Overview:

What are the probable words on Jordan Peterson's elegant, expensive, ivory, Crane, stiff-to-the touch, business cards?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Jordan Peterson never speaks without conjuring trouble.

On the matter of his belief or disbelief in God, Peterson dodges the question dishonestly and un-artfully.

A simple question is put to Peterson by an off-screen interviewer: “Do you believe in God?” Peterson might answer the simple question with a simple yes or no.

Instead, he performs a classic liberal theological sidestep, redefining his terms.

If you are unaware, for the last 150 years, liberal theological types dishonestly redefine most religious terms so as to make the terms more palatable to themselves, allowing themselves to pretend they still assent to these terms.

Here’s an example of what any liberal theologian might say about the term resurrection: “Certainly I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. But let me tell you what I mean by that.”

What follows, by way of a definition for resurrection, is something you never heard before in your life. It may be elegant. It may even be believable. But as a definition of resurrection, it bears no linear connection to a two thousand-year-old understanding of the term.

Let’s look at Jordan Peterson in this light.

Peterson says the following about God: “Do I believe in God? What do you mean by ‘belief’? What do you mean by ‘God’?”

This is a dishonest and un-artful dodge utilizing mischievous questions, because everyone agrees on the general meaning of both of those words—belief and God.

Peterson says more on God: “The possibility that they [those who ask if he believes in God] construe ‘belief’ and construe ‘God’ the same way I do is virtually zero.” That’s another dishonest and un-artful dodge, and highly inaccurate, since, again, the meaning of those words over the last two thousand years has remained constant, and Peterson knows how everyone defines those terms.

Peterson says the following about the resurrection of Jesus: “Resurrection means his [Jesus] spirit lives on. That’s certainly the case. He’s had a massive effect across time.” Let us chant it in staccato prose: Dishonest and un-artful!

Peterson says this on hell: “I believe in hell. But that’s subject to interpretation.” Let us roar: Dishonest and un-artful! Peterson says the following on whether Christ is divine: “That depends on what is meant by ‘divine’ and what is meant by ‘Christ’.” Scream it, folks: Dishonest and un-artful! Peterson says this on the meaning of divine: “Divine is what’s of ultimate and transcendent value.” And the crowd erupted: Dishonest + un + artful!

Are you getting the pattern?

In the early part of this video wherein Peterson expresses these views, he says he does not wish to answer the question of whether he believes in God because those asking the question seek to box him in—on one side or the other.

No. That’s not what’s going on. It is Jordan Peterson who does not wish to admit that he’s already climbed into the box of his choosing. He is in no way a believer in God in the manner that ‘God’ has been understood for many thousands of years.

That’s not troubling in and of itself. So what if Jordan Petersen is an atheist? What is troubling is that a man who professes intellectual honesty is himself deeply dishonest in not admitting his disbelief in God.

I suspect he fears that if he admits his unbelief he will lose his conservative, hyper-religious, dues-paying, male followers. That would explain the probable wording on what I imagine are his elegant, expensive, ivory, Crane, stiff-to-the touch, business cards: Dr. Jordan Peterson, Un-Artful Dodger Extraordinaire.

J. H. McKenna (Ph.D.) has taught the history of religion since 1999 at the University of California, where he has won teaching awards. He has published in academic journals and the LA Times, Huffington...