Disagreeing/Agreeing with Jordan Peterson–Introducing a New Series
In my first post I have credited Jordan Peterson. He is a psychologist, and a professor on Youtube who connects psychology to philosophy and theology. He approaches issues in ways that I have never seen before, and as I’ve also mentioned, listening to him helps me to put my thoughts into words. One thing that I respect about him is what he says when he doesn’t know something, or he has an idea, but doesn’t know how to say it. He will calmly, and honestly say ‘I don’t know’. But even then, he knows that just like anyone else he doesn’t always realize when he doesn’t know something. The unknown goes deeper then our human perspectives can grasp; I’ve already touched a little bit on this at the end of my post “Personality and Pacing”.
Even though people try to deny this about him, and also dehumanize him for his controversy, he welcomes agreement, and disagreement equally as long as people are respectable. This is why I plan to dissect more of his ideas on this blog through a series of posts about the things he says, and pinpoint where I don’t agree with him. I could write blog posts about the things I do agree with, but I can’t see myself doing that too often. I’d be repeating things that were already said by him. For these things, a simple ‘yes’ with a nod of the head is probably all that’s needed because nothing more needs to be said.
We all have thoughts that contradict the other thoughts we have. We don’t always notice this in ourselves, but sometimes other people will. Noticing these contradictions in our mind can help us to shed a light on a problem that needs to be solved. We should never treat revealing these problems as ‘exposing’ someone as a ‘fraud’ for being a double-thinker. We should treat this as the process of trial and error.
Is the unknown order, or chaos?
Although Jordan Peterson has studied the Bible and theology, and is fascinated with the Biblical stories, he presents the things he says in a humanistic/agnostic way. He will talk with other people about the absoluteness of morality, and the inner compass that lets us know what we should or shouldn’t do. He will talk about the character archetypes in stories that can be used as frameworks to help us understand why we are the way we are, and why we navigate the world the way we do. He believes that there are patterns that point to the absolute truth not only in archetypal stories, but in true stories, and the real world–I can definitely get on board with this. After he says these things, however, I believe that he wavers this point of view when he calls the unknown chaos. He will say something along these lines—God created the world out of chaos, and the Bible says that He created us in His image. So when we create something, we are taking chaos and turning it into order. By doing this we are taking part in creation.
He seems to have unintentionally skimmed over the possibility that chaos might not even exist—By listening to his lectures, this got me thinking about the unknown, and made me wonder about this possibility that he didn’t address. I know what you’re probably thinking—We see chaos all the time. How could anyone believe that all the problems we experience, all the cruelty, all the pain, all the suffering, all the clutter, and hustle-and-bustle isn’t chaos? We do perceive these things, but just because these things can be terrible and hard to cope with doesn’t mean that they aren’t part of an order that’s bigger then ourselves.
I believe that a great example of this is the story of Joseph. Out of jealousy over the dreams he was telling them about, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. If he had never became a slave in Egypt in the first place, and wasn’t serving God through all the hardship he had to endure even while doing nothing wrong, no one would have known about the large famine that was going to take place in the future–no one would have been prepared.
His brothers went to Egypt in desperate need of food not knowing who they were going to see. They encountered their very own brother, Joseph, who they sold years ago. Joseph provided them with food. After this he assured them of this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
Even when our intentions seem chaotic or bad, this doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things. I love this message as someone who finds the concept of intentions, and what makes them good or bad extremely confusing—this was especially true after I discovered that we can have bad intentions without even knowing it. We have no control over our perspectives that always seem to flip-flop from one assumption to the next without even asking for this to happen, but all-in-all, this doesn’t even matter. God has everything under control, and He has given us the Holy Spirit so that whenever we fall out of line everything’s going to fall into place, and we will become more real than we have ever been before.
And yes—if chaos doesn’t exist, this means that every gust of the wind; every small ripple or roaring wave, every tornado or hurricane isn’t chaos. If chaos doesn’t exist, this means that God had a reason to give the devil permission to torture Job, a man who truly loved God. We don’t know how to see these things as anything else but chaos.
In my post ‘Personality and Pacing’, I said “…we are trying to order the world according to our own chaotic human lenses…”, and I truly do believe this. It’s almost like the older I get, the more aware I become that the lens I see the world through can twist reality around me like a fun house mirror, but also reveal reality where other people can or cannot see it. Whenever I enter a grocery store, and my family encourages me to explore the place by myself, that building sure doesn’t seem ordered to me. It feels like I’m surrounded by whirlpools that are going in different directions, and throwing me off balance just because of the people walking opposite, across, or in the same direction as me at varying speeds. I never know when another person is going into the same aisle as me or not. Nothing about this is their fault, and nothing about this is my fault. This all comes down to the temporary lenses that are made to see the world how God wants us to see it in the meantime, and later we will be given new eyes in heaven to see goodness for what it truly is.
There are a lot of problems that come without fault, but the fault comes down to how we react to these problems. Plenty of conflicts have two or more sides—it’s one twisted funhouse eye against another. These problems come with guilt when two or more individuals or groups believe that they themselves are the ones who are right, and the other people are wrong—they believe that they don’t have to be flexible because the others have a speck in their eye, and they certainly don’t have a log in their own; they will assure you of this. Can you think about any situations where this is happening? Have you ever been guilty of this? If these two questions resonate with you, I want you to stop and think about them before you read the last two paragraphs.
I can’t end this without mentioning something that happened while these thoughts were cooking in my mind. I was working as a helper in a kindergarten classroom, and I was given the opportunity to read a book called “Seven Blind Mice” by an author named Ed Young to the kids. One of the first pictures in the book showed what the object was that the mice were encountering (I’m not going to give it away here), but the teacher told the kids not to say what is was because the mice had to figure it out for themselves. At the beginning of the book, all of the blind mice were scared of the unknown object, and then they went exploring one-by-one once every day. The red mouse thought that it’s leg was a pillar, the orange one thought that it’s ear was a fan, and every one of them explored different parts of the massive monster by climbing and feeling without sight. They weren’t correct, but they got a general idea of the shape and feeling of specific areas. They didn’t get the full picture until the white mouse explored the whole monster, and took the things that the other mice said into consideration.
With all these things that were on my mind I found myself getting really exited as I read this book. After I finished, I was glad that the teacher spoke about it’s theme because I couldn’t talk about it in a way that five, and six-year-olds could understand. These rules of perception even apply to how you perceive this book according to your age—a story about getting along to children can be extremely philosophical to adults. But who knows? Maybe some of the philosophy from this book resonated with the kids. I also found the use of the number seven very interesting. It was like the mice were discovering parts of creation in the number of days that God created the world, and this got me wondering about something else—whenever we are creating something, are we making order, or discovering the order that’s been here since the beginning of time? I believe that this all depends on how willing we are to step out of our comfort zones with hearts that are eager for the truth.
Are we willing?