Last night at my parents' church one of the preachers was giving a sermon about how the reason why God gives us moral laws to follow and why hell exists is because it's like a fence to protect us from being harmed and he used the analogy of a recent news event where a tiger at a San Francisco zoo escaped from the fence and killed one of the people there. I admit that I was almost taken in by this argument and it almost had me accepting it until I realized that this was just another dressed up version of that "we can't have morals without God!" argument that's just so ridicilously pathetic. The fence analogy that God's morals keep us from being hurt and from hurting others sounds nice in theory but there are several major problems I have with it. The biggest complaint I have about it is that the entire argument is based on assumptions. First, it assumes that the fence of morality is universally wide for all moral situations. It assumes that issues of good vs evil are always black and white and ignores the fact that most moral issues fall into shades of gray and that there is almost always going to be ambguity with morals.
This is one of the reasons why I rejected Christianity because it's black and white style of thinking is very out-dated and useless and ignores situations where people have to choose between lesser evils vs greater evils. If we are faced with a situation where we have to choose between a lesser evil and a greater evil, then even if we choose the lesser evil, then we are still hurt and grieve over our choice even if it prevented an even greater immoral act. So, isn't the very fact that we still get hurt from choosing lesser evils prove that God's fence of morality failed to prevent us from being hurt? The second problem I have with this fence analogy is that it assumes that the fence of morality is the same length for all Christians.
If the length of God's fence of morality was so obviously clear that nobody could be "hurt" with it, then why is it that Christians can never agree on how long the fence is? One of the biggest problems I have with Christianity is that Christians themselves can't even agree with each other on what is moral and what isn't, so what makes them think that they are any more protected by this so called fence of morality than non-believers if they can't even agree on how long the fence is? If Christians want non-believers to start taking them seriously, maybe they should try to find some unity among themselves first. Wasn't it the bible that said to take the shard out of your own eye before you take the shard out of other people's? Another problem I have with this analogy is that it assumes that it is impossible to be hurt within the fence of morality. But Christians prove everyday that they go through the same trials and suffering that non-believers do, thus essentially proving that God's fence of morality is useless in keeping us from being hurt.
The preacher then went on some ramble about how there were some "studies" (funny how when preachers claim that there have been studies done, they never cite their sources) that showed that children felt more freedom to explore from being placed in a field with a fence, but when placed in a field without a fence, the children only explored the middle part of the field, and apparently this is proof that even children see the need for God's fences of morality. However, I disagree strongly with this assertion. I don't think this proves that we need God to create a "fence" for us. This only proves that even without God people can use their own common sense to create their own fences for themselves, so the preacher's own analogies defeated his argument. I do agree on principle that people do good things for others because it makes them feel good and that we shouldn't do hurtful things to each other because it creates feelings of distrust among us and makes living that much more difficult for us, but I don't think this has anything to do with morality coming from God. I think this is just people using common sense that if you want others to treat you the way you want to be treated, then don't act like a jerk to everyone.