The Good Life

by J.P. Moreland

Is the good life spent smoking pot on the couch, obsessing about money or serving the poor? Of the following, who was the best person: C.S. Lewis, Sigmund Freud or V.I. Lenin? To become a good person, would it be better to emulate Ward Churchill, Donald Trump or Billy Graham?

Your answers to questions like these will make a radical difference in how you live your life.

Questions like these raise an even more fundamental question, however, for they’re all based on the assumption that there is such a thing as the good life, that some people really are better — morally — than others, and that people really can make moral improvements in their lives. In other words, they’re based on the assumption that there’s a real difference between good and bad, right and wrong — one that transcends individuals and cultures — and the assumption that we have a choice in the matter. Let’s call these assumptions the moral point of view.1

The questions at the beginning of this article are versions of three more general questions: What’s the good life?, Who’s really a good person?, and How do I become a good person? We need strong answers to these questions if we want to have any sense of purpose or direction in life but, because they all presuppose the moral point of view, we can’t even ask these questions if we don’t first adopt the moral point of view. In order to give our lives a sense of direction and purpose, a worldview must provide a good answer the question Why should we adopt the moral point of view?

Currently, a three-way worldview struggle rages in our culture amongst scientific naturalism, postmodernism and Christianity. Since I have described and argued against scientific naturalism and postmodernism in previous Boundless articles,2 I will not do so here. Instead, I shall briefly characterize them and describe how they answer this fundamental question.

As I explained in the second article of this series, scientific naturalism has four major components: (1) the belief that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge there is, (2) the belief that evolutionary theory explains every aspect of life, (3) the belief that non-physical things — such as God and the soul — don’t exist, and (4) the belief that the world’s existence has no purpose; that the cosmos and everything in it are the results of random, chance events.

Given these four components, it’s difficult to formulate a satisfying answer to the question Why should I adopt the moral point of view? Because it claims that we aren’t here for any purpose, and because good and bad, right and wrong aren’t the sorts of things we can study scientifically, the most fitting answer scientific naturalism can produce is an egoistic one, according to which you should adopt the moral point of view only insofar as it’s in your best interest to do so.3 But this answer is inadequate because it boils down to the claim that you should fake moral behavior and concerns when doing so pays off; otherwise, you should set morality aside altogether…


The Good Life / Boundless

The Poached Egg Apologetics