have no way to determine whether it does and it seems to have no measurable effect on us. The important point is that there are things that matter to us. They can be anything from justice to freedom to love to a completed set of baseball cards, but the things that drive us are defined and decided upon by us and us alone. Some people claim to have a “higher purpose”, one handed down from divine authority, but the words of these nebulous authorities can be traced back to humans and human institutions such as churches.

Quite simply, you sound like you don’t know your purpose in life, and I think that’s your question. You’re certainly not alone there; many are waiting for inspiration to strike and for their future course to become clear. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.

To go looking for it, go out and do stuff. Start with the obvious: you’re a deaf gay atheist (or near enough). Go meet other hearing-impaired, LGBT and/or non-religious people and see whether their causes (equality being the obvious one) appeal to you. Join clubs, read the news, try hobbies, whatever. What you’re doing now hasn’t given you ideas, so reach farther afield. It could be something as vague and all-encompassing as improving the world.

It need not just be one thing, by the way. My day-to-day purpose is to help my friends, family, co-workers and clients, to be good to my wife, to man this “post” for atheism and to experience different fantasies through art and fiction (though not all at once). Some of the goals involved in that lot are more long-term than others, and some are so far off I haven’t even thought of them today. Not too ambitious really, but it gets me out of bed.

Best of luck. Let us know how you do.

A Real God Botherer

Question from Ethan:
Hi, I recently came out to my family and friends about my atheism about May this year, my family is just starting to accept my lack of religion, but I have this friend who is also my roommate in at college who can’t stand the fact that I don’t believe, and is pulling every cheap shot and tugging at as many emotional strings as he can to get me to come running back, it’s gotten to the point where he dragged my recently deceased grandmother into an argument. Every time I see him it’s some irrefutable proof of god videos and verses (which predictably are loaded with poor arguing points) I need some advice on how to deal with this, it’s gone from simple conversion attempts to malicious tearing down. If you find the time to get back, thanks.

Answer by SmartLX:
There are ways to make yourself an unappealing target for conversion, chief among which is to make proselytisers fear for their own faith. The best defence is a good offence. That’s not to say tit for tat, because doing what your friend does would make you as bad as him, but you can carefully paint yourself as a source of doubt in others, and therefore not someone a devout Christian should talk to about faith.

First you should cut through all the guff. All the videos and quoted arguments he’s thrown at you have something in common: they’re not the reason he believes. He went and looked them up because he believes, and is using them as apologetic without any evidence that they can actually convince anyone who isn’t already devout. They might seem sound to him, but if they didn’t convince him or anyone he knows, why does he bother bringing them to you? Point out that it’s pointless.

If he really wants to make a Christian out of you, he needs to risk himself and tell you exactly why he believes. If you can get him that far, the focus will be off you and his own rationale will be up for criticism. You sound fairly confident with these things, so you probably have a hunch already; he was brought up to believe, for example, or he had a one-off religious experience. (Incidentally, a great many of those can be put down to sleep paralysis.) The question you should put to him is, is that a good reason to believe? If his parents believed it, does that make it true? Is there no earthly way he could have generated the same experience in his own brain? Adapt the question to the reason. If you can make him feel even slightly insecure about his own faith, and especially if you can do this regularly, it will become clear to him that witnessing to you is more trouble than it’s worth.

There is the possibility that he’ll go the other way and redouble his efforts, if only to reassure himself. If he changes the subject to some other YouTube apologetic, stop him. “Did this convince you? Has this convinced anyone? Where are all the ex-atheists on YouTube responding to this particular video with remorse, contrition and fervour? Is there any indication that apologetics have any effect at all on atheists? Not really, so let’s get back to your real belief and see whether that’s justified.”

Few believers are willing to risk their own souls (or their own egos) to Save(tm) the souls of others. It negates the rewards promised to them. That’s why most believers who distribute propaganda do not create their own unique pamphlets and videos: they’re not comfortable exposing their own heartfelt reasons for believing. The necessity of doing so to continue a discussion is a powerful deterrent. It’ll be easier for your friend to pray to God to show you the light than to stick his own neck out.

Whether you take my advice or not, do please let us know how you go. You’re in a very common situation and others may learn from you, whatever happens.

What is the purpose of atheism?

Question from Jai:
Given that theism has well documented goals and purported benefits. What do you see as the Purpose of opposing the premise on which these are based? This is aimed specifically at The Weak Atheist given that he allows for the possibility of in his view the lessor probable prevailing.

Answer by SmartLX:
Before I start, notice (here and in the other thread) how you capitalise “Atheist” and “Atheism” but not “theist” and “theism”? One is no more deserving than the other.

If the purported benefits of theism were all there was to consider, there’d be fewer reasons to oppose it. Religious faith has needlessly led many directly to misery and death, both through the actions of organised religions and through personal interpretations of the wishes of deities. Atheism has not done this; of course atheists have done horrible things too, but it has seldom if ever been their atheism which actually led them to it.

If there were good evidence that a particular god among the multitude of invented characters is in fact the real one, all the trouble caused on Earth by religious faith wouldn’t amount to much because there would clearly be a longer, better life after this one to prepare for. As it is, we have wildly contradicting instructions from different religions on how to prepare for the next life. Even if there is a real god, without indicative evidence the chances of it being a given believer’s own particular god are vanishingly small, and most if not all theists are worshipping false gods. Upon their death, they might well fare even worse than atheists if the real god is jealous. If there is any evidence out there, the best way to bring it into the open is to publicly advocate atheism. (The theist material unearthed so far has been lacklustre.)

There’s a personal reason for trying to advance atheism which you and I have already discussed, Jai: I am an atheist. I did not choose to be one, I realised I was one, and I have no wish to lie about it. That makes me a self-proclaimed atheist, and a visible member of a minority which in some places is hated, feared and disadvantaged due to misconceptions, stigma and of course society’s ingrained deference to religion. I haven’t suffered very badly myself, but many others have, do and will, and I want to help. Society as a whole I have no idea how to change, stigma will fade unassisted if not reinforced, but misconceptions I can confront directly, and hopefully dispel. Fortunately, inquisitive theists bring them straight to me at ATA.

Atheism and Islam

Question from Michael:
I have a few friends of mine who were discussing Islam with me. They had points to defend Islam such as; Predictions about scientific phenomenons that were not discovered till this century or the century before. They also have points like the validity of the Quran as its literature is of high eloquence. Its hard to debate with them as they are biased and dont approach atheism with an open mind. Any help with points to prove that atheism is valid especially when in regard to Islam would be greatly appreciated.

Answer by SmartLX:
My existing piece on prophecies uses exclusively Christian examples, but the core argument applies perfectly well to material from the Quran. Cases of scientific foreknowledge usually go into category 4, Shoehorned.

I’ve been decidedly outdone in this area by YouTube user TheIslammiracle. In his playlist of Quran Miracle Debunked videos, he systematically tears down 50 separate claims of the Quran’s divine foreknowledge of modern science. If your friends aren’t being specific, it may be simplest just to point them to that playlist. If on the other hand they’re being specific enough that what they say isn’t covered in the videos, put more detail in a comment here and we’ll try to help out.

The eloquence of the Quran leads into two different arguments for Islam, the first bolder than the second:

1. As the Quran itself says, “Bring one sura or just one verse like it, if you can!” or in other words, it’s so beautiful that no human literature can match it, so it must be divine. This is entirely subjective, and has been flatly denied (scroll to the section on Eloquence) by many scholars over centuries.

2. The Quran came out of a time, a place and a people so savage and primitive (Muhammed himself was likely illiterate) that only divine assistance could have produced such competent prose. I think I’ll let you come up with possible alternatives to this yourself.

More generally, if you want to be prepared to defend atheism against Islamic apologetics, go and research Christian apologetics. There is tons and tons of overlap, and there’s a lot more Christian stuff written in English. Start with the rest of my series on The Great Big Arguments; every one of them applies to Islam in some way, and just the titles will give you plenty of leads for wider Googling and reading.

If you need help with any particular point, feel free to write in again.

Grandpa the Angry Atheist

Question from Nik:

I am an Atheist born in to a Hindu family in India. A month back, I revealed my atheism to my grandfather who is a more open and aggressive atheist than I am.

He went on to accuse me of visiting holy places with my family members and said I should be ashamed of myself. I on the other hand argued why I should stop from having good time with my family just because I am an atheist. I do not see any reason to accuse any one for believing in god or distance myself from others just because I do not share the same view as them.

Do you think it is obligatory for an atheist to let everyone know what their belief is? I was never forced to take part in any activity I do not like. But if I ever happen to see any one do atheist-bashing I will definitely defend it.

Am I really wrong in keeping my atheism to myself? I agree, at times I am guilty of acting as I do believe in god just to avoid unnecessary confrontations, though.

P.S. My parents do know I am an atheist.

Answer by SmartLX:
You’re certainly not alone in keeping your atheism to yourself. There are a lot of atheists who haven’t told anyone at all, so just by letting your family know you’ve been more open than many.

In principle, atheists have more freedom to participate in the rituals of faiths we don’t share than members of any religion, because we don’t have a jealous god who gets angry at us when we “stray”. The worst that can happen is that we get angry with each other, like your grandfather does.

There are two probable reasons for this, but I don’t think either one is very strong.

1. Perhaps he thinks you’re betraying your principles by participating in worship. Only you know what your principles are, and whether you’re actually worshipping the Hindu gods by visiting these places. You probably don’t give that impression at all when you’re out there.

2. These trips may support the religion itself, whether through monetary donations or simply by giving the authorities and other visitors the impression that the Hindu faith is more widely shared than it really is. It’s perfectly reasonable to donate to a religion if the money helps to maintain sites of not only religious but social and historical significance, and which everyone can enjoy. Also, there are ways to make it clear to the general public that the religious aspect is not the main reason why many people are there; in fact they probably already know this.

As for whether you should be proclaiming your atheism wherever you go, that’s really not productive some of the time. Yes, it’s good when a decent amount of atheists are open about it because it encourages others to “come out”, but if they’re disruptive about it they may generate an amount of antagonism towards atheism that isn’t worth the publicity. (Read about the Crackergate affair, where a student walked out of a Catholic Mass with a consecrated wafer and Catholics everywhere went ballistic. Atheist commenters condemned Catholics for their pointless outrage, but few if any condoned the student’s actions.)

I honestly don’t see anything wrong with what you’re doing, if you don’t. It might be useful to know exactly why your grandfather objects, in case I’ve missed the mark regarding his motivations. Maybe Rohit, our near-resident “cultural Hindu” atheist commenter, can help too.

Death On The Brain

Question from Leon:
Hey, I’m a 17 year old boy and I can’t seem to get my mind off the idea of God and religion. It all happened during the May 21 end of the world BS caused by Harold camping. I knew it wouldn’t happen but it got me thinking, if I did die what would happen to me?

For the past 4 months I have thought about it every day and it’s beginning to kinda scare me.
I am not religious at all. To be perfectly honest I don’t believe in God as there are so many contradictions and lies and things that have been logically proven against religion.

But I can’t stop thinking about it. Like “What if?”

I think you stated once in another question/answer that you had a similar problem and managed to stop thinking about it.
Any help would be great.
Thank you.

Answer by SmartLX:
Yes, here’s where I briefly discuss my childhood issues with death. All I really said about it was that it’s better for me now.

What happened at the time was what often happens to little boys: I got distracted by other things. A few years later, though, I saw death for the first time; my grandmother died after a failed operation. I barely gave a thought to the afterlife because I was completely shattered by the fact that she was gone from my life. That’s what really happens when you die: you leave a great big hole in the lives of those close to you. While this can be tragic, at least you know you can prepare for it.

A month after writing the piece linked above, I did another one called Death: just curious. There I talk about one of the really scary ideas people have about death (scarier than Hell, I think). The thing to remember is that if there is an afterlife, the possibilities are endless; if there’s something specific you’re really afraid will happen to you, the chances of it actually being what happens are vanishingly small next to the endless alternatives. It’s like the chances that the real god (if any) is the specific one a person happens to believe in. In an infinitely wide race, backing any one horse is a bad bet.

In just under a month you’ll have a chance to get some closure on the whole Harold Camping business. When nothing happened on May 21, Camping revised his prediction to say that the Rapture and the end of the world would happen together on October 21. Camping had a stroke in June and it may not be possible to get his reaction to looking even sillier on October 22, but what you will see is a lot of Christians doing their best to put the whole sorry mess behind them. It will further highlight the lack of evidence that religious predictions are worth the paper they’re written on, even if they’re in a free Gideon Bible.

The Great Big Arguments #8: Contingency

Question from Zach:
Hi all. I’ve recently come out about my atheism to my Catholic ( and extremely intolerant) family. Their biggest “proof” of god is the argument from contingency. Now I’ve read up on the atheist refutation of this argument but I found it extremely confusing, thus I cannot explain it to my parents. A clear concise explanation of why this argument is false would be appreciated.

Answer by SmartLX:
Thanks for giving me a reason to write about this one, Zach. I might never have got around to it otherwise.

For those who came in late, the argument from contingency attempts to establish the necessity of a god given the idea that the universe is contingent on a god, that is, that the universe couldn’t exist without one. The formal argument comes in many forms, so here for instance is the one William Lane Craig uses in his book Reasonable Faith. He based it on an old cosmological argument by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. This is likely to be close to the one your parents know, and people would probably refer me to Craig if I dismissed any other version.

1. Anything that exists has an explanation for its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation for its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1,3).
5. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God (from 2,4).

There are several straightforward problems with this.
– It can be seen as a time-independent version of the more popular cosmological argument, one which allows for an eternal universe which is still caused by, or “contingent” on, something or other. Most of the objections to that argument also apply to this one.
– There is no guarantee that the universe needs an external cause or an explanation at all. God apparently doesn’t, and He does just fine. If you can assert that God is uncaused, there’s really no way to rule out the same quality in the universe itself, except by special pleading.
– If the universe (or multiverse) does need an external cause, it’s a huge leap to say that the only possible cause is a god. Even if other ongoing matter-making entities (like the quantum foam) hadn’t been hypothesised, it would be impossible to rule out the infinite as-yet-unimagined possibilities and be certain that the particular hypothetical construct known as a god has to be the reason we exist.
– The explanation given for the existence of the universe is not just a god, but the God. If the argument were otherwise entirely valid and sound, it would still only establish the existence of a deistic creator god. Arguing for a theistic god that continues to exert its influence today, let alone the one and only Yahweh, God of Abraham, takes a lot more than that.

Best of luck with your parents. If their version of the argument from contingency is different enough to this that what I’ve written isn’t much help to you, give us the specific argument in a comment.