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Rabbi: Atheism Leads to Pedophilia

Someone left a link to this article by Rabbi Moshe Averick claiming that pedophilia is the natural next step to atheism. It’s just the standard old argument we hear from religionists all the time — atheism means no morality and that means people are free to do awful things, including (fill in whatever awful thing you want to pretend is caused by atheism here).

Since these values are nothing more than reflections of the prevalent subjective preferences they obviously will shift and metamorphose to accommodate changing needs and attitudes. In my own lifetime I have witnessed radical societal swings in moral behavior and attitudes regarding marriage and sexuality, homosexuality, the killing of unborn children, euthanasia, and the use of illicit drugs.

One can reasonably predict that as the infatuation with skepticism and atheism grows among the influential “intellectual elite” of our society, so too will their readiness to embrace more radical changes in moral values. Religious believers expressing dismay and horror at the ominous moral storm clouds looming on the horizon are met with smug derision, hysterical counter-accusations, or utter indifference. There is nothing that atheistic societies are incapable of rationalizing and accepting – including the sexual molestation of children.

Now join me in the real world for a while, Rabbi. In the real world, there is nothing that religious societies have been incapable of rationalizing and accepting — yes, including the sexual molestation of children. Take a long at your own Torah, for crying out loud, which is filled with the most barbaric acts imaginable, from slavery to genocide, and nearly all of them not merely allowed by God but commanded by God. Just look at Numbers 31 and tell me how a non-religious society could possibly do any worse.

In the real world, it is the Catholic Church that has had an overwhelming problem with pedophilia. And they’re hardly alone. The world of Orthodox Judaism has had its own problems in that regard. I’ve read many tales of child molestation being quite routine among Orthodox Jews, especially in communities that isolate themselves from the rest of society.

The notion that atheism implies no morality while religious belief provides a sound basis for morality is historically disproved. Can you think of a single act of barbarism that has not been justified throughout history as being commanded by one god or another? I can’t either.

Comments

  1. says

    It’s getting to the point that I can jokingly suggest we go ahead and label clergyhood a form of gateway sexual perversion that leads to rape and ephebo/pedophilia.

  2. says

    Mr. Averick clearly has pedophilia tendencies. The existence of atheism makes him scared, because if he loses the fear of his imaginary friend, it might be less than a half hour before he’s got his mitts on a random child and doing the most depraved things imaginable.

    It must be true, because why else does he and all the other religious whackos obsess over the most horrible things in the context of atheism, when actual atheists in general show no particular interest in any of those things? I’ve been an atheist my whole life, and I’m 36 now, and I’ve never felt any interest in sex with anyone who it would be illegal or immoral for me to have sex with.

    The rest of Averick’s claims are just as nonsensical, but not as inherently offensive or reflective of his own warped sensibilities. And he’s just DUMB. Not bright, lacking in basic intelligence. There’s no morality in his religion, there’s only obedience to authority. There’s nothing absolute or objective about it either: either he follows his religion because he follows blindly, or he’s made a subjective evaluation of the religious laws he follows and has decided that they are worth following. In neither case are his views any more or less subjective than anyone else’s.

  3. says

    Can you think of a single act of barbarism that has not been justified throughout history as being commanded by one god or another?

    Well, the usual reply to this is to bring up the horrors that occurred under atheistic (they always throw that bit in) Communism. Strictly speaking, it’s true (IMO, it’s an abuse of language to call Marxist ideology a “god”). The larger point is that any totalizing dogmatic system — something that infallibly tells us the Right Way to Live, in all aspects of human life — is prone to bulldoze any who stand in its way. Add in a cult of personality (Stalin, Mao, Kim Jung Il) and you’ve got a recipe for mass murder.

  4. slc1 says

    As Martin Gardner pointed out, Dialectical Materialism might be considered a religion of sorts as it depends on faith, not science or critical thinking.

  5. anteprepro says

    “Take a long at your own Torah, for crying out loud, which is filled with the most barbaric acts imaginable, from slavery to genocide, and nearly all of them not merely allowed by God but commanded by God.”

    But Ed, here’s the kicker: On top of all the other atrocities in the Torah/Bible that you mention, and the existence of child molestation among the religious in the real world, the Torah/Bible lacks any explicit condemnation of child molestation. It fails to mention a concept of an age that is too young for sexual activity, it fails to suggest that there might be age gaps too wide, and “wives” too young. And thus, throughout good Abrahamic history, there have been preteen to early teen wives for men (even middle-aged to old-aged). The fact that, given the history and the complete and utter silence of their holy book on the subject, the religious try to suggest that sexual relations with children somehow is an albatross around the neck of ATHEISM makes me wonder if these people are actively trying to undermine their own credibility. The fact that plenty of ignorant folks will bleat in agreement with the good Rabbi, though, makes me doubt that though. And it also makes me terribly, terribly depressed.

  6. JoeKaistoe says

    Wow, that explains the great desire I had to have homosexual sex with a shellfish wearing a cotton/poly blend when I became an atheist. Thanks for the revelation, Rabbi!

    Back when I was religious, I only had wholesome desires, like selling my offspring into slavery and killing off an entire group of people because I wanted their land.

  7. says

    Assuming slc1 was replying to me:

    Note that the statement I was responding to specifically phrased it as “command of a god”.

    Yes, totalitarian political ideologies have a lot in common with the nastier kind of religion. They both make assertions based on no evidence, stick to them dogmatically, and impose them forcefully. The Dear Leader cult multiplies that resemblance. Whether that makes them religions is a semantic question, not a substantive one. I prefer not to use the label as it I think it confuses the language.

  8. dcsohl says

    I gotta go with “Improbable Joe” on this one… this guy is clearly saying, “I would be a pedophile if I didn’t think God would punish me for it.” He then projects this feeling onto all atheists, blaming atheism rather than doing some soul-searching and blaming himself.

  9. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    Someone left a link to this article by Rabbi Moshe Averick claiming that pedophilia is the natural next step to atheism.

    As I commented at the time, Averick seems entirely incapable of figuring out right and wrong without the guidance of his religion. I don’t doubt that he feels that pedophilia is wrong, but he’s incapable of articulating why it’s wrong, short of appealing to religion. Thus he can write something like this:

    For the benefit of the philosophically challenged let me explain “consequentialism” in a nutshell: If you like the consequences it’s ethical, if you don’t like the consequences it’s unethical. Thus, if you enjoy child pornography and having sex with children it’s ethical, if you dislike child pornography and having sex with children it’s unethical.

    without once considering that the act of pedophilia has consequences not only for the pedophile but also for the object of the pedophile’s attentions.

    It’s really surprising how often arguments against atheism seem to boil down to how badly the arguer thinks he would behave if he didn’t have religion to guide him. I don’t actually think religious believers are in general any less moral than nonbelievers, but I do suspect that a lifetime of reliance on outside moral guidance may blunt the capacity for independent moral reasoning.

  10. Brownian says

    Now join me in the real world for a while, Rabbi.

    I’m laughing too hard at this one to read the rest of the post. Thanks, Ed!

  11. Chiroptera says

    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne at 3:12″ I don’t doubt that he feels that pedophilia is wrong, but he’s incapable of articulating why it’s wrong….

    Heh. When a homophobe asks me why I accept gay marriage but won’t allow child marriage, I will often ask them why they think that child marriage is wrong.

    I rarely get a reply. Which is actually quite common when I “debate” anti-atheists on-line for some reason.

  12. ouabache says

    I like how the rabbi spends almost the entire comments saying that the Tanakh doesn’t really mean all the things that it says

  13. edmundog says

    Read the comments. I was going to give the Rabbi props for answering people, but he’s not really. Just being a passive aggressive ass, and going, “oh, well, I never said thaaaaat…” And any time somebody brings up biblical immorality, he says that they’re reading it wrong because it’s in English and not in the original Hebrew accompanied by 400 pages worth of apologetics and explanations from over the past few thousand years.

  14. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    @edmundog:

    I love how he insists that it’s all different if you read it in Hebrew, but he doesn’t trouble himself to provide a single example of a case where the translations all falsify the meaning of the Hebrew text.

    Also, the Torah as the equivalent of an F-15 pilot’s manual? This is just the Courtier’s Reply in military garb.

  15. says

    As a nihilist, I particularly enjoyed my brief stint as a cannibal once I grew beyond mere atheism.

    Joking aside, I think we miss the point when we argue whether the communists were really atheists, or whether religious people are just a bunch of hypocrites. Step back and you realize that horrible atrocities are one of the things humans do on a regular basis; the ideologies are grafted on afterwards – probably because someone asked “why?” That, by the way, is why I consider myself a nihilist; I’m comfortable with the idea that there’s no ‘why’. If I were busily engaged in red-handed slaughter and someone asked me “why?” I wouldn’t bother telling them “deus vull’t!” or that it was part of the cycle of workers’ revolt – I’d just add them to the stack. And that, notably, is what usually happens to people who ask “why?” while the atrocity is being committed.

    Atheists commit sex crimes, religious people commit sex crimes – conclusion: it’s something all humans do, the excuses get grafted on afterward. And, if you don’t do it, your excuses are once again grafted on afterward. Maybe it’s because of some pile or moral reasoning, maybe it’s out of fear of some divine retribution, or maybe it’s just that you don’t get off by abusing power. What’s pathetic is chumps like the good rabbi who are too cowardly to face the void unblinking without having to grab their little safety blanket of bullshit. That’s just my aesthetic, of course. The good rabbi probably would think I’m a monster while I think he’s a punk. That, too, is a way humans are.

  16. rabbitscribe says

    “I’ve read many tales of child molestation being quite routine among Orthodox Jews, especially in communities that isolate themselves from the rest of society.”

    I’ve read many tales of Christian babies being eaten by Jews, especially in communities which the wider culture hates for perfectly irrational reasons. I usually put more stock in specific incidents reliably sourced, though.

    Anyhoo, where do we stand?

    1) Dodge the question by pointing out religion’s less than stellar track record.

    2) Existentialism: we make our own purpose in life. Some useful insights, but overall unsatisfactory (hedonism and altruism are equally “legitimate.”)

    3) Other materialist moral philosophies (e.g. Derek Parfit) that I don’t understand and which leave me unable to determine if I’m being dazzled by brilliance or baffled by bullshit.

    4) Keep hoping Sam Harris brews up a Platonic Ideal in a chemistry lab someday.

    5) Just concede that there’s no metaphysical reality and no objective morality, with the key caveat that this society has decided to lock pedophiles in cages for decades and that wouldn’t change if we lost the genital mutilation and the silly hats.

    Obviously.

  17. tfkreference says

    Thanks, Chiroptera, @3:20, I will make good use of that question. I hope I won’t owe royalties!

  18. Reginald Selkirk says

    In the real world, it is the Catholic Church that has had an overwhelming problem with pedophilia. And they’re hardly alone.

    I’m sure there are some atheist pedophiles out there. But they are not being entrusted with the care of children merely because they are atheists, and they do not have a huge bureaucracy like the Holy Roman Catholic Church moving the criminals around to fresh victims and covering up the crimes.

  19. Chiroptera says

    rabbitscribe at 4:24:

    I have no idea what you’re going on about, except that you just don’t like other peoples’ answers. Do you have a better answer? Or do you agree with the good Rabbi, and why?

    1) Dodge the question by pointing out religion’s less than stellar track record.

    Nobody is dodging the question. People are just pointing out that religious people don’t seem to be any more immune to child sex crimes than atheists. I mean, if the gist of your argument is going to be that atheism leads to child sex, then you should at least make sure that child sex isn’t well-represented among your own ranks, shouldn’t you? Otherwise, what makes atheism any worse than being religious?

    2) Existentialism: we make our own purpose in life. Some useful insights, but overall unsatisfactory (hedonism and altruism are equally “legitimate.”)

    What do you find unsatisfactory about this?

    What should it matter whether you find this unsatisfactory?

    3) Other materialist moral philosophies (e.g. Derek Parfit) that I don’t understand and which leave me unable to determine if I’m being dazzled by brilliance or baffled by bullshit.

    Whose bringing up Derek Parfit? Are you commenting on the wrong blog?

    4) Keep hoping Sam Harris brews up a Platonic Ideal in a chemistry lab someday.

    Who brought up Sam Harris? Are you commenting on the wrong blog?

    5) Just concede that there’s no metaphysical reality and no objective morality….

    What do you mean by “metaphysical reality? Do you mean some reality that can’t be verified by empirical observation? If so, then if something can’t be verified through empirical observation, then it may as well not exist.

    And as far as “objective morality” goes, that term has always seems to be an oxymoron. After all, morality refers to what “ought” to be. But if “ought” isn’t the result of someone’s subjective feelings, then it seems as if it can only be determined through what someone subjectively feels, so it may as well just be what a person feels subjectively.

    What in the world can an “objective morality” actually be? How can one know whether such a thing exists? How can one determine whether a moral principle really is an “objective” one?

    Like the concept of an omnipotent creator god that exists outside of time and space, the concept of objective morality seems to have too many logical problems with it. It seems better to me just to do without it.

  20. kyoseki says

    I believe it’s worth noting that there is no Biblical age of consent.

    I believe the closest you could probably get, at least in Judaism, is a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, which occurs at 13 years old for males and 12 years for females.

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to consider just what would happen if anyone here considered 12 year old girls fair game just because the Bible says it’s ok.

    This is absolutely one instance where secular society’s rules override Biblical standards, despite originating from free though rather than blind belief in a bronze age book.

  21. rabbitscribe says

    I mean, if the gist of your argument is going to be that atheism leads to child sex, then you should at least make sure that child sex isn’t well-represented among your own ranks, shouldn’t you?

    I don’t see why. Maybe religion leads to horrible crimes. Maybe atheism does. Maybe both; maybe neither. Each truth-claim stands or falls on its own merits without reference to the others.

    What do you find unsatisfactory about this?

    I think life has no purpose. You (for the sake of argument) make the purpose of your life living ethically and minimizing suffering. Tom chooses to pursue the world hot dog eating record, Dick strives to become the first African-American Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and Harry just wants to dance the night away. Since nobody’s hurting anyone and everybody’s telling the truth, I don’t know how existentialism further differentiates any of these self-made purposes in any objective manner. I like not hurting people and telling the truth and stuff, but compared with a bona fide objective purpose with a metaphysical underpinning, existentialism just doesn’t do it for me…

    Who brought up (Harris and Parfit)?

    Me, just now, for the sake of completeness. If you prefer: maybe there’s an objective morality with no metaphysical underpinning, but I’m to dumb to grasp it. Maybe there’s currently no such morality but we’ll find one later.

    What do you mean by “metaphysical reality? Do you mean some reality that can’t be verified by empirical observation? If so, then if something can’t be verified through empirical observation, then it may as well not exist.

    But the contention is that metaphysical reality, a.k.a. the will of God, can be verified empirically, through nature, conscience, and Jesus or the Koran or what John Edward knows that only your deceased gerbil could possibly have told him. I find any and all of those less than compelling. But the existence and nature of a metaphysical reality is not in principle untestable.

    And as far as “objective morality” goes, that term has always seems to be an oxymoron. After all, morality refers to what “ought” to be. But if “ought” isn’t the result of someone’s subjective feelings, then it seems as if it can only be determined through what someone subjectively feels, so it may as well just be what a person feels subjectively.

    I don’t believe there’s any particular hat you ought to wear. But if Jehovah or Allah say different, and we’re told they do, that certainly transcends a hunch.

    What in the world can an “objective morality” actually be? How can one know whether such a thing exists? How can one determine whether a moral principle really is an “objective” one?

    One with a metaphysical underpinning. I don’t know, but miracles that happen here and now to us rather than to other people a long time ago would be a good start. See above.

    Like the concept of an omnipotent creator god that exists outside of time and space, the concept of objective morality seems to have too many logical problems with it. It seems better to me just to do without it.

    herp derp pedophilia derp herp.

    Look, where the rubber meets the road, the Rabbi is being a jackass. If religion ceases to be a factor in Western society we’re not going to degenerate into a howling mob of sex criminals, obviously. But on a more abstract level: as far as I can tell, he’s right. There’s no right or wrong, just what’s desireable or undesireable to any given number of people. I’d dearly love to be proved incorrect, especially if it turns out that minimizing suffering is right and genocide and all that sort of nasty stuff is wrong. But so far: no dice, I’m afraid.

  22. anteprepro says

    “I like not hurting people and telling the truth and stuff, but compared with a bona fide objective purpose with a metaphysical underpinning, existentialism just doesn’t do it for me…”

    The only sad part is that these supposedly “objective purposes” that religion might offer are all horribly weak tea. The only objective purpose that the Abrahamic religions offer is serving God; their meaning only exists relative to their deity. I have no idea how that sits as meaningful to anyone, even those who believe that their deity is All That and a Bag of Chips. Same holds for their “objective morals”. Shoddy basis for “objectivity”, shoddy “morals”/”purpose”.

  23. says

    One of the problems I have with “objective” morality is that it’s not based on anything, like the moral laws are just floating out there in the ether for no reason. There’s no rationale for why one act is moral or another isn’t, just a collection of randomly generated rules.

    The moral systems that are practiced in the real world are at least based on the desires of the people involved in an action. Altruistic systems try to spread out the fulfillment as much as they can, trying not to play favorites. In a way, you could say that altruistic systems strive for something resembling objectivity, while acknowledging that perfection can’t be reached.

    God-based morality, on the other hand, is arbitrarily subjective, NOT objective. Under god-based morality, one random being has the say on what’s right or wrong, based on his desires alone. Of course, many people who believe in god-based morality will hypocritically accuse anyone who believes in a different system of arbitrarily deciding that their desires are sacred.

  24. anteprepro says

    Oh, Ed, you missed the best part! Where the Rabbi puts his cards on the table instead of just trying to smear atheistic philosophy professors.

    “The atheistic notion that life emerged randomly from ancient Earth’s prebiotic slime, coupled with the Darwinian belief that humans are no more than intelligent chimpanzees, leaves us morally bereft. In a society whose schools consider it a noble undertaking to teach a teenage boy how to use a condom, but streng verboten to teach him that God has forbidden us to steal or murder, how can one anticipate anything other than a gaping and ever-expanding moral sinkhole? While there exist real challenges in determining exactly what God requires of us in the moral sphere, let us, at least, agree on the following before it is too late, and move forward from there:

    All men are created in the image of God and are therefore inherently and intrinsically precious.
    All men have been endowed by God with unalienable rights and among these are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    Thou shalt not murder.
    Thou shalt not steal.
    Thou shalt not bear false witness.
    Thou shalt not commit adultery, incest, or bestiality.
    Thou shalt not have sex with children, and if you do you will be looked upon as a disgusting and contemptible criminal and will be treated as such.
    Thou shall teach these laws to your children.
    We hold these above truths to be self-evident, not by proxy of some pragmatic social contract that can be amended and revised as often as societal whim and convenience demands, not as the result of the pompous and vapid philosophical musings of so called professors of “ethics,” but because they reflect the eternal, immutable, and absolute moral laws that emanate from Almighty God, the Creator of the universe and all mankind.”

    So, in summary:
    -Standard wingnut garbage about “Evolution ergo ANYTHING GOES!”.
    -Standard wingnut hysterical opposition to separation of church and state.
    -Standard wingnut hysterical opposition to sex ed (!).
    -Standard belief that Adam “made in the image of God” is sufficient to believe the Bible says “all men were created equal”; that what the Declaration of Independence says about human rights can somehow be credited to Biblical morality.
    -Standard picking and choosing the four unobjectionable commandments of the ten. And not mentioning that you should stone disobedient children and Sabbath breakers.
    -Relatively novel pretending that a specific prohibition against child molestation is in the Ten Commandments (!)
    -Standard “it’s true because God sez!” handwaving, plus scorn heaped on people who listen to “society”‘s ethical standards, completely ignorant of the fact that it was listening to this seemingly nebulous, pragmatic social contract morality that brought us to the point today where we oppose child molestation and other such crimes much more than we ever had before. Because, again, the Bible/Torah doesn’t fucking say anything about it!

    It’s like the Rabbi just bobbed his head in a bucket of cliches, and whatever flopped out of his mouth was what he posted at the end.

  25. Chiroptera says

    rabbitscribe at 6:28: I don’t see why.

    Because this thread is about what the Rabbi said. We are commenting on the Rabbi’s opinions. He is clearly saying that atheism is a bad thing as compared to god-believing. So the tu quoque is entirely appropriate since we are not discussing whether atheism itself cannot be bad, but whether atheism is worse than god-believing.

    If you were trying to make an entirely different point that wasn’t related to the Rabbi’s claims, then that wasn’t clear.

    But on a more abstract level: as far as I can tell, he’s right. There’s no right or wrong, just what’s desireable or undesireable to any given number of people.

    That seems to be the case. Me, I don’t see the problem with it.

    On the other hand, considering that all the people who have ever believed in an objective morality have come up with all sorts of different “objective standards,” if there is an objective morality then it doesn’t really appear to be possible to figure out what it is beyond using our subjective intuition anyway. In that case, it doesn’t appear that the existence of an objective morality really helps us out in any way.

    I’d dearly love to be proved incorrect, especially if it turns out that minimizing suffering is right and genocide and all that sort of nasty stuff is wrong.

    Suppose that there really is an objective morality, and suppose we are able to determine that genocide is good, child rape is alright, and you can only take being nice to people so far before it becomes wrong. Would really feel better about it?

  26. imthegenieicandoanything says

    For good reasons (WWII, absurd anti-semitism, huge contributions to politics, art and science by members of the community, the romantic look of Hasids in films and books,Sandy Koufax, etc.) the basic absurdity of Judaism gets a free pass these days from most of us.
    Comments like this remiind all that at its core Judaism is pretty much as stupid and inhuman as all other religions (though the lack of the “afterlife” gimmick raises it above its various offspring and imitators in my book.)

    Still, as long as this puffed-up creep doesn’t work to put his bigotry into civil law, he’s welcome to make a fool of himself. And con a living out of gullible people who REALLY work for a living.

  27. rabbitscribe says

    That seems to be the case. Me, I don’t see the problem with it.

    I find it extraordinarily depressing.

    Suppose that there really is an objective morality, and suppose we are able to determine that genocide is good, child rape is alright, and you can only take being nice to people so far before it becomes wrong. Would really feel better about it?

    Heh. Good question. My brain is stumped. My heart, on the other hand, has a ready answer: “That doesn’t matter! If there is an objective morality with a metaphysical underpinning, it’s congruent with behavior I find desireable! I KNOW it is! I KNOW it is! I KNOW it is! It HAS to be! It HAS to be! It HAS to be!”

  28. Chris from Europe says

    pogonophilia

    Are you sure? Maybe they’ve just improved their skill to imagine someone else.

  29. omgwadh says

    And just to add insult to injury, the cowardly jerk has no contact email on his website. Can’t stand the heat his inflammatory words will generate, I guess.

  30. anteprepro says

  31. pointcounterpoint says

    Static text plus a license for imaginative reinterpretation with the added bonus of the full authority and weight of the “divine” behind you. How can this sort of dynamism be any worse than a reasoned position on questions concerning everyone taking into account current knowledge and sensitivities?

    I have a feeling that this rabbi is someone working to sabotage the crazies from the inside…

  32. says

    pa747sp says:
    September 1, 2011 at 8:08 pm
    And Judaism leads to pogonophilia.

    Wow, I haven’t played that game since PacMan came out.

    On Thursday the Rabbi wore a sphinctayarmulka.

  33. Chiroptera says

    quincyme at 8:36:

    I don’t think that article is supposed to be journalism. I think it is and is intended to be an “op-ed” opinion piece.

    Nonetheless, I agree with you: it would have been nice if that newspaper had exercised some discretion and would have chosen its opinion writers based on whether they can construct a cogent opinion.

  34. abb3w says

    And no-one’s yet mentioned the counter that Judeo-Christianity leads to corporal child abuse, with Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” as a frequent justification… and (unlike atheist sexual molestation) instances of this are readily documented.

    Of course, atheists (and other NOTAs) are still rare enough to make getting hard numbers a bit more challenging, but I suspect the per capita rate of both forms of abuse is higher among theists.

  35. Sastra says

    From the rabbi:

    All men are created in the image of God and are therefore inherently and intrinsically precious.

    This conclusion presumably follows from a previous claim: that God is inherently and intrinsically precious.

    Prove it.
    Lay out your basic premises.
    Show your work.
    Persuade the unconvinced.

    Looks like God isn’t the final court of ethical appeal.

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