I have thirty minutes until I can eat my Paleo-ish One Meal A Day (I’ll let you look them up. -12lbs in 3 weeks so far. Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease diagnosis and symptoms are great motivators). Now I have twenty six more minutes. I hope I can remember the two main points I wanted to address while listening to the 4th installment of Jordan Peterson vs. Sam Harris.
Let me start by saying a couple of people have said after the first installment, that Harris slew Peterson. At the time they said that I’d listened up to 2.5 or maybe 3. I said the first conversation was a wash in feeling each other out. I granted that Harris was a bit smoother of a talker, and that Peterson takes more time to think things through, and that Harris tended to dismissively generalize, and Peterson saw more complexity. I thought Peterson dealt a death blow with his “try sitting on your bed and asking for inspiration and see what happens.” Harris: “we don’t know where inspiration comes from.” Peterson: exactly, so you can’t say it’s not God.”
In this 4th, Peterson famously hedges on if he believes God wrote the Bible, and got angry when Harris tried to corner him. Here’s what I gather. Peterson believes in evolution. He also believes that man is made in the image of God, and that the Logos/icon of Christ is the ideal of humanity that is far above what people start out as. Therefore he believes in the possibility of Incarnation of this ideal whether it actually occurred or not. He also believes the Bible is extraordinary and in this discussion, that it is both inspired and the culmination of evolutionary knowledge, passed down for millennia. Elsewhere he does not attempt to explain the metaphysical.
The conversation got especially interesting the two times they discussed love. Harris had a pretty good mechanism for defining love from the point of view of the experiencer. I wish Peterson had challenged him on if the beloved was worthy. Is it true love if the object is a secret serial killer? If a person’s knowledge is limited, what can save him but inspiration? There are so many stories of people mysteriously deciding not to go a certain route, or get on a doomed plane, etc and finding out later they would have died. That is inspiration. Harris would dismiss all this.
Back to Harris’ self evaluation of if he is being loving, I think Peterson may have been impressed with his evaluation of selfishness, but it was toward the end and Peterson was tired. I wish he would eat some vegetables. Anyway, what if Harris, with his interest in Buddhist writings, doesn’t need to believe in God to become pretty good at loving worthy people? Oh yeah, the Bible says the test is loving your enemies. He’s pretty dismissive of them. However he had a glimmer of strongmanning the person who becomes Muslim because they see western materialism to be vacuous. Ah, was that gnostic Buddhism? Perhaps Peterson needs to address the body.
I don’t blame Peterson with his psychological scientism for being apophatic, almost agnostic about God, but being pretty up on the Logos. I say go there through analysis and deep thought as a refreshing avenue. I’ve long longed to hear an Orthodox friendly view of modern psychology.
Seven more minutes. There was one more thing…. they agreed on truth… wish Peterson had said more about love… three minutes… was about the end of identifying what they hate? Peterson – the evil that makes me like to see others suffer, Harris – meaninglessness existence in the present, oddly enough.
Maybe I’ll think about belief in the afterlife next time. And, what if Harris can love his enemies without believing in God? I’d say that’s because he’s created in God’s image whether he knows it or not? And if he practices it good enough can he be saved? Do people who believe the right things about God but are bad practitioners of love enter into the kingdom? hmmmm
no time to edit as it’s 5:01