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.