For VJ Torley: Christianity’s consistency with Evolutionary Theory, JB Peterson’s Interview

Various creationists and ID proponents, myself included, have raved about the work of elite scholar and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson who connected the rise of Christianity with concepts in evolutionary theory. His recent 2.5-hour interview was profound on many levels. I provide a link to the interview below.

Even though Peterson is an die-hard evolutionist, many ID proponents and creationists have said they were blessed to hear what he had to say. I know I was. Since I know VJ studied the topic of animal intelligence, I thought Peterson’s work might be of interest to him since Peterson ties the rise of Christianity to behavioral and neurological traits he sees deeply conserved in the mammalian kingdom.

As a creationist I interpret things a little differently than Peterson. I think the animal kingdom is an inexact picture of humanity. What he views as evolutionarily conserved behavioral traits I view as common design. He relates how a tyrannical chimpanzee patriarch in a community of chimpanzees cannot withstand the slightly more ethical semi-tyrant chimpanzees. He thus concludes ethics are a deeply ancient trait of mammalian behavior. What he says is somewhat consistent with Daniel Dennett who although is an opponent of Christianity, concluded natural selection must have favored humans with religious pre-dispositions since the behavioral trait is so abundant. Dennett views religion as a reproductively successful adaptation.

Peterson also offers a piercing critique of post modernism and neo-marxism and champions free market capitalism because free markets don’t have the waste created by government enforcement of policies. It was utterly amazing he could weave so many lines of thought together coherently. I listened to the interview a few times on a long long drive.

One amazing thing he said was the connection of evil in men’s hearts being tied to desire for revenge against God even if one is an atheist. He relates how some patients in his clinical practice found cures through developing a theology of good and evil. He pointed out how some war veterans suffering Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) wrote him to tell him they got cured of their PTSD while listening to his lectures about evil.

Peterson argues that Christianity articulated some of the most fundamental truths more successfully than other religions and philosophical systems. He points out pain is one of the ultimate undeniable truths, and that philosophies that don’t recognizes the tragedy of the human condition reject truth at some level. He claims post modernism fails because it does not recognize the existence of pain demolishes the central tenet of post modernism that there are infinitely many coherent interpretations of facts.

He shows why the truth of pain refutes post modern philosophy and Christianity is more coherent philosophically because of its treatment of the fact of pain. He points out the central figure in Christianity is Jesus Christ suffering on the cross. Because the central figure of Christianity is the suffering messiah, Christianity is therefore is aligned with a fundamental aspect of reality and thus truth. He argues the concept of Logos and truth were very well developed in Christianity as a religion and served also partly for Christianity’s decline after the so-called enlightenment.

Here is the link to Peterson’s 2017 interview:

69 thoughts on “For VJ Torley: Christianity’s consistency with Evolutionary Theory, JB Peterson’s Interview

  1. Hi Sal,

    I deeply appreciate your dedicating a post to me. Unfortunately, where I live, I’m unable to view the Youtube video you linked to. It’s in restricted mode, and no matter what I do to my computer settings, I can’t seem to get it out of that mode. Is there any other site which summarizes what Jordan B. Peterson says in the 2.5-hour interview? Thanks in advance.

  2. ….behavioral and neurological traits he sees deeply conserved in the mammalian kingdom.

    FWIW, I feel solidarity with mammals: haven’t eaten any (well, that’s not really true–see below) since I was about 25, when Tom Regan’s book on animal rights came out. But I never read a page of that book! It was a (critical) review by Robert Nozick in the NY Times that did the trick. Weirdly, I was convinced by Nozick’s summary of the book rather than by his attacks on the arguments Regan had made. (I remember that he reported that Regan had noted that human babies were less intellectually capable than adult cows, and that struck me a bit, I guess.)

    When people ask me why I don’t eat beef, pork or lamb. I generally respond by asking them why they don’t eat dog or cat. There’s probably no good reason for it–just empathy. And the cuteness factor, maybe. Also, I’m not in a position where I’ll die if I don’t relent. Obviously, that situation changes things considerably.

    Some years ago, my older daughter asked me why I won’t eat mammalian flesh in instances when it doesn’t contribute to their killing–i.e., when somebody leaves it on her plate or something. I had no response to that–so I started nibbling on a few scraps. But I find it hard to digest at this point anyhow, so there’s been precious little cheating.

  3. walto,

    Thanks a great habit to get into Walto. I also don’t eat mammals either, not so much out of empathy for them, but more that its just a healthy lifestyle. Very rarely do I even desire meat anymore (I do eat some fish, perhaps as you do).

    Also, I believe it can prevent some types of cancer, by not eating meat. Anyway, you have done it for a long time, nice job.

  4. I do eat fish and fowl.

    Yes, there are some health benefits, I understand, and also some environmental benefits–particularly from not eating beef.

  5. walto,

    I have never felt better since I gave up meat. Chicken is a tricky one, especially in America. I think they pump all kinds of strange drugs into those birds. They are so full of hormones it just can’t be good.

    The number of elite levels athletes who, even like American football players, that don’t eat any animal products is growing increasingly higher, and it seems to prolong careers as they develop less soreness from inflammations.

  6. Sorry, Sal.

    I’ve watched/ listened to around 25 minutes. At this point I am giving up.

    Thus far it seems to all be sophisticated bullshit.

  7. phoodoo:
    walto,

    I have never felt better since I gave up meat.Chicken is a tricky one, especially in America.I think they pump all kinds of strange drugs into those birds.They are so full of hormones it just can’t be good.

    The number of elite levels athletes who, even like American football players, that don’t eat any animal products is growing increasingly higher, and it seems to prolong careers as they develop less soreness from inflammations.

    I always buy “organic” free range chicken products in grocery stores, but, of course, I have no idea what I’m getting in restaurants. Do you have any sense whether the so-called “certified organic” stuff is actually healthier?

  8. walto: Do you have any sense whether the so-called “certified organic” stuff is actually healthier?

    To be honest, I’ve long suspected that the laws around certification are so lax that it hardly matters.

    For example, “cage free” just means that the chickens are crammed together on an open factory or warehouse floor. You still have the problems where they live in their own feces, they fight due to overcrowding, their beaks are amputated to prevent them from pecking each other to death. And “free range” just means that there’s a little door in the warehouse where they can wander out into an enclosed patio for a few minutes each day.

    The only way to be sure that you’re eating eggs or dairy from chicken or cows (or goat, sheep, etc.) that have been humanely treated is by going to a farmer’s market or similar, and if you’re willing to pay $6 or more for a dozen eggs, etc.

  9. Hi everyone,

    Before I continue, I’d just like to say that I don’t each meat for ethical reasons, although I do eat fish and seafood. I’m substantially in agreement with phoodoo and walto on meat-eating.

    I’ve just been reading Jordan Peterson’s “New Year’s Letter to the World” at https://jordanbpeterson.com/2016/12/new-years-letter/ . Very interesting but at times quite controversial. Here’s one part I liked a lot:

    The central problem of human beings isn’t religion, as the New Atheists insist. It’s tribalism. We know this in part because chimps, our closest biological kin, go to war, and they are not religious, although they are tribal. Tribalism also has a central problem — and it’s not competition, despite the tendency of competition to produce, at least temporarily, winners and losers. it’s cooperation, because cooperation is what allows us to exist as bounded groups. A group, by definition is a collective cooperatively aiming at something. It can’t be aimed at nothing, because nothing cannot unite. It only divides. Thus, attacks on collective purpose, because of its tendency to produce tribalism, merely divides. The politics of identity, which emerge when the central purpose is criticized too destructively, inevitably produce the situation described in the story of the Tower of Babel: Everyone fragments into primitive tribes and speaks their own language.

    One alternative to fragmentation is union under a banner – a collective ideal, cause, or purpose. The problem with uniting under a banner, as the postmodernists who push identity politics rightly point out, is that to value something means simultaneously to devalue other things. Thus to value is an exclusionary process. But the alternative is valuelessness, which is equivalent to nihilism – and nihilism does not produce freedom from exclusion. It just makes everyone excluded, and that is an intolerable state, directionless, uncertain, chaotic, and angst-ridden…

    Peterson’s idea of a divine individual contains some deep insights. One of the things that brought me back to Christianity was the realization that we cannot make ourselves perfect, by our own efforts. We need an exemplar, a Divine individual who can serve as a perfect man and thus be a model for all of us. Christ is that Exemplar.

    I notice that Dr. Peterson traces back the history of the notion of a divine individual to Egyptian times and beyond. I have no problem with that. I think the Incarnation realizes a very deep-seated human need, which people felt long before the coming of Christ.

    However, I think Peterson veers off the rails when he writes: “The divine individual is masculine because the feminine is not individual: The divine feminine is, instead, mother and child. However, it a hallmark of Christian supposition that the redemption of both men and women comes through the masculine, and that is because the masculine is the individual.”

    Orthodox Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ didn’t have a human personality: He was a Divine Person (God the Son), with two natures (divine and human), which means that He had both a Divine mind and a human mind. I would add that Jesus probably didn’t have a sexual orientation, either: I picture Him as asexual (like about 1% of the human race). If His mission was to redeem fallen humanity, sexual desires would have been a distraction. Also, the fact that Jesus was asexual makes Him in some sense a man for everyone. As for why Jesus was male, I would prefer not to speculate. When Christians do, they inadvertently reveal a lot about their own attitudes to women. All I’ll say is that I think it may have something to do with Jesus having no human personality: maybe that requirement precluded Jesus from being female. I don’t know.

    Here’s another interesting article on Jordan Peterson:
    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/prof-who-refuses-to-use-gender-pronouns-points-to-catholicism-as-bulwark-ag

    I like the fact that he’s anti-PC. He has a lot of courage, too:

    The target of Peterson’s controversial YouTube videos — the mandatory acceptance of gender theory and polygender names and pronouns — is just the latest product of nihilism, he [Peterson] said.

    Peterson has been accused of hate speech and asked to stop talking about gender by his university. He also has been shouted down at a free speech rally. But he has vowed to continue his campaign against mandatory polygenderism even if it leads to jail.

    There’s more food for thought in the article:

    “Christianity tells a complete, balanced story. It describes humans as neither good nor bad, but capable of good and evil,” he said. “Nature brings pain and suffering but is the source of life.”

    While ideology is the product of human thought — “un-moored reason,” Peterson believes religion evolved as human beings developed self-consciousness. Indeed, he believes the Biblical description of Adam and Eve acquiring the knowledge of good and evil is about how humans came to realize their own morality and vulnerability — and quickly put this knowledge to use manipulating and terrorizing others. “Animals do not torture each other,” he noted.

    “One way to look at ideology is as an assault on the Logos,” he said, noting that Christians identify the Logos with Christ. “The Logos is the principle that brings order out of the chaos.” It also means absolute truth, but ideologies such as Nazism or Marxism do not believe there is even such as thing as truth.

  10. walto: I always buy “organic” free range chicken products in grocery stores, but, of course, I have no idea what I’m getting in restaurants.

    Probably the least of your health worries in a restaurant is the grade of chicken they use

    Do you have any sense whether the so-called “certified organic” stuff is actually healthier?

    In my experience the minimally processed, air chilled ,vegetarian grain fed chicken is the tastiest and per friends who care about such things the healthiest.

  11. There’s so much stupidity in Peterson’s work that it’s hard to know where to start.

    But here’s one bit: chimpanzees aren’t tribal. At all. Chimpanzee troops are quite distinct from human tribes because chimpanzee troops don’t have collective identities. They are ever-shifting alliances and rivalries that are quite fluid, which males competing against each other for positions in the hierarchy. Chimpanzees are very bad at cooperating and generally speaking will work together with another chimp only if there’s a tangible and immediate reward for doing so. By contrast, even very young children will volunteer to assist a stranger in a task that they see the person as having trouble with. (This is why we sometimes have to give explicit instruction to children on not trusting strangers.)

    So, while tribalism certainly has a biological basis, it’s just not true that tribalism is only part of our pre-human past and that universalism is an indication of the extent to which we human beings have transcended our primate heritage.

    Also, this claim:

    ideologies such as Nazism or Marxism do not believe there is even such as thing as truth.

    is completely false.

  12. Kantian Naturalist: But here’s one bit: chimpanzees aren’t tribal. At all. Chimpanzee troops are quite distinct from human tribes because chimpanzee troops don’t have collective identities. They are ever-shifting alliances and rivalries that are quite fluid, which males competing against each other for positions in the hierarchy. Chimpanzees are very bad at cooperating and generally speaking will work together with another chimp only if there’s a tangible and immediate reward for doing so. By contrast, even very young children will volunteer to assist a stranger in a task that they see the person as having trouble with. (This is why we sometimes have to give explicit instruction to children on not trusting strangers.)

    These are very confident assertions. How have you arrived at them?

  13. Alan Fox: These are very confident assertions. How have you arrived at them?

    I’m basing them on Tomasello’s work — The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (1999), A Natural History of Human Thinking (2014) and A Natural History of Human Morality (2016).

    I assume that Tomasello knows what he’s talking about. But I’ll admit that I haven’t kept up much with the literature and I don’t know what criticisms his work has received.

  14. Kantian Naturalist: I assume that Tomasello knows what he’s talking about. But I’ll admit that I haven’t kept up much with the literature and I don’t know what criticisms his work has received.

    Kantian Naturalist,
    I’m not sure that he’s the last word on society in Pan pansicus or Pan troglodytes. There’s only a short step between the family group and extended family leading to tribalism. Consider the possibility that matriarchy might explain some aspects of behaviour, especially in bonobos.

  15. Alan Fox:
    I’m not sure that he’s the last word on society in Pan pansicus or Pan troglodytes. There’s only a short step between the family group and extendedfamily leading to tribalism. Consider the possibility that matriarchy might explain some aspects of behaviour, especially in bonobos.

    I’m sure he isn’t! Heck, I worry that his results don’t generalize well because all of his work is on captive populations that have extensive experience in psychological tests.

    In any event, my claim was certainly not that bonobos and chimps aren’t social — they’re very pro-social animals. Rather my claim was that they don’t have collective identities in the way that human tribes (clans, cities, states, empires, etc.) do.

  16. Kantian Naturalist: Rather my claim was that they don’t have collective identities in the way that human tribes (clans, cities, states, empires, etc.) do.

    OK, then I’ll question whether someone threw a switch. I suspect there was a continuum of evolutionary change (sociality works on a small inter-related group, works even better on an extended group). I accept that biological evolution has been overwhelmed by cultural evolution in humans.

  17. Sal:

    I think the animal kingdom is an inexact picture of humanity. What he views as evolutionarily conserved behavioral traits I view as common design.

    An interesting claim. How would you distinguish common design from common descent? Have you ever thought about that? I have.

  18. Hi everyone,

    So Tomasello thinks chimpanzees aren’t tribal? I wonder what he would say about the Gombe Chimpanzee War:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gombe_Chimpanzee_War

    The Gombe Chimpanzee War (also known as the “Four-Year War” of Gombe), lasting from 1974 to 1978, was a violent conflict between two communities of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, in Tanzania. The belligerent groups were the Kasakela and the Kahama, which occupied territories in the northern and southern areas of the park, respectively. The two had previously been a single, unified community, but by 1974 researcher Jane Goodall, who was observing the community, first noticed the chimps dividing themselves into northern and southern sub-groups. Later computer-aided analysis of Goodall’s notes would reveal that the social rift between the two groups had been present as early as 1971.

    The Kahama group, in the south, consisted of six adult males (among them the chimpanzees known to Goodall as “Hugh”, “Charlie”, and “Goliath”), three adult females and their young, and an adolescent male (known as “Sniff”). The larger Kasakela group, meanwhile, consisted of twelve adult females and their young, and eight adult males.

    Sounds pretty tribal to me.

    The first outbreak of violence occurred on January 7, 1974, when a party of six adult Kasakela males attacked and killed “Godi”, a young Kahama male, who had been feeding in a tree. This was the first time that any of the chimpanzees had been seen to deliberately kill a fellow chimp.

    Over the next four years, all six of the adult male members of the Kahama were killed by the Kasakela males. Of the females from Kahama, one was killed, two went missing, and three were beaten and kidnapped by the Kasakela males. The Kasakela then succeeded in taking over the Kahama’s former territory.

    Sounds like a war to me.

    And there’s this 2014 article from Science Daily:

    Nature of war: Chimps inherently violent; Study disproves theory that ‘chimpanzee wars’ are sparked by human influence

    Of all of the world’s species, humans and chimpanzees are some of the only species to coordinate attacks on their own members. Since Jane Goodall introduced lethal inter-community killings, primatologists have debated the concept of warfare in this genus. New research from an international coalition of ape researchers has shed new light on the subject, suggesting that human encroachment and interference is not, as previous researchers have claimed, an influential predictor of chimp-on-chimp aggression.

    What does everyone think? Alan Fox writes: “I suspect there was a continuum of evolutionary change (sociality works on a small inter-related group, works even better on an extended group).” That sounds quite plausible to me. I don’t think there’s any sharp divide between chimpanzee communities and human tribes.

    But perhaps I am missing something. Chimps, as far as we know, lack an autobiographical memory, which presumably means that they also lack the concept of their community having a history over time. Nevertheless, I’d still call them tribal, based on the way they act.

  19. Hi Sal,

    I deeply appreciate your dedicating a post to me. Unfortunately, where I live, I’m unable to view the Youtube video you linked to. It’s in restricted mode, and no matter what I do to my computer settings, I can’t seem to get it out of that mode. Is there any other site which summarizes what Jordan B. Peterson says in the 2.5-hour interview? Thanks in advance.

    Vincent,

    Regarding your technical issues, I just sent you a private message.

    I won’t be offended if you don’t listen to the whole interview, but I would have felt guilty if I didn’t make you aware of Peterson’s line of thinking given your areas of interest.

    Peterson makes the best case reconciling the essentials of Christianity with the assumption of common descent. He also adds a lot of interesting insights.

    I get the impression a lot of his professional writing and publication is in clinical psychology and his philosophical musing are not formally published but are known through his speeches and lectures.

    Over at the ShadowToLight blog, run by an respected pro-common descent, pro-ID scientist, Mike Gene, Peterson is highly regarded:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/jordan-peterson-beyond-marxism-postmodernism/

    You might find some like minded people also at ShadowToLight. Mike Gene is not much involved in the ID movement any more after he finished his book “The Design Matrix”, but in the early days he was one of the most respected anonymous voices..

    Mike regards himself as a Christian but ranks himself at 2.5 on the Dawkins scale of belief (1 being sure of God, 7 being sure there is no God).

    I thought one of the most interesting aspects of Peterson’s epistemology is the discussion of the objective material world and our subjective experience of pain.

    He points out, somewhat like De Carte, that pain is a more fundamental aspect of human reality than atomic theories. Having studied physics in grad school where the issue of quasi-particles and the quantum foam pop up, some of what Peterson said resonated with me.

    We can have certainty about our own pain, but as far as physics where Heisenberg Uncertainty is frequently the order of the day, and in mathematics where Gödel’s incompleteness rules, a different epistemology seems to apply for the issue of ultimate BEING.

    It is for this reason, a religious system where the central figure is a suffering God, it seems to align with reality at a very deep level or at the very least it is a theological and philosophical framework that resonates with conscious beings that suffer pain.

    Peterson defines ultimate being as something capable of suffering, and thus he find Christianity superior as a world view in that regard because the central BEING in Christianity is a suffering incarnate God.

    The rest of his ideas I found very compelling. Even if you don’t agree with all of them (I don’t) he strikes me as the elite scholar that many of his critics claim he is.

    Incidentally, he is now being prevented from speaking on various university campuses because of his championing of free speech. He ties his LOGOS theology/philosophy to the importance of free speech.

  20. Neil:

    Sorry, Sal.

    I’ve watched/ listened to around 25 minutes. At this point I am giving up.

    But then you missed the part about the two semi-tyrant chimps ripping off the genitals of the fully-tyrant chimp with their teeth (no kidding).

    He argues some level of benevolence in male chimps toward others (caring for females, forming friendships and alliances) is essential for survival, and thus fully-tyrannically chimps are fought against.

    He says the dominance hierarchy was the beginnings of morality within the social space.

    I admit, I didn’t care that much for the interviewer who interrupted Peterson right when Peterson was starting to say interesting things.

  21. stcordova: But then you missed the part about the two semi-tyrant chimps ripping off the genitals of the fully-tyrant chimp with their teeth (no kidding).

    From organic chicken to organic genitals, yum

  22. Right away it starts with obscure transgender issues. Then free speech.
    The left wing are simply forceful groups demanding their way without the public involved. so no talking about right and wrong on these matters. its been settled and opponents are punished. its a historic tyranny.
    You can’t have moral right from the animals or physics. it comes from gods conclusions and mans. its entirely intrusive in the universe.

  23. John, to Sal:

    An interesting claim. How would you distinguish common design from common descent? Have you ever thought about that? I have.

    Me too. Have you, Sal?

  24. stcordova: But then you missed the part about the two semi-tyrant chimps ripping off the genitals of the fully-tyrant chimp with their teeth (no kidding).

    Ah, the famous Frodo, who reaped what he sowed!

  25. vjtorley: Chimps, as far as we know, lack an autobiographical memory, which presumably means that they also lack the concept of their community having a history over time. Nevertheless, I’d still call them tribal, based on the way they act.

    I was disagreeing with KN as he seemed to be talking of a bright line between family and tribe, where I think there’s a very fuzzy distinction between large and extended family and small tribe. It’s a continuum.

  26. “I assume that Tomasello knows what he’s talking about. But I’ll admit that I haven’t kept up much with the literature and I don’t know what criticisms his work has received.”

    Not a surprise. Just swallow Tomasello whole, without criticism. That’s a “naturalist” reading accompanied by intentional disenchantment. Atheist skeptics like you should love that you don’t read Tomasello’s critics or look at the weaknesses in his views. Not reading actually helps validate their views to themselves, as it seems to do with yours.

  27. Robert Byers: The left wing are simply forceful groups demanding their way without the public involved.

    The left wing is part of the public just not the part you agree with.

    so no talking about right and wrong on these matters

    You’re talking now.Are you seeking enforce your religious views or is it an affront to your traditional English usage.

    . its been settled and opponents are punished.

    At some Universities though I expect it was talked to death before it became policy.

    its a historic tyranny.

    Nothing can make up for the the tragedy of pronounism

    You can’t have moral right from the animals or physics.

    It is not morality it is courtesy

    it comes from gods conclusions and mans. its entirely intrusive in the universe.

    My God doesn’t care , why should your version take precedence?

  28. Gregory: Not a surprise. Just swallow Tomasello whole, without criticism. That’s a “naturalist” reading accompanied by intentional disenchantment. Atheist skeptics like you should love that you don’t read Tomasello’s critics or look at the weaknesses in his views. Not reading actually helps validate their views to themselves, as it seems to do with yours.

    Perhaps you should share your insights about Tomasello

  29. The sin that Salvador has yet to bring before his Creator, the pride of considering himself a mini-revolutionary, a proto-martyr for a false reading of Scripture:

    “As a creationist I…” is the meaning of Sal’s life. Not being a Christian first, but being a CREATIONIST. And he knows we all consider him stupid for this. But he apparently wants this to be what people know him for. First and foremost in front of God, stcordova’s claim to fame: “As a creationist I…”

  30. Gregory:
    newton,

    Prediction #1: TSZ atheists will demand you do the work for them.

    Result: Check.

    I am not asking you to mow my lawn, if you have some insight share it I realize positive is not your thing but no harm in asking

  31. The most powerful part of the interview was when Peterson was confronted with the issue of whether the Christian religion is merely an evolved useful fiction.

    For almost an hour-and-a-half it seemed Peterson’s case for religion rested on the idea that religion was merely a useful fiction, or that his idea of LOGOS was a pragmatic metaphor.

    When asked about the issue of pragmatist philosophy he seemed to take offense that during his debate with Sam Harris his pragmatism was likened to Rorty when in fact his pragmatism was more in line with William James. I don’t really know the distinction as that is way over my head.

    So I could, figuratively speaking, hear the drum roll as Peterson gave his thoughts about whether Christ’s resurrection was real or just a pragmatic myth. He answered powerfully, “I don’ know.” But it was with a deeply troubled look on his face as if to say, “it really could be true, but it’s such a amazing thing it is HARD to believe.” He went on to say the power of logos to transform lives seems that it would be able to raise someone physically from the dead. Furthermore, the claim of bodily resurrection actually elevates the material universe!

    He talked about some mysterious coincidences in his own life and the power the logos in his life and why telling the truth is so important. He contrasted white lies vs. black truths. He said he believe in hell.

    The look on Peterson’s face when he said, “I don’t know” conveyed the feeling I had when I got my pilot’s license, a dimploma, a job acceptance letter, etc. It was the feeling, “did this really happen? It’s too wonderful to suppose it is real, but it is!”

    The reason this section of the interview struck me is that he took the question of the historicity of Jesus quite seriously, which is more than I can say for many people whom I have met in Christian circles who seem to treat Christianity and religion in their heart as more of a useful, feel-good fiction.

    Peterson turns the theology of feel-good fictions upside down on its head and points out authentic Christianity appeals to the brute epistemology of undeniable pain and tragedy vs. so much of the prosperity Gospel in some evangelic circles. He thus for me, made some sense of the persistence of the Catholic creeds of “poverty and chasity” vs. the more Protestant sounding values of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    One cannot read the Bible and think it is a feel-good fiction. It’s account of life is frequently brutal and barbaric. For this reason, in a strange way, it had the ring of truth. And for this reason it struck me as credible.

    Why am I so enthusiastic about Peterson? He said something that connects deeply with something I said at TSZ two years ago regarding my personal epistemology: “THE ONLY CERTAINTY IS PAIN” !

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/the-only-certainty-is-pain/

    Dr. Rosaria Butterfield was a lesbian gay rights advocate and professor of English before her conversion to Evangelical Christianity and had to suffer through her break up with her lesbian lover.

    Butterfield was familiar with many forms of writing. I suspect it was exactly these properties of the Bible that resonated with her. Same for J. Warner Wallace. The barbaric, fragmentary, cobbled nature of Bible reads like a diary where facts are disproportionately focused on. Diary’s don’t read like coherently woven fiction stories. And Peterson in another lecture said he was so fascinated by the fact such a book has outlasted Empires and had transformed humanity for the better.

  32. Alan Fox: I was disagreeing with KN as he seemed to be talking of a bright line between family and tribe, where I think there’s a very fuzzy distinction between large and extended family and small tribe. It’s a continuum.

    I have no idea where you got the impression that I was urging any sort of “bright line,” let alone one between “family” and “tribe.”

    I was urging a distinction between the kind of social organizations we observe among non-human great apes and those we observe among human beings.

    In all human societies, we observe collective identity. Every hunter-gatherer society has a way of indicating who is a member of that tribe and who is not. This is indicated not just with words but also with ornaments, decorations (feathers, furs, jewelry, paint), gestures, culturally-transmitted ways of hunting, crating tools, child-rearing, etc.

    In short, with culture.

    By contrast, there are very few (if any) culturally-specific differences amongst chimpanzee, bonobo, or gorilla troops.

    My point isn’t just that humans have cultures and other great apes don’t, but that there have been selective forces at work in hominid evolution that have vastly increased our dependence on culture and which have vastly augmented our capacity to engage in building cultures.

    There are distinct psychological mechanisms here that aren’t found, or found in far more attenuated degrees, in other great apes: teaching and imitation.

    Great apes are poor imitators of others actions (though they do imitate under some conditions, whereas monkeys don’t). And explicit teaching in apes is extremely rare — I believe the nut-cracking chimps of western Africa are the only exception (and not surprisingly, there are cultural or proto-cultural differences among chimpanzee nut-cracking communities).

    So while there are (of course) evolutionary precursors to culture in great apes, we’re not doing ourselves any favors by pretending that there aren’t crucial differences and that these differences require evolutionary explanations.

    For those interested, I’m currently reading Heinrich’s The Secret of Our Success.

  33. stcordova: When asked about the issue of pragmatist philosophy he seemed to take offense that during his debate with Sam Harris his pragmatism was likened to Rorty when in fact his pragmatism was more in line with William James. I don’t really know the distinction as that is way over my head.

    Briefly: Rorty thinks that pragmatism is only about what “vocabulary” we choose to adopt, and that no vocabulary is any closer to the truth about reality than any other. He thinks that the very idea of one vocabulary being more true than another is incoherent. His reasons for this view are actually quite subtle and depend on certain ideas developed by serious analytic philosophers of language, especially Donald Davidson.

    By contrast, James had a far more existential conception of pragmatism. For James, one has the right to affirm “the religious hypothesis” under certain conditions. By “the religious hypothesis” he means two things: (1) that the most important values are also the most fundamentally real things; (2) that we are better off even now if we think that (1) is true. He argues that while there are indeed some conditions under which we should not believe without sufficient evidence, that’s not true in all cases.

    It is especially not true under the following conditions: when we must make a choice between two options, we must make that choice now because it affects how we are to live our lives, there’s no enough evidence for making one option more epistemically respectable than the other, and both options are intellectually and emotionally compelling to us.

    Under those conditions, then we are entitled to take a ‘leap of faith’ (not James’s phrase).

    In short, James thinks that we’re entitled to endorse the religious hypothesis in response to certain kinds of experiences that we have. Rorty doesn’t think that any kind of experience can by itself confer entitlement or justification on any belief. (Rorty is actually a very radical anti-empiricist.)

    stcordova: Why am I so enthusiastic about Peterson? He said something that connects deeply with something I said at TSZ two years ago regarding my personal epistemology: “THE ONLY CERTAINTY IS PAIN” !

    The reality of suffering is also central to Buddhist teachings.

  34. Gregory,

    Prediction #1: TSZ atheists will demand you do the work for them.

    Result: Check.

    Prediction #2: Gregory will pretend that if someone asks him to support his own claims, then they are asking him to do their work for them.

    Result: Check.

  35. Thank you KN for your response, that was very informative.

    Your response made it worth my while to spend time creating and participating in this thread.

    I’m indebted to you, thank you.

  36. John Harshman:

    An interesting claim. How would you distinguish common design from common
    descent? Have you ever thought about that? I have.

    Well, we can assume for the sake of argument in this discussion, since this discussion is about Peterson’s views, that I’m wrong about common design and Peterson is right about common descent.

    We can talk about why I think common design is a better explanation outside this present discussion some time. Would you like to do that?

    Would it be OK for me to start a discussion here at TSZ on the topic of my views of common design. You know I’m always eager for any chance to broadcast my opinions. 🙂

  37. stcordova,

    Would it be OK for me to start a discussion here at TSZ on the topic of my views of common design. You know I’m always eager for any chance to broadcast my opinions. 🙂

    I would be interested in an op on this discussion.

  38. Ah, the famous Frodo, who reaped what he sowed!

    I didn’t know about Frodo! Things I learned (TIL) today. So that was the name of one of the tyrant chimps.

    http://blog.michael-lawrence-wilson.com/2014/01/19/frodo-30-june-1976-10-november-2013/

    Several of my blog posts have featured Frodo, the iconic alpha male chimpanzee of Gombe National Park. Frodo also figures prominently in several of my research papers, given that he has been a major player in aggression at Gombe, both within his own community, and during attacks on the neighbors. I’m sorry to report that Frodo died on Sunday, 10 November 2013. Perhaps fittingly, given Frodo’s aggressive behavior in life, aggression seems to have contributed to his death. Necropsy revealed that he had a scarred scrotum and infected testis, probably due to what seems to have been a canine puncture wound received in August 2013. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

  39. stcordova,

    You have author rights. You don’t need anyone’s permission. I guess the feedback will show whether it was a good idea. 🙂

  40. Kantian Naturalist: I have no idea where you got the impression that I was urging any sort of “bright line,” let alone one between “family” and “tribe.”

    Sorry if you weren’t inferring that. My reading skills seem to be deteriorating with age!

    I was urging a distinction between the kind of social organizations we observe among non-human great apes and those we observe among human beings.

    In all human societies, we observe collective identity. Every hunter-gatherer society has a way of indicating who is a member of that tribe and who is not. This is indicated not just with words but also with ornaments, decorations (feathers, furs, jewelry, paint), gestures, culturally-transmitted ways of hunting, crating tools, child-rearing, etc.

    In short, with culture.

    By contrast, there are very few (if any) culturally-specific differences amongst chimpanzee, bonobo, or gorilla troops.

    My point isn’t just that humans have cultures and other great apes don’t, but that there have been selective forces at work in hominid evolution that have vastly increased our dependence on culture and which have vastly augmented our capacity to engage in building cultures.

    There are distinct psychological mechanisms here that aren’t found, or found in far more attenuated degrees, in other great apes: teaching and imitation.

    Great apes are poor imitators of others actions (though they do imitate under some conditions, whereas monkeys don’t). And explicit teaching in apes is extremely rare — I believe the nut-cracking chimps of western Africa are the only exception (and not surprisingly, there are cultural or proto-cultural differences among chimpanzee nut-cracking communities).

    So while there are (of course) evolutionary precursors to culture in great apes, we’re not doing ourselves any favors by pretending that there aren’t crucial differences and that these differences require evolutionary explanations.

    I don’t take issue with any of that. The explosion of human culture over the last ten thousand years has no parallel or precedent in other species. I was just concerned to emphasize the roots and origins of that cultural explosion run deep and there are suggestions of similarities so that the difference is degree not kind..

  41. keiths,

    The supposed ‘claim’ was a simple verification of what KN said about his reading habits. There’s no need to back that up with anything.

    Haters gonna hate … embracing ideological skepticism instead of the joy of faith! Were you really born for the purpose of doubting even Beauty unto death? ; ( Why not choose hope & life … wherever you are & change from within?

    The mere reporting of “invisible Tomasello critics” does yet again demonstrate why “skeptics” (and of course the few IDists too) here often cry out loud of frustration and anger, sadness, entitlement and rational righteousness, that they can’t find criticisms: they don’t look for or read any. That’s the message: I just repeated it, making no claim, and then was told I had made one.

    Silly skeptics.

    Ironically, KN is one of the most educated folks here at TSZ. Holds a PhD & teaches philosophy, he has said. He is the ‘go-to-guy’ for many of skeptics here trying to ramp up or maintain their (what I consider self-destructive) ideologies of naturalism, materialism and anti-theism. In other words, he is leading you away from vertical goodness to superficial satisfaction with life emptied of soul, which is expressed in the term KN uses for himself: disenchantment (which he got from Max Weber or derived from him).

    What are the implications of living in a self-satisfied little package under naturalistic disenchantment? Philosophistry posing as wisdom that is un-humbled to the Abrahamic peoples’ Creator, i.e. skepticism.

  42. Gregory:…he is leading you away from vertical goodness to superficial satisfaction with life emptied of soul, which is expressed in the term KN uses for himself: disenchantment (which he got from Max Weber or derived from him).

    Assuming it’s true for the purpose of argument, so what? I think we should live and let live. People should have the personal freedom to think their own thoughts, including you. Do you want a state-enforced theocracy? Or do you want to persuade us by reasoned and evidenced argument?

  43. colewd:
    stcordova,

    I would be interested in an op on this discussion.

    Could cause yet another tussle among creationist fools & their sectarian diversions. Uncommon Design is of course just as relevant as Common Design. The who, what, when, where & how will be treated just as badly and unprofessionally, indeed, on the Christian scale, immaturely by IDists until someone closes down their little USA fanatic anti-intellectual party.

    The way creationists & IDists mangle the English language seems to know no limits. & they don’t understand why their missionary efforts with this “new language” of theirs is more about Pride, than about Truth, Honour or a genuine calling.

  44. Alan Fox,

    “People should have the personal freedom to think their own thoughts, including you.”

    Wow, thanks! ; ) Of course I agree.

    Indeed, people should have the personal freedom to say what they see clear as rain in KN’s language. Sadly, there is a particular ethno-religious term that is secretly BANNED at TSZ, which obscures the conversation. Does anyone know which term that is?

    Alan, as long as TSZ allows me to describe things consistent with the quasi-atheist/agnostic position KN has been narrowcasting here, e.g. that indeed, “he is leading you away from vertical goodness to superficial satisfaction with life emptied of soul,” then I will feel free to speak. Some of you have said that you actually want to be led further into disenchantment or spiritual numbness, after all, right?

    A form of censorship known here as “Guano” usually follows, by the all-atheist/agnostic Moderators, hard upon theists (esp. who pack more of a punch than sally), in this anti-theology skeptics nest known as TSZ.

    TSZ really is pathetic Elizabeth-less now – no purpose but skepticism; the mother has released her bastard child, perhaps ashamed at how her earlier religiosity got spoiled. And only IDists and creationists who can post nowhere else serious remain to play here.

  45. Kantian Naturalist: You still have the problems where they live in their own feces, they fight due to overcrowding,

    My parents kept chickens in the yard as pets. They had a couple of acres to roam, and only a dozen or so birds. They rather consistently chose a victim and gradually, over a period of months, pecked it to death. They are not nice. They are feathered dinosaurs.

  46. Gregory: The supposed ‘claim’ was a simple verification of what KN said about his reading habits. There’s no need to back that up with anything.

    I agree with you it was merely your opinion which requires nothing to back it up. But your psychological underpinnings of your opinions were not that interesting or the point of my request , I asked if you would share your insights about Tomasella since it seemed logical that you had some knowledge. So no actual claim involved.

    With your refusal it seemed obvious the point of your post was to provide a lengthy, simple, tedious verification.

    Sorry to have caused a tempest

  47. Gregory:

    And only IDists and creationists who can post nowhere else serious remain to play here.

    Not true.

    I post in serious venues within ID circles, but not usually in the public view since few seem to care outside of ID scholars like biochemistry professor Joe Deweese.

    A glimpse of what I write on is at TSZ such as the issues with 6-aminohexanote hydrolase evolution, nylonase evolution, Alu evolution, LINE-1 evolution, Chromatin evolution, non-DNA glycome and structural inheritance, Shannon’s theorems and designed errors, thermodynamics, 4D nucleome, NIH projects etc. My travel expenses are paid for so that I can make appearances, give talks and attend conferences on these topics.

    TSZ has been an excellent place to engage people of high caliber with opposing viewpoints such as Joe Felsenstein, Tom English, KantianNaturalist, Walto, FadedGlory, Jeff Shallit, Allan Miller, Rumraket, Walto, Neil Riekert, Alan Fox, John Harshman and even Keiths on occasion. Apologies in advance if I left someone off that list who should be on it….

    As far as theists, I’m so glad VJTorley is here, and JohnnyB on occasion. I also appreciate the company of colewd and CharlieM and a few others. Apologies in advance if I left someone off that list who should be on it….

    TSZ has been a fabulous place to get correction and editorial review of my ideas.

  48. petrushka: My parents kept chickens in the yard as pets. They had a couple of acres to roam, and only a dozen or so birds. They rather consistently chose a victim and gradually, over a period of months, pecked it to death. They are not nice. They are feathered dinosaurs.

    But they are tasty when deep fried served with mashed potatoes and green beans.

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