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JongFu

Morals and atheists

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JongFu

Hello all.

My question is for the atheists out there. I have always wondered what role morals play in the life of an atheist. For (most) Christians they try to live their life in accordance with what the bible teaches and try to follow the example of Jesus as best they can. No one is perfect and mistakes are made but that is all part of the learning process. Christians do this for a couple of reasons: 1) because that’s what the Lord has taught and commanded. 2) They believe that when they die they will be judged and held accountable for the choices they made while in this life. And thus we earn our reward or punishment as the various religions believe.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying, nor do I believe all atheists are some how immoral and evil people, because I know there are a lot of immoral Christians out there. I just think if you believe you die and that’s it, you cease to exist, there are no consequences, why be a “good” person? Why not lie, cheat, steal or do whatever it takes to get ahead in this life? Why follow any laws that originate from a historically religious background? If you are envious of your neighbor’s property, why not kill him and take it? Or is the fear of getting caught and subjected to the laws of the land enough to stop you? If there wasn’t a law against murdering another person, would it be wrong to an atheist? After all, is it not all about natural selection, survival of the fittest?

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__Kratos__

If there wasn’t a law against murdering another person, would it be wrong to an atheist?

Not always. As an atheist I question morality and the ethics quite a bit in our every day lifes. I mean, sure religion has set morals for it's own religion but let's take the 10 big ones from the Christians as an example here. When first presented to the world, not everybody knew. There are still people out there right now that have never heard of the 10 big ones. All through out history and in today's world people are living next to each other without a problem and they've never even heard of the 10 commandments or even the bible. How is this possible? Well to me it really boils down to people doing to others and what not they do that they would want done to them or not done to them in return. Putting yourself in their shoes and reflecting on the push back of the shove.

Religion crys up a story they have given mankind laws, morals, ethics, guildines, rules and whatever else you can come up with but mankind somehow lived through millions of years without killing each other and surviving the race enough to still be around today. Thus religion is debunked and it's a shameful day that religion claims what man already has forged as it's own.

To answer your question... I'm against murdering innocent people. This is my personal view and I can't speak for everybody that holds a shred of my beliefs.

If I had to kill for my own survival as you mention here: "After all, is it not all about natural selection, survival of the fittest?" - Yeah, then I would most likely would do that for my own survival but it would really depend on the situation at hand.

Edited by __Kratos__

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Unforgiven

The way people live is a choice. Religious peoples' choice partly are influenced from what they believe happens when they die.

Personally though a moral Aethiest is truly a moral person, whereas a moral <other religion> is really just following what they're told to do.

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Waspie_Dwarf
If there wasn’t a law against murdering another person, would it be wrong to an atheist?

To turn this around, if the bible didn't say "Thou shalt not kill" would murder be wrong to a Christian? Where is the difference?

I have been an atheist for most of my life, that doesn't mean I reject the bible as a guide to morality, I just don't believe in all the God stuff.

I try to live my life in a moral way not because I expect a reward at the end of it, but because it is the right thing to do. As an atheist I sometimes think those that have to refer to a book to be able to tell right from wrong are the ones with a problem.

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aquatus1

Please forgive a re-post (I get asked this question a lot):

As an atheist, I am frequently asked what keeps me from committing immoral acts, what prevents my corruption, what, essentially, protects the spirit it is assumed that I do not believe I have. This thread, essentially, is an answer to that.

Spirituality, to me, is defined as the sum synergetic total of my intellect, my reason, and my honor. The importance of spirituality to me is that, without spirituality, I am less than what I can be. Without spirituality, I am a simple common animal, on the same level as any other whom is still ruled by the law of the jungle. I do not consider humans, in general, to be animals. The distinction is spirituality, versus instinct. Instinct is the default programming. Instinct is what you follow when all else has abandoned you. Yes, it is true that some humans resort to this on a more than frequent basis, and some animals have shown an ability to surpass it as well, but, in general, the common animal is ruled by instinct, while the human has the ability to surpass instinct, through the use of spirituality.

Intellect is the ability I have to put various facts to work for me. Intellect is the physical, the material, the objective side of things. Intellect is what allows me to make the connection between chemical properties of elements, to electrical properties of batteries, to the use of a flashlight. It is more than the basic gathering of useful things for survival; it is the gathering, storing, and analyzing of data for current and future use, not just for survival, but for comfort and even entertainment.

Reason is the ability to work out the responses of hypothetical situations. In particular, moral actions are largely determined by reason. I do not murder, not because I am forbidden by the God of the Babylonians to do so, but because I recognize it to be an action which would have disastrous effects on my personal psyche, to say nothing of the actions society will take on me after having done so. I exist because I enjoy existing, I enjoy the sunlight, I enjoy the challenge of discovery, not because I am testing myself for an existence yet to come in another realm.

Honor is the combined result of my courage, my obligations, and my sense of justice. This serves as my shield against corruption. Actions are measured against these things, and their effects are weighed and found to be honorable or dishonorable. Stealing a candy bar, for instance, requires a mild amount of courage, no obligation, and a definite lack of justice. Very little honor there. Stealing a loaf of bread to feed a hungry child requires a bit more courage (as your actions are endangering not just yourself, but the child) and are high in obligation (in regards to your duty to the child). They, however, violate the law, and the law is part of justice (not all of it, just part of it). While this is a dishonorable act, it isn't as bad as stealing for selfish pleasure. Getting a job mucking out fish stalls requires a certain courage (more humility, really), is definitely fulfilling your obligation, and is well-within the bounds of justice. This would be considered and honorable act.

These three immaterial, boundryless aspects of myself are what define my spirituality. They are part of what makes me who I am. They are not defined by an external code or authority, but rather by my own abilities and beliefs. This is my spirit, or soul, if you wish. This is the most precious part of myself.

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zandore

My question is for the atheists out there. I have always wondered what role morals play in the life of an atheist. For (most) Christians they try to live their life in accordance with what the bible teaches and try to follow the example of Jesus as best they can.

:blink:

Are you saying that you have to be a Christian to have good morals?

I don't consider myself an Atheist.....but where do you get "good morals from this:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Deuteronomy 7:1

When Yahweh your god has settled you in the land you're about to occupy, and driven out many infidels before you...you're to cut them down and exterminate them. You're to make no compromise with them or show them any mercy.

Exodus 21:15

He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

Exodus 21:17

He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Proverbs 30:17

The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

Genesis 22:2,10

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and ... offer him there for a burnt offering.... And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

Exodus 12:29-30

The LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon.... And there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

2 Kings 2:23-24

And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

Leviticus 26:16

And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.

Leviticus 26:29

And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.

Deuteronomy 28:53

And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters.

Jeremiah 19:9

And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend.

Numbers 31

17) Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

18) But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Is this the same god that we were taught about in Sunday school? Obviously christians overlook these and other quotes when they claim that the bible has set the moral standards for society, and blame the moral decay of society on drifting away from the church.

Well, lets go attack a village, en and grab the virgins, that should put us back on track with the bible.

On the morals from Jesus......

-If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

(Luke 14:26)

-But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."

[Jesus, Luke 19:27]

-"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword."

[Jesus, Matthew 10:34]

Then there's also this from the Bible:

Psalm 137:9

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

People base their beliefs and morals on the Bible.....and we all know the violence it contains.

"If this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?"

[Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years]

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Grandpa Greenman

If one is an Atheist and you end someone’s life you haven't sent them to heaven, they are gone for all time. I would say consequences of the act in the mind of the Atheist would be much worse, than the fear of hell or the hope of redemption from a God. The overwhelming guilt of such an act would be tremendous. I think in the end you would be driven insane.

My Father was an atheists, he was a WWII vet, and a very moral man. If he knew some of the stuff I do now with drinking and sex he would kick my ass or worst give me that look of shame that meant you had lost his respect. Over all, I didn't learn morals from a book I learned right from wrong from my Dad.

Childrens minds are meant to be opened not closed.

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Moondoggy

I have relatives and friends who are Atheist and they are very moral people. The basis for Morality can certainly stem to Zoroastrianism and Judaism. It seems to me that our culture we are born into, or family values have more to do with Morals than Religion. I feared the wrath of my Dad, so I obeyed. Later in life as I grew up did Ibegin to see why there were do's and don'ts.

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Jalorm

My question is for the atheists out there. I have always wondered what role morals play in the life of an atheist.

I think that it comes down to a matter of intelligence. It does not take a great deal of intelligence to realize that the comforts and pleasures that you enjoy in civilized society are dependant on your own conduct and support for such a construct. If you enjoy hunting for your food and sleeping on the ground, then by all means, anarchy is for you. However, if you are an intelligent being, (that is relative of course...), then you will do all that is in your power to ensure that you treat others according to the "golden rule" of "do unto others as you would have done unto you." because you know that this is what really brings stability and happiness to your own life at the end of the day. Atheist do not need a rule book or a leader to tell them that selfish behaviour always comes back to haunt you. It is a very easy and logical step. I am not calling religious people stupid by saying this. It is just a matter of conditioning. You have been conditioned to think the way that you do from the day you were born. Some people, whether through personality characteristics or environmental variables, have greater ability to overcome this conditioning. Understanding how society was meant to evolve is not very complex, once you are outside of the box. Religion has created so many misconceptions and falsehoods about why a person should be moral or ethical that many do not stop to think about the real reasons for ethical conduct.

I hope this helps you understand why Atheists can remain morally responsible while rejecting religion.

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boorite

Morality cannot proceed from God. Consider:

If God exists, then there are two and only two possibilities with respect to morality.

1. God demands certain behaviors because they are right and condemns others because they are wrong.

2. Certain behaviors are wrong and others right because God says so.

If case 1 is true, then "right and wrong," i.e., morality, exists outside and independently of any God. Thus, one does not need to include God in any consideration of morality. They are separate.

If case 2 is true, then we have not defined morality, or right and wrong. It is not a moral argument, but an appeal to force or authority. It comes down to do it because I said so, or perhaps do it or else. This is no more a "moral" argument than a robbery is.

Again, supposing the existence of God, either case 1 or case 2 must be true. There is no third case. And in both cases, God cannot determine morality as that term is understood and used in our language.

This is Lesson 1 in any course on moral philosophy. It does not belong only to atheists. In fact, the vast majority of philosophers who have observed this argument through the ages have probably believed in God.

Not only is it true that morality need not proceed from God. It cannot.

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Invader Skoodge
1) because that’s what the Lord has taught and commanded. 2) They believe that when they die they will be judged and held accountable for the choices they made while in this life. And thus we earn our reward or punishment as the various religions believe.

Then your deeds are not guided by ethics. You might be able to justify them morally. But you just act as you were taught and because you fear consequences (if that means going to hell or prison doesn't matter). The same motivations are valid for any religious or atheist people and all other animals.

Really being an ethic person requires that you can choose; not between your trained behavior and your lower instincts; you must mentally be able to deliberately do evil. Otherwise, deciding not to do evil is not a matter of moral but of training. A housebroken dog is not an ethic person and so are most humans not.

:devil: Only a psychopath can act truly morally.

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IamsSon

Morality cannot proceed from God. Consider:

If God exists, then there are two and only two possibilities with respect to morality.

1. God demands certain behaviors because they are right and condemns others because they are wrong.

2. Certain behaviors are wrong and others right because God says so.

If case 1 is true, then "right and wrong," i.e., morality, exists outside and independently of any God. Thus, one does not need to include God in any consideration of morality. They are separate.

If case 2 is true, then we have not defined morality, or right and wrong. It is not a moral argument, but an appeal to force or authority. It comes down to do it because I said so, or perhaps do it or else. This is no more a "moral" argument than a robbery is.

Again, supposing the existence of God, either case 1 or case 2 must be true. There is no third case. And in both cases, God cannot determine morality as that term is understood and used in our language.

This is Lesson 1 in any course on moral philosophy. It does not belong only to atheists. In fact, the vast majority of philosophers who have observed this argument through the ages have probably believed in God.

Not only is it true that morality need not proceed from God. It cannot.

But why have morality if there's no God? What would it's purpose be?

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__Kratos__

But why have morality if there's no God? What would it's purpose be?

Why not? Societies and mankind in general had morals long before they had really religion. I guess the purpose would be our empathy towards each other and the fact that we don't want "bad" things happening. Don't do what you don't want done to you sort of deal.

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IamsSon

Why not? Societies and mankind in general had morals long before they had really religion. I guess the purpose would be our empathy towards each other and the fact that we don't want "bad" things happening. Don't do what you don't want done to you sort of deal.

But why have morals at all if there is nothing more? Why not kill everyone else off, and then your tribe/village/family can have it all?

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aquatus1

Because by doing that, you waste valuable energy and resources, to say nothing of risking lives fighting instead of living. Same reason, in other words, that we prefer diplomacy over war today.

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hyperactive

well, its a twisted morality, kratos.

think of all the wars done on "moral grounds".

i am sure these people were not thinking "i won't do to them what i don't want done to me".

they were thinking "i will do it to them BEFORE they do it to me", or just serving the desire to secure resources.

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__Kratos__

But why have morals at all if there is nothing more? Why not kill everyone else off, and then your tribe/village/family can have it all?

Simply put... 'Cause I don't want someone to do that to me. There may not be anything more out there but we do still have the here and now to inspire us because that's all we have.

I think it drives a sharp stake into religious followers that atheists can have morals. We don't need the fear to give us a moral compass.

Just because there isn't an afterlife to look forward to, doesn't mean I can't respect the nature now. Seemly this has worked as mankind has survived all these years all over the globe.

well, its a twisted morality, kratos.

think of all the wars done on "moral grounds".

i am sure these people were not thinking "i won't do to them what i don't want done to me".

they were thinking "i will do it to them BEFORE they do it to me", or just serving the desire to secure resources.

Yes, I cannot deny that at all. It happens. But as time goes by because of a few bad apples the entire system isn't a failure, just that branch of the tree. Not everybody has that feeling of morality and in many cases the morality has conflicted with survival of your genes.

We're still here today though seemly because over times our ancestors found a way to live together and survive.

Edited by __Kratos__

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boorite

But why have morality if there's no God? What would it's purpose be?

The same purpose that morality has if there is a God.

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ivytheplant

I don't know if my compass is a product of my upbringing or some sort of innate part of me. I had a Christian upbringing with a Christian mother who sent me to bible school where I was taught the thou shalts and thou shalt nots. However, those people who were teaching me those things constantly breaking them. My mother had a decade-long affair and treated my brother and I with cruelty. My bible teacher (who was also my girl scout leader) embezzled money and had affairs. People I looked up to as role models (teachers, relatives, police, clergy) were caught doing everything from shoplifting to adultery to murder (thank you Mr. Principal). Most of them got away with what they did and there were no consequences for their actions. Most of them did it over and over once they realized there were no consequences.

So it's hard for me to determine if it's nature or nurture. On one hand, I was taught all the right things with all the right threats of damnation and all the right rewards of heaven. On the other hand, I observed the people around me doing deplorable things with no regret and no punishment.

I can't tell you what I might do in "what if?" situations. I just don't know. I do know that I feel killing another person is wrong, though I tend to be fuzzy in the area of self-defense. I don't know that I would do it, but I don't feel that lethal force is wrong if one is protecting themself. As much as I might want to throttle the idiot who pulled out in front of me yesterday and almost caused an accident, I certainly wouldn't kill them. To me, it just goes against every fiber of my being.

The same thing with cheating. Sure, I cheated on a test once. When I was 7. I didn't know I was doing anything wrong. But cheating on my husband? That's unthinkable. It's something that would never even occur to me. And even if I was tempted, I know I couldn't do it. I watched my mother destroy my family and I know it's just wrong. It doesn't matter if I got away with it or not, it's just wrong and I could not do it.

Same thing with lying. I've lied before, who hasn't. Mostly I've lied to myself and it got to be such a habit that it took a long time to break. However, I was depressed and miserable at the time and the lies were comfort. But as far as lying on my taxes or lying to my husband about something that's important, I couldn't do it. I've made little white lies to friends such as why I don't want to go over and visit them some night (I've learned that "no" is never an acceptable answer to them and indicating that I just want to stay home that night is the equivalent of admitting I don't like being around them...crazy I know). But I wouldn't lie to a friend in a way that would hurt them or lie in a way that could come back and hurt them.

I've lied to my mother. A lot. However, that was for self-preservation. She expected me to lie all the time (when I never once gave her a reason to think that I did) so whatever I told her, she would do the opposite. In time, I learned to tell her what wasn't true so the outcome would be favorable. I'm not saying I took advantage of her, but I was just trying to survive against her assumption that I was constantly telling her lies. For example, my first few semesters of college I told her the exact cost of my textbooks, expecting I would get the amount I needed. Instead, she assumed I lied about it and inflated the amount I really needed so she would send me extra money I didn't need. So she would send me half the money I needed for textbooks. After three semesters of borrowing books, I learned to inflate the cost of books just to get what I needed. I had to lie to her because she expected that I would lie to her. And it's been that way ever since. If I tell her one thing, she assumes I'm lying and acts on the opposite of it. But as I've said, I've never lied with evil intent.

As for stealing, I've had some moments where I was either too young to know better or depressed and trying to feel something other than numbness. But unlike killing, lying, or cheating, for some reason I have a deep fear of the consequences of stealing. When my mind is sane, I mean. When I was in need of help, I just didn't care one way or the other, but since then, I could never do it because I know there would be consequences.

For the other things above, I don't refrain from doing them out of fear of the consequences. To me, it's just plain wrong (like eating kittens) and it doesn't matter if there were consequences or not, I just don't do it. Stealing is where my moral compass seems to spin around a bit. I don't know why. Even if killing, stealing, lying, or cheating were all made legal, I still wouldn't do it. I wouldn't do the first three because I just can't. It's just wrong. I wouldn't steal because my brain would still think there were consequences, even if people were handing me CDs on the way out of the store.

So, my brain is tired tonight and I've rambled more than I meant to. Hope that made sense.

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Ashigaru

Morals are more than likely built into our genetics. You don't see apes bashing other apes in the head because it has a pretty looking leaf.

We are "programmed" to not do things that are bad for the group. Mass murders can be described as having bad genes. Those genes would present a threat to the group so the group members with good genes are programmed to remove them from the gene pool.

Edited by Ashigaru

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chel-ci

so your saying, morals are encoded into the genes and that if you did something wrong it would make you feel guilty?

but why would guilt make you feel bad and stop you? you dont have to compensate for the "wrong" doings. why is guilt such a hard thing to over come?

Edited by chel-ci

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zandore

But why have morals at all if there is nothing more? Why not else off, and then your tribe/village/family can have it all?

That is exactly what Christians have been doing for the last 2,000+ years!

In the name of the Christian God

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Loge

Throughout the history of the world there has never been so much applauded broadcasted idiocy, (as shown through the justification of people’s degeneration) as there is in this day and age.

Everybody witnesses this nonsense everywhere.

Yet, those who dare to write in any newspaper, magazine or forum against such degeneration, know beforehand that they will receive many reactions from homosexuals, lesbians, prostitutes, atheists and their henchmen (i.e. those who work as moderators and who are paid by many websites have to sometimes swallow their honest opinions and keep silent otherwise they are in the danger of losing their jobs).

Those who express their opposing, bold opinions unleash rain, thunder and lightning within the mind of those who worship atheism and sexual degeneration.

I know I am swimming against the current that take all the fish to a gigantic sewer but at least one of the many fish will hear the warning and step aside from the polluted current.

I know that the business of many atheists, homosexuals, lesbians, prostitutes, etc., is to destroy the truth, to lie, to pervert, to denigrate, to pollute the moral values of this humanity in order to not be alone in the hell that they have created and are already in.

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aquatus1

(i.e. those who work as moderators and who are paid by many websites have to sometimes swallow their honest opinions and keep silent otherwise they are in the danger of losing their jobs).

**Bolts upright**

I'm supposed to be getting paid? SARUMAN!! WHERE"S MY CHECK?!

I know that the business of many atheists, homosexuals, lesbians, prostitutes, etc., is to destroy the truth, to lie, to pervert, to denigrate, to pollute the moral values of this humanity in order to not be alone in the hell that they have created and are already in.

And here I though my business was being a network engineer. I shall spread my atheistic perversion through my routers! No one who uses my network shall escape my polluted morality!

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hyperactive

The same purpose that morality has if there is a God.

the only thing "gods" or any other "universal overseer" provides is the threat that you are "being watched", thus can't sneak something past. It would seem on the surface humanity needs this check-point to balance the individual and the tribe. Look at how the mystical overseers are now mechanical overseers (cameras)....

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