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Author Topic:   Morality without God is impossible
GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 8 of 306 (872572)
02-28-2020 8:06 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
02-28-2020 4:20 AM


A Universal Morality
GDR writes:

… if we are the result of blind chance then it is my contention that there is no frame of reference for understanding morality.

Percy did make my point with what I meant by this statement and I stand by it. If there is no universal sense of morality that exists outside of human thought then I hold to that statement that there is no frame of reference for our sense of morality. Maybe the 9/11 bombers actually got it right and you and I have got it wrong.

Tangle writes:

It's been done before of course, but maybe we can confine this to why it's impossible for our sense of morality to emerge from the evolutionary processalone. (I'm interpreting GDR's derisive 'blind chance' phrase as a simile for the evolutionary process).

I can't say that I know it is impossible just as you can't say that you know that it is. I agree that morality has largely grown culturally but that doesn't prove anything. It is the same as physical evolution. We might be able to learn about the process but that doesn't answer the question of why the process exists in the first place.

Actually the evolution of morality is quite consistent with my own theological beliefs. I contend that humans have had a progressive understanding of the nature of God and how that should impact our lives from the beginning through today and then into the future. I contend, and certainly it's a belief, that along with all the cultural memes that there is a God meme that has over the centuries been an influencer along with the cultural memes.

Tangle writes:

The difficulty appears to lie in the assertion by believers that we can't know what right and wrong is without there being a god to tell us. The question is why not?

We either believe that there is a god that represents a universal morality or we believe that such an entity does not exist. Both views are subjective.

In general it does appear that there is a universal sense of morality in the Golden Rule. It isn't universal in the sense that everyone holds to it but it does seem to be represented in virtually all cultures and all of the major religions. If there is a universal law it suggests a universal law giver in the same way that the laws of physics suggests the same thing. Again, it is my belief and my belief is contrary to yours.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


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Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by jar, posted 02-28-2020 8:17 PM GDR has responded
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GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 10 of 306 (872575)
02-28-2020 8:25 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by jar
02-28-2020 8:17 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
jar writes:

And, thank God, that is correct. There is no universal sense of morality or absolute morality. Morality evolves and is defined by each culture.

But, as I pointed out there does seem to be a universal sense of morality as we see it in the The Golden Rule. This is from that site.
quote:
The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in many religions and cultures.[1] It can be considered an ethic of reciprocity in some religions, although other religions treat it differently. The maxim may appear as a positive or negative injunction governing conduct:

Treat others as you would like others to treat you (positive or directive form)
Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated (negative or prohibitive form)[1]
What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathic or responsive form)[1]
The idea dates at least to the early Confucian times (551–479 BC), according to Rushworth Kidder, who identifies that this concept appears prominently in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and "the rest of the world's major religions".[2] The concept of the Rule is codified in the Code of Hammurabi stele and tablets (1754-1790 BC).[citation needed] 143 leaders of the world's major faiths endorsed the Golden Rule as part of the 1993 "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic".[3][4] According to Greg M. Epstein, it is "a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely", but belief in God is not necessary to endorse it.[5] Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition".



He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by jar, posted 02-28-2020 8:17 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
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GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 14 of 306 (872621)
02-29-2020 8:39 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Hyroglyphx
02-29-2020 12:12 AM


Re: A Universal Morality
Hyroglyphx writes:

Even supposing morals are absolute, we have no way of knowing which morals are absolute and which are relative. Case in point, ISIS thinks that an execution is not murder and is in fact retributive justice. To other people its cold blooded murder. No consistency.

I don't disagree with that at all. We all make choices and we can accept and try and live out the Golden Rule or choose something else.

Hyroglyphx writes:

Even supposing morals were absolute there's no way to confirm where it comes from. Who is the source? Lots of people and different religions claim moral absolution that often contradict one another.... so how do you determine which is the real absolute moral?

We can't know. It is a matter of belief and faith.

Edited by GDR, : No reason given.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Hyroglyphx, posted 02-29-2020 12:12 AM Hyroglyphx has not yet responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 15 of 306 (872622)
02-29-2020 8:46 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by PaulK
02-29-2020 12:47 AM


Re: A Universal Morality
PaulK writes:

And as I said it is obviously wrong that there is no frame of reference. There is no provably correct frame of reference, but that is true anyway. You can’t prove the 9/11 bombers wrong either.

Again, I completely agree. I am simply saying that if there is a moral intelligence that is responsible for our existence then there can be an absolute morality, but we can't know it for a fact. Again, it is belief and faith.

PaulK writes:

Which puts your views uncomfortably close to that of the 9/11 bombers. Their self-justification relied on the idea that their actions would be approved by God.

They made their choice and it must be what they believed. However, atheists that have a strong sense of nationalism can do the same thing, so it can be as uncomfortably close on the other side of the table as well.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by PaulK, posted 02-29-2020 12:47 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
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GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 70 of 306 (872806)
03-04-2020 7:31 PM
Reply to: Message 65 by Stile
03-04-2020 12:15 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Stile writes:

And if such an absolute morality exists - it would be meaningless anyway.

Because we would all choose to decide to accept/agree with it or not individually - as this is how human morality functions.


In many ways you are right. However, if there is an absolute morality then there is a moral source for it. If that is the case then it makes sense that we would want to understand as much about that source of morality as we can and what it means to our lives. One of the things that it would strongly suggest that there is an ultimate purpose to us holding to that morality.

If however, we are just a fortunate result of mindless processes then ultimately this world will come to an end and it will all have meant nothing, and so why worry about morality at all and just live in whatever manner suits us which may conform to that ultimate morality or not.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 65 by Stile, posted 03-04-2020 12:15 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 74 by PaulK, posted 03-05-2020 12:02 PM GDR has responded
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GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 71 of 306 (872807)
03-04-2020 7:40 PM
Reply to: Message 68 by Tangle
03-04-2020 1:50 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Tangle writes:

How does this work?

“if there is a moral intelligence...
then there can be an absolute morality“

This obviously circular but I can see no reason at all that a creator need be moral.

I don't agree that it is circular although I can see why you would say that. It morality is simply what any group makes it out to be then there is no absolute morality. I suggest that innately we know that we should live by the golden rule whether we actually adhere to it or not. It seems to me that is as close as to being universal as we can get. I suggest that it is evidence that there is a universal morality that exists outside of human experience.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 68 by Tangle, posted 03-04-2020 1:50 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 72 by Tangle, posted 03-04-2020 8:34 PM GDR has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 73 of 306 (872820)
03-05-2020 11:37 AM
Reply to: Message 72 by Tangle
03-04-2020 8:34 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Tangle writes:

The existence of a moral intelligence does not require there to be an absolute morality.

No but it would make it possible and even likely.

Tangle writes:

In any case, I don't know what a moral intelligence would be.

God, Yahweh, Allah etc.

Tangle writes:

There is no absolute morality. Can you demonstrate one?

The Golden Rule

Tangle writes:

That simply does not follow. Just because we have an emotion we call morality does not mean that there is therefore a morality outside our existence. We have an emotion called anger, is there therefore an anger outside our existence? Universal anger? You haven't even begun to make a link or an argument.

Morality isn't an emotion.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 72 by Tangle, posted 03-04-2020 8:34 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 77 by Taq, posted 03-05-2020 12:48 PM GDR has responded
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GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 75 of 306 (872824)
03-05-2020 12:23 PM
Reply to: Message 74 by PaulK
03-05-2020 12:02 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
PaulK writes:

I don’t think that follows at all. If there was a truly absolute morality I don’t see that it needs a source. It’s not even clear that it could have a source. And if it did have a source why should it be something capable of being moral ?

I'm simply saying that if there is a morality that exists outside of human existence then there needs to be a source for that. If however, there is no morality outside of human existence then morality is simply what any group or even individual decides it to be.

PaulK writes:

Certainly morality existing is logically prior to being moral, so being moral can’t be a requirement to be the source.

I'm sorry but I don't understand your point with this statement. If morality has to exist prior to being moral then doesn't it follow that the pre-existing morality would be consistent. If it is consistent then it follows that it is outside of human experience than then there must be a source for that.

PaulK writes:

I note that you later claim that the Golden Rule is an absolute moral rule but if it is, is it because it is some external rule or is it because it is fundamental to the idea of morality? I would say that to the extent it is, the latter is the case, which again needs no external source.

Mankind has always understood the Golden Rule and it has been in all societies going back at least to Buddha and in the book of Leviticus. Sure, we have seldom lived up to it but it has been the standard of how we should conduct ourselves as humans pretty much through recorded history.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 74 by PaulK, posted 03-05-2020 12:02 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
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GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 78 of 306 (872827)
03-05-2020 1:00 PM
Reply to: Message 77 by Taq
03-05-2020 12:48 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Taq writes:

The Golden Rule is an entirely subjective morality. It is based solely on our own subjective opinions of how we want to be treated, what would harm us, and what would benefit us. It is based entirely on the human condition.

That is your belief, and maybe you are correct. It does mean however that it allows for other subjective views that we would consider to be immoral to be moral.

Taq writes:

You may want to think about that one for a while. Injustice, pain, harm, and well being are all emotions, and they form the foundation of morality.

They effect our moral behaviour but they aren't morality itself.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 77 by Taq, posted 03-05-2020 12:48 PM Taq has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 80 by Taq, posted 03-05-2020 1:04 PM GDR has not yet responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 87 of 306 (872838)
03-05-2020 2:10 PM
Reply to: Message 81 by Tangle
03-05-2020 1:11 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Tangle writes:

You have absolutely no way of knowing whether that statement is true or false.

...and you have absolutely know way of knowing that I am wrong.
Tangle writes:

What we do know for sure is that it's not necessary for a god to be a moral being

..which tells us nothing about whether any deity actually is or isn't moral
Tangle writes:

that the god of the bible is immoral.

If you read the Bible as being inerrant then yes you are right. As you have seen no doubt in my disagreement with Faith I view the Bible as being written by fallible humans but that God can speak to us through what is written. For example when we see God commanding genocide and public stonings then the message is to be sceptical when someone says that God told them to do something, and first off ensure that it is consistent with what we have of the teaching of Jesus. For example, we can see that you cannot reconcile God ordering genocide with Jesus saying that we are to love our enemy or for that matter the way he dealt with the Romans.

Tangle writes:

The god of the bible is absolutely not a moral being - he's a narcissistic, genocidal psychopath.

Yes, if it read it as being dictated by God. You inevitably always go back to attacking an inerrant view of the Scriptures which most Christians also reject, including myself.

Tangle writes:

Of course it is, it's a brain function we call empathy or compassion. With fRMA we can see it work and measure it.

Emotions affect our moral behaviour in a given moment but it isn't an emotion.
Tangle writes:

Those are straight forward facts, but even if you reject them, you still haven't made any argument justifying your claim that morality exists outside ourselves.

I have given you an argument for it. It is just that you don't have the good sense to accept it.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 81 by Tangle, posted 03-05-2020 1:11 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
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GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 90 of 306 (872842)
03-05-2020 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 82 by Taq
03-05-2020 1:26 PM


Re: Two Good References
Taq writes:

Here are a couple of good references I have found on objective and subjective morality. They reflect my own conclusions on the subject.

Good quotes. First off, I don't pretend to be approaching this from a position of knowing the answer. It is a faith as in all views on the subject.

The last quote says this, "This is the trick the religious have long played, inventing a god in their own image who can back them up by turning “I want …” into “God wants …”..

First off, I have led a privileged life by being born into the country I was, having loving parents, having kids who have turned into really nice kind adults and loving parents themselves and even having a career that paid well and which I really enjoyed doing. If I worshipped a God created in my own image then I would worship a god that would say that I should take credit for all of my good fortune. I'd worship a god that would condone using my time and resources for luxurious living. I choose to worship a God who we can see in the Son, who perfectly embodied His essence being born as an illegitimate child, in a lower class family, living a life dependent on the charity of others, (at least in three years of His ministry), washing the feet of His followers and going through with taking His message to Jerusalem knowing that He would be crucified as He knew that He was treading on the toes of all of those in authority. I am not making up a god in my own image.

My Christian faith is based on the belief that God resurrected Jesus. If I am wrong in that, they my Christian faith is a waste of time. However if I am right then I have good reason for my belief in a universal morality that is based on the Golden Rule.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 82 by Taq, posted 03-05-2020 1:26 PM Taq has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 93 by Taq, posted 03-05-2020 2:50 PM GDR has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 94 of 306 (872849)
03-05-2020 3:20 PM
Reply to: Message 85 by Stile
03-05-2020 2:02 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Stile writes:

I'll agree with that.

What you do next, though - is assume that this absolute morality must fundamentally be a good one.
Take a look at the world around us - it's entirely plausible (and fits with all currently known facts) that the "absolute morality" for the universe we live in is that the physically stronger are better than the physically weaker.

This would be a very terrible absolute morality for (hopefully) obvious reasons, and I for one would reject it immediately and carry on with my much better morality of attempting to help others instead of hurt them when I interact with them.

..but as you point out, you know that the concept of morality based on the survival of the fittest isn't desirable. I'd also suggest that those who live by that also know that it isn't how we should live, but as it works for them and they don't have faith in there being an absolute morality that is how they live.

CS Lewis writes that the over-arching sin is pride. One of the ramifications of that is the desire for power. If one is bigger and stronger, (it could be physically, financially or whatever), then the temptation to turn to using that ability to exercise power over others is very strong and some turn to it. That does not mean however that prided or selfishness is a universal morality.

Stile writes:

But - look at what happened. We don't join the "absolute morality" and the "ultimate purpose" because they are absolute and ultimate.
We join them because we learn about them, judge them, and agree with them (or not.)

Which means - the words "absolute" and "ultimate" in this sense are meaningless in any terms of "should be followed" or not.
They only mean something along the lines of "comes from an external source." Which - really - so do a whole lot of ideas.

If you are correct in your atheistic beliefs then I agree. However, as a Theist who believes that we are influenced a God meme or whatever you want to call that influence then I believe that along with all of our cultural memes that we can we can affirm or reject that God meme calling us to the Golden Rule.

Stile writes:

This all shows your whole idea for what it is - a strange attempt to try and persuade others to agree with you by using attractive terms like "absolute" and "ultimate." Which is, really, kind of pathetic and makes me pity you that you're in such a position that you think such methods are required.

Well I can't say that I pity you, but just happen to believe that you are wrong.

Stile writes:

It is your choice as to which one you want to be.
(Note: Not "which one you want to be remembered as." But simply: "which one you want to BE.")


I agree

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 85 by Stile, posted 03-05-2020 2:02 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 95 by Stile, posted 03-05-2020 3:45 PM GDR has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 96 of 306 (872852)
03-05-2020 3:55 PM
Reply to: Message 91 by Tangle
03-05-2020 2:46 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Tangle writes:

Surely you know that this is a species argument? If you make a statement that you can not show to be correct what use is it?

Well if my arguments are species then yours are specious.
You can't show that your statement is correct either. It is what we believe.

Tangle writes:

It tells us that even if there is a god it does not mean that our morality is derived from it.

I agree. I believe in a resurrected Jesus and base my conclusion on what He said and did. I realize that as an atheist that makes no sense to you.

Tangle writes:

Regardless of your cherry-picking of your holy book and deciding to accept only the nice bits, that's what it says and what it says is all you have.

It isn't about accepting the nice bits. Firstly it is 66 books with no doubt hundreds of contributors. It isn't an all or nothing choice.

Tangle writes:

t IS an emotion - what else can you call empathy and compassion?


They are attributes. Anger is an emotion - morality isn't.

Tangle writes:

You have not; you've given us some illogical assertions that you can't back up, and which actually just amount to rationalising beliefs.

I get it. We disagree

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 91 by Tangle, posted 03-05-2020 2:46 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 110 by Tangle, posted 03-06-2020 5:46 AM GDR has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 97 of 306 (872853)
03-05-2020 4:46 PM
Reply to: Message 93 by Taq
03-05-2020 2:50 PM


Re: Two Good References
Taq writes:

Are you following a religion made in the image of someone else?

Yes. Jesus
Taq writes:

The Golden Rule isn't universal. It only applies to humans.

Fair enough

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 93 by Taq, posted 03-05-2020 2:50 PM Taq has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 98 by Taq, posted 03-05-2020 4:54 PM GDR has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 99 of 306 (872855)
03-05-2020 5:06 PM
Reply to: Message 95 by Stile
03-05-2020 3:45 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Stile writes:

That's right. Because of a personal decision I've made based on my personal experiences.
Not based on any absolute moral.

OK, but we can't know which influences were predominate. Nothing about that eliminates the possibility that we are influenced by a God meme along with all our cultural ones.

Stile writes:

I try to avoid saying how other's think.
It's almost always wrong.
Here - you're definitely wrong - as, by definition, there's only 1 "strongest" that's going to have it "work for them (singular)"... and therefore it can't possibly "work for them (plural)" as there is no "them" - only 1 it actually works for.

It is very difficult to argue with you when you are right.

Stile writes:

Exactly.
For the same reason - just because God created us and intends something/anything - that also does not mean it is a universal moral.
As we each decide to agree or disagree with us.
Just as we each decide to agree or disagree with pride.

If you're going to say something can be a "universal moral" because God created it and intended it
-then you have to be willing to accept that that "universal moral" could be "the strong are better than the weak" if there happens to be a God that exists that created it and intended it, regardless of whether or not you and I (and others) disagree with it.

Fair enough, and obviously my views are coloured by my Christian faith. C S Lewis writes this:

quote:
The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer to that real Right than others. Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something-some Real Morality-for them to be true about.

Stile writes:

You use the term "However..." but then your text seems to agree with me completely that we don't affirm/reject the God meme because it's "absolute" or "ultimate" - we affirm/reject it based on "all our cultural memes" (our own personal decisions.)

So your reply is very confusing. Perhaps I parsed/interpreted your intentions wrong?
Or maybe you're saying we don't use our own decisions? Our decision process is an illusion based on this "God meme/influence" and we're actually only robotic slaves that don't make decisions?

If you do agree - then why insist on using words like "absolute" and "ultimate" that only serve to promote confusion when you actually only mean "external?"

Darn. There you go again. I agree that the term "external" would be the correct term in this context. Possibly Lewis' term "real" works as well.

Your first sentence in this quote is pretty much bang on.

BTW, I appreciate not only your clear thinking but I appreciate the way you respond without being condescending.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 95 by Stile, posted 03-05-2020 3:45 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 100 by jar, posted 03-05-2020 5:27 PM GDR has responded
 Message 122 by Stile, posted 03-06-2020 3:45 PM GDR has responded

  
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