Jordan Peterson has been blowing my mind lately, and I'm not alone. I think the reason he is going viral is because he is healing the divide between the nihilistic atheists and the dogmatic moralists.
The scientific revolution was an amazing thing. It gave humans the power to command nature as you'd think a magician would. It was a light so bright, nothing seemed out of it's reach. Not even god.
The accuracy of the scientific method pulled the carpet from underneath the beliefs of the religious. The physics on top of which their moral sensibilities stood were suddenly reframed from the 'word of god', to something like bias-based illusions.
This is about the time Nietzsche famously proclaimed that 'God is dead'. He said that God was dead and we had killed him. And there wouldn't be enough water to wash away the blood.
A few generations later. We saw the rise of communism. And with it, the most bloody, and horrendous mass murders the world has ever seen. Like gigantic meat grinders with scientific precision, upwards of a hundred million people were killed at the altar of communism. All by atheists. Those that did not die in war, starved to death in famine, as farmers got routinely murdered and hung. The dreaded bourgeoisie, turns out were the middle class.
Lenin was an atheist, Mao was an atheist, Stalin was an atheist.
Their deeds make the Hitler (a pantheist?) look like an amateur.
Coincidence? I don't think so. Morality up to that point rested on the shoulders of the biblical God. On the literal interpretations of the biblical works.
On the ten commandments.
The stories in these old books served as lessons that survived millennia, captured in stories and distilled by memory.
Bare in mind, many of the stories in these old books are far older than their written form and were at one point passed down through oral tradition.
And so, morality went away and the scientific machine was unleashed without a moral compass.
At least the theocrats didn't have the technology to kill millions.
On the flip side. The more morally inclined were left neutered. Without solid ground on which to build the ethics they saw as self-evident. Weakened by the embarrassment that the literal interpretations of the old books had been shattered.
What Jordan Peterson is doing - in my opinion - is trying to rebuild the foundations of ethics. Not from literal interpretations of the Bible, nor from utopian, detached idealization.
But from logic and evolutionary psychology as applied to the biblical works of the great religions and other ancient myths.
Turns out, that if you look at these old stories as powerful dreams, as art that arose from free market-ish storytelling... As pre-scientific anthropomorphized thought, as a kind of fiction that spoke of our own nature and the nature of the world, well, a lot of things start to make more sense.
People are hungry for meaning. Hungry for responsibility. Hungry for a light with which to walk through this dark forest we call life.
And Peterson is doing amazing work by extracting ideas from these old and popular tales, the archetypes of which are seen all over the world across cultures and time.
I expect his phychological analysis of the Bible will start a new generation of thought and leave a mark in history.
To not take this work seriously. Or at the least, to not recognize this existential challenge, is to ignore the epic conflict that engulfs our world.
Now, perhaps you are busy, or perhaps you are fighting the good fight within your own realm and niche. That's fine. Do your thing. We need people to do their thing. We need people to do what they are best at.
But please. Don't get in the way.
Here's a good place to start if you are interested in these ideas. And let’s talk. :)