Can’t you lead a good life without believing in Christianity? Well, possibly one might say, but that depends on your definition and qualifications for ‘good.’ The funny thing though, is that by asking this question, the asker is automatically acknowledging that Christianity has something that he or she does not have. The asker finds himself in a state of doubt concerning his or her own life. He wonders whether he is making the grade. In fact, by simply asking the question he infers that Christianity is good in itself. The asker is attempting to live the bare minimum in life. He wants happiness, or whatever ‘good’ is, without working for it. He is apathetic and primarily pragmatic. He says to himself, “All I’m interested in is leading a food life. I’m going to choose beliefs not because I think them true, but because I find them helpful.” The asker is searching for truth, but weakly. He needs to realize that as men, we must not bury our heads in the ground as ostriches, but lift them up high and search for truth. We must pursue a “good” life with everything we have. And, we must recognize that perhaps this “good” life might not necessarily be what we are searching for.
C. S. Lewis addresses the question of “living a good life” with a two part answer. First, we cannot obtain a good life. We simply cannot do it, especially on our own. I believe that C. S. Lewis is using the fact that humans are totally depraved here. We are tainted by sin and thus are sinners; we do not deserve to be happy or live a “good” life. Second, “in setting up ‘a good life’ as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence.” We are not meant to simply be “good.” “Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts.” If “goodness” is our goal in life, what is our goal after life? Is not the ‘good life’ only temporary? Are we too shortsighted and disillusioned to see that?
And, if anything in addressing the “good life,” we again run into the problem of defining ‘good’ because of its relativity. The materialist may see it as happiness while the Christian sees it as advancing God’s kingdom. Perhaps there are two different standards to which this “good life” can apply, taking into account extremes here. Maybe one can work towards a crown that will not last and the other can work toward a crown that will last forever. Both crowns may be ‘good’ and seem ‘good,’ but it is only one which perseveres and lasts. Instead of living a ‘decent life,’ we need to live a Divine life. This new life then calls us to become gods and goddesses. Here, I do not mean that we replace God or hold greater authority, but that morality is only a piece of what makes us truly human. We find that the real Man consists of striving towards perfection, not goodness. And for perfection, we require the assistance of a God to reconcile us to him, a God by which we model “goodness.”