Talk:List of atheist authors

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I don't understand if this is supposed to be a warning or not.

Its not, it is supposed to be a talk page for the article entitled: 'List of atheists'. EchetusXe (talk) 20:17, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

who the hell created that giant mess of code at the bottom of the references? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:22, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Andre Breton[edit]

Andre Breton should be on this list. he is already on the total list of atheists, and seeing as he is a writer (i have his book Nadja sitting on my desk right now, he should also be on this list.

Here is a quote from Andre himself, "To speak of God, to think of God, is in every respect to show what one is made of.... I have always wagered against God and I regard the little that I have won in this world as simply the outcome of this bet. However paltry may have been the stake (my life) I am conscious of having won to the full. Everything that is doddering, squint-eyed, vile, polluted and grotesque is summoned up for me in that one word: God!" - Andre Breton. This quote is from a footnote from his work, Surrealism and Painting. Quotations by the poet: Andre Breton I hope anyone doesn't mind, but unless there is contrary evidence, I think Breton should stay labeled as an atheist.--Ninmacer20 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 15:03, 6 April 2012 (UTC).

Stephen Massicotte[edit]

Canadian playwright; "internationally acclaimed", apparently; gets masses of hits on Google. Doesn't have his own page, but will doubtless get one eventually -- I might try to knock one up. Meanwhile, here's details for him, for when he stops being in red:

Massicotte thinks your religion is stupid

Oolon (talk) 13:02, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Well, he's turned blue now, so he's added. Oolon (talk) 11:07, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Journalist James Hider[edit]

Another who will likely turn blue eventually. Meanwhile...

(ref>"Hider is more afraid of spiders than of God's wrath. (He's an atheist and says he has seen nothing while reporting various Middle Eastern wars to convince him otherwise)." Time review of Hider's The Spiders of Allah: Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War.</ref)

Oolon (talk) 14:27, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Tate and Golding[edit]

I removed both William Golding and Allen Tate from this list. Golding because the quote mentioned only stated that he had been raised by his father to be an atheist, but said nothing about his own beliefs. As for Tate, the biography of him that was quoted only covers the first 39 years of his life---he spent the last 29 years of his life a Catholic. I would also remove Graham Greene, because while I am aware of his statements in later life about having become an atheist or agnostic, he did receive extreme unction (more commonly known as the last rites) before his death. However, since I know there are some who question whether or not this signified that he had reaffirmed his faith or not, I'll let you have him. Corbmobile (talk) 17:44, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks again for setting the record straight on Tate. I restored Golding, because the source says that Golding learned to be an atheist, not just that his father tried to raise him to be an atheist (an effort that may or may not have been successful). If Golding learned to be an atheist, then his father's efforts were successful, and Golding was an atheist. Since Greene explicitly referred to himself as an "atheist Catholic," I agree that his participation in a Catholic rite does not necessarily indicate belief in God. Nick Graves (talk) 20:27, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
It says he learned it, I don't believe that necessarily means he accepted it; and the rest of the quote seems to indicate he didn't. I'd like actual proof, a statement of his own; I won't start a revert war, but until you give me that I aver that his inclusion on this list is nothing more than the cherry picking quotes out of context so you can put the people you like on your list. Corbmobile (talk) 22:43, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Here's the pertinent quote: "Golding learned from his father, a science master at Marlborough grammar school, to be a rationalist, a sceptic and an atheist." This means that, among other things Golding learned, he learned to be an atheist. No matter the context surrounding this sentence, its meaning is about as plain as can be, and one need not "cherry pick" anything to come to the conclusion that Golding was an atheist. Golding learned to be an atheist. This means he wasn't just in the process of learning--the learning was complete; and he wasn't just passively taught to be an atheist--he was an active participant. Golding learned to be an atheist. In other words, the consequence of his having learned is not just that he attained knowledge, or an ability, but a state of being (being an atheist, that is). You're asking for a statement from Golding to confirm his atheism, but that's not a hurdle that needs to be cleared for us to conclude here that he was an atheist, since we have a reliable secondary source that confirms his atheism. Nick Graves (talk) 01:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
After scouring the internet for a quote from Golding that you would find convincing, I found an essay of his in which he states "I was an atheist at the time." This pretty clearly implies that Golding was not an atheist at the time that he wrote that. I concede. Nick Graves (talk) 01:51, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

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Salman Rushdie[edit]

Surely Salman Rushdie, who is currently wanted in most of the Muslim world for being an atheist, belongs on this list. I would do it myself, but I'm afraid I'm not exactly sure how one is supposed to cite these things! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:41, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

The fatwa against him or that his book is seen as anti-Muslim is ancedotal evidence. I've read it and think he's most angry at religious leaders for manipulating their followers than religion itself (Jesus was in the same boat). As another wiki shows, it's not a clearcut question. (talk) 16:03, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
    • there is no clear statement of Rushdie where he claims to be an atheist.Skashifakram (talk) 07:29, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
    • All the current references identify Rushdie as a 'secular' or a former muslim,please dont insert opinion of other authors in violation of biography of a living person.Thank You.Skashifakram (talk) 06:23, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

Naguib Mahfouz[edit]

This is another nonsense attempt of atheists to prove any significant person is atheist.The reference is a personal opinion of an author who had no good connection with Mahfouz and why don't you check this reference?[1]“Naguib Mahfouz – The Son of Two Civilizations” by 'Anders Hallengren',article on Naguib Mahfouz,Nobel Foundation, retrieved March 24, 2012,“a pious Moslem believer”Skashifakram (talk) 07:38, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

Percy Bysse Shelley[edit]

He should not be included until a sound logic is not given about his personal belief.I have created an article named “List of Muslim Nobel Laureates” but that does not mean that I am a Muslim.Alain de Botton calls religion a good social thing,but this does not mean he is religious,he is an atheist.Moreover, the book written by Percy Bysse Shelley is more about necessity of agnosticism than atheism.Diversity is important in a society, we no longer disagree with shelley.Persecution is not a proof of disbelief.Galilio was also persecuted but he was a Catholic.Please don't insert the name in the list till the dispute is over.Skashifakram (talk) 09:02, 1 April 2012 (UTC)

Aziz Nesin [edit]

I am not deleting this entry.I know,there are many atheists who may not be in this list, but poor referenced entries are not welcome, don't insert opinion of an author to validate a person's belief,until he himself declares so.In case of opinion references,please insert multiple references to strengthen your point.Please discuss it,otherwise it may be disputed and deleted.Skashifakram (talk) 06:29, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

Thomas Jefferson Hogg[edit]

Please give a more reliable source for Thomas Jefferson Hogg, otherwise it will be considered for deletion.For more details,refer to WP:BLPCAT.Thank You.--Skashifakram (talk) 06:48, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

Both the reference here and main article is poor, prompting me to delete the entry.I'll be happy if challanged with reliable sources.--Skashifakram (talk) 05:32, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Naomi Wood[edit]

Judging from the coverage her new novel is getting, she'll turn blue soon. So meanwhile, here's a ref for her for when she does: (ref>"I had been reading widely in the "God slot" – books like Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens's God is Not Great, and Sam Harris's The End of Faith. As an atheist, I agreed with their arguments but felt uncomfortable with the assault on religion's use to society." Naomi Wood, Paperback Q&A: Naomi Wood on The Godless Boys, The Guardian, 8 May 2012 (accessed 8 May 2012).</ref)


"Nontheism" and "nontheist" seem generally to be spelled without a hyphen. Would that be acceptable in this article's title? Nihil novi (talk) 22:05, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

Don't worry, I change the title again. Ninmacer20 (talk) 22:15, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

George Orwell[edit]

I don't understand what's the deal, there is much ambiguity in Orwell's personal belief, please consider giving more clear (and not personal comments of people who were not well connected with Orwell during his lifetime) references.Orwell was a member of Church of England, he married according to Christian rite and died according to Christian rite again, was a vocal supporter of Judeo-Christian morality and rallied for the cause of religious morality. Is it ok to label him atheist just some unrelated people think so?--Skashifakram (talk) 12:27, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Admin needed to return to original name[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: already moved. Favonian (talk) 09:50, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

List of atheist, agnostic, and nontheist authors.List of atheist authors – Will some admin rename this article back to the original "List of atheist authors" ? It has had that name for years. Changes to other names have been repeatedly proposed. Maybe the change is a good idea: but a lot more discussion needs to take place, probably an RfC. I sympathize with the person that did the rename today ... in fact, I proposed a similar name 2 years ago and it was not adopted. But more importantly: there are 20 articles named "List of atheist ABC" and we need some uniformity in the naming conventions. We cannot have one List (authors) with a peculiar name. --Noleander (talk) 05:10, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Seconded, I don't really see why we should mix up atheists and agnostics. unmi 11:43, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Probably a good idea, but the template at the top of the section gives the discussion 7 days to take place, to allow all interested parties the chance to comment, and I don't see any pressing need why the discussion shouldn't be given the full 7 days. John Carter (talk) 14:42, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Personally, I think it should re renamed sooner rather than later. The 7-day limit is just the general rule. In this situation, we have a very old article, which has had its title disputed several times, and a drive-by editor (User:Ninmacer20) renamed it yesterday without any discussion and entirely inconsistently with the other List of Atheist articles. This new name has a 0% chance of succeeding without an RfC. I tried to rename it myself yesterday, but there is a REDIRECT at the original name, so it wont permit non-admins to do the rename. BRD suggests that the article should be renamed now, and if User:Ninmacer20 still wants to rename, they should initiate an RfC at a central location like List of atheists Talk page. --Noleander (talk) 14:54, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Actually, when I think about it. Noleander, you're right. There is no need to rename this article. I'll change the title back to the original. Ninmacer20 (talk) 15:33, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Why did you put a period at the end? Powers T 19:44, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

That was a mistake, Powers. Next time, I'll know better. Ninmacer20 (talk) 21:09, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Details needed before tagging article[edit]

Perhaps this article needs some tags on POV, etc. But when adding tags, please create a new Talk page section which provides the details on the concerns. Be specific, give examples. In particular, suggest the kind of remedies that should be performed to remove the tag. Also, regarding "Needs Lead" tag: many list articles do not have leads, so if adding a lead tag: add some explanation of why a lead is needed for this list. See Wikipedia:Tagging pages for problems. --Noleander (talk) 16:02, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Definition of 'Atheism'[edit]

"More inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist." This is incorrect and confusing. An atheist believes that no deities exist. An absence of belief is called 'agnosticism' and it is quite different. This may explain the confusing overlap between the agnostic and atheist lists -- Charles Darwin, Robert A. Heinlein and George Soros are all on both lists. Is someone going to defend the case that the categories are not mutually exclusive? Perhaps we should also say that theism is "the absence of belief that deities don't exist" -- in which case we can all happily call atheists theists, and theists atheists!Brett epic (talk) 15:59, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

I hate to argue over semantics; however, you are treating agnostics can't be atheists as well. There is a term called agnostic atheism (Please look it up). Just because a person is listed/says he/she is an agnostic, doesn't means that he/she can't also be an atheist as well. (Of course, there has to be citations/evidence to back up these claims that these individuals are considered both.) One example is Bertrand Russell, a famous mathematician and writer. Russell himself, came up with the concept known as Russell's teapot (Please look into it), to justify his position as both an agnostic and an atheist. Here is a quote from Russell's himself, "I ought to call myself as an agnostic; but, for all practical purposes, I am an atheist. I do not think the existence of the Christian God any more probable than the existence of the Gods of Olympus or Valhalla. To take another illustration: nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot revolving in an elliptical orbit, but nobody thinks this sufficiently likely to be taken into account in practice. I think the Christian God just as unlikely." - Bertrand Russell. Citation: Garvey, Brian (2010). "Absence of evidence, evidence of absence, and the atheist’s teapot". Ars Disputandi 10: 9–22. (Note: You can find this citation also on the Russell's teapot article.)

Another example, is Richard Dawkins himself. Dawkins has said before that he was an agnostic. World's most notorious atheist Richard Dawkins admits he is in fact agnostic. Daily However, that does not rule out the fact that he stills considered himself to be an atheist. So, by using your definition of atheism, Russell and Dawkins would be excluded from this list (even though they have called themselves atheists). They are very few atheists that would say that they "deny" the existence of God.

Remember, just because a person is unsure about the existence of God, doesn't forbid the person to not believe in him as well. For example, I'm unsure about the existence of the Tooth fairy, however, due to lack of any evidence for this entity, I don't tend to believe in it. Do you see my point?

Anyway, I agree with you that Darwin and Heinlein were not atheists and should be removed from this list (unless there is evidence for it). Ninmacer20 (talk) 19:40, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Minor improvement proposal on birth/death dates[edit]

Wouldn't it be better not to refer to Christianty by usage of BC (before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini, in the year of the Lord)? The common secular replacement which I would propose is CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before the Common Era). This would be consistent with the contents of the lemma. — Preceding unsigned comment added by DocSorry (talkcontribs) 10:14, 31 August 2013 (UTC)


The BBC does not meet the standards of RS as scholarship on ancient Roman religion and literature, but let's set that aside for a moment: the quotation from the source states flatly that Lucretius did NOT deny the existence of the gods, so how does that make him an atheist? And please read the beginning of De rerum natura, which opens with a fervent invocation of the goddess Venus (here's a modern translation that's easy to access.) This is a misunderstanding of Epicurean materialism. They believed the soul existed, but was a sort of tissue of atoms that dissipated upon death and perished with the body. They believed that what most people of their time thought about anthropomorphic gods was incorrect, that the gods took no role in human affairs, and that the gods existed in an ideal state of detachment free of the disturbances of mortal existence. Epicurus instructed his followers to take part in their ethnic religions, to participate in the sacrifices, and not to make a fuss about it, because making a fuss would disturb their Epicurean tranquility. This is quite likely a bit of intellectual dishonesty to avoid the kinds of charges of atheism leveled against Socrates, but it's a well-documented part of Epicurean doctrine. I can waste my time providing sources for this, but the source cited here did not support the claim that Lucretius was an atheist. Epicureans were often accused of atheism, but tellingly in later antiquity they are (bizarrely to us today) linked with Christians as examples of atheists.

So you have to be very wary of what "atheism" is being used to mean in antiquity. There were indeed avowed atheists in antiquity, but the Epicureans were not among them. (Neither was Aristophanes, but I'll have to come back to that. You'd have better luck, though, showing that Euripides was regarded as an atheist.)

If you want a reliable source on atheism in antiquity, start with Jan Bremmer's chapter in The Cambridge History of Atheism. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:04, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Seamus Heaney[edit]

Seamus Heaney was not an atheist. His views on religion were far more complex than that, as anyone who's read a lot of his poetry would know. The single quote from him on which his inclusion in this list is based does reject a belief in an afterlife, which is not synonymous with a belief in a god or gods. (I wonder whether this is confused throughout the article.) There are belief systems in which the human soul is regarded as immortal or "recycling" apart from intervention by gods (see Karma in Hinduism), and systems in which there are gods but no afterlife for the individual human soul (as with the Epicureans above). It is certainly OR to extrapolate from Heaney's comment that because he sided with the atheist view on the afterlife on this occasion that he was also affirming that no god or gods exist and rejecting a religious view of the world. Heaney's article does not mention atheism, and its sole mention of religion (an obvious gap in coverage) is the statement quoted from a secondary source that "Station Island is less about a united Ireland than about a poet seeking religious and aesthetic unity." A poet seeking "religious unity" is obviously not an atheist in any meaningful way.

For further discussion of Heaney and religion, see Michael Cavanaugh, Professing Poetry: Seamus Heaney’s Poetics (2009), with such statements as:

  • p. 200 (following the quote given in the footnote to this article): "Simple 'atheism' as a solidified doctrine doesn't do justice to Heaney's feelings … . Moreover, nothing in 'atheism' explains why Heaney should sound orthodox sometimes, as he does in 'Joy or Night', when he complains that Larkin denies God's providence and fails to honor the Christmas season."
  • p. 200: "Is Heaney a pagan? There is evidence of his becoming one. One can say generally that what was once, long ago, Heaney's Catholic orthodoxy is replaced in midcareer by a kind of neopagan belief in ongoingness and 'ever-evolving' poetry, but this is only partially truthful because Heaney by his own admission was always a pagan as well as a Catholic, and because alongside his paganism there develops an intermittent transcendental strain in his thinking and feeling."
  • p. 201: "from the 1990s onward, Heaney is inclined to celebrate his Catholic background, not exactly for the doctrinal element, or for the pagan element, but for the access it seems to give to large vistas of space and time and feeling."
  • p. 201: Heaney himself is quoted as saying "From a very early age, my consciousness was expanding in response to the expanding universe of Catholic teaching about eternity and the soul and the sacraments and the mystical body and the infinite attentiveness of the Creator to the minutiae of your innermost thoughts. I didn't have to wait to read the Paradiso to know the vision it enshrines."
  • pp. 202–203: in describing Heaney's response to Larkin's explicitly atheist "Aubade": "from Heaney's Christian-humanist position, it is a deeply objectionable, because sacrilegious poem, an 'assault' on religion, to use Heaney's word."

p 203: "James Booth's similar assertion that Heaney's art is religious in its intention is certainly right".

Judging from a few of these figures who jumped out at me, it seems likely that this list article is a cherrypicked mess of OR. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:15, 21 September 2013 (UTC)


Aristophanes is yet another example of decontextualizing. The souce cited (supposedly the 19th-century theologian and translator Benjamin Jowett) does indeed say "Atheism or similar charges was not unusual among intellectuals, nor condemned by the masses. The prize-winning plays of Aristophanes were not merely atheist, but made fun of the gods and their prophets and oracles," but adds, "There is no record that Aristophanes was prosecuted for atheism, and some have speculated that comics enjoyed special immunities, though there is no evidence of this." Perhaps no evidence exists because Aristophanes was not an atheist? (Also, I'm having trouble determining that Jowett is actually the author of this ubiquitous "Mobile Reference" passage.) In fact, Aristophanes is famous for perpetrating criticisms of Socrates,[2] Euripides[3] and Diagoras[4][5] as atheists, which he hardly would have done were he an atheist himself. The trouble with scholarship before the mid-20th century is that it often defines religion and religious piety in Christian terms. If a writer mocks the gods, or the ridiculous views some people had of them, he must be an atheist. But since there were many forms of religious systems in which an individual could participate, an intellectual could reject some and accept others, or reinterpret Zeus as "God", as the Stoics did, or adopt abstract concepts of divinity along Neoplatonist lines. Ancient religion had no orthodoxy: some religious festivals even involved carnival elements of mockery.

Even in the Age of Enlightenment, Samuel Johnson recognized that "it cannot be conceived that Aristophanes should, without punishment, publish himself an atheist, unless we suppose that atheism was the opinion, likewise, of the spectators, and of the judges commissioned to examine the plays; and yet this cannot be suspected of those who boasted themselves the most religious nation, and, naturally, the most superstitious of all Greece. How can we suppose those to be atheists who passed sentence upon Diagoras, Socrates, and Alcibiades for impiety!"[6]

It's entirely likely that one could find RS of the last 30 years to call Aristophanes an atheist, but the dubious source cited is not one of them, and so far I'm unable to find any sources that contradict the view of Aristophanes that has been mainstream since the time of Johnson. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:55, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Hear, hear. Excellent argument. Binksternet (talk) 17:58, 21 September 2013 (UTC)
The reasoning that mocking gods, prophets, and oracles defines one as an atheist, seems out of touch with the modern world to begin with. How many comedy writers and/or actors have poked fun at such subjects without being remotely close to atheism? Dimadick (talk) 17:00, 22 September 2013 (UTC)

Adding individuals to this category may be in violation of several WP rules and guidelines[edit]

Statements and claims presented as a fact must be backed by balanced, certified and strong unequivocal research and scholarship with the help of multiple sources. Loose claims here and there are just opinions and does not amount to an fair and balanced view. Varying authors can be be used as a source for presenting an opinion for such and such, but it is still not to be deemed authoritative and conclusive.

Multiple sources and scholarly consensus must be the main aim when something is stated as a reasonable fact.

WP:CAT Categories regarding religious beliefs of a living person should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief in question (see WP:BLPCAT), either through direct speech or through action. For a dead person, there must be a verified consensus of reliable published sources that the description is appropriate.
WP:CHERRY fact picking. Instead of finding a balanced set of information about the subject, a coatrack goes out of its way to find facts that support a particular bias. An appropriate response to a coatrack article is to be bold and trim off excessive biased content
WP:EXCEPTIONAL - Exceptional claims require exceptional sources
WP:SCICON The statement that all or most scientists, scholars, or ministers hold a certain view requires a reliable source. Without it, opinions should be identified as those of particular, named sources. Editors should avoid original research especially with regard to making blanket statements based on novel syntheses of disparate material.
WP:FRINGE -A theory that is not broadly supported by scholarship in its field must not be given undue weight in an article
WP:YESPOV Ensure that the reporting of different views on a subject adequately reflects the relative levels of support for those views, and that it does not give a false impression of parity, or give undue weight to a particular view.
WP:WEIGHT -Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources.
WP:YESPOV -Avoid stating opinions as facts
WP:NOR -Any analysis or interpretation of the quoted material, however, should rely on a secondary source (See: WP:No original research)
These may be furthermore of use in view of the questionable quality of the list.
WP:NOTOPINION -Opinion pieces, although some topics, particularly those concerning current affairs and politics, may stir passions and tempt people to "climb soapboxes".
WP:NOTRELIABLE - Questionable sources are those that have a poor reputation for checking the facts, lack meaningful editorial oversight, or have an apparent conflict of interest.[8] Such sources include websites and publications expressing views that are widely considered by other sources to be extremist or promotional
WP:ASSERT When a statement is a fact (a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute) it should be asserted without prefixing it with "(Source) says that ...", and when a statement is an opinion (a matter which is subject to dispute) it should be attributed to the source that offered the opinion using inline-text attribution.
WP:SYN :Synthesis of published material that advances a position. Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources.
Thank you and hope to make Wikipedia a better place!
Pgarret (talk) 17:00, 9 November 2013 (UTC)


It would be nice if someone could change the alphabetical order of the various atheists in this article from alphabetization by given name to alphabetization by surname. Nihil novi (talk) 04:50, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

I have alphabetized this article's "Authors" section by surname, in keeping with nearly all the other "Lists of atheists".
Alphabetization by surname makes the list more useful: one can check much faster whether an author is (or was) an atheist.
I'm leaving the smaller, "Journalists" section to someone else to alphabetize. Nihil novi (talk) 11:32, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
I've started work on this. Sorry to leave it in a mess on this edit, but have to stop now. Will complete the task very soon. Metamagician3000 (talk) 14:19, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Now complete, but would someone please check for any errors. Metamagician3000 (talk) 22:15, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

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