The testimony of Boyd K. Packer

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Gazelam
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The testimony of Boyd K. Packer

Post by Gazelam »

A while ago Scratch asked me regarding any testimonies the brethren had made of being a witness to the Savior. The most recent one I knew of was that of Lorenzo Snow. That has now changed.

Boyd K. Packer, “‘The Spirit Beareth Record’,” Ensign, Jun 1971, 87

Image

It was one year ago today, in a solemn assembly, that we had the privilege of raising our hands to sustain the authorities of the Church, much as we have done this morning. It was on that April morning that I heard my name read as one presented for your sustaining vote as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. It became my obligation to stand with those other living men who have been called as special witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the earth.

You must have wondered, as I did, why this call should come to me. It seemed accidental at times, that I was preserved in worthiness, yet there was always the constant, quiet, lingering feeling about being guided and being prepared.

It has been our privilege this morning to raise our hands to sustain the President of the Church. I count that a great privilege and special obligation, for I have a witness about him.

Some weeks before the meeting of last April, I left the office one Friday afternoon thinking of the weekend conference assignment. I waited for the elevator to come down from the fifth floor.

As the elevator doors quietly opened, there stood President Joseph Fielding Smith. There was a moment of surprise in seeing him, since his office is on a lower floor.

As I saw him framed in the doorway, there fell upon me a powerful witness—there stands the prophet of God. That sweet voice of Spirit that is akin to light, that has something to do with pure intelligence, affirmed to me that this was the prophet of God.

I need not try to define that experience to Latter-day Saints. That kind of witness is characteristic of this church. It is not something reserved to those in high office. It is a witness, not only available but vital, to every member.

As it is with the President, so it is with his counselors.

North of us in the Wasatch Range stand three mountain peaks. The poet would describe them as mighty pyramids of stone. The center one, the highest of the three, the map would tell you is Willard Peak. But the pioneers called them “The Presidency.” If you should go to Willard, look to the east, and up, way up, there stands “The Presidency.”

Thank God for the presidency. Like those peaks, they stand with nothing above them but the heavens. They need our sustaining vote. It is sometimes lonely in those lofty callings of leadership—for their calling is not to please man, but to please the Lord. God bless these three great and good men.

Occasionally during the past year I have been asked a question. Usually it comes as a curious, almost an idle, question about the qualifications to stand as a witness for Christ. The question they ask is, “Have you seen Him?”

That is a question that I have never asked of another. I have not asked that question of my brethren in the Quorum, thinking that it would be so sacred and so personal that one would have to have some special inspiration, indeed, some authorization, even to ask it.

There are some things just too sacred to discuss. We know that as it relates to the temples. In our temples, sacred ordinances are performed; sacred experiences are enjoyed. And yet we do not, because of the nature of them, discuss them outside those sacred walls.

It is not that they are secret, but they are sacred; not to be discussed, but to be harbored and to be protected and regarded with the deepest of reverence.

I have come to know what the prophet Alma meant:

“… It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

“And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.” (Alma 12:9–10.)

There are those who hear testimonies borne in the Church, by those in high station and by members in the wards and branches, all using the same words—“I know that God lives; I know that Jesus is the Christ,” and come to question, “Why cannot it be said in plainer words? Why aren’t they more explicit and more descriptive? Cannot the apostles say more?”

How like the sacred experience in the temple becomes our personal testimony. It is sacred, and when we are wont to put it into words, we say it in the same way—all using the same words. The apostles declare it in the same phrases with the little Primary or Sunday School youngster. “I know that God lives and I know that Jesus is the Christ.”

We would do well not to disregard the testimonies of the prophets or of the children, for “he imparteth his words by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times which confound the wise and the learned.” (Alma 32:23.)

Some seek for a witness to be given in some new and dramatic and different way.

The bearing of a testimony is akin to a declaration of love. The romantics and poets and couples in love, from the beginning of time, have sought more impressive ways of saying it, or singing it, or writing it. They have used all of the adjectives, all of the superlatives, all manner of poetic expression. And when all is said and done, the declaration which is most powerful is the simple, three-word variety.

To one who is honestly seeking, the testimony borne in these simple phrases is enough, for it is the spirit that beareth record, not the words.

There is a power of communication as real and tangible as electricity. Man has devised the means to send images and sound through the air to be caught on an antenna and reproduced and heard and seen. This other communication may be likened to that, save it be a million times more powerful, and the witness it brings is always the truth.

There is a process by which pure intelligence can flow, by which we can come to know of a surety, nothing doubting.

I said there was a question that could not be taken lightly nor answered at all without the prompting of the Spirit. I have not asked that question of others, but I have heard them answer it—but not when they were asked. They have answered it under the prompting of the Spirit, on sacred occasions, when “the Spirit beareth record.” (D&C 1:39.)

I have heard one of my brethren declare: “I know from experiences, too sacred to relate, that Jesus is the Christ.”

I have heard another testify: “I know that God lives; I know that the Lord lives. And more than that, I know the Lord.”

It was not their words that held the meaning or the power. It was the Spirit. “… for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.” (2 Ne. 33:1.)

I speak upon this subject in humility, with the constant feeling that I am the least in every way of those who are called to this holy office.

I have come to know that the witness does not come by seeking after signs. It comes through fasting and prayer, through activity and testing and obedience. It comes through sustaining the servants of the Lord and following them.

Karl G. Maeser was taking a group of missionaries across the Alps. As they reached a summit, he stopped. Gesturing back down the trail to some poles set in the snow to mark the way across the glacier, he said, “Brethren, there stands the Priesthood. They are just common sticks like the rest of us … but the position they hold makes them what they are to us. If we step aside from the path they mark, we are lost.” 1

The witness depends upon sustaining his servants as we have done here in sign and as we should do in action.

Now, I wonder with you why one such as I should be called to the holy apostleship. There are so many qualifications that I lack. There is so much in my effort to serve that is wanting. As I have pondered on it, I have come to only one single thing, one qualification in which there may be cause, and that is, I have that witness.

I declare to you that I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that he lives. He was born in the meridian of time. He taught his gospel, was tried, was crucified. He rose on the third day. He was the first fruits of the resurrection. He has a body of flesh and bone. Of this I bear testimony. Of him I am a witness. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Post by The Nehor »

I've heard three Apostles talk about their witnesses, one of them was teaching the congregation the route towards having a similar witness.
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Post by DonBradley »

Don't make too much of this.

The man is purposely vague about the nature of the experience. While Joseph Smith and earlier LDS leaders were willing to openly bear clear testimony of having seen Christ, Packer says that a witness is too sacred for him to clarify whether it involves seeing Christ or not.

And, for what it's worth, Steve Benson claims that Packer's 'witness' experience was something that occurred on his mission and had nothing to do with seeing Jesus.

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Post by Inconceivable »

DonBradley wrote:Don't make too much of this.

The man is purposely vague about the nature of the experience. While Joseph Smith and earlier LDS leaders were willing to openly bear clear testimony of having seen Christ, Packer says that a witness is too sacred for him to clarify whether it involves seeing Christ or not.


One man's personal sacred experience is another man's horn to blow.

It didn't seem too sacred to a real man of God like Joseph Smith.


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Post by Blixa »

As the elevator doors quietly opened, there stood President Joseph Fielding Smith. There was a moment of surprise in seeing him, since his office is on a lower floor.

As I saw him framed in the doorway, there fell upon me a powerful witness—there stands the prophet of God. That sweet voice of Spirit that is akin to light, that has something to do with pure intelligence, affirmed to me that this was the prophet of God.


This is seems much more a witness to the divinity of Joseph Fielding Smith, more than anything else....

North of us in the Wasatch Range stand three mountain peaks. The poet would describe them as mighty pyramids of stone. The center one, the highest of the three, the map would tell you is Willard Peak. But the pioneers called them “The Presidency.” If you should go to Willard, look to the east, and up, way up, there stands “The Presidency.”


I'd never heard this before, Gazelam. Thanks for this folklore tidbit.
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Post by Black Moclips »

What I don't understand is why the ancient apostles had no problems proclaiming that Jesus lived and was resurrected because they had seen him but yet today, its too special and too sacred and all we get is vague implications. I would think that would be a wonderful thing to proclaim long and loud, that you had seen God and/or Jesus.
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Post by truth dancer »

I find it odd that members of the church claim things the leaders do not claim... and make excuses for why the leaders are not proclaiming things they feel they should.

If a prophet does not claim to see and speak with Jesus Christ, why make the assumption he has?

If President Hinckley says he receives revelation through a still small voice, or a feeling... why claim he is just not telling the full story?

If Gordon B. Hinckley states that he does not know much about something... why claim he is not telling the truth?

Maybe the prophets today do not come out and state that they have seen Jesus Christ is because they haven't!

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Post by Doctor Steuss »

The Nehor wrote:[...] one of them was teaching the congregation the route towards having a similar witness.


I assume you are referring to McConkie(?)
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Post by The Nehor »

Doctor Steuss wrote:
The Nehor wrote:[...] one of them was teaching the congregation the route towards having a similar witness.


I assume you are referring to McConkie(?)


No, this Apostle is still alive. He taught that as you progress in light and knowledge that light would grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day and then defined the perfect day as the day you would physically behold the Savior and described as best he could what it was like and how to also accomplish it.

I've also had a close friend who came to me crying and told me he'd received the Second Comforter and a perfect witness but said he couldn't say anything more than that. I took him out to dinner to a quiet restaurant and we had one of the most spiritual discussions of my life about sanctification. Though no details came out I believe him.

I think it might be good to note that Joseph was reluctant to discuss the First Vision a lot. When the missionaries first went forth the story began with Moroni. Joseph must have told some friends because the First Vision details were out earlier but in many cases they melded into the Moroni Story and the two were endlessly muddled. The publication of the account in the Pearl of Great Price was specifically to clear up all the confusion around the two events. Of the writings and words of Joseph Smith that I have read I can't recall him discoursing on the First Vision. I don't think he liked to discuss it openly.
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Post by The Nehor »

truth dancer wrote:I find it odd that members of the church claim things the leaders do not claim... and make excuses for why the leaders are not proclaiming things they feel they should.

If a prophet does not claim to see and speak with Jesus Christ, why make the assumption he has?

If President Hinckley says he receives revelation through a still small voice, or a feeling... why claim he is just not telling the full story?

If Gordon B. Hinckley states that he does not know much about something... why claim he is not telling the truth?

Maybe the prophets today do not come out and state that they have seen Jesus Christ is because they haven't!

~dancer~


I believe they're proclaiming what they should. I believe his revelation comes from a still, small voice most of the time and that he is telling the truth when he says he doesn't know about something. He might have suspicians and thoughts on the subject but he's under no obligation to share those. I also believe them when they say they're ordinary men who have had a special witness of Christ.
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Post by Doctor Steuss »

The Nehor wrote:[...]

I think it might be good to note that Joseph was reluctant to discuss the First Vision a lot. When the missionaries first went forth the story began with Moroni. Joseph must have told some friends because the First Vision details were out earlier but in many cases they melded into the Moroni Story and the two were endlessly muddled. The publication of the account in the Pearl of Great Price was specifically to clear up all the confusion around the two events. Of the writings and words of Joseph Smith that I have read I can't recall him discoursing on the First Vision. I don't think he liked to discuss it openly.


It's interesting you bring this up. Terryl Givens (my infallible man-crush) had this to say on the FV (emphasis mine):

From “By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion,” 2003 Paperback Edition (New York: Oxford University Press), pages 9-10

Like many seekers of the Second Awakening, the young Smith found himself caught up in a scene of fervid revivalism and confused by the competing claims of ministers seeking converts. Deciding to pray for heavenly guidance, Smith had retired to the woods to ask God which church he should join. On that early spring morning in 1820, two personages, identifying themselves as God the Father and Jesus Christ, had appeared to the boy in a grove of trees on his father’s homestead (2). Though it may be true, as Mormon historian Richard Bushman writes, that in seeking such guidance “an answer for himself must be an answer for the entire world” and that with the vision “a new era in history began,” the boy’s initial reading was clearly less grandiose (3). His personal quest for spiritual guidance may have precipitated an epiphany on the order of Paul’s on the road to Damascus, but the important truths he learned were that his personal sins were forgiven and that he should hold himself aloof from the sects of his day. Although the timing and the naming of the event assign it absolute primacy in the founding of Mormonism, the vision was described by the young Joseph and apparently interpreted by him at the time as a private experience with no greater implications for the world at large or for Christian believers generally. In returning from the divine visitation, his understated remark, to his mother was simply, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” (4)

In fact, so far was Smith at this point from universalizing his private revelation that his own mother continued her affiliation with the Presbyterian church for another several years. Apparently Smith did share his experience with at least a few persons outside the family circle, for he later said that he was chastised by the clergy and ridiculed by neighbors for his claims (5). It was not until 1832 that he actually recorded the event, and he withheld publishing a version until 1842, just two years before his death (6). Accordingly, neither Smith nor Mormon missionaries made much mention of the vision in the early years of Mormonism (7). Even in the 1830 “Revelation on Church Organization and Government,” a kind of manifesto that heralded the church’s formal founding, the vision received no more than a passing, cryptic allusion to a time when “it was truly manifested unto this first elder [Joseph Smith] that he had received a remission of his sins.” (8 ) Clearly, the experience was understood at the time, and even scripturally portrayed, as part of a personal conversion narrative, not the opening scene in a new gospel dispensation.


Endnotes:
(2). Between 1832 and 1842, Joseph would write or dictate several accounts of this vision. In the first, he mentions only on personage. See Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith, vol. 1, Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), for those versions as well as some contemporary secondhand accounts.

(3). Richard L. Bushman’s account of early Mormonism is the best to date. See his Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 55,57

(4). Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., ed. James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, William W. Phelps, Willard Richards, George A. Smith, and later B.H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1902-12; 2nd rev. ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1951), 1:6. Bushman observes that the confusion of the prophet’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, over the details of Joseph’s first vision seems to confirm that he shared few particulars of his experience even with close family. As Bushman notes, “even twelve years after the event the First Vision’s personal significance for him still overshadowed its place in the divine plan.” (Bushman, Joseph Smith, 56).

(5). Disapproval by “one of the Methodist preachers” – probably George Lane – is the only specific instance he provides of the “severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious” referred to in his personal history (JS-H 1:21-27).

(6). Two years before the publication of Joseph’s official version in 1842, his friend Orson Pratt had published an account related to him by the prophet. See An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records (Edinburgh: Ballyntyne and Hughes, 1840). For a study of the different accounts of the First Vision, see Milton V. Backman Jr., Joseph Smith’s First Vision (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980).

(7) See James B. Allen, “The Significance of Joseph Smith’s ‘First Vision’ in Mormon Thought,” Dialogue 1 (autumn 1966): 29-45; Marvin Hill, “On the First Vision and Its Importance in the Shaping of Early Mormonism,” Dialogue 12 (spring 1979): 90-99; James B. Allen, “The Emergence of a Fundamental: The Expanding Role of Joseph Smith’s First Vision in Mormon Thought,” Journal of Mormon History 7 (1980): 43-61.

(8 ). Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 20:5. In 1833, a compilation of revelations received by Joseph Smith was published as the Book of Commandments. In 1835, the volume was expanded and republished as the Doctrine and Covenants. This volume, along with the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price, is one of the “standard works” considered scripture by Latter-day Saints.



PS
Here's the McConkie dilly I was thinking of: http://www.lightplanet.com/Mormons/dail ... ie_how.htm
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Post by The Nehor »

Doctor Steuss wrote:It's interesting you bring this up. Terryl Givens (my infallible man-crush) had this to say on the FV (emphasis mine):

From “By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion,” 2003 Paperback Edition (New York: Oxford University Press), pages 9-10

Like many seekers of the Second Awakening, the young Smith found himself caught up in a scene of fervid revivalism and confused by the competing claims of ministers seeking converts. Deciding to pray for heavenly guidance, Smith had retired to the woods to ask God which church he should join. On that early spring morning in 1820, two personages, identifying themselves as God the Father and Jesus Christ, had appeared to the boy in a grove of trees on his father’s homestead (2). Though it may be true, as Mormon historian Richard Bushman writes, that in seeking such guidance “an answer for himself must be an answer for the entire world” and that with the vision “a new era in history began,” the boy’s initial reading was clearly less grandiose (3). His personal quest for spiritual guidance may have precipitated an epiphany on the order of Paul’s on the road to Damascus, but the important truths he learned were that his personal sins were forgiven and that he should hold himself aloof from the sects of his day. Although the timing and the naming of the event assign it absolute primacy in the founding of Mormonism, the vision was described by the young Joseph and apparently interpreted by him at the time as a private experience with no greater implications for the world at large or for Christian believers generally. In returning from the divine visitation, his understated remark, to his mother was simply, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” (4)

In fact, so far was Smith at this point from universalizing his private revelation that his own mother continued her affiliation with the Presbyterian church for another several years. Apparently Smith did share his experience with at least a few persons outside the family circle, for he later said that he was chastised by the clergy and ridiculed by neighbors for his claims (5). It was not until 1832 that he actually recorded the event, and he withheld publishing a version until 1842, just two years before his death (6). Accordingly, neither Smith nor Mormon missionaries made much mention of the vision in the early years of Mormonism (7). Even in the 1830 “Revelation on Church Organization and Government,” a kind of manifesto that heralded the church’s formal founding, the vision received no more than a passing, cryptic allusion to a time when “it was truly manifested unto this first elder [Joseph Smith] that he had received a remission of his sins.” (8 ) Clearly, the experience was understood at the time, and even scripturally portrayed, as part of a personal conversion narrative, not the opening scene in a new gospel dispensation.



Thanks for posting this.

In the final account of the First Vision Joseph said that he learned only that the Church of Christ was not on the Earth but would later be made known to him. In the beginning I think it was a personal quest and a personal answer. I imagine if it were me I would assume that someone else would restore it and I would later join it. When he went to pray again before Moroni's first visit it wasn't to work on restoring the Church it was to repent of his sins. I suspect (but cannot prove) that Joseph finally understood what he was being asked to do when visited by Peter, James, and John.
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Post by Doctor Steuss »

The Nehor wrote:[...]I suspect (but cannot prove) that Joseph finally understood what he was being asked to do when visited by Peter, James, and John.


This is certainly an interesting thought. I have often wondered (especially after reading Givens' take on the FV) when Joseph began to understand/believe himself to be a prophet. Along your thoughts… I wonder if receiving the priesthood would equate (in his mind) to being given the prophetic mantle, or if perhaps it may have been even later when he realized/began to believe himself to be a prophet.

I'm gonna have to meditate on this one for a while. Thanks for getting me thinking -- now hopefully it won't result in me injuring myself.
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Duty to Witness

Post by John Larsen »

If I were a "Special Witness" of Jesus Christ, wouldn't it be my duty to witness? What better way to witness then to proclaim "I know that Jesus lives for I have seen him!"?

To me this is like being called as a witness in court to witness in behalf of a friend, tried for Murder. I am the key witness because I saw him in my house at the time of the murder, thus providing an alibi. However, when I take the stand, I proclaim that he is a good father, a trusted friend, a smart guy, etc. Why not cut to the chase?

With the notoriety the Church has, wouldn't it be better to just proclaim that they have met Jesus? There would be a hundred cameras in Salt Lake in about 6 hours and they could deliver their message to the world.

Packer's caginess on this issue makes no sense.

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Post by Doctor Steuss »

I wish Paul would have cut to the chase:

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
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Post by Jason Bourne »

Gazelam

Where is the witness? Even before I had questions I found this talk a fine bit of obsfucation. In other words he says "We will keep you guessing." Where is the bold statements such as we see in Joseph Smith's history, or the witness of apostle and prophets of old. If they really have seen the savior declare it. If not don't obsfucate. My guess is they have not seen Jesus and so instead of saying so they dodge around it like this.

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Post by Polygamy Porter »

Some things that are true are not very useful.

"The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect" Elder Boyd K. Packer, August 22 1981, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

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Post by Doctor Steuss »

Polygamy Porter wrote:Some things that are true are not very useful.

"The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect" Elder Boyd K. Packer, August 22 1981, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah


Dog poop smells.

I have yet to find a way that this truth is very useful.
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Post by barrelomonkeys »

Doctor Steuss wrote:Dog poop smells.

I have yet to find a way that this truth is very useful.


It alerts you not to step into it. Duh. You must have smelly feet.

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Post by Doctor Steuss »

barrelomonkeys wrote:
Doctor Steuss wrote:Dog poop smells.

I have yet to find a way that this truth is very useful.


It alerts you not to step into it. Duh. You must have smelly feet.


Which explains my single status.
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Post by Tarski »

Doctor Steuss wrote:Dog poop smells.

I have yet to find a way that this truth is very useful.


The fact that poop smells bad is important. We know for example that it would be a bad idea to store fertilizer in one's closet or under ones bed.
Evolution built into us the perception of the odor as unpleasant for good reasons related to health and disease.

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