By H. Skip Robinson © Oct. 2015, Revised July 2017
For me, this has become an even more illuminating experience as I learn more and more. I sadly have friends and family who are Christian believers and it is probably not good for my relationships with them. My skepticism seems to be embraced by people from all walks of life, even of a faith in God as I.
I write this after a recent discovery of a text, a reported Koran, that was scientifically dated to be from the time in which Mohamed was known to have lived. The ramifications of the find are that it suggests that Mohamed did inspire Islam but even though, most believe the Koran was not likely written by him.
To me, relying on any dogma, based on ancient texts, that purport to be the word of God, is a potentially naïve and even dangerous position, based on the logical analysis I offer below. As a seeker of truths, these are the thoughts I have had learned, and questions I have asked myself and others over my life that has brought me to these observations of both conclusions and questions.
As a believer in God, what has been called a theist, Unitarian or Gnostic, I believe that I derive my spirituality from a higher power, one that I cannot describe or even physically verify as existent. That does not mean I cannot still believe as I do. I hope and believe that there is something more in the universe for you, me and our world than just a few days in the proverbial sun. I surely do not believe that I know what God wants or doesn’t want us to do or not do. Nor can I prove that God even exists. But that doesn’t mean God or a higher power doesn’t exist as atheists believe. They are just guessing that since they see no proof, God, therefore, doesn’t exist. I see God as hope and enlightenment, a potential for improving the nature of men and women and I try to live up to what think God would want.
So I present my thoughts and some of the questions I have considered that have brought me to my current philosophy in hopes that others will see a stronger light for humanity. The current religious atmosphere around the world is disturbing to me, as each religion accuses the others of non-belief while they literally fight to promote their agendas around the world. Our world has experienced millenniums of war and social conflict often times in the name of religion. The question is, are they spiritual agendas or are they really political? I suggest that there are no such things as a spiritual agenda and that they have always been politically motivated. The Koran, the Old Testament and the New Testaments, all written for political and not spiritual reasons. Let’s just say they wanted to blame their lust for power and money on the Gods. I think it is actually an excuse for wanted such devious powers. People are chosen by God to rule over others. Really?
I am primarily writing in reference to the Christian dogma within the Bible as being the word of God, because it is the one I grew up with and know best, but similar arguments I’m sure can be made against the other major dogmatic religions because there cannot possibly be just one religion that is superior to all others because they are all contrived by mankind and as we all know, mankind is vastly imperfect and often downright corrupt. All dogmatic religions are for the same purpose, to do one thing and that to provide or gain a psychological advantage or power over others. And the rationale is pretty much always the same; because God granted me these powers because I believed in him more than others do, I/We am/are God’s chosen person/people. People have always been full of baloney and try to con others, Put tithing on the table and there’s your motive.
I use “Not Likely” in the title because perhaps someday we will find out that it is not the writings themselves, but all the misinterpretations and that the Bible is in reality just a history and text book, filled with great novels and historical facts. Saying that it is the word of God is a very strong statement, one that cannot likely, ever be proven or disproven.
1. The Roman Bible or any of its translations have “not” been the saving grace of mankind. It has not rendered the hearts and souls of the vast majority of people on this planet. The churches that have adopted the Bible have been throughout history filled with poverty, corruption, manipulation, war, rape, and murder. If this text really was the word of God, would it not have by now provided a superior world? Really, we have to wait for the so-called second coming? Is God not compassionate enough to do it in our lifetime? 262 million people were killed by their own governments in the 20th century along because the Biblical rapture is written to be the 5 generation after Israel becomes a nation and apparently we must wait for this to occur.
2. God obviously didn’t physically write the bible, like he reportedly wrote the Ten Commandants on the two tablets. If he/she is so all empowered, he could have updated the Bible from to time to include our more modern times. The fact is the men wrote the Bible and the Bible itself says, we human being are quite imperfect. The facts; The Bible is a history book and like many history books, it is written by the winners, in this case, the Roman Empire under the command of Emperor Constantine, an evil tyrant who created and commanded the Nicene Council to put together what we now call the Roman Catholic Bible. Sadly, none of the manuscripts that are allegedly represented in the Bible still exist today so there is no way to tell how well they even did in interpreting the various manuscripts. How biased they are or how manipulated they are. Why would God have a truly evil Emperor create a book, a Bible, said to be the word of God; a book that is supposed to teach us truth and honesty?
3. Some of the writings of Jesus’ Disciples, such as the Book of Thomas and the Book of Mary Madeline were left out of the Bible. God surely knew we are imperfect and thus, he would want us to read all the books of the world, not just the ones selected by a group of men under the political and economic influence of a murderer and despot. Perhaps they left the Book of Mary Madeline out, because the all male controlled church did not want to allow equal rights to women and the Book of Thomas told the story, denying the physical resurrection, thus both were eliminated from the Bible. Like I noted before, people lust for power, and women being physically weaker than men, it is very easy for a group of men to dominate and control a group of women and the major dogmatic churches do this. The dogmas even promote a social legality for the dominance over women in marriage and penalties against women who fail to live up to the standards. I do not want to go into some of the brutalities that are done to women around the world by their husbands and communities in the name of God because it is quite appalling. Many men are so weak as human beings that they must be granted power over their wives by the various dogmatic churches because they cannot gain their wives respect without it.
4. My favorite story in the Bible which dilutes its probability of being the word of God is the Exodus. Really, we are supposed to believe the story of a potentially crazy old man who parted the Red Sea, walked in the desert for 40 years, spoke to a burning bush, went on a mountain for 40 days “by himself” thus no one to verify his stories of speaking to God in the alleged form of a burning bush and being given the two Tablets with the Ten commandment on them by God himself. Apparently, it took 40 days for God to create the two tablets but only 7 days to create the entire world. Perhaps the greatest of all novels ever written. What many people are unaware of is that at the time, the Egyptians were building a vast system of aqueducts throughout the entire region. Knowing when a specific aqueduct was going to be flooded with water would have accounted for the ability of Moses to cross one of them just prior to its flooding. Can we fathom that canals/aqueducts were turned into great seas in the telling and passing down of stories?
5. We have written history and scientific evidence of the world being much older than 5,800 +/- a few hundred years as the Bible indicates using the two different methods scholars use. As an example, the best-known picture writing system of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols are: Jiahu symbols, carved on tortoise shells in Jiahu, ca. 6600 BC and Vinča signs (Tărtăria tablets), ca. 5300 BC. Just add 2,015 years to those dates and they are much older than 5,800 years.
When did all the Dinosaurs live? Since we have evidence of man has been living here for 8,000 years. We have mastodon bones with carving on them of a mastodon and a man side by side estimated to be about 11,000 years old. There is evidence that man lived 5,500 years ago but little evidence that dinosaurs did at that time depending on the accuracy of carbon dating. The number of fossils and the vast differences in their carbon dating results indicate that they would have taken a very long time, that scientists estimate to get that many dinosaurs on the planet. Much more than a couple thousand years and much longer than some Christians say it was so that it fits their creationist theory in the Bible of the earth being created 5800+/- 300 years ago. Could it be that that the dinosaurs were present at the time of Noah’s Ark and that carbon dating is completely inaccurate prior to 3,000 or 4,000 years ago? Apparently, Noah did not like dinosaurs and kept all of them off the Ark? If not, then the dinosaurs would have had to populate the world really quickly, lived with a man and perish by some great cataclysmic event prior to the great Biblical flood with man surviving. There does not appear to be any indication of this happening historically, the only evidence of smaller regional floods.
6. There are no documented miracles in modern times similar to any of the ones noted in the Bible. Today we call them illusions, perhaps they were back then as well or perhaps we have just been misled as to the actual events. It was much easier to mislead people back then because of the lack of education amongst the masses. The Gnostics did not believe in miracles.
7. The Bible even says in Genesis, 25 “And God said, let US make Man in OUR image, in OUR likeness….”. According to the Bible, God must, therefore, have other supreme beings that helped him create man and woman contradicting the concept of monotheism and the bible.
8. There are known stories of Great Floods that predate the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark. Therefore the story was not given directly to its author nor directly inspired by God but rather provided by other previous human beings. There are many stories of regional flood story with even scientific evidence and theses could easily be construed to have been worldwide because of the lack of communications between the regions of the world. You can also try to explain where all the water receded to or went. Did it all just evaporate back up into the sky? It’s most likely a fictional story predicated on smaller floods that did perhaps annihilate large areas caused by catastrophic events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanos or tsunamis.
9. You cannot physically place all the land animals, insects, and other land critters on the planet on a ship/Ark along with enough food and have them survive for a prolonged period of time, approximately 370 days. Since the 19th century, scholarly consensus has been that the story is not literally true. Various search expeditions have focused their attention on Mount Ararat for Noah's Ark, but there is no evidence that anything like Noah's Ark has ever existed anywhere other than the Biblical story itself.
10. You cannot live in a Fish or whales stomach, as the Story of Jonah and the Whale depict. It is physically impossible to stay alive for more than a second of two, much fewer days because you will suffocate nor can our skin survive the stomach acids of any carnivorous fish or mammal.
11. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels do not collaborate the bible as being the word of God. To the contrary, it does the opposite. The Gnostics were spiritualists, mystics as they were called then, with no dogmatic texts offering the fallacy of being the words of God or even inspired by God to a person’s advantage, much as Unitarians are today. Unitarians believe that everyone is inspired by God if they choose to be, that God is within all of us equally and no one is given any greater spirituality than another. They were the ones the Roman feared most as they did not go along with the Roman church and state concept. Their writings only share their individual philosophies, much like I’m sharing mine by writing this. It is logical to surmise that one is either inspired by God or they are not. I, therefore, am as much motivated by goodness and inspired by God as the next person, because I do not necessarily prescribe that my perspective is better than yours and as such, I must logical prove my philosophy is good or not and every reader can judge me for themselves. I am willing to write my philosophies out so that you can be the judge and that I believe is the first step to both telling the truth and allowing other to judge your philosophies on spirituality. I find this true for both spiritual and political leaders. Those that are willing to elaborate their philosophies and nonfictional stories are often times the ones most truthful. Ron Paul was and continued to be a prolific political and economic author and Bernie Sanders writes almost nothing. Bernie Sanders has a tendency to tell his specific audiences what they want to hear rather than the truth as Ron Paul does. It is much easier to get elected when you lie and tell people things that you are going to do for them, even though you know there is no way in hell, you can do them.
12. During the 4,000 years or so of recorded history BC, many professed to be agents of God and even continued up until what I call the great awakening. When a group of Citizens worldwide rose up against the Church and State in collusion and forever disallowed any religion or church from entering into the realm of political control. We call it the separation of church and state, but it was much much more than that. No single religion or church could ever again take over the control of a government because it had prohibited government from making laws which denied the people their ability to establish and exercise the religion of their choice rather than that of the governments. For close to 200 years now, we have not had even one single person rise up and declare themselves ordained by God, at least not one who was not soon killed like Joseph Smith by a mob of people where he was trying to take over a community. Ironically, the missing golden tablets that he said he found that gave him the Book of Mormon are missing just like the original Christian gospels.
13. The First Council of Nicaea, who established our modern day Roman Catholic Bible was under the direct control of the Emperor of the Roman Empire Constantine who raped and pillaged most of the territories they concurred, including Israel. FYI: Under Constantine, in amphitheater’s beast-hunts (venationes), the Romans would pit animal against animal as well as animal against men they concurred. The Roman games began as religious festivals but eventually became political as showcases of military achievement or celebrations of victory over a foreign power with an accompanying set of games to directly appease the public with entertainment. The domination of animals and enemies was a clear objective; the wilder, the more splendid. Of course, in reality, the public was not the one being appeased. The Roman State used the games as a show of force so that all could see what happens to people who try to challenge them. The various nation states throughout history have done appalling things to people and animals throughout the ages; the list to gruesome to write down. The wealthy are allowed to steal from the majority through taxation, but even today some nation states will sever the hand of a poor petty thief when caught, as a show of force.
14. The use of the Bible, as law, has been utilized by those who wrote it, The Romans to rape and pillage those that stood up against their tyranny and despotism. Hale to Caesar what is Caesars. If you did not believe in the Bible, you are a heathen and thus unworthy of life, liberty, and property, and they were compelled to deprive you of such. Of course, it was just a scam to take your property and either enslave you or kill you.
15. All spiritually, in reality, is motivated by greed. Our desire to feel better about ourselves. To be more one with God, to have a better relationship with God for the purpose of having a better life. At least that is what all the dogma worshippers tell me. Your life could be so much better and fulfill “if” you only believe as I do. All you must do is ……. and repent your sins to God, or Jesus or Mohamed or Buddha etc. Just believe x and you will have ever lasting life. Don’t get me wrong, it feels good to give to others but once again you do it because it feels good to you as well. Would you give to others if it made you feel bad? It is twofold. Other people benefit from you and you feel good about yourself if you are able to help them. I’m a capitalist because for me to benefit and profit, I must provide a satisfactory service or product to others. I am not a socialist because I do not believe others should be forced through the threat of fines or incarceration or other coercive means to provide me things I need or desire.
16. When I ask a dogma worshiper how do you really know that what you believe is truly the word of God, you get answers like….”you just know”. Of course the different dogma worshipers all believe their belief is the only true one, but obviously, only one belief system can possibly be true. As Thomas Paine wrote….”I believe none of them” speaking of the various world churches, synagogues, etc. Of course, he was soon ostracized after publishing his religious work “the Age of Reason, by the dogma worshipers and exiled out of the country. In reality, they used their political power to have him removed rather than relying on God to render judgment. Is it not pathetic ironic how the church and state have always colluded to deny people individual right such as in Paine’s case, the freedom of speech? Hence, why religious freedom became the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution once the Church of England and the Crown were overthrown. Believing that all of our founding fathers were Christians is incorrect. Obviously, Paine, one of the big five, as I like to call them was Unitarian, but “all” evidence indicates that Jefferson, John Adams, Washington and Franklin like Paine had a belief in God, but were not Christians per say. They like I have a strong sense of Christian values. These five men and many more Unitarians risked their lives, their liberty, and their fortunes to make this world a better place. Bravery and fighting for what is right, something I don’t find present in many of today’s alleged Christians. Payne was exiled from America, ended up in France and almost lost his life for writing Age of Reason only to be saved by fellow prisoners and his guards.
17. There are many inconsistencies in the Bible such as to where Joseph and Mary lived prior to when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The return of the family of Jesus to Nazareth is part of the version of the early life of Jesus given in the Gospel of Luke. It describes Joseph and Mary returning to their home in Nazareth after Jesus is born during a visit to Bethlehem to register for the Census of Quirinius. This is a different account to that in the Gospel of Matthew, in which Joseph and his family live in Bethlehem and only move to Nazareth after the Flight into Egypt. “So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene.".
In Luke 2:1-7 it says Jesus is born in a manger. OK, but some believe he was born in a stable, others a room in a friend’s home and others in a cave outside of town. Like many
religious writings, they’re not very specific and who knows the authors intent. The Book of Matthew’s author is unknown so there are no ways to compare it to perhaps some of their other writings. If you research this stuff on the web it sheds further light on how much people disagree, even when they are so-called believers. Here you will find a huge list of Biblical Inconsistencies: http://infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.html
18. There are also many misinterpretations in the Bible. The alleged common thieves crucified along with Jesus could not have been common thieves. As it harshest form of penalty, only people who either committed treason or insurrection, such as trying to overthrow Rome, as Jesus was trying to do as a Messiah, were crucified as a warning near the gates of the City not to attempt such actions. http://www.tribunesandtriumphs.org/roman-life/roman-punishment.htm
If you look up the word, Messiah it is a person who tries to raise up the people to overthrow its captors. Also, Jesus was not the only Messiah put to death.
19. How could God have created light on the first day and the sun on the fourth day as Genesis describes in Chapter 1 verses 1 thru 19. We all know today the Sun is what gives us light. Verse 16 of Chapter 1 says that God gave us two great lights; the greater light to rule the day and a lesser light to rule the night. We now know that the stars and the light from the sun still offer us some light as a specific place on earth rotates away from the sun at what we call night. There are not two great lights. There are many great lights we call suns, different types of stars of various ages giving off light from millions, perhaps billions of miles away, including our own sun. Whoever wrote the Bible obviously didn’t know that then so they conjured up a story of how the world was created. Perhaps it was written as a novel and not as a nonfiction writing as many believe.
20. Most Pastors, Preachers, Rabbis, and Iman are like politicians, they are con artists who eventually get caught in some form of hypocrisy between what they preach and what they themselves are doing. The Roman Catholic Church itself with its hundreds of stories coming from almost every one of its diocese from around the world caught in thousands of cases of pedophilia and homosexuality. Remember, it was the Romans under Constantine, a sociopath, and murderer who put together the Bible as we know it today. When was the last time you saw an Iman strap a bomb to themselves and detonate it? They get the young easily manipulated poor kids to do what they should be doing.
21. Miracles, the hocus pocus type are really illusions, either our owns minds play on us, or often times as in the case of miraculous healing under large tents of the blind and crippled, scams set up in advance to fool the audience. You don’t see too many of the traveling holy rollers today as they have all but been exposed of their frauds.
If the holy rollers, as they began to be called, could really heal people, they could just go directly to hospitals and go room to room healing one person after another and the world would be freed of illness and disease. Of course, they give the excuse for not doing this, in that the person being healed must believe and be willing to accept Jesus as your savior. I’ll tell you what, if I saw somebody actually go room to room healing people, I would believe anything that person says. That is what is called evidence and everyone would believe in Jesus as our savior if this could be done, but it obviously can’t or people would be doing it. When they fail to heal somebody, of course, they blame it on their lack of faith. Scum bags will just kick a person when they are already down. Many people such as his own disciple Thomas did not believe Jesus rose from the dead. Like many stories throughout history, literal and figurative get mistranslated into fairy tales handed down through the generations. Even today, we still tell our children when a death occurs, that person has gone to heaven, hoping that their souls have risen to a better place. No one really knows where we go. People claim to see God etc. in near death experiences and visions. I personally have undergone an interesting phenomenon. As kids we used to hyperventilate, then squeeze that persons chest by wrapping your arms around them, like a bear hug. It would make the person faint, which may explain a few things, but never the less, when it was my turn, after fainting I would rise out of my body and astral-projection, as it’s called, flying out several thousand yards from where I laid, seeing my Grandfather’s farm from an aerial view of about 75 yards on the ground. As I came back from the flight I would see the group of boys, start to come down and then I would wake up. I remember doing this three times and it happened every time. The point is our minds are truly a miracle and knowing what happens in our dreams and other dimensions we fall into, is largely unknown just like so many things.
The story tellers throughout the ages have embellished them into whoppers as my parents you to call them when they caught one of my brothers or me lying. A human being can make up a story almost better than they can tell a truthful one and many people would rather hear the novel story rather than a non-fictional one. Human beings love fantasy as reality is often ugly, dirty, scary and/or violent. We almost protect our children to a fault and perhaps why so many are attracted to the dogmas such as the Bible and Koran, that provide them ever lasting fantasies of a foreseeable perfect word.
22. Many people who have chosen to accept ancient scriptures to be the word of God or the characters within those scriptures to be prophets or even God themselves, may want to consider that God is a logical entity, would want to provide everyone the same potential and benefits, no matter which dogma or society they are raised in and have been taught. As an example, to think that Muslins or Jews are provided any less potential of salvation because they have been taught and psychologically convinced/brainwashed that their belief is the right one is not considering a “just”, “rational” and “benevolent” God. Being raised in a Christian family, I was not exposed “at all” to any Muslim or Jewish beliefs so thinking that they, Jews and Muslims would be fully exposed to enough Christianity to convert is naïve and/or ignorant. The Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues will try to convince you that they have truly exposed every single people on the planet to their specific dogma and as such everyone has had a chance to accept their specific belief system. If you believe everything you hear such as this, you do not understand the methodology of these dogmatic institutions and the various methods of psychological and sociological conditioning that is done. They do not teach their own flocks anything about the other dogmatic religions, trying to make sure that only their specific dogma is deeply seeded into the minds of their congregations. It is a brainwashing that starts from early childhood with children stories and games used to advance various forms of psychological conditioning. They also put their very young children through religious rituals such as baptisms and bris’s and are taught that no other religion is correct and that all other religions are evil cults. The various psychological methods are:
1. A hierarchal system, promoting the leader and leadership are the most religious and/or are religiously gifted to a higher degree than the congregation.
a. Priest, Rabbi, Iman, etc.
2. Constant verbal inoculation of the various components of the belief and doctrines.
a. Indoctrination and rituals starting from birth.
b. Church every Sunday, Synagogue every Saturday etc.
3. Ostracism of non-believers
4. The Catholic Churches use of confession so the Clergy have sins to blackmail the parishioners with. Of course, Priests that are pedophiles would never do that!!!!
23. Prayer is proof that humans can be easily manipulated and influenced. How can even God listen to all the prayers at once? As much as some cultures pray, there could be millions of people praying at any one time. If God is capable of listening and answering all those praying at once, he would surely be able to read your mind eliminating the need to pray. If you do not think that he is already aware of your true spirit, nature, and needs, you should consider this possibility. It appears to me that those that do not pray have about the same probability of life’s successes and happiness as those that do pray. Unitarianism as an example, which does not require prayer has been the religion of many great and successful men such as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams and George Washington. Whereas, Jews, Christians, and Muslims pray by the millions yet have been killed in mass throughout our history.
24. If God wanted us to be perfect, he would have created us as he did his son Christ by eliminating the men from the process of procreation. In Romans 8:16 – “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.” He then obviously does not want us to be as perfect as Christ. Then, one should ask, why did he then kill everyone on the planet except Noah and his family because they were not perfect enough? Would God take his unhappiness of mankind out on all mankind and the rest of God’s creatures, all the land creatures except two of each species? Would his vengefulness cause him to do so much killing when he obviously does not want us to be perfect in the first place? There is a logical contradiction between those that claim they are God’s children by the various ancient dogmas and the righteousness they allegedly are granted by their belief.
25. May believe that Jesus was not the spiritual King of the Jews but the literal King of Israel. One small problem. Israel had been overthrown by Rome and thus didn’t exist any longer until well after his death in at least 600 AD and the fall of Rome. They believe from ancestral documents, Jesus was from Davidic lineage, hence would have been the actual King of the numerous Israeli tribes have they not been overthrown by Rome. The Kings of the Jews It is a wonder why Rome wanted Jesus dead and crucified him for trying to defy/overthrow Rome at every chance. A fascist nation always takes out the leadership of those they concur and the Romans were some of the best at it.
26. If God wanted to prove to mankind that he exists, that he should be prayed to and that the Bible is the word of God, there are a million ways in which he could accomplish this while leaving no possible doubt in anyone’s mind. For instance, if God would have given everyone on the planet a set of tablets with the Ten Commandments on them as he allegedly did to Moses, as they awoke one morning. It would be impossible for anyone to disprove that it could have been done by any other means except by God. Just think, God does not need a manufacturing plant, any materials from mining or days to make a tablet like mankind would, hence with no evidence of the materials, preparation and manufacturing it would have to have been done by a higher power than humans possess; that of God. Or how about impregnating all the women on the planet at the same time, leaving no doubt that it was an act of God. There is an endless number of possibilities like these. If the Bible was more persuasive in its presentation, everyone would believe it. And the fact is, not many people really do even though they may even be a member of a Church or Religion that does and I have pointed out in this essay just a small number of the reasons why.
I perhaps will now be labeled and called a heathen, blasphemer, infidel, non-believer and all the other ugly words and phrased the dogma worshipers have used over the years and centuries to ridicule and ostracize those that do not believe as they do. At least I won’t likely be put to death as they once did non-believers. My mom told me sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me. I believe and history has shown us that the world churches especially when in collusion with nation states, have committed huge atrocities against those who will not submit to their actions and beliefs and religious persecution still remains live and well today often disguised as social policies such as homophobic policies and prohibitions of vice such as prostitution, gambling, and drugs. They do not feel that you own your own body and thus should be able to tell you what you can and cannot do or put into your own body. A similar pattern as to their religious belief system. Arrogance and ignorance often go hand in hand. An arrogance for thinking they know how best to rule over others and an ignorance for excepting the fallacies that grant them their arrogance.