Jordan Peterson plays hide the ball with religion...again.
Jordan Peterson continues to speak like a postmodernist on the 'god' question
It seems you are either all in with whatever Jordan Peterson has to say or you have been deranged into believing he is some sort of alt-right fascist.
I feel nearly almost alone in being able to nod along with some of his output—yet be deeply embarrassed for him when he opens his mouth in other areas. I’ve publicly defended him on occasion, and criticised him on others. So, this is nothing personal.
Peterson has become somewhat of a guru-like figure for men of a certain age that seem desperate for meaning and guidance. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that I find it all a bit odd—but then again my father has told me on occasion that he is proud of me, which could explain the indifference.
For all of Peterson’s laser insight and valuable output on tyranny, compelled speech and freedom of expression, he somehow manages to turn in to a postmodernist (the very thing he rails against) when he obfuscates on the topic of ‘god’.
Here are a number of oddities on this issue that I have noticed over the years, including one in the last week.
In 2018, when debating Matt Dillahunty on the existence of god, Dillahunty made the claim that decapitation would be bad for human “well-being”. Astonishingly, Peterson attempts to argue against that proposition, stating that “it depends on how you define well-being”.
Also in 2018, in another conversation, Peterson was asked to confirm whether god was “fact or fantasy”. Peterson answered the question by saying “Why can’t it be both?”.
In conversation with Sam Harris in 2018, Sam could not get Peterson to say whether he believed Jesus was “literally resurrected” or not. Peterson claims that he would need “40 hours” to answer that question. Sam Harris somehow managed it in under 2 seconds with the the 3 word sentence “almost certainly not”.
And in Peterson’s latest conversation with Mohamad Hijab (weird bedfellows, right?) Peterson is asked whether he believes certain things in scripture actually happened. Peterson then argues this hinges on what you mean by “happen”. This would be dull and silly enough—but then he takes it to the next level when tackling the “do you believe in god?” question. Apparently, that would also depend on what you mean by “Do”, “You”, “believe” and “god”.
We’ll forgive the improper use of “beg the question”. But, you do not need to speak like this if you are thinking rationally and coherently on the topic of god. And you can still speak rationally on this issue without abandoning all nuance and caveats. The fact that Peterson does not talk this way on any other topic reveals the blind spot he has here.
For example, were we to ask Peterson if human beings can change their sex, do you think he would start obfuscating on the concepts of “human” “change” and “sex” like a gender ideologue?
For those of us forged in the era of ‘new atheism’—we have been conditioned to notice this bog-standard hide-the-ball religious aplologism from a mile away. It feels almost quaint at this point. Which is why it is surprising that Jorden Peterson fans (who presumably consider themselves ‘critical thinkers’) are taken in by this sort of sophisty.
What do you think? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.