The debate on Monday 16th July, O2 Arena, hosted by Douglas Murray between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris wasn’t exactly a sell out – but this is London after all: land of the snowflakes and virtue signallers! – and Jordan Peterson is becoming known as the champion of free speech and enemy of political correctness. You might think those on the hard left would want to know what he had to say – but apparently not!
Sam Harris began by trying to prove that religion is really pointless and replaceable – according to him 25% of the population believe in astrology of all things – and that all religion is interchangeable and basically irrelevant, that we can do without it. Jordan had much to say on this – including that astrology, although viewed with contempt now, did develop into astronomy, a true science and study of the positioning of the planets used for all kinds of things including deciding on when to grow crops etc, vital in our development. Paganism developed from this – from dreams and creativity and a wish for there to be something more. I think his point was we need to believe in something and have religion – the audience chose religion too.
Jordan is a strong believer and champion for Judeo-Christian culture and its part in developing Western Civilisation, which he believes to be the best way to live. Sam Harris couldn’t agree – he felt religion was damaging and the only way to defeat things such as jihadism would be to get rid of all religion: we should all get together and decide how to live … in a secular society. I have to say that all three – Jordan Peterson, Douglas Murray and Sam Harris – came across as very nice people, which I think is part of the reason that Sam (and many like him) think that if only we could agree how to live secularly it would be enough. Jordan’s point is that if you remove one religion/way of life another one will replace it.
Jordan maintains there is a void we all feel and have to confront to deal with it – religion is the answer for many – and that the Judeo-Christian religions are the most effective. Jordan would not answer as to whether he believes in Jesus but confirmed he chooses to believe in God as he sees no other way. Sam said that people try to introduce Jesus as an answer to many things – he calls it ‘Jesus smuggling’ – suggesting the way to live was to base all your decisions on Love and to carry this out by using Reason: a good idea – but not everyone would do this. Jordan pointed out this is the basis of Christianity – ‘Jesus smuggling!’ retorted Sam – yes, but it proves that Judeo-Christian values are the best basis for a civilised society.
Not being able to prove the existence of Jesus and God was discussed – Jordan’s perspective is that it doesn’t really matter as people need to believe in something and the Judeo-Christian religions have helped the human race hugely. I agree with him: human beings cannot be trusted to just do the right thing all the time – we must have structure and something to believe in. Otherwise the eternal question – ‘is this all there is?’ – will represent the futility of our lives. Leaders need to feel that they in turn are subordinate and answerable to the supreme leader of all – God – and become more inclined to maintain at least some humility. Interesting that both men have in the past ‘accused’ each other of being a Christian!
Jordan refers to the Bible and the stories within it a lot, especially the story of Cain and Abel, He pointed out that many of the situations and stories that Sam brings up are in fact reflected in the Bible, and that the idea of God may have come from the referral of all men towards their father who learnt from his father and so on (not much mention of the female/mother version though!) He expounded his views of the human race developing from apes – something I have never been convinced of – using this to explain that ‘Alpha’ males are selected by other males based on skills and females would then be encouraged to choose from the pool of Alpha males, so the decision of which males got to mate was being made by the males not the females … interesting point!
Then – who wrote the Bible? Was it true, or based on a desire to find our fathers? Also, that religion has caused a lot of oppression, punishment and damage over the centuries. Despite this, Jordan has faith in ‘the age of Enlightenment’ where many of the great thinkers were Christians, maintaining that we can learn much from the Bible – all life is there – and it is the basis of Western Civilisation. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Greek mythology, none of them offer this.
When asked what he believes Jordan stated we as humans cannot express 99% of what we believe – the audience concurred wholeheartedly – Faith perhaps?
The final question from the host was: what do you hate? Jordan’s painful answer was the part of him that, as a perfectly normal human being, he (hypothetically) could have been made to be an Auschwitz prison guard and yet at some point have gained some small modicum of pleasure at doing the job … The audience was hushed – it was shocking! – but for me he was saying: ‘be careful what you get used to’, and that we are fickle – we cannot rely on ourselves – we must have structure, long tested and trusted rules and laws, and a belief in something greater than ourselves … Jordan then said this was the part of us we all must work on, and why the redemption in Christianity is integral to our ability to progress.
Jordan is a champion for our culture which has been honed and improved over thousands of years.
Judeo-Christian culture, Western Civilisation, improving our nature … sounds good to me!
Jordan, you have inspired me – now please save us from annihilation….!