To PlasticPatrick

So I’ve actually had a new frequent visitor to my blog. I usually don’t make comments part of a blog post, but I thought this one might be interesting.  He has actually done his own blog post directed at me. Click here and check it out.

To PlasticPatrick,

Thank you for visiting and leaving your comments. But to address the issue in all, let me give you some background. I’ve only been an atheist/unbeliever for less than three months, so don’t take my words or comments as authoritative as representing the entire atheist community or movement. I’ve been a Christian a lot longer than I’ve been an atheist/agnostic.

For you mention that for the bible “it just needs to stand up to the same historical veracity that we would expect of any other book of its time.” Well it doesn’t. Historically speaking, there are many questionable parts that make one question if the stories in the bible are Fact or Fiction. Now I would never say that science is perfect, but it does have a system of checks for self-correction and review, it’s actually called Peer Review Science/Articles.  For as science progresses through history, the bible and religion does not.  It stays stagnant, and must always take a backseat to science and play ‘God of the Gaps.’ 

And no the title of the blog has nothing to do with an Ex. In fact I’ve been happily married with two kids for 6 years.

Do understand that for me, -that belief in Christianity and the Christian God was a question of truth?  It was more than a question of belief, but also a question of knowledge and fact.  Is God fact? Is the Bible fact? And Why should I believe any of it? What I found was that all the age-old reasons (and apologetic answers) I was told in church and by others were deeply lacking.

*I will have a podcast post up in a few days talking about my de-conversion, maybe you should check that out. It will give you an idea of my intellectual journey into non-belief.

1. plasticpatrick says:

September 20, 2012 at 7:12 PM (Edit)

The Bible itself never claims to be perfect or flawless. This is a doctrine that has been derived. The verse that this is derived from primarily is 2 Timothy 3:16. Go look at it. It is not claiming the Bible is perfect. Scripture is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, training, just like any high school math book, which generally aren’t perfect. The math book teaches about math, the Bible teaches about God, love and how we should live our lives. Just because a math book is wrong doesn’t mean that math is wrong.

Reply

M. Rodriguez says:

September 20, 2012 at 10:23 PM (Edit)

I have studied this topic more than you know.

Actually this doctrine has been around since the early starts of Christianity. It was initially not applied to all the bible, but only the Old Testament septugaint. There were a few early church fathers, that considered the gospels inerrant/inspired, but inerrancy toward the N.T. writings did become a taught doctrine until the 4th century.

Reply

M. Rodriguez says:

September 20, 2012 at 10:25 PM (Edit)

Early History of Biblical Inerrancyhttps://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-history-of-inerrancy/…it was with Augustine of hippo that inerrancy began to be a regulary taught doctrine.

Just to give you an idea I have an entire blog page dedicate to this topic. Maybe you should check it out.https://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/a-study-on-biblical-inerrancy-infallibility-and-inspiration/

And yes I am very familiar with 2 Timothy 3:16-17…I did an entire post on it. https://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/making-sense-of-2-timothy-316-17/

Now just to give you an idea, the KJV/ NKJV use the word inspired. But according to other translation, the better greek transliteration is “God-Breathed.” Some say take this believe that these are the very words that god breathed. So that means they are more than inspired and dictated. However that is just one interpretation of it.

However based off of many scholars, this is where the general idea of inerrancy starts, but this is not the only arguments. There are more. First some of the deductive arguments:

“The Bible is inspired, but is it inerrant, that is without errors? The reason for a positive answer is simple: The Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot err; therefore, the Bible cannot err. To deny the inerrancy of the Bible one must either affirm that God can err or else that the Bible is not the Word of God.” (Norman Giesler )

That since God is perfect, it is completely rational and reasonable to assume he could give us an inspired and perfect bible.

Secondly there are many scriptural and side arguements which I address in this post. https://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/does-inspiration-imply-inerrancy/ I Actually go through both sides of the argument in this post.

■“The Words of the Lord are Flawless” – Psalms 12:6

■“Your Word, O Lord, is eternal, it stands firm” – Psalms 119:89

■“Every word of God is flawless, he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” – Proverbs 30:5

■“God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is pure.” – 2 Samuel 22:31

■“No prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:21

As one person put it…”I also asserted that if Scripture is not inerrant, it cannot be accepted as reliable and authoritative, because there no longer exists any basis for that authority. It is to be expected that such logic is denied by those who deny inerrancy….The guiding principle of inerrantists with regard to Scripture is “False in one, false in all.”” -(From Dave’s Theology Blog)

*I’ve done the full comprehensive study, maybe you should too.

M. Rodriguez says:

September 20, 2012 at 10:41 PM (Edit)

Oh lastly, just to let you know, I majored in Mathematics in college. And I can tell you in math, it builds upon itself. If the fundamental foundation of math is not true than the whole foundation of not just math, but all science fails.

So like in my conclusion, if the foundation of Christianity fails, how can the rest stand?

Reply

M. Rodriguez says:

September 20, 2012 at 10:47 PM (Edit)

Stay Thirsty My Friend…

plasticpatrick says:

September 21, 2012 at 6:23 AM (Edit)

I will do some posts of this myself and get back to you when they are done, but for now:

Any typical Christian believes:

I am made by God -> God made me in his “image” -> I am flawed

I am “inspired” by God in that his actions should inspire my actions -> I am flawed

Not everything that is inspired by God or made by God is perfect, myself being a prime example.

When people say “The Word of God” or ” The Words of God” = “The Bible”, I believe they are in error. When people talk about the “Words of plasticpatrick”, it better be a direct quote or they are not being entirely correct. Even the gospels which in theory are the words of Christ don’t agree because nobody remembers it the same way. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a reliable record, it just means that it is potentially fallible in factual detail.

These verses are talking about the actual words of God which stand forever, are perfect, etc. People have extended that to mean the whole Bible. How could a verse in Samuel be talking about Matthew? They are separated by several hundred years, so I don’t believe the verse in Samuel can apply to something he didn’t know about unless it is a prophecy, which I don’t believe this passage can be interpreted to.

I understand where you are coming from on the inerrancy issue. I was raised with this doctrine as well but as a believer, you need to prove things for yourself. Scholars and commentators are fine, but they are just derivatives of the Bible. I’m sure Augustine was wrong about other things.

The foundation of Christianity is Christ, not the Bible. The Bible is important and it should be read and studied daily if you consider yourself a follower of Christ, but it isn’t God. Some people are guilty of making it an idol in itself. It only points to God, a historical reliable record.

The real difficulty I have with many of the scholarly writings and systematic theology is that the end result separates God from his person-hood and from humanity and reduces him to a theory.

It is true, that many of these writers were totally inspired and had amazing faith, but they arrived there through a relationship with God, not exclusively studying other people’s writings.

Jesus constantly attacked this type of justified legalism. I too, believe you can make a case for the theory of God, etc. based on nature but at some stage you have to make a leap of faith to accept the person of God, as in a specific god or interpretation of him/her/it.

If you are married or in a relationship, your partner wants more than just the things you do, they want your heart. God is no different. He wants your heart. That is at the core of Jesus’ message.

M. Rodriguez says:

September 21, 2012 at 4:52 PM (Edit)

I am made by God -> God made me in his “image” -> I am flawed

I am “inspired” by God in that his actions should inspire my actions -> I am flawed

I have to say this syllogism is not the most intelligable. This leaves the blatant question of if God is perfect, should he still be considered perfect if he created a flawed creature?

I think maybe you should consider my Christian-Theist Challenge. https://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/the-christian-theist-challenge/

The foundation of Christianity is Christ, not the Bible.

I would consider this a true statement, but how do you know all about christ. What does your information and knowledge of christ come from? u see where I am going here. If our guide book is deeply flawed, how do we know it won’t lead us astray.

How can I ever trust the person-hood of christ and his deistic qualities, if the guidebook that tells me all about him is deeply flawed.

And yes, we could say holy spirit or our expierence with God and christ, but how do we even know that not emotions or simply just group think?

plasticpatrick says:

September 21, 2012 at 6:34 PM (Edit)

“This leaves the blatant question of if God is perfect, should he still be considered perfect if he created a flawed creature?”

The short answer is I don’t know but it stands to reason that one has to be a higher degree than your creation. You could always make something worse, but not better. That leaves the question of what would be God’s motivation to make such a flawed creature? The short answer is I don’t know but I do know that it leaves freedom of choice open even if it is a clouded choice. I believe God made us in the way that he did to allow us to choose him over the alternatives. You might call it love.

How can you trust a flawed guide book? Do you know any flawless source of knowledge that has the same sort of breadth of the Bible? You trust in something despite its flaws because on balance of probability it is more likely to be right than wrong. In order for it to “lead you astray” it would need to be written with ill intent, which if you believed that, it would disqualify it as a potential source of truth for you. For me, it just needs to stand up to the same historical veracity that we would expect of any other book of its time. If it is a reasonable account of the facts, such as any unbiased newspaper might produce, then why is there need to treat it with suspicion?

Science too is flawed, yet we generally believe that what it produces is valid. Some people say that science is better because it has a self correcting tendency. However, you have to recognize you are not comparing like with like as historical documents are not amended. Nobody talks about “fixing” Josephus or Plato but nobody views them with suspicion in the same way that the Bible attracts suspicion from people that claim it was written to control people or whatever.

How can you make any decision free of emotion? People claim to make emotionless decisions all the time but it doesn’t really happen that way. For example: all male stock traders is a bad idea because the testosterone makes them make foolish trades. In bull or bear markets they all start making the same type of trades and it turns into herd behavior. Even your blog reflects the emotion of the decision to leave your faith: The BitterSweet End could also be an apt title to a poem to your ex.

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About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
This entry was posted in atheist vs christian, christian, christian history, debate, early christian history, Response and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to To PlasticPatrick

  1. unklee says:

    G’day Marcus, may I enter this discussion?

    “For you mention that for the bible “it just needs to stand up to the same historical veracity that we would expect of any other book of its time.” Well it doesn’t. Historically speaking, there are many questionable parts that make one question if the stories in the bible are Fact or Fiction.”

    I don’t think your statement here accurately represents the truth as historians believe it. Textually, the New Testament is way better attested than any document of comparable age. Because it is composed of many independent texts, historians can conclude that much of it is as accurate as ancient history can get. Of course historians argue about exactly what is accurate and what isn’t, but there would hardly be a competent historian who wouldn’t accept that several of the various sources are good historical documents.

    You are judging the NT by different standards than the historians use. That is your choice, and I can understand why you do that even while I disagree with you. But historically, it stands up as well as any other writings of the time, or better.

    “What I found was that all the age-old reasons (and apologetic answers) I was told in church and by others were deeply lacking.”

    I think this is the key statement in your post here. You have found certain arguments and explanations to be inadequate – and I think I agree with you. But the question is, are there other arguments and explanations that are more adequate? As you know, I think there are. How well you have considered them, of course, only you can know. But I’m guessing PlasticPatrick is wanting to draw your attention to ways of thinking that he suspects you may not have fully considered.

    • exrelayman says:

      “Textually, the New Testament is way better attested than any document of comparable age.”

      Not able to agree. We know who wrote other documents, we don’t know who wrote “according to” Mark, Matthew, etc. We know when other documents were written, but we don’t know when the gospels (or even Paul’s letters for that matter) were written. Conflicting, incredible accounts written by unknown writers at least decades after the alleged events, which mostly plagiarize and exaggerate feats allegedly performed earlier by Elijah, Moses, et al, and conforms to the formula of the ‘Hero with a thousand Faces’… Oh wait, I get it! The word ‘textually’ is going to save you, because of the thousands of variant manuscripts created. Wow.

      “You are judging the NT by different standards than the historians use.”

      Not able to agree. In fact, exactly the reverse is the case, as I see it, and YOU are using different and biased standards to get confirmation of your thinking. The ‘criteria’ of multiple attestation, embarrassment, etc do not enter into history as done by unbiased secular historians. NT ‘scholars’ are for the most part seminary educated/indoctrinated, and the scattering of dissident voices are wrong because they are not ‘majority’ or ‘mainstream’. Give me the child for 7 years and I have the man for life.

      I will stop here. I do not enjoy endless disputation. To any honest investigator, don’t believe me or unklee. Google ‘Christian origins’, ‘Bible origins’, ‘the case against the case for Christianity’ ‘forgery in Christianity’, etc. In evaluating what different sources say, try to allow for their biases. My very best wishes to all honest investigators.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      I actually think to a certain degree the well documentation of the NT works against the bible at times. Let’s take the bible difficulty of how many people were at the tomb of Jesus or the Genelogy of Jesus. Because scholars and historians say they can reconstruct the orignial wordings of the bible to about 99.% of the originals. We know that the majority of the errors or difficulites in the bible can’t be chalked up to translation errors or errors in manuscript copies. We would have to say that because we are so sure of what was originally written, we are sure that the original writings were also in error.

      • unklee says:

        I agree with you here MR. The copying errors are minor, trivial almost, and most inconsistencies must have been in the originals. The question is, are the inconsistencies “errors”?

        Now you know I am not an inerrantist, so I don’t claim that there are no “errors”. But I think many of the inconsistencies are not “errors” at all. Some may well be resolved as we learn more, and some have other explanations. For example, were the genealogies intended to be factual reporting, or something else? Matthew’s use of a scheme of 3 sets of 14 names suggest symbolism rather than literal fact.

        I think too many people judge the gospels as if they were 21st century newspaper reports rather than first century biographies with a purpose.

  2. plasticpatrick says:

    I didn’t mean, “The BitterSweet End could also be an apt title to a poem to your ex.” literally. I just meant that it could be applied in the same emotional context to that of an ex or perhaps the ubiquitous ex not necessarily your ex. I have no idea about your relationships and had no intention of commenting on that. Sometimes I sacrifice clarity for succinctness so I apologize for the confusion.

    As to the historical accuracy of the Bible and factual discrepancies in it, many Bible scholars actually view this as a strength of authenticity of the record. If you consider a traffic accident and the ensuing police reports, none of the eye witnesses will have exactly the same recollection of events. Even accounting for different perspective, etc. people will actually remember things in different sequence or leave out some details altogether. The only time when you have all people saying the same thing is when people have preverified their stories in order to make sure they all say the same thing, like if someone is trying to create a false alibi.

    If they all say the same thing, chances are they came from the same source, like Matthew, Mark and Luke (synoptic gospels) all draw some material from a since lost source called “Q”. The way you can tell they are independent is that they basically the same thing but maybe a bit different. Like, did you never look at the different accounts of the post resurrection period and wonder which one was right? It just comes down to different people remember it different ways but it did happen. Nobody would look at the conflicting accident reports in a thousand years and say, “Well not all the accounts agree so I guess it didn’t happen.” You have to ask yourself, “What would be the motivation to falsify something like an accident report?”

    What would be the motivation of the Biblical authors to falsify their reports? They lived the rest of their lives on the run, in poverty and the only one that ended up living long enough to die of old age was the apostle John. Do you think they made those sort of sacrifices to set up an oppressive empire several hundred years in the future?

    This is why for me the philosophical (why) is just as important as the practical (how). What else would motivate these people into this behavior but a genuine encounter with someone they believed to be God?

    Thanks for putting up this post by the way. I am honored that you would value my opinion in this way. I stress my opinion. I don’t claim to have all the answers. All any of us can do is come to a reasonable assessment of the facts at hand and come to the best conclusions we can.

    • Nate says:

      Hi Patrick,

      I hope you and Marcus don’t mind my butting in. I’d like to say how much I appreciate your considerate tone — a lot of people can’t manage that when discussing religion. It’s refreshing. 🙂

      I agree that when two people recount an event, they sometimes get details wrong. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should question the event. However, it does lead to some interesting possibilities. For one, you mentioned that the writers of the gospels would have little reason to lie, especially since they were persecuted for their beliefs. However, as I understand it, we don’t really know how any of them died. There are some legends about their persecution and execution, but I don’t believe these have much historical basis (someone correct me, if I’m wrong). In fact, I think we have at least 5 completely different accounts of how Matthew died.

      Furthermore, we don’t actually know that Jesus’ disciples even wrote the gospels. For one, even if Mark and Luke were really the authors of the books ascribed to them, neither of them knew Jesus. And there are good reasons to doubt that any of the gospels were actually written by the people whose names are attached to them. I do think the gospels were written by Christians, but they were probably people who were converts of converts and never knew any of the original apostles directly, much less Jesus himself.

      So I think we have to consider the possibility that these discrepancies are actually evidence that the Bible is not inspired in any way — that they story of the resurrection is only a story. While it’s true that the recounting of actual events sometimes includes mistakes or discrepancies, it’s also true that investigators view discrepancies in an alibi as reason to be suspicious of it.

      Anyway, just thought I’d add that to the conversation. Thanks to both of you for the interesting discussion.

      • plasticpatrick says:

        “I’d like to say how much I appreciate your considerate tone”, well if we can’t be civil, how can we say that we love each other, or from my perspective, how could I claim that I love you if I am verbally (textually) berating you? They will know that we are Christians by our love. Too many (well meaning?) blowhards forget this simple truth. I actually consider any “exchristian” to be just in a wider orbit. You will never forget your experiences so hopefully you will come back when you’ve satisfied your curiosity. In my mind we are still brothers.

        “In fact, I think we have at least 5 completely different accounts of how Matthew died.”
        Did any of them involve a natural death? I know many of the early stories of the church
        are likely apocryphal but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a grain of truth to it.

        “For one, even if Mark and Luke were really the authors of the books ascribed to them, neither of them knew Jesus.”
        Mark did know Jesus. He is supposed to be one of the seventy disciples and he was likely at the Garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was arrested. Check out the Wiki article on him.
        Luke is very clear at the beginning of his book that he is basing it on the facts he has collected so there is certainly no deception there.

        All the best.

  3. unklee says:

    exrelayman, I too don’t think disputation should go very far, but I believe you are mistaken and I have been fair. So let me justify my statements and invite you to justify yours.

    Helmut Koester (Harvard University, and not a christian as far as I can tell): “Classical authors are often represented by but one surviving manuscript; if there are half a dozen or more, one can speak of a rather advantageous situation for reconstructing the text. But there are nearly five thousand manuscripts of the NT in Greek… The only surviving manuscripts of classical authors often come from the Middle Ages, but the manuscript tradition of the NT begins as early as the end of II CE; it is therefore separated by only a century or so from the time at which the autographs were written. Thus it seems that NT textual criticism possesses a base which is far more advantageous than that for the textual criticism of classical authors.”

    Michael Grant (a classical historian, not a Biblical historian, and not a believer) says in NT study we should “apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material” and concludes “the picture they [the Gospels] present is largely authentic”.

    Maurice Casey (who calls himself “an independent historian” and is not a believer) says
    [Mark’s sources] were literally accurate accounts of incidents and saying from the life and teachings of Jesus”. He concludes that the 3 synoptic gospels contain “old and authentic sources, some of which were written by eyewitnesses of the historic ministry”. Casey’s views are sometimes controversial, but respected.

    I could quote many more. Yes, there are problems. Yes, the scholars disagree over many things. But the main reason they can disagree is precisely because we have so much evidence. Like Koester says, for most ancient writings we have too few documents to argue over, but the NT has so many that there is plenty of scope for finding alternative readings and interpretations.

    How you interpret is of course completely up to you, but surely the consensus of the scholars on the relative richness of sources for the NT should be our common starting point?

    Best wishes

    • Nate says:

      Sorry to jump in, but I just wanted to add two things.

      I agree that we have an amazing number of Greek manuscripts for the NT, and this is a wonderful thing. At the same time, I don’t think we should be too shocked by that, because the overwhelming majority come many centuries after the autographs were written, and they come from a time in which most copyists were Catholic. It’s not surprising that they would copy Christian manuscripts.

      I think the NT is reasonably accurate history, and just like all ancient history, we should accept the parts that seem likely and be skeptical of the parts that seem unlikely.

    • exrelayman says:

      I appreciate the courtesy of your reply. I am not willing to go to the work involved in digging up qualified people (from the other side of the belief issue) I could quote supporting my position – we both know there is no end of this. As to “…but surely the consensus of the scholars on the relative richness of sources for the NT should be our common starting point?”, again, I am not able to agree.

      Many Christian scholars agree that the other synoptics appeared later than Mark and copied vast amounts from Mark (I do not claim this is the only view). In such a scenario, there is one primary source, the other writers elaborating upon it according to their doctrinal agendas. Whether this is the case (or not) doesn’t seem to be provable, but I think it appears the most reasonable in light of the internal evidence of the gospels themselves. Oh, you might throw in Q, making 2 primary sources – still not a richness of sources to me. A feature that does hurt the credibility of the gospels for me is that often when both Mark and Matthew report the same miraculous incident, the details are improved in Matthew to make the story more impressive. IE, the legend grows with the retelling.

      Any contemporary Christian or secular reports about Jesus? Not a one. Doesn’t get me to a place of richness of sources.

      This is my last say in this thread at least. Thanks for keeping it courteous.

      • unklee says:

        Thanks. I too appreciate the courtesy, and I don’t want to take advantage of your quitting the discussion, but I will nevertheless reply because I think there are some misunderstandings in your response.

        “I am not willing to go to the work involved in digging up qualified people (from the other side of the belief issue) I could quote supporting my position – we both know there is no end of this.”
        It is not a matter of belief (the scholars I quoted were not believers as far as I can tell), but of expertise, and almost all experts say the documents are historically useful.

        “the other synoptics appeared later than Mark and copied vast amounts from Mark … there is one primary source”
        Mark is considered the best and earliest source, but the sources scholars call Q (used by both Matthew and Luke), M (used by Matthew) & L (used by Luke) are all primary sources too. And even John is making a comeback, with it now being recognised that his gospel is based on an early, primary and eyewitness source, though much reflection has been included as well.

        “the legend grows with the retelling”
        This is only half the story. Sometimes the details are reduced in the later gospels. And using the word “legend” is not fair either – virtually no-one these days thinks the stories are legends, whatever else they may be.

        “Any contemporary Christian or secular reports about Jesus? Not a one.”
        And this too is misleading. If we only allowed contemporary (= exactly at the same time) sources, we’d have very little ancient history. It just isn’t a criterion that historians use, though it is much-loved by atheists. The fact remains that we have many sources and closer to the events than for most historical events.

        Best wishes.

  4. M. Rodriguez says:

    I think PlasticPatrick brings up a good, in the issue of the same story with the same different viewpoints. However in telling a story, one would realize that even in giving a story, the major details would not contradict. Minor details maybe. so for example in watching a car accident, a minor detail might be the color of a car, (which is easily forgettable.) But one won’t forget something major like if someone died or was hit in the accident. That would be majored. So in your example of his resurection at the tomb. We actually have a discrepancy in story. How many people were at the tomb of Jesus. One might say this is minor. However when one considers the possibile answers. It is no longer considered minor but major. One Angel- Matthew 28:2-7 One Young Man- Mark 16:5 Two Men- Luke 24:4 Two Angels- John 20:12

    For if an angel was there, that is very memorable, and would not be a minor detail. I can’t see how anybody would consider that a minor detail.

  5. unklee says:

    Except “angel” means “messenger”, and doesn’t necessarily mean “a glorious shining figure with wings”. So I’m not sure if anyone can necessarily tell the difference between a man and an angel. Most historians would regard this as minor, especially as “one” doesn’t preclude “two”.

    In fact, scholar John Wenham has constructed a perfectly believable reconstruction of the resurrection stories that fits everything in consistently – see Was Jesus raised from the dead?. He doesn’t say it is what happened, but argues it shows that the events are not as inconsistent as everyone says.

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