Dawkins replies to two challenges from Jordan Peterson

August 4, 2023 • 10:46 am

According to this post on Richard Dawkins’s Substack site, Jordan Peterson challenged him on Twitter to answer two questions.  Dawkins decided to answer both because, as he said below, he respects Peterson:

A colleague sent two challenges to me, posted by Jordan Peterson, suggesting I should respond. I’m happy to do so because I greatly respect Dr Peterson’s courageous stance against a bossy, intolerant thought-police whose Orwellian newspeak threatens enlightened rationalism. The hero of 1984, Winston Smith, was eventually persuaded by O’Brien that, if the Party wills it, 2+2 = 5. Winston had earlier found it necessary to stake out his credo. “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows”.

Yes, Peterson is gutsy enough to say what isn’t popular but often worth saying, though he’s also vociferous about some stuff that isn’t admirable—like his admiration of religion.  But you have to give him credit for not really caring whether his beliefs make him demonized. Click below to Read Richard’s answers.

The first question:

Richard begins his answer with a caveat:

My answer to the question is no if you include supernaturalism in your definition of a religion, and a dear colleague takes her stand on this distinction.  But the following three similarities are enough for me to justify a yes answer to Jordan’s question. The first of the three is characteristic of religions in general. The other two are kin to Christianity in particular.

The similarities are Heresy Hunting, Hereditary Guilt, and Transubstantiation. This is his example of the last one:

Similarly, in the cult of woke, a man speaks the magic incantation, “I am a woman”, and thereby becomes a woman in true substance, while “her” intact penis and hairy chest are mere Aristotelian accidentals.  Transsexuals have transubstantiated genitals. One thing to be said in favour of (today’s) Catholics: at least they don’t (nowadays) insist that everybody else must go along with their beliefs.

Hemant Mehta, who has long gone down the Woke Rabbit Hole, will be sharpening his knives when he reads that.

And the second question:

Part of Dawkins’s answer:

I see this accusation again and again in graffiti scribbled on the lavatory wall that is Twitter. Peterson’s tone is more civilised, of course, but the message is the same. We who have spoken out against the irrationality of religion are to blame for the rise of the irrationality of woke.

. . . I get the point, but I love truth too much to go along with it. I, along with Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger, Lawrence Krauss, Michael Shermer, and others, are against all religions without exception. And that includes the cult of woke. To oppose one irrational dogma by promoting another irrational dogma would be a betrayal of everything I love and stand for.

Whatever else there is to admire about Peterson, his affection for religion, which may be of the “Little People” variety (e.g., “I am no believer, but religion is essential for everyone else as a social glue”), is not only an acceptance of the unevidenced, but a false belief that superstition is necessary for a good society (viz. Scandinavia). It’s also patronizing.

But it may be that Peterson really believes in, say, Christianity. I’d love to sit him down and ask him questions about whether he believes in the Resurrection, heaven, and so on, but I’m 100% sure that his answers would be so tortuous that you wouldn’t get an intelligible answer.

83 thoughts on “Dawkins replies to two challenges from Jordan Peterson

  1. I rather like Peterson’s ‘tortuous answers’ on religion, in part because, though no-one expects them, they could wind up the Spanish Inquisition. I also like the fact that though he admits to no faith JP treats faith seriously rather than dismissively, as indeed does Douglas Murray, also without faith, who speaks of the value of “living in the question”.

    1. Well, faith should be taken seriously as a mass behavior of society, but not as something that we should consider necessary for a society to function. Religious belief is, after all, a delusion–a fervent conviction without enough evidence to convince a truly rational person.

      1. A delusion for sure but also a brain washing of young minds, reinforced
        by familial connections and castigation.

    2. I can not see why it should be assumed that having faith is required to speak of the value of “living in the question” (see quote by Rainer Maria Rilke for reference). I think that is a fallacy of the same sort as “faith is required in order to experience or appreciate being profoundly moved by the wonder and beauty of a flower, or a poem, or a symphony, or a sunrise, etc.”

      From personal experience as an atheist since birth, from what I’ve observed about others throughout my life, and from rational analysis I am quite confident that all such claims are bunk. Faith is not necessary and, furthermore, it is not something to cherish or be proud of.

    3. I remember watching JP’s videos from the time he was first in trouble at U of T. He looked disheveled and distressed, and I thought to myself he would be driven into the arms of religion, if only in self-defense. Then came his series on Genesis and I saw it coming true. He still doesn’t give a straight answer on belief, but it will come in time, and as far as I’m concerned it will be the wrong one. The same transformation has occurred in many of his views, as he has been driven to take positions he would have once upon a time eschewed by the pushback from his opponents. I regard this as a great shame, as I liked him as a holder of reasonable and honest opinions, but now there is a little too much demagoguery for me. One can imagine him becoming a powerful televangelist, which verges on tragedy.
      It has been an ongoing conflict for me to reconcile my atheism with my belief in absolute free speech and freedom of religion. How strongly may one denounce the views of others without trampling on enlightenment freedoms? I have come to the practical viewpoint, based on manners, that I tolerate others being wrong until they admit the topic into conversation (or worse, attempt to impose their views), and at that point the gloves come off!

    1. Man, he’s really gone over into Babbelaria. I can’t listen. He and his co-host sound like a couple of kids. Beavis and Butt-Head.

        1. I do find Hemant Mehta tiresome to listen to, though it’s probably just his tone. He’s useful as a source of generally outrageous stories about religious incursion into public life, and that sort of thing, but he’s a reporter of news, not someone whose opinion I value.

    2. Hemant is an embarrassment these days. He’s the equivalent of a flat-earther, and many would say he is just another misogynist using the cover of “trans” to attack women and biological fact.

      1. Does he even care about atheism anymore? I clicked on the link posted by StephenB, and was greeted by an ad directing me to embrace “the one true messiah, Jesus.” In fairness, he may not be able to control the ads YouTube puts on his channel.

        1. Did you read the piece with his comment about atheism in it? Of course he cares about atheism. And no, nobody can control the ads that YouTube puts up, so I’m not sure what you’re implying when saying that there was an ad about Jesus on his channel. When I briefly tried ads on this site, because it was often about religion (yes, ATHEISM), there were often ads about faiths and churches. That’s one reason we don’t have ads any longer.

          1. I didn’t know if YouTubers could control their ads. I thought that advertisers might pay them directly instead of paying YouTube itself, which in turn pays them, which would make it much easier for YouTubers to control the content of ads. I didn’t mean that Mehta is religious in a literal sense, but that he has abandoned any commitment to rationality that he once had in favor of the dogma of wokeness.

  2. Re: why is transsexuality accepted but not transracism, even though both have genetic bases? One difference is that the former may be associated with mutation (no choice), while the latter is not (pure choice).

    1. With the possible exception of rapid onset gender dysphoria (jury is still out on that, imo), being transgender is not what I would call a choice. Any more than your being cis gender.

      1. But wouldn’t a transracial person be able to say the same thing? Why wouldn’t their identity also be discovered, rather than chosen. I heard any claim of difference between the two that isn’t special pleading or obscurantism.

  3. “. . . in graffiti scribbled on the lavatory wall that is Twitter” is perhaps the best metaphor for Twitter I’ve seen.

    I am, by coincidence, reading a book called, Crucible of the Millennium: The Burned-Over District of New York in the 1840s, which deals with the Millerites, the Oneida community, and other Millenarian groups. The author is trying to deal with the distinction between religion and secular Millenarianism. I tend to agree that spiritualism needs to be a part of the mix in order for it to be religion, but I think that many, if not all, of the other characteristics apply to both, including the belief in the immanence of a new world of and for the Elect. Wokeism isn’t by itself a Millenarian cult, but it’s a component of modern Marxism, which always has been.

  4. I really cannot stand to listen to Jordan Peterson. I have run across so many like him, using big words to obfuscate and give the impression you are smarter than you seem.

    OK, I may be a bit guilty of that at times. But Peterson is so full of it. It is a shame that the actions of so many “woke” give him a platform that makes him seem sensible.

    1. OMG, the Geezer really nails him! I cannot BEAR Peterson. He’s a narcissistic, misogynistic twit. His performance on the Munk debates last year was almost unwatchable. I can’t believe that Richard and Jerry have any respect for him.

    2. Peterson saying “you have to admire Hitler” seems very similar to Dawkins saying he admires Peterson. It’s also similar to the kinds of people who say “well I don’t like that he’s a racist, misogynistic, authoritarian criminal but you have admire Trump because he says what he thinks without fear of what others think about it”

  5. I suspect that putting your questions about Christianity to Peterson would prompt more circumlocution than substance.

    1. Thorough, disturbing article. Thanks for the link. So…Peterson is postmodern? I’m reminded Sokal & Bricmont disposing of this sort of obscurantist public intellectual stye ~ 25 years ago.

      There’s so much to choose from — e.g. current scientific literature real & difficult to read — that I’ve never paid any attention to him. And there’s plenty on the net for mindless distraction.

      I already have good posture so his advice seems moot.

      One is tempted to steer the conversation to the fortunes of the local sports teams.

  6. Am I religious? No, and perhaps yes. I might be religious in the etymological sense. Religion comes from the Latin, to reconnect re ligare as in ligand, etc. Re-connect to what though? God, society, nature, the universe? The latter two, I was never unconnected. This, of course, is an outcome of a lack of belief in free will.

  7. It has been by observation and belief that so much miscommunication is the result of certain words having different meanings to different people. In recent discourse, two words, religion and cult, have been stretched beyond their previously commonly understood meanings, resulting in confusion and misunderstanding. Thus, while most people, I think, would agree on how wokeism manifests itself, they feel compelled to give it a label such as religion, cult, or something else, often simply to make it clear to the uninformed that wokeism is “bad.” I argue that wokeism is neither a religion nor a cult. As best as I can recall, up to a few years ago, it was generally accepted (correctly) that for a movement or a set of beliefs to be called a religion that there had to be a supernatural element to it. Now, this essential element has been stripped away because workeism exhibits similar characteristics to a religion. I do not understand why one cannot be content by describing wokeism as containing religious-like elements, but not being a religion itself. Likewise, wokeism is not a cult because the latter entails slavish obedience to the dictums of a charismatic leader, regardless of what that person says. Charles Manson was a cult leader; Donald Trump is a current one. Sometimes a cult can morph into a social movement or religion under propitious circumstances. Hence, if one accepts the bible story of Jesus, he was a cult leader whose teachings evolved into a religion. Cult leader Trump fostered the MAGA movement with him remaining at its leadership.

    Wokeism isn’t a cult because there is no single person that can be identified as its leader nor is it a religion because it lacks a supernatural element. It is a disparate coalition of independent individuals and groups with different areas of focus such a doing away with merit or recognizing special characterizations of trans people, but with a common aim: the realization of equity as the guiding principle of society. In this sense it is no different from other social/political movements such as liberalism or conservatism. In other words, wokeism IS the label to describe what its adherent aim for. To describe wokeism as a cult or religion is to add a label on top of a label. I don’t believe this is necessary in addition to being wrong (in my view).

    I will stop here so that my comment is not too long. If I had more space, I could flesh out what I have written above.

    1. While I do prefer to call Wokeism an ideology rather than a religion, I do see Ibram X. Kendi as being treated by the Woke as a kind of prophet come down from on high. Kendi’s claims and pronouncements, which it seems to me he pulls out of thin air, are treated as sacrosanct and above criticism by the Woke. If there’s any cult leader of the Woke, it would be him.

    2. Yes, technically wokeism is neither a religion nor a cult. But if something looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it isn’t wrong to call it a duck. Technically, the US is a republic, but it isn’t wrong to call it a democracy. The usefulness of a term is sometimes independent of its accuracy.

    3. In haste


      From Margaret Thaler Singer’s Cults in Our Midst, 1996 ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cults_in_Our_Midst )

      In the United States, there are at least ten major types of cults, each with its own beliefs, practices, and social mores. The list below is not exhaustive, but most cults can be classified under one of the following headings:
      1. Neo-Christian religious
      2. Hindu and Eastern religious
      3. Occult, witchcraft, and satanist
      4. Spiritualist
      5. Zen and other Sino-Japanese philosophical-mystical
      6. Racial
      7. Flying saucer and other outer-space phenomena
      8. Psychology or psychotherapeutic
      9. Political
      10. Self-help, self-improvement, and life-style systems

      2. Reference :
      Eric Voegelin Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, 1968


      Eugene Webb stated that Voegelin understood “gnosis” as

      a purported direct, immediate apprehension or vision of truth without the need for critical reflection; the special gift of a spiritual and cognitive elite[11]
      and ‘Gnosticism’ as

      A type of thinking that claims absolute cognitive mastery of reality. Relying as it does on a claim to gnosis, gnosticism considers its knowledge not subject to criticism. Gnosticism may take transcendentalizing (as in the case of the Gnostic movement of late antiquity) or immanentizing forms (as in the case of Marxism).[12]


      … just adding – not arguing.

    4. “… nor is it [“woke”] a religion because it lacks a supernatural element. ”

      I just remembered – Critical Social Justice does have “a supernatural” composition. I got all this from citations in a number of James “Conspiracy Theorist” Lindsay podcasts (link below).

      A clue to the supernatural component of Critical Social Justice (CSJ) – which is easy to think is not part of CSJ – is found in its ubiquitous claim of “social construction”. This comes from Marx in his Philosophical and Economic Manuscripts of 1844.

      (I use “man” as Marx did next):

      Marx asserts that – contra Abrahamic faiths with a god outside man, “man” instead creates “man”, not by labor of course, but by a sacred work. It is superior to the work of the bee making honey – thus man is supernatural. Man has a vision in his mind behind the things he creates. What does man create, according to Marx? Society. God is of no use, because man is now its own god. What does society create? Man.

      The snake eating its tail, on and on, until communism is attained (i.e. Utopia, but Marx is an intellectual swindler and writes communism isn’t Utopia). Man is god.

      “Woke” is CSJ with balloons and cotton candy (IMHO). CSJ is largely Marxism. Marxism is supernatural – but it is obscured, occulted (meaning hidden).

      James “CT” Lindsay : https://newdiscourses.com/2022/01/theology-marxism/

  8. Similarly, in the cult of woke, a man speaks the magic incantation, “I am a woman”, and thereby becomes a woman in true substance, while “her” intact penis and hairy chest are mere Aristotelian accidentals. Transsexuals have transubstantiated genitals.

    If this were meant as a cheeky metaphor, it would probably pass muster. As a rational response to a serious question, however, I think it’s facile and makes it look like Dawkins doesn’t understand the doctrine he’s criticizing.

    A steel-man version of the claim might go like this:

    “Human beings evolved a deep internal sense of being male or female — a gender identity. In some people, their brain gives them the message that their “cerebral sex” doesn’t match with their biological sex. These people are transgender. Because the ordinary value of reproductive sex is limited to reproduction, it’s more reasonable and scientifically accurate to rely on gender identity when socially and legally distinguishing between men, women, and those who are both or neither.”

    While I see a lot — a whole lot — to criticize in this, it technically doesn’t involve transubstantiation. They don’t have individuals starting out as one sex and magically changing into another by the power of words: they were always what they are. Declaring one’s gender is supposed to be more like an admission, revelation, or self-realization. We can of course see a resemblance in how it actually works, but that’s not the same thing as a genuine analogy in concepts.

    So I don’t care for Dawkins’ answer here. If “woke” is like a religion, he either used a poor example or didn’t make clear that he was speaking tongue-in-cheek.

    1. As someone who experienced gender dysphoria for almost 40 years, I feel like I can comment. I can’t agree that Dawkins overdid it because there has been a change recently in the understanding (at least by activists) of what a trans person actually is.

      Before five years ago, I never heard anyone insist on themselves being referred to as just a woman rather than a trans woman, which is what I understood myself as. I just had some wires crossed in my brain that we’re uncrossed, so to speak, for most other people and transitioning would relieve at least some and hopefully most of that distress (which was all transitioning was originally intended to do).

      But now things have gotten Roussau-ian, for the lack of a better way of putting it. We define ourselves solely by how we identify and the body doesn’t play into it. Hence, lady penises.

      So Dawkins isn’t really wrong or facile. People are saying these things about themselves.

      Assuming I rightly understood your criticism of Dawkins. If I didn’t, my apologies and never mind!

      (And PS, ftr and long story short, my gender dysphoria ended up resolving.)

      1. Happy to hear it.

        My last sentence in the description was intended to justify the view that transwomen ARE women, by bringing in the shift from women ( and now females) being a sex category to their moral, rational, and scientific claim that gender is what counts.

    2. Steel-manning Dawkins’s metaphor a bit: The comparison of the invisible, undetectable essence of “gender identity” to the Catholic’s “substance” of the eucharist, and the comparison of the real, physical sex to the mere “accidentals”, does seem to hold.

      In both, the obviously real thing is taken as inconsequential whereas the non-existent thing is treated as all-important.

      You are right that there’s also a difference in that a declaration of gender ID is taken as a revealing of how things already were, whereas the priest’s magic incantation is taken as causing the change.

  9. Unpopular opinion here. Always willing to change my mind as future events unfold. Currently, I find this strident anti wokeism to be worse than most of the woke accusations. Right here, it even has Dawkins embracing the sheer lunacy of the likes of Jordan Peterson. The depth of contempt of the anti wokeist has reached cult like fervor. It’s demeaning attacks, exaggerated claims of persecution and spraying vitriol to the extent of embracing the real enemies of reason. Some on the left now almost exclusively talk and rail against the woke. At times they have me feeling like I’m reading a diatribe from Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson. Meanwhile the real lunatics on the right, wage war on democracy and freedom. This is not to say, I agree with every woke position. I have some criticisms for sure. Though this never make me lose sight of who the “real” enemies of reason and truth are. It most assuredly is not the woke. To imply as such, is just wrong and adds credibility to the radical right. Equivalency and intent matter. This extreme anti wokeism reminds me of the expression: ‘Throw the baby out with the bathwater’. The left is too quick to eat its own.

    1. Brian, thanks for this. I’m new to this blog and these conversations and you have a good summary that covers some of my discomfort. I have made a few of my own comments about careless use of “woke”, considering how it’s been by appropriated by some very nasty people.

      On another note, as life-long atheist I’m no longer som impressed by my own or other “life-long” atheistic opinions in comparison to those who were raised in religious faith & figured it out for themselves. Admittedly, the intellectual conclusions are simple, but the emotional barriers can be very high.

    2. Brian, thank you for your whataboutism.
      You write:

      the real lunatics on the right, wage war on democracy and freedom.

      Almost all policies championed by the woke only (e.g., defund the police, turn universities into places of therapy and social justice activism, the idea that people have a right not to be offended) have no majority support in the population, hence cannot be enacted by means of democratic politics. The woke are every bit as dangerous to democracy and freedom as the lunatics of the extreme right.

    3. I don’t know if “Jewish space lasers” is more or less crazy than “pregnant men,” but very few kids are being indoctrinated in “Jewish space lasers.”

    4. Like it or not, the ‘woke’ run everything and control everything. If anyone doubts this, consider the prevalence of AFAB/AMAB. Neither term is remotely accurate. Both are mandatory.

    5. Like it or not, but the left is at war with science (and not just in NZ). Science says that humans (and other species) have two (quite binary) sexes. The left passionately rejects science and claims (without evidence) that ‘sex is a spectrum’. Science says that ‘race’ more or less matches well known clusters in the human genome. The left passionately rejects science and claims (without evidence) that ‘race has no biological basis’.

  10. Slandering unwelcome ideologies by labeling them a religion should be disparaged. It is lazy and not insightful.

      1. It would be better to say “X is like Christianity”, because religions differ so much from each other that there is apparently no useful definition of religion that encompasses the world’s most important belief systems unless one merely requires belief in something supernatural (and that would also include astrology, PSI etc.).
        The Christian obsession with orthodoxy and its emphasis on moral purification would have been alien to Classical Athenians, and even most sects of Judaism, which has emphasized orthopraxy to the extent that there have been openly atheist Rabbis.

        Communists have been compared to a religion, sometimes to deflect from their murderous persecution of religious people. This view ignores that they fought against religions even when this was the main reason why their followers did not accept them. The Nazi policy of co-opting religious leaders as long as their support was needed would have been more sensible. Communism viewed itself as eminently rational, not superstitious. It taught the inevitability of world revolution as a scientific fact, and ideas like establishing a planned economy, introducing a new calendar and killing class enemies were merely logical steps in its progression. It did not entail a belief in a higher power, and never promised an afterlife, something extremely important to Christians.

        Comparisons might also be made for Nazis, anarchists, Darwinists (accused of never questioning their dogma) or enthusiasts for cryonics and mind uploading. I don’t find them useful. Perhaps it helps to say that you should similarly not compare random autocrats to Hitler, even if there are some parallels. It is better to study them individually if you want to make useful predictions. Notice how Dawkins uses a strained analogy to transubstantiation, which Protestants usually do not believe in, when he is actually criticizing dualism. This is not good reasoning.

        1. Have you heard of Gnosticism?

          See Eric Voegelin (my comment above).

          And – I think you know this, but it is worth stating :

          Religion was, and is, in direct competition with Marxism. Everyone in Marxism has to follow the same plan or it won’t work in principle etc.

        2. Okay, the point then is that calling Wokeness a ‘religion’ is something that people should discuss and debate, as you’ve just done, and not a possibility that’s dismissed beforehand.

          FWIW, I’d call Communism, Objectivism, and Wokeness ‘pseudo-religions,’ which I would define as a secular belief system that views all of reality thru a moral lens. Wokeness is monomaniacal in its application of identity politics to literally everything.

    1. All of the core tenets of woke are a matter of faith, not fact, That makes ‘woke’ a religion, not just an ideology.

      1. There is also a plan in mind – a making of the world into Utopia, using society to do it – through the sacred work of activism, protest, or thought reform, which can take different forms.

        Conventional religions also dispatch their congregations out in the world at large to save souls by their sacred praxis – again, with a clear plan in mind – the afterlife, a type of Utopia.

      2. I do not intend to be rude, but this argument will just lead you down a well-trodden philosophical rabbit hole. All our beliefs, even mathematical ones, depend on presuppositions that cannot be proven. I’m sure you have heard the defense of religion that logical positivism is an article of faith. This will not convince anyone, and frankly, many observations of the woke like the countless racial disparities they remark on are correct. Dismissing their views are a faith when many of the most intelligent young people share them and view them as blindingly obvious is intellectually lazy.




    A panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (Panel) considered this matter on July 27,
    September 12, and November 2, 2022.

    The Panel carefully reviewed all of the information collected in this matter. The Panel believes this
    information is sufficient to support a decision in the public interest.
    Based on its review and analysis of the information, the Panel has identified moderate risks to the public
    regarding Dr. Peterson’s conduct in this case. The Panel therefore decided it was appropriate and in the
    public interest to order Dr. Peterson to complete a SPECIFIED CONTINUING EDUCATION OR REMEDIAL
    PROGRAM (SCERP) regarding professionalism in public statements. The SCERP consists of a Coaching
    Program focusing on this issue.


  12. Well, by golly — woke this, woke that, woke the other.

    How to respond? Pop music ’60’s/’70’s earworms may be suitable:

    “When I woke up this this morning you were one my mind…” (We Five)

    Many many others, to confound the woke cacophony, easily found in a search.

    My favorite would be mis-heard lyrics from a fine, fine song (~1973) the Dreadful Great:

    — Wake up to find out that you are disguised as a squirrel. —

    Cue Feb 1973 college newspaper music critic ripping on the Dead for not being “political enough”.

    1. There have been many discussions on this blog about finding another term to substitute for woke. So far, no one has come up with a good alternative. Others have tried elsewhere and have never come up with a term that caught on (for example, John McWhorter pushed “The Elect” as an alternative).

      If you can propose a good alternative, and promote it so that it gets widespread acceptance in the world, I think everyone here would be glad to use it instead of woke.

      1. I have offered a couple of suggestions but you’re right, this word has got itself dug in deep. It’s got a sort of bark to it — in fact has become a dog whistle for all manner of reactionary nonsense. Need something catchy. Apparently cringe or lunacy or idiocy just doesn’t have the nice sharp bark. But the Confederate crowd having appropriated it, you will find application to, say, anthropogenic climate change, science based medicine, universal declaration of human rights, any modicum of kindness, all woke.

      2. Wesley Yang has promoted ‘Successor ideology’ as a replacement for ‘woke’. It has not caught on. Over time, ‘woke’ has developed a strong negative tone (people use ‘woke’ as an accusation). That’s a good thing.

  13. Don’t let wokism become a religion because then it will want to be tax-exempt and have legal protection against suppression.

    I realize that calling it a religion here is to bring down the strongest possible condemnation on it, but many religious people would see it as welcoming it into the fold of places the state dare not tread.

  14. The left is indeed too quick to eat its own, but it’s the woke who are doing the eating. To take an example at a national level, a situation our host has been covering extensively is the ongoing destruction of the education system in New Zealand by the introduction across the board of Matauranga Maori into science education. See the opprobrium suffered by those (liberals themselves) who stand up to it, and see who is inflicting it. Or on an institutional level, see the “eating” going on by US universities such as Oberlin College in its vendetta against the Gibsons’ Bakery. Or on an individual level, see the way even those with impeccable liberal credentials are thoughtlessly chewed up and spat out by the ongoing juggernaut of DEI training, such as the hapless Richard Bilkszto: https://www.thefp.com/p/a-racist-smear-a-tarnished-career-suicide?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=260347&post_id=135671559&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email

    You’ll note that in all these cases the woke aren’t bothering to target right-wingers. They’re targeting liberal leftists. You rightly decry the onslaught from the right, but part of the tragedy is the failure to see that the woke are making recruits for the right every day by the indefensible absurdity of their behaviour, and thus empowering those they claim to oppose. Kike Ojo-Thompson may not be as powerful as Donald Trump, but in the essence of her beliefs she is every bit as much the enemy of a just and equal society.

    1. Yes — your phrase — indefensible absurdity. Just read the linked story — horrible. That kind of meanness, cluelessness, total lack of self awareness, haven’t seen it since my brush with Weather Underground types & their wannabe ilk. With the piling on, the complicit silence — recruiting for the right, or, as least, trashing our own ranks. Maybe I’ll just stop worrying about this blog’s use of the word: woke, even as it grates on me that its usage in the public sphere has come to mean other things.

    2. A person (Yeonmi Park) with real experience in tyranny has described Columbia as “crazier than North Korea”. Quote “Yeonmi Park attended Columbia University and was immediately struck by what she viewed anti-Western sentiment in the classroom and a focus on political correctness that had her thinking “even North Korea isn’t this nuts.””.

  15. As said before, science ask questions that may never be answered, religions gives answers that may never be questioned. In that sense, wokeism is a religion. And the internet is it’s pitchforks and fire and brimstone.

    1. The pitchforks and fire and brimstone that is the internet stokes all fires, not just wokeism. The internet in this context is a catalyst, a tool, nothing more. And it’s too easy to exploit, given the human condition and too easy to find ways to exacerbate all human (read emotional) problems, since it creates extremes. And I am seeing the gross negligence of propagating terror and excusing violence coming from the Right and their progun/ probigotry / progod above all and their super charged anti-woke hysteria is seriously dangerous; at least wokeism doesn’t see violence as a tool; they don’t advocate arming yourself to the teeth or idolize the 2nd Amendment…though maybe they should, to put a cynical spin on it. But lets put razor wire buoys in the Rio-Grande! And let’s really understand what political party is advocating violence in this country. Let’s add Florida governor DeSantis, “slitting throats” and such. Trump telling his cult “I am your retribution!” And “You are being persecuted, not me.”

      Let’s calm down and finger the real danger in the room before lashing out at the agitators who just began their agitations. Can’t we deal with the woke sometime after the American experiment is back on terra firma again? It’s about priorities, folks. At least the woke don’t deny climate change. Is it so hard to choose sides? Stick with the “better” and then make it better after you’ve vanquished the worse. Or maybe vanquish that as well. But you gotta get rid of the “worst evil”, first. And woke ain’t it. And I don’t see the world fighting both fronts and succeeding.

  16. Thinking about this a couple of days ago, it seems to me that there is a supernatural element here.
    If you believe that you were born into the wrong body, then you believe that “you” are a component apart from your physical body, or even your brain. That seems to me to be belief in a soul. If it is independent of the physical body, then it is not much of a stretch to believe that it is perhaps immortal. That in turn opens the door to the possibility of reincarnation, and of course the question of where the souls come from.

    But really, whether or not it is a religion is all about which definition of religion one espouses. And there are a lot of them.

    I know my opinion is likely to annoy Dr. Coyne, but it seems to me that people without a religion will tend to invent one, even if it does not conform to traditional spiritual beliefs. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism.
    Whether wokeness is a religion by the chosen definition, there seems little doubt that the woke treat it as one. They attack anyone with even slightly divergent opinions with the same fervor that an inquisitor approaches blasphemy.

  17. “I see this accusation again and again in graffiti scribbled on the lavatory wall that is Twitter”

    Funny, sad, and true all at once

  18. “Postmodern Religion and the Faith of Social Justice”

    JUNE 18, 2020




    “Social Justice makes sense in a postmodern context; religion doesn’t; […]

    Social Justice isn’t a substitute for religion; it’s a roughly religious structure that services the same human needs that religions do from within a remarkably different paradigm. ”

    Another :

    “Sacred beliefs are ones that have been for moral reasons removed from the realm of skepticism and doubt because they’re viewed as too important to be subjected to these corrosive influences. Instead, sacred beliefs are effectively set aside from rational inquiry, which results in an expectation for them to be understood mythologically rather than literally, technically, or scientifically.”

    Parting shot, as pertains to schools, university, etc.:

    “Social Justice has arranged things such that it can treat its beliefs as knowledge.”

    BTW I am entirely unassociated with New Discourses.

    1. Just one more :

      “Social Justice is an application of postmodern philosophy, we must remember. That means that Social Justice is a moral tribe whose central fascination is power and how it can shape society. And its agenda has never been secret: it is openly to remake society according to its aims and “theories.” “

  19. O’Brien and Smith (Orwell) are just cis-heteronormative, patriarchal, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, bigoted, ableist, etc. males. Everyone knows that 2 + 2 is really ‘white racism’ or is it ‘white supremacy’ or is ‘structural racism’? All this blather about ‘4’ is just a cover for racism, sexism, etc. 1984 is just another white, racist (but I repeat myself) book. Everyone knows that.

    1. Frank, you are right on that satire and caricatures are effective tools to hopefully enlighten people that so much of woke culture is juvenile and possibly dangerous.
      Thanks for a lovely parody.

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