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Old 05-07-2017, 12:52 AM   #1
nobodynobodybutyou
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Jordan Peterson on religion

What do people this of this guys perspective on Religion - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28i3lWxW5xs

I'm someone who has never believed in god for 31 years, found it just as absurd as everyone else for probably very similar reasons. However listening to this guy I can see the validity of religion now, why it exists, how it fits in with life, what it is good for and how it is meant to be used. Might even say I'm becoming a bit religious after listening to him speak about it.

His youtube channel is here - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL_...xp8TtlOkHwMV9Q

Basically he says scientific truth can tell you "what is" about the world but it can't tell you how to act in the world, that's where religion fits in, it tells you "how to be" or "how to act" in the world. For example it is a perfectly valid scientific pursuit to want to learn how to build dangerous weapons whether they be nuclear or chemical or other, the morality of it however is somewhat questionable.

A good example is the story of sacrifice in religion. Commonly it goes something like "spill the blood of your finest cattle on the soil and your crops will grow plentiful in the harvest" or some other such nonsense. Obviously the degree to which you kill your cattle has little to no bearing on how well your crops grow. But what is the message here? It is the message of human sacrifice. Not human sacrifice as in killing people but as in sacrificing / working hard in the present to get something valuable in the future. For example giving up junk food and video games in exchange for a good diet and exercise will reap rewards for you not today, probably not even tomorrow but 1,2,5 or 10 years from now.

Now given that humans are basically evolved chimps at some point we had to figure this out, the idea that you can do something in the present that affects things in a time and place that doesn't yet exist (the future). Try communicating with a monkey that if it gives you the banana it has right now you will give in 2 bananas tomorrow, impossible.

Anyone heard this guy speak and have any thoughts? Or care to comment on the thought that scientific truth can tell you "what is" about the world but it can't tell you how to act in the world, that's where religion fits in, it tells you "how to be" or "how to act" in the world.
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Old 05-07-2017, 02:25 AM   #2
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

Never heard of the guy.

Do you think religion is uniquely qualified to answer the "how to" questions?
Is it wise to accept "how to" advice from sources that get the "what is" part terribly wrong?
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Old 05-07-2017, 11:47 PM   #3
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

Peterson was on Sam Harris' Waking Up, following the free speech controversy where he spoke out against the Canadian government legislation on gender identity and pronouns, amongst other things, which would criminalise 'offensive' speech.



Vice interview: A Canadian University Professor Is Under Fire For Rant on Political Correctness

Last edited by BeaucoupFish; 05-07-2017 at 11:48 PM. Reason: I know this is a different topic to OP, sorry
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Old 05-08-2017, 12:13 AM   #4
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

He was also on the Joe Rogan podcast a while back, if your interested in political correctness and the whole SJW thing he is the best person I have heard talk on the subject - https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...ordan+peterson.
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Old 05-08-2017, 12:21 AM   #5
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Originally Posted by Louis Cyphre View Post
Never heard of the guy.

Do you think religion is uniquely qualified to answer the "how to" questions?
Is it wise to accept "how to" advice from sources that get the "what is" part terribly wrong?
I don't think religion is the only thing that can answer the "how to" questions, but it does a pretty good job. So far in human history it has answered the "how to" questions better than anything else. When I say religion I mean Christianity btw. It is not perfect but I think there are some profound messages to be taken from it.

Given "how to" and "what is" are two different questions I'm not sure it's really relevant. Also have to keep in mind the bible was written long before science even existed, it's not like the people who wrote the bible knew about neuroscience but still chose to say an epileptic fit was demonic possession.

It's not like "demonic possession" as an explanation for an epileptic fit is entirely wrong either. It's a way of saying "something bad in the world that isn't anyone's fault". Very simple I know, and neuroscience can give a much better explanation, but for people who had no clue about science it's a pretty good explanation.
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:13 AM   #6
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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A good example is the story of sacrifice in religion. Commonly it goes something like "spill the blood of your finest cattle on the soil and your crops will grow plentiful in the harvest" or some other such nonsense. Obviously the degree to which you kill your cattle has little to no bearing on how well your crops grow. But what is the message here? It is the message of human sacrifice. Not human sacrifice as in killing people but as in sacrificing / working hard in the present to get something valuable in the future. For example giving up junk food and video games in exchange for a good diet and exercise will reap rewards for you not today, probably not even tomorrow but 1,2,5 or 10 years from now.
The thing is people do follow the letter of the text and actually carry out sacrifices.

Just basic logic will tell you that working hard at something will yield results. Does that mean we've now evolved past the point of needing religion?

I don't really like the point that religion is necessary to tell people "how to be", all I have to do is come up with one atheist who isn't immoral to prove that wrong.
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Old 05-08-2017, 02:07 PM   #7
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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The thing is people do follow the letter of the text and actually carry out sacrifices.

Just basic logic will tell you that working hard at something will yield results. Does that mean we've now evolved past the point of needing religion?

I don't really like the point that religion is necessary to tell people "how to be", all I have to do is come up with one atheist who isn't immoral to prove that wrong.
It's basic logic to human beings in the 21st century that working hard will yield results, but at some point a bunch of chimps / monkeys had to figure that out which is a massive discovery. It's the idea that you can do things now that will change things in a time and place that doesn't yet exist, I think humans are the only animals that exist that have any real concept of the future except for maybe some bears that stockpile food for the winter.

Where does an atheist get their morality from though originally? If they were raised in an ISIS camp they wouldn't be an atheist. They would have have a completely different morality than if they were raised in the West which is a Judeo-Christian society, the morality commonly accepted in the west for the most part comes from the bible. Not that the bible is perfect, the stories in it are 2000 years old or more, it could use a little updating (not killing gay people for example) but the basis for modern western morality has it's roots in the bible.
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Old 05-08-2017, 04:24 PM   #8
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Originally Posted by nobodynobodybutyou View Post
It's basic logic to human beings in the 21st century that working hard will yield results, but at some point a bunch of chimps / monkeys had to figure that out which is a massive discovery. It's the idea that you can do things now that will change things in a time and place that doesn't yet exist, I think humans are the only animals that exist that have any real concept of the future except for maybe some bears that stockpile food for the winter.

Where does an atheist get their morality from though originally? If they were raised in an ISIS camp they wouldn't be an atheist. They would have have a completely different morality than if they were raised in the West which is a Judeo-Christian society, the morality commonly accepted in the west for the most part comes from the bible. Not that the bible is perfect, the stories in it are 2000 years old or more, it could use a little updating (not killing gay people for example) but the basis for modern western morality has it's roots in the bible.
Please stop with the 'Judeo-Christian' stuff as the source and basis of Western morality. For centuries upon centuries, torture, slavery, burning of supposed witches etc were condoned and advocated on the basis of the bible. Without the enlightenment some of these things might still be happening in the name of the faith. Just look at other parts of the world.

My morality is based on my upbringing, secular humanism, John Rawls' seminal work and trying to be a good person in general. No supernatural dimension or recourse to ancient books is required.
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Old 05-08-2017, 04:41 PM   #9
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

I find vicarious atonement which is the pillar of Christian morality to be deeply flawed.
You have yet to show why religion is necessarily the source of morality.
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:07 PM   #10
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Originally Posted by Louis Cyphre View Post
I find vicarious atonement which is the pillar of Christian morality to be deeply flawed.
You have yet to show why religion is necessarily the source of morality.
I'm curious what you find flawed exactly. There is some division within Christianity on the exact theology of the Atonement.



I would argue that morality comes from God and not religion only. A secular person having a very similar morality to a Christian is an argument that the morality stems from something outside ourselves, namely a creator. You may argue that society/culture has formed everyone's morality, not a supernatural entity. But why then is morality very similar across very differing cultures?
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:20 PM   #11
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Please stop with the 'Judeo-Christian' stuff as the source and basis of Western morality. For centuries upon centuries, torture, slavery, burning of supposed witches etc were condoned and advocated on the basis of the bible. Without the enlightenment some of these things might still be happening in the name of the faith. Just look at other parts of the world.

My morality is based on my upbringing, secular humanism, John Rawls' seminal work and trying to be a good person in general. No supernatural dimension or recourse to ancient books is required.
If Judeo-Christianity isn't the basis of western morality then what is? I'm not saying it is perfect, far from it, and it evolves over time, but it certainly begins there.

Up until the enlightenment and you could even say up until Nietzsche proclaimed the death of god everyone used the bible as a guide for being and as the basis of morality, that was only about 150 years ago.

You point out torture, slavery, burning of supposed witches etc as being a result of the bible, and I agree. It's not like we've really done much better since then without the bible . World wars, the holocaust, the gulags in Russia to name a few things, and again today the world is splitting into the far right and the far left, if history is any indication not good places to go.

The enlightenment and specifically science showed that when taken literally a lot of the stories of the bible and explanations given by religion for things in the world, like for example epileptic fits being caused by demonic possession, are wrong, so we can discount those explanations. But that doesn't mean the whole thing has to be throw out, and it definitely doesn't mean the guides about modes of being in the world embedded within biblical stories are wrong.

Important point: For anyone who knows of Jordan Peterson and has listened to him / read his work, yes I am largely repeating things he has said and so a lot of the arguments I am presenting are his arguments.
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:23 PM   #12
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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I find vicarious atonement which is the pillar of Christian morality to be deeply flawed.
You have yet to show why religion is necessarily the source of morality.
Well up until the enlightenment and Nietzsche proclaiming the death of god it was really the only source of morality in the world. Not saying it was perfect, and probably far from it, but if not religion up until that point then what else? Keeping in mind that was only 150 years ago roughly.
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:25 PM   #13
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Originally Posted by Toe Jam and Earl View Post
I would argue that morality comes from God and not religion only. A secular person having a very similar morality to a Christian is an argument that the morality stems from something outside ourselves, namely a creator. You may argue that society/culture has formed everyone's morality, not a supernatural entity. But why then is morality very similar across very differing cultures?
It's what I've heard Jordan Peterson call a "transcendent morality".
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:56 PM   #14
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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I'm curious what you find flawed exactly. There is some division within Christianity on the exact theology of the Atonement.
How can a third person atone for an offense I committed against you?



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Originally Posted by Toe Jam and Earl View Post
I would argue that morality comes from God and not religion only. A secular person having a very similar morality to a Christian is an argument that the morality stems from something outside ourselves, namely a creator.
You can make this hypothesis. You still have to show it to be true.
Is any code of conduct created by God moral?

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You may argue that society/culture has formed everyone's morality, not a supernatural entity. But why then is morality very similar across very differing cultures?
Cultures may be very different but human beings are not. We seek pleasure and avoid pain. How many possible moral codes could arise from that premise?


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Well up until the enlightenment and Nietzsche proclaiming the death of god it was really the only source of morality in the world. Not saying it was perfect, and probably far from it, but if not religion up until that point then what else? Keeping in mind that was only 150 years ago roughly.
Humanism is around much longer than that and I'd argue that many moral principles predate or originated independently from the judeo-christian religions, for example the golden rule.
Christianity might have had a stranglehold and monopoly on moral philosophy for most of the past two millenia in Europe. This does not make it true or good.
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Old 05-08-2017, 08:04 PM   #15
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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I don't think religion is the only thing that can answer the "how to" questions, but it does a pretty good job. So far in human history it has answered the "how to" questions better than anything else. When I say religion I mean Christianity btw. It is not perfect but I think there are some profound messages to be taken from it.
Can I take this as a no regarding "uniquely qualified"?

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Given "how to" and "what is" are two different questions I'm not sure it's really relevant. Also have to keep in mind the bible was written long before science even existed, it's not like the people who wrote the bible knew about neuroscience but still chose to say an epileptic fit was demonic possession.

It's not like "demonic possession" as an explanation for an epileptic fit is entirely wrong either. It's a way of saying "something bad in the world that isn't anyone's fault". Very simple I know, and neuroscience can give a much better explanation, but for people who had no clue about science it's a pretty good explanation.
That is a very generous interpretation. Considering that a diagnosis of "demonic possession" is treated very differently than a diagnosis of an epileptic fit your "something bad" description is vague to the bad of being useless.
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Old 05-08-2017, 08:19 PM   #16
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Can I take this as a no regarding "uniquely qualified"?
I'd say the answer is we don't know. Religion has been the only thing in history to provide humans and our ancestors with a basis for morality. What other things could provide it? Science? I'd say no because science is only concerned with the "what is" of the world, it could tell you absolutely everything but it is not concerned at all with what to do about the knowledge it gives. Rationality? Again I think not, what is irrational about a person killing another person to steal their property? Nothing, it's pure self interest. Are there other things that could provide a basis for morality?


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That is a very generous interpretation. Considering that a diagnosis of "demonic possession" is treated very differently than a diagnosis of an epileptic fit your "something bad" description is vague to the bad of being useless.
Well it's considered useless in a world where we have modern medicine and neuroscience to explain the epileptic fit, but imagine say 500AD, or 1100AD, a world that doesn't have any of those things and has never had any of those things. How would you explain an epileptic fit in those circumstances? I suppose the answer could be "I don't know", but that doesn't help anyone. An answer of demonic possession at least gives the sufferer, family and friends of the person suffering from the epileptic fit a reason and also a way for them to not blame themselves. The parents for example might think it is their own fault their child is suffering like that, the demonic possession explanation lets them know it isn't their fault. That's at least something.

To be clear I agree that this "demonic possession" explanation is stupid in the world today, if a doctor or anyone else said that I would think they were an idiot as well and then go speak to a doctor. The demonic possession explanation is an example of something from religion that can now be discarded, but there was a period of time in human history when it served a useful purpose and was the very best we could come up with. It's similar to evolution of medicine today, old ways of healing people and thrown out when new, better ways of healing people emerge.
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Old 05-08-2017, 08:36 PM   #17
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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I'd say the answer is we don't know. Religion has been the only thing in history to provide humans and our ancestors with a basis for morality. What other things could provide it? Science? I'd say no because science is only concerned with the "what is" of the world, it could tell you absolutely everything but it is not concerned at all with what to do about the knowledge it gives. Rationality? Again I think not, what is irrational about a person killing another person to steal their property? Nothing, it's pure self interest. Are there other things that could provide a basis for morality?
Philosophy.

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Well it's considered useless in a world where we have modern medicine and neuroscience to explain the epileptic fit, but imagine say 500AD, or 1100AD, a world that doesn't have any of those things and has never had any of those things. How would you explain an epileptic fit in those circumstances? I suppose the answer could be "I don't know", but that doesn't help anyone. An answer of demonic possession at least gives the sufferer, family and friends of the person suffering from the epileptic fit a reason and also a way for them to not blame themselves. The parents for example might think it is their own fault their child is suffering like that, the demonic possession explanation lets them know it isn't their fault. That's at least something.

To be clear I agree that this "demonic possession" explanation is stupid in the world today, if a doctor or anyone else said that I would think they were an idiot as well and then go speak to a doctor. The demonic possession explanation is an example of something from religion that can now be discarded, but there was a period of time in human history when it served a useful purpose and was the very best we could come up with. It's similar to evolution of medicine today, old ways of healing people and thrown out when new, better ways of healing people emerge.
"I don't know" is vastly superior. People didn't just go "must be demonic possession", shrugged their shoulders and went on their merry ways. They did really stupid and harmful things to combat this "demonic possession".
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Old 05-08-2017, 08:51 PM   #18
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Philosophy.
Could you elaborate? I'd genuinely like to hear how and if they exist some examples. I created the thread because Jordan Peterson offered the first explanation of religion that made me think there was it was valid / relevant and I'm exploring the arguments as best I can.

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"I don't know" is vastly superior. People didn't just go "must be demonic possession", shrugged their shoulders and went on their merry ways. They did really stupid and harmful things to combat this "demonic possession".
Sure, but it was the best explanation humans at the time could come up with. Perhaps my previous question should have been is "demonic possession" better than no explanation at all, including "I don't know"?

Another question that arises is would people have done things even worse with an "I don't know" explanation or with no explanation at all than with the explanation of demonic possession?

Do you think all the lessons of religion, even ones that we can agree on are good (for example the story of sacrifice), should be discarded entirely and re-originated from some other source, say philosophy as you mentioned above? I'm assuming we agree that the meaning behind the story of sacrifice (give up something now, gain something later) is good even though the story in which the meaning is conveyed is useless.
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Old 05-08-2017, 10:05 PM   #19
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Could you elaborate? I'd genuinely like to hear how and if they exist some examples. I created the thread because Jordan Peterson offered the first explanation of religion that made me think there was it was valid / relevant and I'm exploring the arguments as best I can.
Why is religion necessary to form a moral code of conduct? You have yet to show that.
An example of a philosophical attempt at a moral code is humanism which I have previously mentioned in this thread.

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Sure, but it was the best explanation humans at the time could come up with. Perhaps my previous question should have been is "demonic possession" better than no explanation at all, including "I don't know"?
No, it's not.

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Another question that arises is would people have done things even worse with an "I don't know" explanation or with no explanation at all than with the explanation of demonic possession?
Maybe. Answering counterfactuals is hard to impossible.

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Do you think all the lessons of religion, even ones that we can agree on are good (for example the story of sacrifice), should be discarded entirely and re-originated from some other source, say philosophy as you mentioned above? I'm assuming we agree that the meaning behind the story of sacrifice (give up something now, gain something later) is good even though the story in which the meaning is conveyed is useless.
You are begging the question. You assume that religion came up with morality instead of incorporating morality.
Earlier you said we need to get rid of some parts of religious morality (killing gays). How would you know which parts to get rid of? It seems to achieve that you need a moral code derived independently from religion.
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:19 AM   #20
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Do you think religion is uniquely qualified to answer the "how to" questions?
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Originally Posted by nobodynobodybutyou View Post
I don't think religion is the only thing that can answer the "how to" questions, but it does a pretty good job.
I believe Peterson would claim the process of investigating "how to act" (morality) is the primary aim of religion. I don't think he makes a distinction between the two. I agree with him. Whether God exists or any other question that people associate with religion is secondary to, or embedded within, the question of how we should act.
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:19 AM   #21
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Why is religion necessary to form a moral code of conduct? You have yet to show that.
An example of a philosophical attempt at a moral code is humanism which I have previously mentioned in this thread.
For a moral code of conduct to be universally accepted it needs to have something about it at it's base in which we all believe / agree with. Otherwise you have your morals and I have mine, and someone else has theirs and they are not the same. Someone could for example find it moral to kill me and steal my property because their morals are about the betterment of their own lives at any cost.

Perhaps it is not necessarily religion that is needed for a establishing morality but for a universally agreed upon principle. Life is suffering would be an example of that principle and a moral code could be brought about with the aim of trying to reduce suffering. Thoughts?

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No, it's not.
Can you elaborate on why it wasn't a better explanation than no explanation at all?

I'd say at least that it was considered to best explanation it times that it was used. Again people back then didn't have all the knowledge we have today, they weren't misinformed, they were almost completely uninformed about the physical nature of the world / the "what is".

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You are begging the question. You assume that religion came up with morality instead of incorporating morality.
Earlier you said we need to get rid of some parts of religious morality (killing gays). How would you know which parts to get rid of? It seems to achieve that you need a moral code derived independently from religion.
I think this perhaps links with the first 2 paragraphs in this response, to derive a morality we need to start from an underlying premise that everyone can agree with.
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:22 AM   #22
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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I believe Peterson would claim the process of investigating "how to act" (morality) is the primary aim of religion. I don't think he makes a distinction between the two. I agree with him. Whether God exists or any other question that people associate with religion is secondary to, or embedded within, the question of how we should act.

Yeah this.

Damn it when other people can articulate things better than me
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:43 AM   #23
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

I'd say some of JP's most valuable contributions are his lectures on the idea that our values are both embodied and shaped by our evolutionary history. For instance, the understanding of the role of hierarchy and status must be included in any comprehensive exploration of morality.

Really though, just about all of his lectures and interviews are gold.
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:58 AM   #24
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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Can you elaborate on why it wasn't a better explanation than no explanation at all?
We base our decisions on the facts we have. If we get the facts wrong we will likely draw the wrong conclusions and make the wrong decisions.
Being aware that we do not know all the facts is superior.
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:37 AM   #25
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Re: Jordan Peterson on religion

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We base our decisions on the facts we have. If we get the facts wrong we will likely draw the wrong conclusions and make the wrong decisions.
Being aware that we do not know all the facts is superior.
I agree, but did people back then know that? That sounds like the kind of (valid) reasoning that might have come out of the enlightenment / scientific revolution.

Edit: I'd say they made the best approximation of what happening with the facts they had available at the time which is what science does now. Scientific information is always being updated and changed and our actions as a result of that information are altered accordingly.

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