Peterson Vs. Atheists
By Stacey Blood
Feb 21, 2019
In the last week I have listened to lots of hours of Jordan B. Peterson debate atheists Sam Harris and Matt Dillahunty about the existence of God, validity and usefulness of religion, and the relevancy of it in our moral code and culture. All of these guys are some real intellectual titans and it is truly an experience to hear thinkers of this caliber lay out their thoughts in real time in an unrehearsed fashion.
I have a real respect for all of them.
Seriously, this is some real heavy-hitting stuff. Sure, there is a bit of unnecessary cerebral flexing going on at times, and as Peterson would likely validate, this can be expected in the throes of contention between two Y chromosomes. Glory.
I’ll come right out and say that I didn’t enter in this discussion from an unbiased position. I have been of the thought for a very long time that atheists are confused about the very basics of religion and disingenuous in their explanation of where the “self evident” moral axioms of our current culture are actually derived. They also tend to frame religion based on only the bad things that have occurred in the name of religions.
I mean, if we’re going to do that let’s go ahead and get rid of freeways too. Lots of bad stuff happens through them as well.
Of the three, Peterson appears more capable of grasping the big picture. His ability to traverse resolutions from low to high is very impressive. As a dumb person myself, by comparison, I can get lost. I think most people do, but as is the case with Nietzsche or Jung, two of Peterson’s favorite go-two thinkers, you just keep reading. You just keep listening. Eventually, you get it.
Naturally, I am on Peterson’s side of this debate because I also see no way that anyone can claim that they aren’t religious. It’s such a bombastic claim to make. Atheists like Harris and Dillahunty also aren’t shy about their ideology that the world would be better off without religion and that we are ready to move on. I can see no tenable position that there wouldn’t be prices to pay if we simply “get rid of religion”.
The intellectual is entertaining but he can also be so engrossed in his subject of inspection that while so brilliantly isolating concepts he is oblivious to the obvious, unwittingly tipping his cigar ashes down the back of his wife’s dress. (This analogy isn’t mine, I can’t remember who said it).
This is why zooming out is important. And when you do it is easy to see that Harris and Dillahunty are deeply religious.
Harris and Dillahunty are proud voters. No matter what rationale, funny language, false logic, and cognitive dissonance you wield, it doesn’t change the fact that statism is, exactly, a religion.
In statism we have an imagined authority, which is really no different than a deity. It only exists when you believe it to be there and it disappears when you cease to believe it.
Now, the enforcers who act on behalf of authority (politicians, police, IRS, etc.) are certainly real. But the authority they are imagined to have over people is no more real than a God.
One could say that a mugger has authority. But it does not. Authority isn’t “force”. It’s the imagined right to use the same force that someone you don’t recognize as authority doesn’t have.
Also, statism has its scriptures, or laws and decrees written in the name of the invisible authority. Many of these are contradictory, not moral at all, but people like Harris and Dillahunty will religiously, and dutifully comply.
And I can conjure no idea in greater necessity of faith than the idea that a subset of fallible people can somehow manage the well-being of other fallible people.
Harris and Dillahunty are so zoomed in to their imagined atheism that they don’t even notice their support for the agents of authority publicly, as Sam Harris did in this video where he attempts to intellectualize which plantation master is the best for us all:
Matt Dillahunty religions on Twitter here to clergyman Bernie Sanders:
What really gets me is that Peterson could have very simply defeated either of these two atheists on these grounds alone and made quick work of them in about 7 seconds. And it also makes me wonder why Peterson hasn’t made this connection obvious. He is a powerful, formidable opponent of authoritarian rule and collectivist ideology and one would think that the belief in authority is not only sure-fire religious behavior, but also a fountainhead of calamity.
If this is just all too simple and you favor more complexities, Peterson also defeated them on the grounds of their own “well-being” stance. This essentially proposes that people will always make the moral choice between two choices given the obvious fact of which one is in their best interests and that religion isn’t necessary to make such choices.
With Dillahunty, Peterson did effectively repel this by pointing out that historically, what the best thing for an individual wasn’t always obvious. He used the example of a man having 1 woman or 100 women. Which is truly in his best interests?
And this is where we saw Peterson playing the long game in this debate and where we saw the difference between someone thinking through concepts in real time and a rehearsed, polished Jesus freak slayer in Dillahunty. This revelation was a let-down and kind of cheapened the event.
But Jordan’s point is basically this. It’s really easy to sit here in 21st century, enjoying the results of centuries of progress made in Judeo Western Christian civilization, and carry on as if our innovated moral code just “happened” for no real reason. Just yet another “happy accident” like the coding of DNA. It was religious values that led to the enlightenment and liberty and the importance placed on the individual.
Atheists didn’t invent these things. In fact, atheists have done exactly zero toward the meaningful innovations among mankind. Why? Because the only place atheists exist are within their own imaginations.
I’m not devoutly a religious person. I have my persuasions, but let’s not kid ourselves. Religious people brought us the ideas of individualism, free speech, separation of church and state, natural rights, and goddamn rock n’ roll.
And this is the great division.
Peterson maintains it was the religious ethos that inspired these innovations while the atheists contend they were invented in spite of religion.
The problem with the atheist position is they don’t even have a correlation to stand on.
But then again none of that deep stuff even matters because they are openly proud followers of the religion of statism anyway.