On Claiming Belief in God: Commentary

I delivered this talk at the Prager Summit in May in Santa Barbara. However, it’s really an extended commentary on a lecture from Sydney, Australia, Feb 26, 2019, entitled Who Dares Say He Believes in God? (https://youtu.be/MnUfXYGtT5Q). I would strongly recommend watching it first.

After that lecture, and then this commentary, you could watch the discussion I had with Dennis Prager at the same event (https://youtu.be/j0GL_4cAkhI).

These are all part of the same playlist, On (my) Belief in God, and will make the most sense in the suggested order.

This commentary is also available at the PragerU YouTube Video Channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avInTfCd92Q.

Thanks to the Prager U organization for the invitation and opportunity.

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Comment (50)

  1. Sorry, Dr. Peterson, I love your work, when you are rational, but not with this religious stuff. You know as well as I do that everything associated with religion has been proven to be a strictly scientific phenominon. For example the feeling of being "one with the universe" or "being in the presence of god" which comes from prayer and meditation is now well understood and with practice and training can be achieved by literally anyone from any religion or none at all. What actually happens is that during these activities techniques of controlled breathing are used and these suppress the center of the brain responsible for identity. With no identity, you naturally feel as if you are "one with the Universe" or "in the presence of God". It's quite stress relieving and highly recommended but not at all a religious experience. The same is true with epiphanies. In technical circles we use a problem solving technique called "rubber ducking" which is literally the same thing. It's science. It has nothing to do with the existence of any divinity.
    I learned morality from my parents and they were good teachers. I walked past the Vietnam war surplus M1 Carbine (progenitor of the AR-15) hanging on the wall in the hallway every day despite the horrible bullying I was enduring at school. I passed the test and so did my brother. I never took it with me.
    Despite the divorce, I had an excellent upbringing. However, I was the one that taught my parents Atheism, not the other way around. I did it because it was truth. My father would get angry that I was not paying attention in church. He would ask me to repeat what the preacher said and I would. Then he would ask me if I believed it and I would say something like, "Really dad? A magical fish that wasn't a fish went to the bottom of the ocean with a man inside it for a period longer than it is possible to survive without air, water or food and he wasn't crushed to death by the pressures down there? Why would I believe that?" Eventually he started agreeing with me. Although some of us still like to go to church and experience the rituals, none of us still believe that there is a such thing as God or that we'll be struck down if we share an orgasm with the wrong person. The idea is just too ridiculous and those who believe in such things are too easily, and I might add very dangerously, misled by nefarious politics. As proof, I offer the truth that many churches are swinging left these days and siding with murderous Marxism. They believed to easily in in Germany back in the 1940s also. Christians et. al. who believe so easily are being converted to Socialism BECAUSE they want to believe that this world is something it isn't.
    No, sir. Critical thinking skills are the key. Wanting to believe vs wanting to KNOW is the issue.

  2. Accepting responsibility for something without having any authority over it is making yourself a slave or an object for blame. You can't be responsible for something without having authority over it. Period. Authority is your measure of power over the thing which you have responsibility for and if you have no authority (no power) over it, then you can't be held responsible for what happens to it. Like a manager who has no authority over his employees nevertheless being held responsible for their mistakes. Or more topically, a father who has no legal authority over his wife and children being held responsible for their antics and failures. In both situations, the one who is made responsible is simply blamed for things beyond his legal control. He is punished for being unable to control something that he isn't allowed to control. This is slavery.

    Consider that being responsible for the financial stability of your family is a man's burden. But denying the spendthrift habits of his wife is now a form of domestic violence. Moreover, providing his wife and family with financial support is a man's responsibility. But legally, this no longer grants him any authority over how his money is spent. Neither does it grant him access to emotional support (and sex) from his wife. The expectation of which is now considered emotional abuse and a form of domestic violence. In other words, after marriage a man must support his wife but his wife need not support him and divorce favors her. So why get married? Spoiler: this is why men aren't anymore.

    Western society forces responsibility onto men through expectation and tradition but has all but stripped away the authority they must be granted in order to be held to account i.e. to actualize their role as a responsible person. Peterson has consciously ignored this aspect of his message because it results in the inevitable conclusion that those who are willing and able to take more responsibility for their society, at a micro (familial) and marco (societal) level, will by disposition and competency alone be chiefly men. Which is why those who criticize Peterson focus on the idea that his message resonates chiefly with, or to the sole benefit of, men. To wit, his slimy critics know that authority is intrinsically linked to responsibility and with men being far more predisposed to taking on the burden of responsibility they will invariably have more authority within their society. Which returns us to the model of patriarchy from which we splintered from, albeit hardly in the form that feminists would have you believe it was constituted.

    tl;dr – Since authority is required for accountability (responsibility), then those who will take the most responsibility for their society will have more authority. And this will be men by virtue of their greater disposition toward it but also by virtue of their greater competency. Which makes the end result of Peterson's advocacy for acknowledging and honoring responsibility a patriarchal societal model. Which is why he avoids talking about the link between authority and responsibility and also why his critics (who understand this) say that his work is chiefly to the benefit of men and the detriment of women. Since as far as unearned privileges go, this is true. But it's just.

  3. I believe Dr. Peterson is being carried by Someone whom he does not yet know.
    He is unwittingly and yet faithfully taking many people on the road to find out, — on a pilgrimage.
    He is bringing millions of people inexorably to the point of wonder, — even to where they cry out to God.
    And that is a very wonderful service to mankind, one that will be remembered forever..

    And what is the purpose of man?

    The Westminster Confession makes this statement.
    “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever”

  4. I’d like to ask Mr. Peterson which god he is referring to: Osiris, Zeus, Jupiter, Ahura-Mazda, Tengri, Odin, Yahweh, Allah, Horus, Vishnu, Ra, or Manitu?

  5. "Life is inexorably painful." ???
    "Thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN," suggests a potential for an endlessly joyful life ?

  6. I detected a sadness in your voice, as though you were speaking from a place of personal tragedy. I remain still and quiet as I absorb your truths and insights from a position of absolute honesty. Perhaps your audiences too are awestruck by the outpouring of truth that seems so rare in this time of deception. God bless you, sir, as you are a glimmer of light in this vast darkness of our souls.

  7. I surmise that less than 1 percent of the commenters read both of his books, and truly understand them; few have heard all his lectures, including the Biblical Series, and understand THOSE as well.

  8. We know that the powers who should not be, control us through fear and other forms of negativity so that our collective consciousness is inclined towards darkness and doom.
    I dream of a day when our existing controllers are removed along with their negative agenda and the world becomes a truly joyful place ?

  9. I seen a bit of the beginning of the full show, and almost all of this one, but he hasn’t said nothing that I didn’t already knew.
    May be ok for some that need guidance, but a stand innovation
    If Simon Cowell was there could have been an X
    Still the only thing is good luck Peterson to you

  10. We are all a work in progress however we get to choose the direction of that progress every day. I found my niche and mission in life and I'm not looking back but fear of success worries me.

  11. To be? Fuck that! I rather choose being & stay stupid till I time up. Cause without acknowledge we are all stupid, how the heck we suppose to learn then? How the heck wisdom gonna present in our numb skulls like "taa daa~" w spot light shining on.

  12. I have lost all hope and I have always been a Christian. All I can think about is how I am going to end my own life after I have done my duty and raised my kids to adulthood and no longer need me. My life is just riddled with debt and hopelessness.

  13. This speech reminds me of your Ice Skaters metaphor, Dr Peterson.

    Thinking vs Paying Attention. Which is better? Yet a another block falls into place for me.

    Thank you.

  14. Overwhelming emotion flowed out of this talk, it was obviously difficult and personal for you. It was difficult to watch too. The tension in the hall was palatable, so much so that the audience was forced to laughter at inappropriate moments just to get relief from it – the rest of the time they were completely silent.

  15. Love is pain in this world. But that doesn't mean you should stop loving.
    Mr Peterson, I admire way you carry the pain of unconditional love. One day, you will love unconditionally without the pain. And all the people who are inspired by you, will too. And then we will all know that we were unconditionally loved all along the painful way of our human existence. And we can peacefully rest in love.

  16. Thank you Dr. Peterson ! I have always believed in never telling any one they are not good enough to improve . We all need your foundation for living , thank you again .

  17. Does anyone here know what the outcome was for Dr. Peterson's wife (she had surgery a few weeks ago and he seemed, at the time, rather ominous about it)?

  18. Perhaps a great deal of brokenness comes from Western society, and specifically American-Christian exceptionalism, which believes in fake-it-til-you-make-it and plays on guilt rather than healing. The new message is the same as the old message – treat others the way you want to be treated and allow others to drink from the waters of innocence without presuming judgement.

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