Jordan Peterson definition of God

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    Hi, a couple of atheists friends converted to christianity after reading JBP’s books and seeing his lectures on the bible and his definitions of God.

    I find it severely inaccurate and vague, his definitions does not describe any historical and personal god that religions provide. And also a bit dangerous, because it is not as if it were a god of Espinoza, but a juggling made around christianity, that can convince reasonable people that the bible is actually true, and politically that affects us all.

    This is a transcript of his talk with Sam Harris, where he gives some propositions about his definition of God.

    Let me know what you all think.

    Sam Harris: What do you mean by ‘God’?

    Jordan Peterson: Part of the concept of God that underlies the Western ethos is the notion that whatever God is, is expressed in the truthful speech that rectifies pathological hierarchies, that isn’t all it does, it also confronts the chaos of being itself and generates habitable order, that’s the metaphysical proposition, and that’s best conceptualized as at least one element of God; and so I would think about it as a transcendent reality that’s only observable across the longest of time-frames.

    Okay, so here’s some propositions and they’re complicated and they need to be unpacked so I’m just going to read them and that’ll have to do for the time being.

    God is how we imaginatively and collectively represent the existence of an action of consciousness across time; as the most real aspects of existence manifest themselves across the longest of time-frames but are not necessarily apprehensible as objects in the here and now.

    So what that means in some sense is that 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 of 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 life-span which is why you have a biological structure that’s like 3.5 billion years old.

    So God is that which eternally dies and is reborn in the pursuit of higher being and truth. That’s a fundamental element of the hero mythology. God is the highest value in the hierarchy of values; that’s another way of looking at it. God is what calls and what responds in the eternal call to adventure. God is the voice of conscience. God is the source of judgment, mercy, and guilt. God is the future to which we make sacrifices and something akin to the transcendental repository of reputation. Here’s a cool one if you’re an evolutionary biologist: God is that which selects among men in the eternal hierarchy of men.

    So men arrange themselves into hierarchies and men rise in the hierarchy and there’s principles that are accordant that determine the probability of their rise and those principles aren’t tyrannical power, they’re something like the ability to articulate truth and the ability to be competent and the ability to make appropriate moral judgements and if you can do that in a given situation then all the other men will vote you up the hierarchy so to speak and that will radically increase your reproductive fitness and the operation of that process across long expanses of time looks to me like its codified in something like the notion of God the Father.

    It’s also the same thing that makes men attractive to women because women peel off the top of the male hierarchy. The question is: ‘what should be at the top of the hierarchy’? And the answer right now is tyranny as part of the patriarchy but the real answer is something like the ability to use truthful speech, let’s say in the service of well-being and so that’s something that operates across tremendous expanses of time and it plays a role in the selection for survival itself which makes it a fundamental reality.


    Simon Paynton

    I found it hard to understand.  But as I get it, this is the crux of the matter:

    truthful speech, let’s say in the service of well-being

    Truth and love, the rock and the water.  The two aspects of reality for living things.  We all need truth, we all need compassion.

    I don’t think there’s any point complaining if JBP makes Christianity look attractive. If people find it attractive, they find it attractive.

    Atheists would be able to have the same thing, but they don’t know whether they want to thrive or not.


    Peterson is the Deepak Chopra of Christianity.

    Peterson’s allusive style makes critiquing him like trying to nail jelly to a cloud, but I have tried to indicate alternatives to his assumptions about morality, individualism, reality, and the meaning of life. If you go for Christian mythology, narrow-minded individualism, obscure metaphysics, and existentialist angst, then Jordan Peterson is the philosopher for you. But if you prefer evidence and reason, look elsewhere.

    More here.




    With disappearing gender roles, it is more challenging for young people to chart a life plan. So there he is: JP, the nemesis of feminism…giving toxic young males a plan. JP’s version of Christianity amounts to vapor. I recall seeing Matt Dillahunty putting him through the ringer in a debate.


    Simon Paynton

    His message seems to be “sort yourself out”, and I think that’s a good thing.  I don’t see him as the nemsis of feminism, but he is most definitely the nemesis of the silly narcissistic hard left, which is why they hate him so much.  He’s just as much against the hard right, and their toxicity, as you say @robert.

    I think he seems to have his own conception of what religion is all about.



    Jordan Peterson invents this term called “post-modern neo-Marxism” as a boogeyman for what is plaguing “the west.” As it turns out, all of those words mean something individually… but as Contrapoints notes in detail, they don’t really mean anything at all when you put them all together like this. The post-modernists aren’t really anything like what Jordan Peterson is criticizing. He’s throwing together a bunch of scary words all at once in order to trigger his audience and give them something to get angry about.


    Simon Paynton
    “post-modern neo-Marxism”

    they don’t really mean anything at all when you put them all together like this.

    I take it to mean a modern form of Marxism that rejects objective facts and reason.  So, it has a meaning.



    Simon Paynton

    Here is Helen Pluckrose’s take on the term.



    I am referring here to his central claim (the stuff in the bold text) and not what follows which is a confusing babble that fails to relate his definition to Christianity and throws in a whole lot of hyper-generalisations about humans (as well as bizarrely with gender/sexuality). It’s an interesting definition however it’s also partially babble. Calling it vague and watery is an understatement. His text is OVERFLOWING with weasel words. However, the biggest problem, something that really should be totally obvious to any non-deluded person who reads it, is how divorced that definition is with the religious texts, traditions and narratives in the entire history of Christianity and all Abrahamic religion. How are you going to jam a thousand christian round pegs into that interesting yet vague and unflinching square hole. It cannot be done in a million years. If he were sincere with that definition and believed in it, it would take him to a totally different place. A whole new religion would be born. His world view could not possibly merge with the overwhelming majority of Christian tradition nor the bible.

    It is a definition that’s poorly defined. And it is incompatible with most of the essential components of Christianity. It’s a practice in bullshit.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by  Davis.

    Simon Paynton

    It is a definition that’s poorly defined. And it is incompatible with most of the essential components of Christianity.

    I think that Peterson is talking about a philosophical essense of religion, which could be described as truth and compassion.  So, I think his view is valid.



    So, I think his view is valid.

    How on Earth can your view be valid when you advocate two things that fatally conflict with one another? For example, if I define political progress as that of the open society, individualism and opportunity (only instead of using those words I type out a five sentence mumbo jumbo) and then I relate my definition of political progress through a Marxist-Lenninist political party, why on Earth would anyone take me seriously? I cannot remotely respect a person who not only gives a vague watery definition on a topic they are supposedly an important commentator on (which is bad enough) but then applies that to an incompatible world view. It’s intellectually void. Anyone who is creative enough and evasive enough can write a flowery spiritualistic concept-romp without giving specifics or a method to properly analyse their definition. Charlatans do it all the time. And yes, it can be very dangerous if the point of it is espousing toxic elements of a world view.

    I think that Peterson is talking about a philosophical essence of religion

    Just because we are dealing with a topic that is highly conceptual doesn’t mean that a watery definition is acceptable. We are talking about defining God…not religion. I want to know who God is. How I can identify a God from a non-God. To even accept that God is a concept worth taking seriously. I need to know its definition before I can decide if that God exists or not. I don’t have a definition that I can confirm. There is no method I can devise to decide…okay is the God of this religion a God in this sense. Or not a God? I cannot even tell if he is trying to say that God is just a concept in the mind and not an inherent aspect of the universe. Because the definition is so vague and confusing I have no idea. On the one hand it seems as though God is an extension of group consciousness and yet on the other hand he applies specific autonomous qualities to this God. It’s like saying love is just a feeling and at the same time saying “love lives in Morrocco, is male and has a pet cat”. What kind of definition is that when it is so elusive? That isn’t acceptable in intellectual discourse. And that is a major major major error in philosophy. The first thing a philosopher learns and the thing most philosophers always have in the back of their mind is: “clear definitions”. Definitions are everything.

    which could be described as truth and compassion.

    Projecting your thriving/psuedo-Jesus-theory onto every topic discussed and what other thinkers are saying should not be the default reaction. There are more perspectives than just that…and even though you may find truth and compassion as elements in the narrative/definition given, I do not understand how you can possibly extract those as central let alone essential elements of his definition of God. They are mentioned, yet HARDLY the essence of the definition. Consider putting the importance of these concepts to the side while you encounter and read a text, because constantly reading a text through very specific conceptual lenses is counter-productive and will inhibit objective analysis and useful discourse.


    Simon Paynton

    A Buddhist monk (from Sri Lanka) said to me that religion is stillness, wisdom and morality.  So, according to him, wisdom (truth and compassion) is one of the aspects of religion.


    Simon Paynton

    defining God

    I wouldn’t be able to “define God”, and I can’t make head or tail of Jordan Peterson’s definition.  Religion, however, is a clearer concept to philosophise about.


    Simon Paynton

    On second thoughts, even though some of it appears meaningless, I can make out some familiar meaning in some of what he says.

    whatever God is, is expressed in the truthful speech that rectifies pathological hierarchies, that isn’t all it does, it also confronts the chaos of being itself and generates habitable order

    I take this to mean, learning to thrive in a world of hard facts and cold reality.  Habitable = liveable in.  Order = making sense of facts.

    “rectifies pathological hierarchies”?  I know he has a thing about hierarchies.  I guess he means, God makes everyone equal.

    God is the highest value in the hierarchy of values

    Familiar from Kalam’s Cosmological Argument for the existence of God.

    God is the voice of conscience. God is the source of judgment, mercy, and guilt…. something akin to the transcendental repository of reputation.

    In other words, the overall moral arbiter and the eye-in-the-sky that watches over us to make sure we behave ourselves.

    God is the future to which we make sacrifices

    I consider that there are two kinds of thriving: short term and long term.  We often have to sacrifice the first for the second.

    So, it’s not as weird as it first appears.  The rest of it I presume is explained in more detail elsewhere.





    If apologists like Peterson (a teacher) cannot explain what they mean in simple language then they do not understand what they are attempting to get across to their audience. Why can they not define what they mean by “God”? They all eventually sound alike, akin to WL Craig and his Kalam cosmological argument and our own Dr. Bob, one of his devotees.

    I have yet to hear a reasonable definition of god that does not contradict itself or carry any meaningful weight in order not to be immediately dismissed at the first gateway into the domain of reason and logic.

    Theologians can be hilarious. Listening to their BS subjective definitions delivered as heavyweight intellectual material shows just how “god deluded” they have become. A straight answer? You will be lucky.

    I once said something like the following to a theologian in a debate where I asked for a one line definition of what she meant by “God” and she waffled for 5 minutes without saying anything meaningful.

    I find the verbosity of your magniloquent and grandiose rhetoric is used to confuse your audience. You are being rather ultracrepidarian in your commentary of atheism and have a very sesquipedalian and ostentatious approach to answering even the most basic questions with a fatuous and embellished reply that means nothing.

    Jeez, I only asked if you wanted a cup of tea!!

    I then reminded her of the words of Thomas Paine from the Age of Reason:

    “The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.”

    So for the final time, please, in one sentence, just explain what you mean by “God”.

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