Saturday, August 19, 2017

Jordan Peterson and the Bible

As many of you are aware, I have been watching the series by Jordan Peterson, The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories.  I have written a couple of posts commenting on certain statements made by Peterson and insights gleaned by me.

With this post, I will capture several different tidbits, taken from several of the videos.  I am focused on his points about culture, albeit he makes dozens of other equally insightful points.  I do not attempt to cite Peterson word for word; I merely attempt to capture the substance. 

I will not link to each video separately; I suggest that if you find the following of interest, take the time and watch the videos…which will take a real commitment, as the total runs about 25 hours.

I must say up front, this experience has been eye-opening for me.  Not so much for what I am learning (although this is extremely valuable), but because of how I have not considered these early chapters of the Bible previously.

What do I mean?  The Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, Abraham, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah…I am not sure to describe how I considered these people and events.  I know how I didn’t consider these; I didn’t consider these in the way presented by Peterson.

And, like a few other moments in my intellectual and emotional life, I immediately went through an “aha” moment almost from Peterson’s first words.

Whether one believes these stories and events are the Word of God, infallible and literal history, or whether one believes these stories and events capture an oral tradition going back countless millennia…in either case, it was kind of stupid of me to believe that there weren’t some tremendously important meanings in these stories beyond the surface.

If it is God speaking, why didn’t I expect more?  If it is man capturing oral tradition going back tens of thousands of years, why wouldn’t I expect something more?

Finally…it seems reasonable for me to suggest: Peterson’s views on the value of culture to civil society, the value of maintaining culture in order to avoid tyranny…let’s just say he is eminently more qualified than I am to make such points.  More to the point: he is eminently more qualified on this topic than any mouthpiece on the left (to include left-libertarians).

Of course, the Cultural Marxists understand this.  Then again, I may be biased as I find his views and my views overlap considerably.

From Peterson:

When you are going through a book like the Bible and you come across a phrase that you don’t understand, that actually means you missed something.  It doesn’t mean that that’s not germane to the story…it means you’re stupid.

This is clear to me now.

What is interesting is that the “something more,” as explained by Peterson, fits very nicely into my views of the importance of culture and tradition.  Whether you believe this history is handed down from God or from man’s dawn of time, this is probably important.  Not important because it matches my views; important because of the source – either source: God or tradition.

Being critical of the culture is OK if your objective is to separate the wheat from the chaff; not OK if your intent is to burn the entire field.

In all views of what is described today as the left: from Gramsci and the Cultural Marxists to the left-libertarians, this is their intent: to burn the entire field.

Destroy a culture and you will end up with tyranny.

I have long awaited reasoned arguments to the contrary.  I still wait.

Conceptualize the highest good and strive for it; to suggest that there is a highest good means we will be judged.  But we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by saying that one thing is better than another, so we talk about equal.  It would be a catastrophe to sacrifice the good for the equal; this would mean we would all be equally unredeemed and miserable.

Equal and universal – condemning man to a hell (“unredeemed”) in every corner of the earth.

Man says he would believe if only he was shown a sign.  We had a sign – the entire 20th century of this Marxist culture-destroying work in action.  Yet man still doesn’t believe.

And how many on the left – to include left-libertarians – cannot put two plus two together…or, don’t want you to know that they have?

Satan is often depicted as the most intellectual, most rational being; its flaw is that it falls in love with its own productions.  This leads to the fall.  We see this in the Tower of Babel: man tried to reach God; God responded unfavorably.  This is parallel to today’s post-modernists; if they succeed, the outcome will be similar.

Beginning with the Reformation.

Start fixing the world by cleaning up your room.

I found this, perhaps, the most useful insight.  It would be nice if utopians around the world would unite under this banner.

We are fed this diet of rights and freedoms, and there is something so pathologically wrong about that.  People are starving for the antidote.  The antidote is truth and responsibility.  That’s the secret of a meaningful life.  Without a meaningful life, you are left with suffering and nihilism.

This is the political battle being waged in the west today; few can articulate it this well.

Regarding the Soviet Union:

…the state became corrupted because each individual allowed themselves to become corrupted; the consequence of that was the end of the world.

Regarding society generally:

The reason society corrupts is because individual people lived crooked lives, they swallowed lies and spoke them and didn’t stand up for the truth.  The corruption that spread from each individual pulled the entire state mechanism into that corruption and made everything hell.

Every thought leader that we are allowed to respect is corrupt.  Hence, the people become corrupt and demand a corrupt state.

I have plans to develop a web site where a student can enter the name of the university, the professor, and the course number; and an artificial intelligence agent will tell them if the course is post-modern neo-Marxist indoctrination.  The goal is to drop the enrollment in the indoctrination courses across the United States by 75%.

This guy Peterson really impresses me.  I feel toward him as I do toward Stephen F. Cohen when Cohen speaks about Russia: a sane voice from academia; a place where you don’t expect to find any sane voices.

But this project on top?  I suspect the demand will be high.

We have this built in capacity to posit a higher self and then move towards it.  Maybe that’s part of where the religious instinct came from.  We have this notion of this transcendent ideal, that seems to be pervasive across cultures.

If you can posit an ideal, why can’t you posit the ultimate ideal?  Well if you can, then instantly you’ve got a religious sensibility.  Why have we got a religious instinct?  Because the idea that it’s mere superstition – we can just dispense with that – that’s just wrong.  There is some reason why that religious instinct exists.

But mention the value of religion as part of humans being human, and you are mocked.


A minority of people who stand against corruption can keep destruction at bay.

Peterson is certainly doing more than his share.


  1. Thank you, BM, for alerting me to the existence of this series. Because of a previous post, I viewed episode X and was blown away by Peterson's brilliance and wisdom. I'm some kind of a Christian (anabaptist?), so I don't agree with Peterson on everything. I've since watched his first episode and am looking forward to more.

    1. ^^^What he (or she, as the case may be) said.

    2. Thank you; I owe this find to gpond.

    3. You might try also his maps of meaning class from University of Toronto. The last class in the series provides a summary of the ideas, then each individual previous class contains a lot of detail. It's a pleasure to be exposed to such discourse let alone try to absorb in it's entirety.

    4. Thanks very much, bionic mosquito! I had never heard of Jordan Peterson's lectures until your article. Kind Regards!

  2. hi, came to you via posts on whr/rinf, and lewrockwell. you seem open to various interpretations of things biblical as taught by parable/metaphor. "Satan is often depicted as the most intellectual, most rational being; its flaw is that it falls in love with its own productions."

    thought i'd share these thoughts for your consideration. 'Satan/Devil/Lucifer" what most people refer as the same entity... is metaphor for man's ill-Reasoned use of The Gift of Free Will, and its consequences. 'He' is not evil personified.. he's representative of man's foibles, weaknesses, which in extreme can be evil. he visits no evil on this sphere or in the heavens; he exposes evil originating in the heart and through the hand of Man. in exposing that evil(illreasoned thought), brings the 'light' of truth. Lucifer, the light bearer.... doubt it not. in summary, he, as metaphor teaches truth. he teaches by example of what of not to do. in more modern conceptual terms, he's a FAIL meme.

    thx, for your time..

    1. Thank you for the comment. In my post, I offered Peterson's view. I didn't offer anything one way or the other about mine.

      I have written elsewhere: I take the Bible quite literally as the Word of God. You may deduce from this that my position regarding Satan is not very malleable.

      This does not mean that I do not learn from others: Peterson holds a much different view of the Bible than do I, yet I am learning much from him and his interpretations.