Biblical Series: Introduction to the Idea of God | Jordan B. Peterson Podcast

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Key Takeaways

  • Human beings want to know where they are going and why, which is different from what actually is! (behavioral truth vs. objective truth)
  • “Dreams are the birthplace of thought.”Carl Jung 
  • Our neuropsychological systems are so deeply rooted, they are the same now as they were when our ancient ancestors were scanning the Sahara for predators
  • If there are things that threaten you (chaos itself), open your eyes and use your words precisely to encounter and contend with the world
  • Facing your challenges and proper speech (leadership) are the predicate for creating an effective society
  • What people believe to be true, they will act out
  • Development of the prefrontal cortex came from the ability to create an abstraction of a behavior, think on the abstraction, then act on it if it is safe
  • The distance in time between the Bible and the internet is shorter than the time from a chimpanzee to a modern human


  • Jordan B. Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) is a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto

Purpose of The Biblical Lecture Series

  • Jordan’s goal is to extract stories and information from literary/art forms (example here is the Bible) into practical and applicable tools to put into life from a psychological perspective
  • It is very interesting to Jordan how these stories have been replicated/retold for thousands of years and have such widespread impacts on psychology and society
  • Evaluate the psychological significance of the biblical stories
  • Not an easy feat in any capacity, Jordan himself says he is learning and working out his ideas as he is lecturing


  • Jordan is fascinated by the works and thoughts of Fredrich Nietzsche, despite the fact that Nietzsche was vehemently against dogmatic religion, Christianity in particular
  • Extreme ideologies – Nietzsche correctly predicted in the 1800’s that hundreds of millions of people would be killed due to deeply incorrect representations of the world in the 20th century
  • Jordan calls ideologies “crippled religions”
  • Warped and twisted from the original framework
  • Nietzsche’s view: Human beings are going to have to create our own values (not God creating them)
  • This concept was manipulated by the Nazi party and the concept of the “overman” or “superman”

Stories & Myths

  • Stories or abstractions from Fiction are not necessarily “untrue”
  • Ex: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Numbers
    • Are mathematical numbers more real than reality? 
    • Hamlet is an abstraction of the human experience
  • Carl Jung (one of Jordan’s favorite minds in the field of Psychology) stated: “Everyone acts out their own myth, but they don’t know what it is”
  • “Dream is the birthplace of thought.”Carl Jung
  • An admirer of Nietzsche, student of Freud
  • It aims you somewhere… to where? Self-realization?
    • Everyone acts out a story, but not everyone knows what it is… for many, it might be a tragedy.”Carl Jung
  • Form of competence, tremendous knowledge from action
  • Question should not be “what is the world” but rather “how do you live in the world” 
    • Stories and dreams model this for us
  • Some (dreams, stories, and myths) are translated into articulated thought
    • Some rituals have been replicated for tens of thousands of years
    • When Moses comes up with The Law
      • He goes up the mountain and sees God, brings down The Law
        • Trying to keep the peace (like a judge)
          • How do you mediate please? What are the principles? He had a revelation of finding the peace through the Ten Commandments
            • The body of law demonstrates the principles of behavior to live by
      • Extract out the core of the guiding principle – in this case, through the Bible

Psychotherapy & Psychoanalytic Thought

  • Jordan has spent a long time studying the role that belief systems have in psychological and social health (at least since the 1980s)
  • We perceive our enemies as literal demons
  • In psychotherapy, critical to break things down into incremental small components and challenge them
  • Modern humans developed around 150,000 years ago
  • Thinking in evolutionary context is a grander, more encompassing way of thought
  • Psychoanalytic thought
  • People are made up of sub-personalities that Jordan believes to be alive:
    • Low-level resolution of self (anger only wants anger, etc.)
    • Very, very ancient neurological system
    • Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom
  • Greek culture believed that all life was determined by the gods
    • Recognition that there is more than we perceive, and potentially out of our control
  • Development of the prefrontal cortex came from ability to create an abstraction of a behavior, think on it, then act on it if it is safe
  • Allow the abstraction to die rather than you!
  • Same neurological system as ancient humans seeing snakes
    • Paralyzed when threatened, “Turned to stone”; snake in the garden, etc.

Mesopotamian Gods (dating back 15,000 –10,000 years ago)

  • Different tribes coming together had different gods, how do we come together to believe the same thing and not? 
  • Marduk – elected by all other gods to be the top god, has eyes all the way around his head and speaks magic words
  • Marduk has to confront chaos itself (Tiamat) – described as a watery sea dragon:
    • Tiamat – word comes from “theom” – the same word that God uses in Genesis to create the world out of chaos
      • Also correlates to the story of St. George and the dragon. 
  • Marduk cuts Tiamat into pieces; makes the world
    • World created from breaking up chaos through the use of proper words
      • Language is essential for effective leadership
    • This is an allegory of the same chaos God encountered at the beginning of time
  • If there are things that threaten you (chaos itself), open your eyes and use your words to encounter and content with the world
  • Facing your challenges and proper speech are the predicate for creating an effective society

Existentialism & Existential Thought

  • Jordan believes that what people believe to be true they act out, not what they say
  • Behavioral truth is different from objective truth
  • Overlay objective truth with behavioral truth or existential structure.
    • Finding your aim!
  • Human beings want to know where they are going and why, that is different from what actually is! (behavioral truth vs. objective truth)

Logos – The Word 

  • Being – it cannot exist without consciousness
  • The Logos manifests itself as reality
  • The ability to conceptualize reality and transform it – Jordan says this is a very complex topic
  • Jordan relates that The Logos relates to human beings being made in the image of God
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment shows the main character, Raskolnikov, decide that life is only his intentions and motivates matter, nobody else’s intrinsic thoughts matter
  • He ends up committing murder and changes as a person
  • He finds out that pre-murder and post-murder Raskolnikov are literally different people
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago actualizes the same realization as Crime and Punishment, but in a non-fiction context

Q&A with Jordan 

  • Making sacrifices – give up something that can make the future real and better than the present
  • Make a “bargain” with reality
  • Creation of a “Covenant” – just like modern world and modern example: money
    • Money is a negotiation piece
  • Dreaming – your brain is running underlying psychological scenarios without threat of physical action
  • Experimental situations are portrayed and trialed, mix of the known and unknown
  • Confronting fear – conflict with what is unknown, or chaos allows us to create habitable order
  • Example: embracing uncomfortable issues with your spouse over important discussions allows you to hash out your challenges and live together in your house
Jordan B Peterson Podcast : , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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