Monthly Archives: December 2018

Jordan Peterson and Truth

Here is a short excerpt from Jordan Peterson, where he is discussing truth and its relationship to Christianity

Here is a transcription of it.

“Ok, so there’s this spirit of good, let’s say, and what the spirit of good does is act in the world on the potential of the world to generate the actuality of the world. And the Judeo-Christian proposition is that if you confront the potential of the world, with good in mind, using truth – truthful communication – then the order that you extract is good. And then that’s echoed in Genesis, when God is using the word and He creates cosmos out of potential, and every time He does it he says ‘and it was good.’ Which is, I think, it’s so interesting because there’s a proposition there. The proposition there is if you encounter potential with truth the cosmos you create is actually good. Well that’s just absolutely overwhelming idea, it’s like, if it’s true it’s the greatest idea there ever was. “

In some abstract sense, this is right. The problem is that this isn’t what Jesus is talking about when he says, for example, “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” or “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus isn’t talking about encountering the potential of the universe with truth in general. Rather, he’s talking about a specific kind of truth – spiritual truth. You could say this is Truth, with a capital, to distinguish it from a more general notion of truth. Jesus isn’t talking about knowing the exact equations for the orbit of all of Saturn’s moons, for example, and then creating order from chaos using that information with good in mind – even though that is a similar sort of idea.

Peterson is again here (see a similar analysis here) presenting an abstraction of Christianity which is essentially compatible with secularism. The core of the Christian proposition isn’t that if you confront the potential of the world with good in mind and using truthful communication then the order you extract is good. Even if this might follow from certain ideas associated with Christianity, that’s not the basic point of Jesus’ message and the ‘good news’ – it is more specific and concrete.

Rather, Jesus has outlined a path – a way – which uses and embodies spiritual truth and leads to reunion with God the Father in a state of full and eternal life. This is the sense in which Jesus is the ‘way, truth, and life’.