• Malcolm Lett
    41
    I just watched Sam Harris & Jordan Peterson - Vancouver - 1 on YouTube.

    Most of the talk went nowhere as their own biases made them clearly oblivious to the totally valid points that the other was making. Sam was clearly biased against religion for the bad that it is done, and was trying to make an alternative case for a universal truth about good vs bad. Peterson, on his part, was clearly biased pro religion because of the good that it has done, and spent most of his time trying to convince Sam that there is no universal truth.

    Towards the end, Peterson did propose a very interesting view on an evolutionary mechanism behind the belief in God, and that proposition itself has some very interesting outtakes that the pair unfortunately failed to stumble upon themselves.

    In my own summary of Peterson's explanation, the belief in god is an evolutionary stable strategy that codifies a heuristic for living life in a way that is beneficial to the community in general. It is an evolved predisposition to produce narratives about certain idealised behavours, and in the act of producing those narratives they become more understandable, relatable, and easier to understand how to apply them to everyday life. Thus those narratives, and the belief in god that correlates with them, are an effective way of manipulating behaviour for the greater benefit of the community and individuals, and of its individuals' abilities to reproduce. It is basically just the same as hormonal responses, which achieve similar kinds of behavioural manipulation.

    In Peterson's words:
    God is how we imaginatively and collectively represent the existence and actions of consciousness across time, as the most real aspects of existence manifest themselves across the longest of timeframes but are not necessarily apprehensible in the hear and now....You have conceptions of reality built into your biological and metaphysical structure that are a consequence of processes of evolution that occurred over unbelievably vast expanses of time and that structure your perception of reality in ways that it wouldn't be structured if you only lived for the amount of time that you're going to live. And that's also part of the problem with deriving values from facts because you're evanescent and you can't derive the right values from the facts that portray themselves to you in your lifespan.

    I think there are two really important points from that explanation:
    • There may be no truly objective universal truth of good vs bad, but there does exist a localised objective truth - localised to humans living on earth in relation to the environment and other animals on the planet and spanning the entire history of existence of humans and their ancestors.
    • The codification of that objective truth in the genetic predisposition to produce the most successful religions of the world may be more effective than the outputs of a small bunch of upper-middleclass thinkers trying to decide for themselves what the objective truths should be.
  • TheMadFool
    9.4k
    Well, if Jordan Perterson puts it that way - as religion conferring those who have it an evolutionary advantage - then it implies he doesn't actually believe in the metaphysical god but that he finds religion simply useful in maintaining, say, social cohesion, peace, and whatnot. It's a condescending view, much like how adults find it cute that children believe in Santa Claus; after all belief in Father Christmas has its benefits (uses) - children are nicer with Santa around.
  • Wayfarer
    12.1k
    Must be remembered that evolutionary theory is a biological theory, not actually an epistemology or philosophy. Or, put another way, if knowledge is determined by biological ends, then what we know is likely to be quite narrowly circumscribed. Furthermore, such explanations can only be justified in terms of what facilitates survival - what works, if you like. Which from a pragmatic or utilitarian point of view seems fair enough, but only if the fundamental premise of religion is wrong to begin with.

    Leon Wieseltier’s review of Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell is a classic in this genre.
  • Nils Loc
    820
    I'd like to know what J. Peterson thinks about the works of Rene Girard, another thinker that intellectual conservatives/Christians love.

    Girard attributes the beginnings of gods to spontaneous lynching of vulnerable individuals as a means to dissipate the conflict in community and that this motif/dynamic is universal(?). The harmonizing effect of the lynching solves a greater immediate problem at the expense of the low-status or out-group individuals, but also that the victim is deified as someone who has contributed to the good. The idea of the scapegoat, a sacrifice by proxy grows out of this. Think of Abraham replacing his son on the altar with a ram.


  • JerseyFlight
    782
    the belief in god is an evolutionary stable strategy that codifies a heuristic for living life in a way that is beneficial to the community in general.Malcolm Lett

    ???

    Belief in God is most intelligently traced to denial. See Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death. The question is what really explains it? The word God is a psychologically motivated and informed ideal.

    As I see it, the only reason this kind of topic even makes sense to pursue, is to more intelligently figure out how to get beyond the primitive nature of such psychology.
  • SophistiCat
    1.6k
    Towards the end, Peterson did propose a very interesting view on an evolutionary mechanism behind the belief in God, and that proposition itself has some very interesting outtakes that the pair unfortunately failed to stumble upon themselves.

    In my own summary of Peterson's explanation, the belief in god is an evolutionary stable strategy that codifies a heuristic for living life in a way that is beneficial to the community in general.
    Malcolm Lett

    Meh, that idea is at least a hundred years old, and has been the subject of a body of evolutionary, anthropological and cognitive research (some in support and some in opposition). Abstract ponderings from dilettantes like Harris and Peterson are of little value at this point.
  • Outlander
    1.1k
    Sam was clearly biased against religion for the bad that it is doneMalcolm Lett

    Guns. Science. Medicine. Governments. Nuclear fusion. Every bad thing that stemmed from these things... they all have one thing in common. People. Human nature. Where does he live? Is he willing to give up everything including territory that was procured as a result? Nice try, Sam.
  • Banno
    12k
    So Peterson is replacing Ayn Rand as the go-to pseudo-philosopher of choice.
  • Gnomon
    1.4k
    the belief in god is an evolutionary stable strategy that codifies a heuristic for living life in a way that is beneficial to the community in general.Malcolm Lett
    History affirms that "belief in god is an evolutionary stable strategy". Cultural evolution, that is. So, faith in gods must provide something that is beneficial to communities. I guess that the cultural usefulness of god concepts is to give human leaders a higher authority to pass the buck to. It's too easy to rebel against mere human leaders with limited troops, but the super-human "Lord of Lords" may have legions of angels at his command. Authoritarian dictatorships tend to be superficially stable, until another general is able to foment a military coup. But how do you mount a coup against an unseen and immortal ruler? I suspect that's not the "strategy" Peterson had in mind? :joke:

    PS___The moral heuristic may be : “live as-if an all-seeing eye is watching you”.
    Religions use that emotional handle (fear of the watcher) to “wrangle” unruly humans into the corral of their particular Tribe (i.e. Church).
  • batsushi7
    45
    Maybe religion was result of evolution, to protect people from "sin", crimes, and abortion, just to guarantee the success of human specie. More religious people are the more children they get.
  • Judaka
    1.1k

    I think that nature and time are overexaggerated by Peterson as a selective force. Let's say you started a business, you are going to be continually changing various aspects of your operations to ensure success. You have clear goals and you aren't relying on random mutations but calculated approaches. Then we zoom out, see that thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are doing the same thing. Only good businesses practices survive. This is an extraordinary process of selective pressure against bad business practices, it is fast and brutal, every decade brings monumental change. This is how things are in the modern era, clearly, selective pressure is useful but are we going to go back and see how business was done in 500AD because it's a process based on 1000 years or more of business in that area? No, that would be stupid. If you were living in 500AD then you would do that but now? That is silly.

    I think there are very few, if any, circumstances where modern society cannot outperform thousands or even tens of thousands of years of progress. Not to mention, many civilisations are this old, why do we only look at the Christian model? Why does Peterson not advocate learning about the Aztecs, one of the native American clans or Australian Aboriginal culture and learning from them?

    I think we need to work within certain confines such as scientific truth, we can't just create any system we want nor can we compare the selective pressure of a few individual thinkers with something like business theory where there's so many involved and only success gives survival. However, let's not overstate how successful the older systems have been, let's not pretend like it is impossible for us to contradict what has taken thousands of years to create, just because it took thousands of years.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.