I have heard rumors that some evangelicals like Jordan Peterson’s work. He gets all angry when he says words like intersectionality and postmodern so that really hooks some of my evangelical brethren, I guess. I have a hard time following what he says so I don’t get it. The video below is a good illustration of why his work seems like what he criticizes.
asking jordan peterson whether he believes god exists or jesus was resurrected gets you the most incomprehensible, incoherent verbiage masquerading as profundity — which is ironically what his ilk accuse “postmodernists” of pic.twitter.com/EtK6W8T9a7
— ☀️? (@zei_nabq) December 16, 2018
“It all depends on what you mean” is fine when he wants to use it but it isn’t fine when his ideological opponents want to do it.
Carl Jung, who I think Peterson considers an intellectual influence, didn’t particularly like this question either. Once, Jung compared himself to a witch doctor who found God in his dreams. On another occasion, Jung said he didn’t have to believe, he knew. According to his disciples at the time, he believed in a spirit or at least an immaterial existence but didn’t hold to the Swiss Reformed doctrines of his family.
Image: Dr.Jordan Peterson delivering a lecture at the University of Toronto in 2017. March 20, 2017, Source: Adam Jacobs, Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
11 thoughts on “Jordan Peterson Agonizes Over How to Answer a Question About God”
In a similar context to this question of Peterson answering some “Big Questions” of faith/theology/philosophy, I see that Nicholas Kristoff has an interview with evangelical apologist William Lane Craig in this week’s NYTimes. I have no problem with the answers he gives, but I don’t think they are all that different – in important ways – than Peterson’s approach is in the clip.
Which goes back to my original post that the way we answer “Big Questions” about our faith should depend heavily on the inquirer/audience.
Two of the Q/As:
Kristoff: You don’t believe the Genesis account that the world was created in six days, or that Eve was made from Adam’s rib, do you? If the Hebrew Bible’s stories need not be taken literally, why not also accept that the New Testament writers took liberties?
Craig: Because the Gospels are a different type of literature than the primeval history of Genesis 1-11. The eminent Assyriologist Thorkild Jacobsen described Genesis 1-11 as history clothed in the figurative language of mythology, a genre he dubbed “mytho-history.” By contrast, the consensus among historians is that the Gospels belong to the genre of ancient biography, like the ‘Lives of Greeks and Romans’ written by Plutarch. As such, they aim to provide a historically reliable account.
Kristoff: How do you account for the many contradictions within the New Testament? For example, Matthew says Judas hanged himself, while Acts says that he “burst open.” They can’t both be right, so why insist on inerrancy of Scripture?
Craig: I don’t insist on the inerrancy of Scripture. Rather, what I insist on is what C.S. Lewis called “mere Christianity,” that is to say, the core doctrines of Christianity. Harmonizing perceived contradictions in the Bible is a matter of in-house discussion amongst Christians. What really matters are questions like: Does God exist? Are there objective moral values? Was Jesus truly God and truly man? How did his death on a Roman cross serve to overcome our moral wrongdoing and estrangement from God? These are, as one philosopher puts it, the “questions that matter,” not how Judas died.
There is more, but I don’t want to violate the spirit or laws. I hope you can read the full interview and respond. The Times allows 10 articles to be read for free each month, so you may hit a paywall with the link:
The answer is easy: Jordan Peterson believes in Jordan Peterson. His low standards of self-serving, self-centered self-worship are unsurprisingly attractive to White Evangelicals.
Both Jung and Peterson was/are humanists in their world view, and it expresses itself when Peterson is asked of scriptural and matters of religion. Using scriptural in-group dialog seems to be his gateway into expanding his reader base – which sells books. First there was Spock, then Dr. Phil, now Peterson. When will people be learned?
My theology is quite conservative, and I don’t really have a problem with his response, since he admits that he “acts as if God exists” and at least implies that this is a voluntary, and intentional, position. Likewise as to his response about divinity of Christ and resurrection, and the complexity of connotations to these. I’ve read reviews of some other aspects of his views that are much “worse” in various ways, so he seems pretty tame in this clip. ?
It’s a cop out and a lack of basic conversational skills and an ability to seek understanding. But, I’ll grant some grace that it’s a hypothetical poser of the question and not a ‘real’ question. But – the most correct way to deal with that is to go ahead and pose the question: “what do you mean by the divine, or by Christ” and then answer according to the proposition in terms given. If somebody responds “Oh, by Christ I mean the demi god that populated his own planet as a result of splitting his hair in a lake of lava on the distant planet Megalorn” – well…then…no, I don’t believe that. It’s not difficult 😀
Jordan Peterson cannot answer even the most elementary theological questions. It’s quite telling that so many others, like Reverend Dr. William Barber as just one example, don’t hide behind such obfuscation.
Jordan Peterson’s vacuous theology is on full display for all to see.
“What do you mean by ‘divine’, what do you mean by ‘Christ’?”….they aren’t really that difficult to answer lol
I think the “difficulty” of an “answer” depends significantly on one’s inquirer/audience. For his typical audience (modern (post-modern?), and secular), I don’t think he does a bad job, actually.
Meh – it’s a cop out imo. But, I’ll grant some grace that it’s a hypothetical poser of the question and not a ‘real’ question. But – the most correct way to deal with that is to go ahead and pose the question: “what do you mean by the divine, or by Christ” and then answer according to the proposition in terms given. If somebody responds “Oh, by Christ I mean the demi god that populated his own planet as a result of splitting his hair in a lake of lava on the distant planet Megalorn” – well…then…no, I don’t believe that. It’s not difficult 😀
Thanks for the response, nathankc.
You leave no doubt where you stand! ?
It’s one thing to “not want to be boxed in”. Quite another to just not want to answer a question.
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