I am still deliberately avoiding reading or listening to Jordan Peterson. He seems to be a maelstrom, a black hole who will suck you into Internet arguments that will eat up all your time and energy. As Bert Jansch sang, “I have no time to spend with you; you talk of nothing, what can you do?” I’ve heard he’s soft on religion, or at least not an overt atheist, and I’m not even sure about that. But these two tweets, sent by Grania, show that he appears to be either an accommodationist or an ultra-Sophisticated Theologian™. Here he tries to limn what he sees as “God”, and it’s a bloody mess. These tweets could have been made by Alvin Plantinga, David Bentley Hart, or even Karen Armstrong.
God is that in which you manifest necessary faith. Necessary because you have to start somewhere. And this necessary axiom is not a fact, but a way or mode of being, which is to say: a personality.
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) June 25, 2018
Well, that makes no sense. Why is faith necessary? And if it is, why place it in God—or is he defining God as “that in which you place faith”, which is almost a tautology. In that case, what is the atheists‘ god? And why is this an “axiom”? The last bit is opaque: yes, believing in gods may be a “mode of being”, but why is that the same thing as a “personality”?
That seems to me like an extended Deepity, sounding fine but meaning nothing.
Here’s another, in which he redefines god as “how you act according to your values”:
God is the mode of being you value the most as demonstrated or manifested in your presumption, perception and action.
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) June 26, 2018
I value being an atheist, reading, doing science (or at least writing about it), criticizing political opponents, feeding my ducks, and drinking wine. Does that make this “mode of being” God?
It’s common for Sophisticated Theologians to redefine God in such a way that you couldn’t refute God’s existence(e.g., “God is the cosmos” or “God is love”). But that’s weaselly, and certainly doesn’t correspond to most people’s notion of God, which is represents a powerful and loving divine being who has a personal relationship with you and promotes a certain morality. What Peterson has done with these two tweets (which, as far as I’ve read, correspond to his general logorrhea and obscurantism) is to “prove” God’s existence by calling something God that everyone has: in this case the “mode of being you value the most.”
I haven’t read much Peterson nor listened to any of his interviews save the infamous one with that persistent interviewer, so I’m not saying this kind of Deepity characterizes all his thought. I’m just saying that if these tweets are Peterson’s notion of god, he’s being a slippery sophist.
I know he’s debated various people lately, and feel free to comment or add links.