Who Dares Say He Believes in God?

Video Statistics and Information

Captions Word Cloud
[Music] [Applause] well thank you very much it's a great pleasure to be here in this massive hall I can't believe that all of you decided that coming to talk about the topics we're going to talk about tonight was the top priority in your life but but let's see if we can justify that you know that might be a good that might be a good aim see if we could make it worthwhile so make your decision correct so you may know or not that I was on a television show last night Q&A apparently you know that some of you anyways I can't say I enjoyed it really really it's funny you know like I think as I've got farther along in doing whatever it is that I happen to be doing I find those events more and more stressful I don't know exactly what it is I think it's the proclivity of everything everything has to be mangled in some sense into a preset format you know and and the fundamental format really is that everything has to be political you know and everything isn't political so that's not helpful when you're trying to discuss things that aren't political and I mean I'm not complaining about it well I suppose I am it's just it's it's surprising to me how how how how much it how much it takes out of me say compared to doing an event like this which I really enjoy doing like I spent a lot of time preparing and there's a lot of you and I really want it to go well and all that but this is this is much less dreadful haha I guess that's right and you know and then there's the strange constraints on format you know people ask very complex questions and and then you have a minute to answer and you know there's something there's something downright sinful about answering a really complicated question in a minute because it sort of suggests that complex questions have answers that take one minute and they don't they have answers that take God sometimes they take decades sometimes they take thousands of years you know but of course I can't expect a television show to allow for a thousands of years but but the format itself works against the kind of thought that's necessary to actually have discussions that are necessary and so anyways having said all that it went it went oh it went all right I would say there were no nasty surprises and particularly and it was a civil discussion whether it was a productive discussion or not is a different matter but it wasn't an unproductive discussion and so that's something but there was one question that came up and I thought I would actually start talking about that question tonight because I've never been happy I've been asked this question a lot and I've never been happy with the answer that I've given to it and I've never really been able to exactly get my I've never been able to figure out exactly why I haven't been happy with the question and so I'm gonna try to answer it properly tonight and then I'm going to talk more generally about 12 rules about the book now it's fine this question is directly relevant to the book and so it should make for a good lead-in but it'll enable us to talk about something that I think is really very much worth talking about and I hope I can formulate the problem properly and then formulate the proper sir at least more coherently than I've managed its see I have I have this I followed this rule for a very long time which I actually found was a Socratic rule I didn't know this until really quite recently until I wrote 12 rules for life Socrates said that he had a daemon and by which he meant an internal voice and he said that at all he always listened to it and then that was what made him different from other people that he always listened to this voice and the voice didn't tell him what to do he told him what not to do and when the Delphic Oracle proclaimed that Socrates was the wisest man in Greece in Athens and in Greece one of the reasons Socrates attributed her decision to deem him the wisest man was because while she said he knew he knew nothing but he knew in part that he knew nothing at least in part because he was always listening to the voice of his Damon his internal conscience and then I just found out the other day that the word democracy comes from the same root which is really interesting like I had no idea that that was the case because what it suggests it's it's it's it's so fascinating looking at how words are related to one another historically because you find strange connections between ideas that you would never imagine and sometimes they're unbelievably profound and so the basic what happened historically is that well so there was a concept of the Socratic Damon now it was the Damon that Socrates listened to when he decided that he was not going to run when the Athenians decided that they were going to put him to death the Athenian aristocrats right because they thought that he was corrupting the youth by you know talking to them and telling them the truth and I suppose that's certainly grounds for chasing someone out of your town anyways they gave him plenty of notice because they didn't really want to kill him they just wanted to get the old goat the hell out to some other city where he could cause trouble there and his friends were you know making plans to get to scurry him away from Athens and he went out consulted his Damon and it told him not to leave and that was a big shark to Socrates because of course he didn't want to die and but yet he had decided that he was always going to follow the dictates of the damon and he so he did something that only a philosopher would do was reversed his assumptions he thought oh well I was afraid of dying and my Damon said stick around and so I must be wrong it must be worse to be to risk not following that internal voice than to risk this form of death you know which is question you have to really wrestle with and when his friend when his friends weren't very happy about but in any case he didn't run and we have two good court like documents attesting to that one written by someone named Xenophon and the other by Plato they're very interesting documents I would highly recommend reading them they're very short and the reason one of the reasons I would recommend reading them apart from the fact that they're fascinating and and short is that you also get the sense from from what Socrates wrote that because he had lived his life fully you know no holds barred in some sense that he could let it go when the time came and and that's an interesting thing you know because well it's a question I think that we all wrestle with we should is like well is there a purpose to our life and well that's a hard question and then if there is a purpose well how is it expressed and then if there is a purpose and our lives are truncated as they are by death then how can that purpose have significance and those are hard questions but Socrates experience seemed to be that he had lived enough in his life so that when push came to shove which it certainly did he was able to gracefully let it go and that's and you know he attested to that with his death and and and that's fairly convincing you know I mean that's a fairly convincing argument and it's one that I find well it's hard to tell if I find it exactly credible but I don't find it incredible I mean I certainly have noticed that as I've got older and I've done things various what would you say accomplished isn't exactly the right word I've participated in many things that I'm pleased to have participated in them but wouldn't necessarily go back and participate in them again it's sort of as if when you do something and you finish it it's as if it's done you don't have to do it again and maybe it's possible who knows that if you finish your life whatever that might mean if you exhaust your life then then that's enough life you know that you've had enough and I mean that doesn't mean that I try not to keep myself healthy and that I want to die tomorrow it doesn't mean any of that I'm trying to stick around as long as I can but but but there's still that that that curiosity about the relationship between life and mortality and and the possibility that a life well-lived exhausts itself in some fundamental sense so that you can be satisfied let's say with with what you with what you were there is some psychological evidence that bears on this if you ask people what they regret especially as they get older what they generally port is things not done so they don't regret so much mistakes they've made although of course people obviously regret mistakes they've made as well so they don't exactly regret sins of commission right errors that they've actively made they they miss they they torment themselves for opportunities that had presented themselves that they did not let's say exploit or engage in and I think that's worth thinking about too because one thing that I have become convinced about with regards to human consciousness which i think is equivalent to the spark of divinity in some sense that our fundamental stories insists as being placed within us is that human consciousness is that faculty that confronts potential itself I think there's good neurological evidence for this by the way for those of you who are scientifically minded because we build circuits within us for habitual action that we've practiced many times that seem to run in a very deterministic fashion and we are a strange combination of deterministic and non-deterministic as far as I can tell but what our consciousness seems to be for is to encounter those things that we have not yet encountered and those things that we have not yet encountered seem to me to be those things that have not yet been brought into being and so you could say that what our consciousness is for is for the encounter with potential you know that our consciousness is further it's not for the past it's not even for the present it's to transform the future into the present and and really that that's what our consciousness does when you wake up in the morning you have a new day ahead of you and the day could take you in very many directions and and the weeks and the years all of that can take you in very many directions and you have some apprehension about what those directions might be you have some apprehension about what role your choices might make in transforming that potential into one form of actuality or another I mean you certainly know that there are dreadful mistakes that you might be very tempted to make that would produce all manner of Hell around you and still be tempted to do it it seems like it's sitting there right in front of you as a possibility you also know that you know you could haul yourself up out of bed and attend to your duties and do the sorts of things that you're supposed to a few things right that day and that weekend that likely things would at least not be worse and they would probably be better and I believe that I do believe that I don't understand how this can be the case I don't understand how it is that consciousness consciousness can function in that way because I think to understand that we would have to understand what it means for the future to be only potential rather than actuality and who the hell understands that I mean no one and then we'd have to understand how it is that our conscious choices and our conscious ethical choices transform that potentiality into actuality into reality into the present in the past and we certainly but we certainly act as if we believe that that's what we do we upgrade ourselves for example when we do a bad job of it we're upset with our children and those we love if we don't believe that they're living up to their potential we're guilty and ashamed when we make choices that we feel are inappropriate we understand to some degree that the manner in which time lays itself out has something to do with the ethics of our choice and again I would say that's a very deep idea I think it's a I think it's I think it's the most true idea I know that's very emphasized that idea emphasized in ancient religious stories such as those that are outlined in Genesis or in Genesis with it's strange insistence that you know God is that which brings order out of chaos formless potential generates the world out of formless potential and that were somehow made in that image which which seems to me to be the case and at the proper way by the way to go about acting in that image is to act in relationship to the potential that confronts you with truth and with courage with careful articulation that's the logos and that if you do that then what you bring forth is is good so it those are all background ideas that are associated with 12 rules for life and they have a bearing on this question that I want to answer tonight and so I'm going to sit I have some notes which I don't usually use about I'm gonna use them tonight because I haven't got everything about this particular notion memorized in some sense yet because I'm still working it out but that should work out okay so we'll see we'll see what happens so yeah yeah well good so Windows work that's always good seeing I've seen it not work sometimes when Bill Gates demonstrates it and that's that's got to be very very embarrassing although I would say you know all things considered he seems to have done quite well all right so here's here's the question that came up last night and this is a strange question for what is essentially a political show near the end a gentleman on videotape came up and and he discussed the topic of human dignity not it's not a topic you hear a lot about there's a lot of topics that are sort of related to human beings that you don't hear a lot about anymore you don't hear a lot about nobility you don't hear a lot about endurance let's say stalwart Ness courage dignity those aren't values that we discuss much responsibility being another one which is one I'm quite thrilled about all things considered because I think it's the pathway to meaning itself but so hit his was the topic of human dignity and he asked us a question do you believe in God and then he said as a Catholic I don't see any other way that we can have a universe with dignity and so I'm not so concerned about the second part of his commentary although I might get to that but the first part do you believe in God is a question that's been leveled at me many times and I'm going to come other people on the panel and I'm going to just review what they said briefly and then I'm going to talk about what I said and then I'm going to fix what I said I hope so that it's better at least that's the plan so Terry Butler who's was a laborer is a labor front bencher said I'm agnostic people are inherently valuable because they are people and no that doesn't work out very it's it's it's um it's one of those one-minute answers except it's actually only ten seconds because you can you can make the opposite argument and people do all the time you know like the Club of Rome for example which was an organization in Rome logically enough formed in the 60s it was very much concerned about the terribly detrimental effect that human beings were having on the planet and I believe it was one of the Club of Rome members who coined the idea and and if it wasn't it was someone who was thinking exactly the same way so works out either way that human beings were something approximating a cancer on the planet you know because of all the terrible things we were doing ecologically and so forth that was back when people believed we were going to over populate the planet to such a degree by the year 2000 that there would be widespread privation and starvation which by the way if you haven't noticed there isn't and and you know if you look at the terrible things that people do apart from the despoiling of the natural environment let's say there's all the you know malevolence that's associated with human interactions and also human social systems and it isn't so obvious as a consequence of that that you can make a straightforward case that human beings are inherently valuable merely because they're human beings because you can eat make an equally logical case from first principles that they're inherently well destructive or that they should be perhaps limited in their ability to procreate or that they are a catastrophe for the planet as a whole or that our entire history is nothing but a sequence of on what would you call unrequited malevolence and that people generally can't be trusted and so I don't find that answer particularly satisfying I think it's a it's a it's it's just self referential people are inherently valuable because they're people it's like well you don't really get anywhere with an answer like that so so she's agnostic and and then and but then she has this idea despite her agnosticism that you can make the case a priori with nothing but resummon heritable and seems to me that that requires a little more depth and a little more explanation for it to actually be convincing you know it's like it's not obvious to me that people themselves think that they're valuable all the time often they don't think that at all they don't certainly don't think that often when they're depressed they certainly don't think that when they're suicidal they don't really think that when they're ashamed or guilty or frustrated or disappointed or angry or waking up at 3:00 in the morning and tormenting themselves with their consciences they don't necessarily think that when they're fighting with their family or when they're upset at work or you know when things go wrong in life and so it's not so bloody obvious that people are inherently valuable and and then you might also notice that it's kind of easy to think that some people are more valuable than others sort of like an animal farm you know where the animals were all equal except that some animals were more equal than others but it's very easy for human beings to think that about other human beings because no matter where you look in human societies there are rank orders of value right in in any hierarchy that we produce that's associated with some ability we find that some people are so much better at whatever it is that they're doing that it's an absolute miracle and most people are absolutely dreadful at it and so you know if you were thinking about inherent value as something associated with something with with an approximation of skill or competence then it wouldn't be obvious from the structure of the world that people were inherently valuable in that manner either because there's such a rank order difference in our ability to do things you know and you might say well that kind of averages out across things but I don't think that's a very strong argument either so so it's not it's bloody well not obvious I'll tell you it's not obvious where this idea that people are inherently valuable came from that's a tough one you know an end and in and in and in aristocratic states or or tyrannical states it's certainly not obvious at all that there's any acceptance of the notion that people are inherently valuable it's like there's no necessary presumption of innocence for example and you don't have any sovereign right to your own destiny like you're not granted the rights not granted because that's the wrong way of thinking about it your rights as a sovereign individual who has the responsibility and the capability to determine the destiny of the state itself don't exist that doesn't exist as a concept and so I don't see that there's anything there that speaks of inherent value either so it's by no means an obvious concept in fact I think it's one of the least obvious concepts that human beings have ever come up with that each of us in some strange manner is is is to be attributed some divine spark let's say that makes us equal in some fundamental way before God you know before the reality of the universe itself even in relationship to our own laws I mean if you want a miracle for an idea that's that's I can't think of one that's that's more unlikely than that so I've been puzzling over that for a very long time because I cannot understand why in the world that idea ever came to be or how in the world we ever agreed to act as if it was true it's really something and we should let that go with we let that idea go to our great peril it's a fundamental remarkable fundamental idea and what's so interesting about it too is that once you have that idea weird as it is and improbable as it is and you start to organize your social relationships in accordance with it well then they work you know so my rule two is treat yourself as if you're someone responsible for helping and it's sort of predicated on the idea that regardless of your inadequacies and your malevolence which you know I'm sure you have many inadequacies and no shortage of malevolence just like everyone else regardless of that you have a moral obligation so that would be a responsibility to assume that despite all evidence that there's actually something of intrinsic worth about you and that as a consequence you're duty-bound to treat yourself like that is true and then it turns out that if you do that well then your life gets better and and I don't mean happier exactly although I would say it gets happier I mean it gets richer and more meaningful and deeper and and more worthwhile and and you become more educated and you become wiser and and and you treat yourself with more respect and you're a better model for other people and you're a better father or a better sister or better mother whatever it happens to be it's and you're less ridden by that guilt that that gnaws at you and shame that's there otherwise saying you're not what you could be you're not what you could be and that's a hell of a voice to get rid of and it's certainly not one that's easy to ignore so that's a pretty good that that idea that there's something divine let's say that resides within you of ultimate worth even as a philosophical statement or a psychological statement rather than a metaphysical statement it seems to be a precondition for establishing properly harmonious relationships with yourself and that's that's man that's we're thinking about a lot you know that you have because you think you couldn't think that in some sense you just own yourself you know because people do kind of make that claim especially when they're trying to justify for example their right to suicide but you know it's your life it's your body you're yours to do what you will with and if that was true well then it would seem to me that life would be a lot more straightforward because you would just tell yourself things that you would instantly obey and believe so first of all you tell yourself all the things that you were going to do and then you just run off and do them which you don't or obviously because it's much more difficult at that and then you'd also say well enough of the guilt and the shame and the negative emotion and the disillusionment and the vengefulness and all those things that make life hard has spread the self-recrimination it's like what the hell do we need that for and if we're our masters of our own destiny and owners of our own fate and why can't we just command to ourselves that that be dispensed with and like that doesn't work I've never seen anybody able to do that so I mean you can fool yourself for very brief periods of time into thinking that that might work but but it doesn't work and that's strange begin that this is one of the reasons I love the psychoanalyst say because they were really the people apart from the religious types who figured out that whatever you are you're not a unitary spirit that's under your own Dominion you know you're something like a loose unity of a multiplicity of spirits many of which are doing their own thing which you're striving to bring into some form of unity but even that unity isn't something that's under your control in any real sense it's it's a unity that has its own nature that you have to exist in relationship to and I would also say that that's one of the things that keeps people people's feet firmly on the ground because otherwise you it's easy to become egotistical and narcissistic you know if you if you think that you're the center of your own being you know in some fundamental sense then you're only what you're only beholding to yourself you're sort of a self created creature perhaps you could think about it that way but it doesn't work like that it's like the ideal that constitutes the unity that you might become then sort of manifests itself as something that you could strive toward but aren't and it it it also serves as a judge it's the thing that keeps you up at night saying you know there's some things you're just not attending to and you should get at it because life is short and there's no shortage of trouble that you might end up in and a wise person would attend to the dictates of conscience and and lay out his actions in the world according to what he knows to be true and correct and that is how people think and it isn't obvious that we why we think that way that this is part of the reason that it seems to me so obvious that we have a religious instinct because I can't think of what else you would possibly call that other than a religious instinct you know Nietzsche when he proclaimed the death of God which which by the way was no triumphant Proclamation because he also mentioned that we would never find enough water to wash away the blood which was his what would you call it prognostication for the 20th century and a very accurate one at that he believed that we would in some sense have to become as gods you know in ourselves in order to replace what we had lost he thought that that the collapse of the judeo-christian structure would be absolutely catastrophic for the West and I believe that he was correct and that the way out of that would be that we would have to create our own values we'd have to take the place of what was once let's say externalized and divine on to ourselves and you know it's a hell of a theory and and it's not and Nietzsche is not an easy person to criticize because you you have to do a lot of reading before you find someone who's 1/10 as smart as Nietzsche he has this funny line about his books it's really quite comical he said takes most writers a whole book to write what I can write in a sentence then he said no they can't even manage it in a book and that's actually true I mean if you read Nietzsche be one good and evil for example you see that that that his his thought is so powerful that it's really it's it's it's really a kind of miracle what what the psychoanalyst realized though this was particularly Jung's contribution I would say Carl Jung's contribution he was a great student of Nietzsche a real admirer of Nietzsche and really someone who is trying to solve the problem that need she had put forward which was well our underlying metaphysics our religious structure had collapsed and that was the story upon which our until entire culture was based for better or worse it had collapsed and we needed to do something about that and we were doing various things we were turning to fascism let's say or we were turning to communism both ideological replacements for more fundamental religious beliefs but that Nietzsche's suggestion that we turn to ourselves to extract out our own values to create our own values let me let me be more accurate about that happened to be untrue because we weren't the sort of creatures who were actually capable of doing that and that's a it's such what's one of the reasons I love Jung and his is biological take in some sense towards human beings because you know firmly believed and I think all of the evidence supports him believed that human beings actually had a nature you know that that we that we weren't merely social constructions which we certainly aren't despite what the social constructionist insist upon forcing us to think increasingly through legislative means and that we had to wrestle with what it was that we were you know even though we're we're our own creatures in some sense we also have to wrestle with our intrinsic nature and and we know about we know that about the nature part of that more and more I mean we know more about our neural circuitry for example we know that there's a circuit for rage and there's a circuit for fear and there's a there's a biological system for jealousy and there's a system for altruism and there's a circuit for play and there's another one for pleasure and there's a complex circuit for negative emotion pain and anxiety and frustration and disappointment guilt and shame and we know that human beings share that motivational structure not only with all other human beings but with certainly with all mammals and almost all animals and so that bile of a biological component of us is unbelievably right it's its mill tens of millions hundreds of millions and even and even billions of years old I read an interesting paper just the other day you know I tend to talk about lobsters more than the average person and one of the points I made in twelve rules for life was that our neural chemistry at least some of it is so similar it's been conserved so completely throughout the immense duration of evolution hundreds of millions of years that lobsters like human beings appear to become the lobster equivalent of depressed if they suffer a hierarchy defeat and that if you give them chemicals that are roughly analogous to human antidepressants it perks them right back up their posture improves and they'll go off and fight and you know when I first discovered that it just well it just it just blew me away I never recovered from it I thought my god really that the continent is 350 million years of continuity in in in the structure of those systems and you know we know the serotonin system which is the system I'm talking about does govern your observation of where you sit in a social hierarchy like it does for many many animal species and as one consequence of that regulates your emotion so that if it sees that you're a relatively high status creature in your local environment then it tends to allow you to feel more positive emotion and less negative emotion and if it sees you as a low status creature in your local comparative environment that it does the opposite it overwhelms you with negative emotion and suppresses positive emotion and so you know and that's really bad no one likes that it's it's it's fundamentally there's really nothing worse that can happen to you than that to have those emotions re re adjusted in that manner so that the incentive reward and the motivation and the positive emotion vanishes from your life so there's nothing to be enthusiastic or excited about and all of the negative emotions pain disappointment frustration grief all of those terrible negative emotions are Mendeley magnified no one wants that it's the it's the last thing you want perhaps it's the last thing you want and you know that's partly why people are very let's call it what would you say they're tightly they're willing to fight for their position in their status hierarchy and even for the existence of the hierarchies themselves so anyways it is the case that human beings have a nature and and we have to contend with that nature and so we can't just create our own values and and what what young especially you Freud started it but especially you believed that well in some sense what had happened was that we had lost the externalized religious narrative that had been projected by our imagination out onto the world you know you think about the the constellations and and and the names of the constellations and the idea that the skies were populated by gods you know that was an externalization of our imagination right projected out into the world we were seeing the world through our imagination and which is exactly how we do see the world and as we proceed we're better able to distinguish let's say what's imagination from what subjective world but that doesn't mean the imagination disappears or that it's without value because the imagination is part of what helps us let's say confront the future because we do that with our imagination and to compose things in impossibility before we realize them in actuality so for young the world of gods just collapsed within back into the imagination and it was into the imagination that we had to go again to discover what we had lost to discover these these lost values and that's akin in some sense I suppose to rescuing your father from the belly of the whale a very brilliant brilliant toward of intellectual tour-de-force to to manage that supposition especially back when back when he did it and I think I see no evidence whatsoever that he was wrong given as I said our radical inability to command ourselves as we are our own in some fundamental way we seem subject to now I'm we seem subject to intractable moral laws and I'm not trying to make a case for the accuracy of those laws necessarily or for their metaphysical origin but I am trying to make a case for their psychological and phenomenological reality you definitely experience them in so far as you suffer let's say that from from them from them pricks and arrows of your own conscience and I doubt if there's a single person in this room who doesn't regularly suffer in that manner and some of you suffer like that virtually all the time when you know which can also be a problem in any case you know it's it's it's interesting to note that we're not exactly masters in our own houses and that's that's how such a interesting thing to note because you think well if we're not masters in our own houses well what is it is it just is it just a chaotic internal structure is it merely the voice of nature and nature's various instinctual subsystems that doesn't seem to be correct because we do integrate them into something approximating a unity there's more than just the basics of nature we have language we have communication we have culture we build up above nature something that's more than nature but we're still beholden to it the question is well what are we beholden to what is this that we're beholding to and socially politically and individually that we cannot escape from well so that's part of the question do you believe in God well this part of the answer actually and you know it's no bleak answer but the first thing I'm trying to say is try controlling yourself try acting as if you're the fundamental source of your own values independent of any what would you call a transcendent ethical structure to see if you can do that but try it for a week try it for a month I've never met anybody that could do it now not even for a moment I mean I don't know how many of you have read Dostoyevsky and punishment but I would highly recommend that if you're interested in this sort of thing because it's the definitive study of this idea because in crime and punishment the protagonist commits the perfect murder and he has his reasons for it and more and many reasons because dusty husky didn't mess around when he wanted to give someone reasons he gave them reasons and Raskolnikov the main character had reasons for murder and then he commits his murder and he gets away with it but things don't go well for a Skolnick off because one of the things he finds out is that the risk alna carve that you were before you committed the murder is not the same as the risk all in the club as you are after you've committed the murder and there's a dividing line there that you don't it's like the red pill I guess right it's like it that's the matrix correct the red pill and once there's certain actions once you take them there's no going back and so that's what crime and punishment is about and risk Olenick off tortures himself to death well not literally but metaphysically psychologically because he cannot tolerate breaking the great moral code and so it's what's a great book it's truly a great book and and it's also extraordinarily like it's a it's a it's a it's a murder mystery thriller as well as being a deep philosophical book so if you're in the mood for you know a murder mystery thriller that's also a deep philosophical book then that's the one for you so now one of the other speakers on the panel van Badham who who who described was described not by me as a writer activist and Twitter Queen which is I think like being the Red Queen in in Ellis in Wunderland something like that I went on her Twitter site today to find out how many followers she has but apparently I'm not one of them because I'm blocked and it kind of surprises me because I didn't know that I'd ever tried to follow her but anyways she said and this was interesting she said I'm a Christian and a Marxist and I thought no you can only be a Christian and a Marxist if you well there's a couple of ways one is one is that you just want to be all things that are good at once regardless of their internal contradictions and so that would be one reason and another reason would be that you don't know anything about Christianity or Marxism and and and then the next would be that you're just compartmentalized you know like there's this idea that people can't hold 2 contradictory thoughts in their mind at the same time well that idea was formulated by someone who who's never met a human being because you can hold like 50 contradictory thoughts in your head at the same time as you know whenever you argue with someone that you love because you love them and maybe you even like them but you also hate them and you wish that you could just crush them right there and then and so like that's a lot of contradictory ideas and that's probably only like half the contradictory ideas that are running through your mind at the moment you know so man you're so full of contradictions that it's just beyond belief and the only time I mean I know this because I read undergraduate essays and what's what's interesting about undergraduate essays is it's so interesting because the undergraduate will make a claim in paragraph one and then in paragraph seven will make the opposite claim and they won't notice that they're intellectually and commensurate and you know that might happen 30 times in the essay and and the reason that that that works is because well they haven't been called on paradoxes but also because they haven't had to live the paradoxes through because you the only straight note you thought when you have like impulse a and impulse B and they conflict at the same time right and you can either do one or the other but not both you know if it's a today and B tomorrow well then you can be you can hold those ideas simultaneously but if it's a or B right now then you have to decide is a more important or is B more important you have to put them in a hierarchy and then you have to act them out and you have to see what happens and so then you find out if you're full of contradictions and part of the way that you iron out your contradictions which is very very hard to do is that you Walt and you do a whole bunch of things in the world like Socrates did you go you have your adventure in the world and you put your ideas to the test and those that work out in a paradoxical or counterproductive manner you dispense with or put lower on the priority list or something like that and that's how you discover that you know you can't hold in commensurate views simultaneously Carl Jung said that something like paradoxical views that are not made conscious will be played out in the world as fate and that's really worth thinking about too so if you have your let's call it your typical negative experience you know this thing that just keeps seems to just keep happening to you bad luck let's call it it's highly probable that there's a set of ideas that are occupying you preoccupying you possessing you that are driving you in this direction continually and that you you can't or won't work out the contradiction and as a consequence you know maybe you think every woman is your mother and you haven't noticed that you think that and that that you know and it is something that people think because women are mothers are women and it's not a bad initial template but you know you gotta you gotta modify it to some degree and you know if that's an unconscious idea that you have and you continue to play it out you may run into your continual habitual negative experience with women and you wonder what the hell is wrong with women but there it isn't the women that has the problem it's you and and you know if you run into problems with women all the time then it's highly probable that the problem is you so not always but generally so let's go into this Marxist and Christian idea here just for a minute so Oh we'll start with let's start with some of the ideas of Marx well Marx believed that people were basically socially constructed so that we were blank slates and that whatever our nature was was given to us essentially by our surroundings but even more importantly by our social class right because Marx was a theorist of social class and believed that the primary dispute let's say the primary motivator of human history the primary driver of human history was something like the rich versus the poor the Mersey versus the proletariat and that was a consequence of your social upbringing and that your group identity was paramount okay so there's nothing about that it's vaguely Christian that's not how the Christian worldview works know how the judeo-christian worldview works because in that world you you're fundamentally an individual your nature is fundamentally attributable to you by God you're fundamentally responsible to God and your and and history itself is something like the playing out of your relationship to the transcendent so those things aren't even those aren't the same they're not commensurate you can't believe both of them at the same time Marxism is a materialistic philosophy it's predicated on the idea that essentially an idea that Dostoyevsky criticized in great depth was that if you just made people rich enough let's say if you deprived them of their privation if you equalize their economic status let's say that the Utopia would come to light upon earth and you know I I have a certain amount of sympathy for a view point like that because you know who likes starvation and and misery you know there's nothing positive to be said about that but I think Dostoyevsky was right too in his criticism of Marxism although he wasn't directly aiming this at Marx in notes from underground where he noted that you know if you gave people what they wanted in terms of let's say bread and circuses they had as he said nothing to do but eat cakes and busy themselves with the continuation of the species which is kind of a nice phrase that the first thing they would do is take a hammer and smash things just so that something improbable and strange would happen just so that we could have our way you know and it's kind of a recapitulation of the idea of original sin in in Dostoyevsky subtle manner is that were the sorts of creatures that you know what did he say we're ungrateful that's the thing that primarily distinguishes us from animals is we're ungrateful and that we can curse that was what he thought made us different than animals and that if even if we got what we wanted materially that wouldn't satisfy us because we're not the sorts of creatures that can be satisfied with material possessions let's err material comfort because it isn't even obvious that we're after comfort I mean what do you want you want you want to just lay in a feather bed and eat peeled grapes all day I mean maybe for an hour or so that might not be a bad idea but you know it's gonna get dull pretty quick you're gonna go out looking for trouble and and it's certainly possible that the more material resources and the easier they were to get that you have at your disposal the more creative ways you're going to find to cause yourself trouble when you go out and look for trouble and so and that's a testament to the human spirit and Dostoevsky knew this is like well whatever we're here for it isn't the Utopia of equal material distribution that that's not we're not we're not we're not looking to be fed and asleep you know and I don't know what it is that we're looking for god only knows maybe what we're looking for is to continually keep looking something like that I mean that's the sorts of creatures that we are but but the but the materialist philosophy is that well if you just prove I did for people economically problem over and no wrong I mean most of you are as given that you're you know you're going to be ill in one way or another and that you're still subject to mortality and and all of the terrible natural limitations that human beings are characterized by your mode is well off as you're gonna get you know the economic data already show that once you have enough money so that bill collectors aren't chasing you which basically puts you say at the kind of in the upper reaches of the working class or maybe the lower end of the middle class something like that that additional money has absolutely no effect whatsoever on your self-reported well-being which is something like a combination of positive emotion and absence of negative emotion so you might like to think that you know if you were rich your life would be better and maybe it would be somewhat better but it wouldn't be as much better as you might hope and that's because you'd still have most of the problems that people have you know you still maybe wouldn't get along with your sister and you'd still get divorced and maybe you'd even be more likely to and there'd still be illness as that would be set you you'd be able to deal with them perhaps with some degree a more urgency but and you'd still have the problem with what the hell your life is for and what you're doing on the planet and how to conduct yourself in the proper way and so so we don't want to be too naive about materialism even though we don't want to be ungrateful for its advantages Marx also believed while I said this already that you know history was basically characterized by the war of socioeconomic groups that's being transformed more recently into the war of identity groups which is the same damn thing and it's the same old wolf in new sheep's clothing as far as I'm concerned that you know the best way to conceptualize human beings is well I don't know whatever your damn identity is maybe it's sex for you and it's ethnicity for you and it's gender for you and god only knows what it is for you and you know and that's who you identify with and all there is in the world and this is the post modernist view is hierarchies of people in these identity groups struggling for Dominion you know and that's a quasi Marxist viewpoint it's just a variant of the bourgeoisie versus proletariat theory of history which is a foolish theory as far as I'm concerned and certainly not one that we need to take forward into the 21st century although we seem you know destined to insist that we do so he believed that the revolutionary overthrow of the oppressor class was necessary and morally demanded and that turns out to be a little bloodier than I would say the typical Christian judeo-christian ethic might require because it doesn't require you to take up arms against your evil overlords and well put them in goo legs and kill them by the millions for example and that to me seems to be an important difference there's there's no in in the judeo-christian tradition there's no guilt there's no group guilt right you're guilty and you're guilty of different things right I presume and and that's your problem but maybe you're also innocent who knows you know but whatever it's on you it's not a consequence of your racial heritage or your ethnicity or your gender any of those things it's it's between you and God let's eres between you and the state even but at least it's between you and the state or God it's not like well you know your father was a factory owner let's say your grandfather and so it was perfectly reasonable during the Russian Revolution and the Red Terror to vacuum you up along with your whole family and do away with you because you'd be the irredeemably tainted by your burgeois z past so that's another place where Marxism and judeo-christianity are then they're not just different like they're opposite you know it's not just variant one invariant - these are like seriously different ideas and so there's another reason you can't be a Marxist in a Christian as if you and then there's the idea that you know that marks had that religion was the opiate of the masses which doesn't exactly sound like I've always thought religion was the opiate of the masses but communism Marxism was the methamphetamine of the of the masses let's say yeah the meth of the masses we we had no idea with regards to opiates so here's what Marx has to say about religion the abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for the real happiness to call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions it's interesting to me because it's not like the judeo-christian story was really a happy one as far as far as I can tell you know I mean there was heaven but Genesis II you were gonna get in man that was low and and and mostly it was a fair bit of original sin you know and a fair bit of you wrestling with all of your inadequacies and your proclivity towards malevolence to pick up your cross to bear your suffering to understand that you know there is a war in your soul between the forces of good and evil it's like how that's an opiate is beyond me I mean if I was going to design an opiate that made people feel better I'd certainly dispense with a fair bit of that it's like whatever you do is okay we could start with that there's certainly no hell that's something we're gonna get rid of right away little less guilt and shame would be it could be like a hippie cult in the 1960s you know with a little more marijuana and some free sex something something like that so I don't really understand the illusion idea there is Marxist criticism I suppose of the belief of you know the great the Great Father in the sky hoo-hoo-hoo still doesn't seem to me to be that like he's sort of still kind of a nightmarish creature all things considered since at least in principle he's keeping track of everything you do even more than you are and that's not such a good thing but whatever so it's a foolish criticism as far as I can tell it doesn't matter he's still criticized it the criticism of religion is therefore in Brio the criticism of that veil of tears of which religion is the halo criticism meaning his has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower that's something that plenty of Marxists did I can tell you the criticism of religion disillusions man so that he will think act and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses so that he will move around himself as his own true son s UN yeah well that's that's Marxism in a nutshell all right I mean that's like that's the fundamental definition of pathological merit narcissism so that he will move around himself as his own true son right religion is only the illusory son which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself and you know generally we don't use that as an insult he only revolves around himself isn't that an insult and isn't this the reason for that don't we assume that there's something that you should be revolving around that isn't just yourself you know it's it's it's it could be many things you know it could be while someone you love that that would be a start could be a child could be your your partner in life it could be it could be your family in extension could be your community it could be some noble ideal that you're trying to serve should be something other than you as the primary center of the universe around which well you and presumably everything else revolves so I don't really see that as a particularly wise what would you call it philosophy and as it manifested itself in the world you know I would say Stalin probably revolved around himself quite nicely since and don't you think I mean if you had to pick someone who was revolving around himself it would be a pretty decent competition between Mao and Stalin and-and-and that didn't seem to be that didn't seem to be for the best so so that's something to consider as well the Marxists believed that religion hindered human development and the Soviets and the Maoists instituted state atheism apart from the worship of their leaders of course and then I'm gonna read you a poem by Marx this is a good one I found this a while back god it's a rough poem and you know you want it you want to let your imagination sort of I would say let your imagination loose with with this poem which is what you should do with the poem and imagine the sort of state of mind that you have to be in to write a poem like this and then also imagine as you should that poetry like dreams are the birth its birthplace of thought with my undergraduates often especially ones that are really obsessed with ideas they'll often put really bad poetry in their essays and and I'm not saying that in a in a cynical way because bad poetry can have good ideas in it it's it's hard to write good poetry you know but the thing is often an idea that's extraordinarily emotional in content will manifest itself as a poem before it is able to articulate itself out into a fully expressed philosophy and so I see this with my undergraduates they'll really be obsessed with something that's bothering them then the rights of some poem often about a personal experience and then as I help them shape the essay they kind of unfold the poem into an articulated statement about the structure of reality and so you could say well you know we're all embedded in the dream we know that you go to sleep every night and you dream you're embedded in your imagination if you're if you're forbidden to dream if you're deprived of your dreams you will lose your mind that's been experimentally demonstrated quite nicely on animals but also on human beings you have to dream you have to enter that that realm of incoherent imagination and possibility in order to maintain your sanity which is extraordinarily interesting and very strange and I would say poetry exists on the border between the dream and the fully articulate wakefulness it's it's it's it's it's the place where the image of the dream meets the meets the meets the meets the articulated speech full consciousness and so you can think about that with regards to this poem invocation of one in despair so a God has snatched from me all my all in the curse and rack of Destiny all his worlds are gone beyond recall nothing but revenge is left to me on my self revenge I'll proudly wreak on that being that enthroned Lord make my strength a patchwork of what's weak leave my better self without reward I shall build my throne high overhead cold tremendous shell its summit be for its bulwark superstitious dread for its Marshall blackest agony who looks upon it with a healthy I shall turn back struck deathly pale and dumb clutched by blind and chilled mortality may his happiness prepare its tomb and the Almighty's Lightning shall rebound from that massive Iron Giant if he brings my walls and towers down eternity shall raise them up defiant well I would say that's the sort of poem that would be written by someone who revolved around himself as his own true son and I would also say that given what we know about what happened as a consequence of the instantiation of Marxist doctrine that this is a truly horrifying piece of literature to contemplate written by the way when Marx was rather young so then the question came to me do I believe in God and I don't like that question and people have complained at me a lot and I'm sure they have the reasons because they don't like my answers you know and I have two answers they've kind of become stalk which is not a good thing but but they're the best approximate exactly I've got three I had three sort of burgeoning hypotheses one was it's none of your damn business that's the first one so it's like a privacy issue like it seemed to me to be a question that was too private to be answered properly and so and you know you could consider that a cop-out and maybe it is and then another one was well what do you mean by believe like do you mean the words do you mean to say the words I believe in God does that indicate that you believe in God like I don't know what you mean by believe exactly because and that's got me in trouble too because you know people think that attempting to clarify the meaning of words is an attempt to escape from the question when it's actually an attempt to specify the question I mean is what you believe what you say or what you act out now you know I would say to some degree it's both but if push comes to shove as far as I'm concerned what you believe is what you act out not what you say and then you know and if you're an integrated person then what you act out and what you say are the same thing and then you're a person whose word can be trusted right because what you say and what you do are isomorphic they're the same thing but belief is instantiated in action so I have also suggested that I act as if I believe in God or to the best of my ability and people aren't very happy with that either but and then the third is that I'm afraid that he might exist which i think is the most comical of the three answers and perhaps the most accurate one but then but then I was thinking about this today when I was thinking about what I might talk to you guys about and I thought well let's go into this a little bit more let's say you say you do believe in God say I believe in God it's like okay well that's hypothetically pretty impressive I would say it's like you believe that there's a divine power that oversees everything that is fundamentally ethical that's watching everything you do and and you believe that and so what effect does that have on your behavior if you believe it does that mean that you're well are you --fill are you all-in on your beliefs are you sacrificing everything to this transcendent entity that you proclaim belief in have you cleansed yourself of all your sin let's say are you making all the sacrifices that you need to make like have you taken the mote out of your I know or or or or are you in the same situation let's say that the Catholic Church seems to be in right now just out of curiosity bring that up since the Pope seems to be concerned with what's been happening with the Catholic Church given the endless pedophilic scandals let's say which seem rather serious in my estimation and might have been something that was cleaned up perhaps a hundred or a thousand years ago and it's being taken seriously perhaps now and perhaps not because it's not so easy to determine exactly what it would mean to take that seriously and you might say well are all the people who are committing these highness actions and then covering them up or if you ask them well do you believe in God what are they going to say well you'd think the answer would be yes given that they're like priests and and yet and yet what's the evidence well the evidence isn't exactly so clear that the mere statement let's say or the mirror acting out of the ritual let's say and I'm not trying to denigrate the statement or the ritual but I'm pointing out that that's no indication of your right to say that you believe because you got it and I think this is why it's more than me to answer this question it's like what right do I have to say that to make that claim I believe in God well what's the claim is that the claim that I'm a good person somehow because you think that if you believed in God actually like like seriously that you'd be a good person like right now because well for obvious reasons I would think and so if that hasn't happened in some sort of miraculous sense so that you're the best person you could possibly imagine being on an ongoing basis and then terrified of of deviating from that path in a serious manner then I don't see why you have the right to say that you believe in God you know one of the things Nietzsche said about Christianity it was a great critic of Christianity although also a great friend in a very peculiar way in that sometimes your best friend is the one who points out your weakest properties let's say he said as far as he was concerned there was only one Christian and he died on the cross and and that's that's a you know perhaps an extreme statement but one worth giving some consideration to it's like well then you look at what if what are you called upon let's say if you're going to proclaim yourself as a believer you know and I thought about this a lot as I've gone through the Old Testament I did a bunch of lectures last year and so what do you called upon well you're called upon initially to act out the spark of divinity that's within you by confronting potential with the logos that's within you which means to take the opportunities that are in front of you the potential future and to transform it into the present in the best possible way using truth and courage and careful articulation as your as your as your as your as your guide so that's the first thing you're called on to do now that's a major deal there that's a tough one and then the second is to make the proper sacrifices that's the Cain and Abel story is like you you want something you genuinely want it you want to set the world straight than you let go of what's necessary and you pursue you let go of what isn't necessary no matter what it is no matter what it is and then you pursue what's necessary and then maybe you sacrifice your children to God that that was the story that's the one of the next stories that comes up of course and you think well that's pretty damn barbaric and the way the story's laid out of course it is but that isn't exactly what it means it means that what you try to do when you raise children is that you try to do everything you can to impress upon them by imitation and by instruction and by love and by encouragement that they are crucial beings in the world whose ethical decisions play an important role in shaping the structure of reality itself and that they have the moral responsibility to do that and you get your Ark in order that's your family let's say so that when the storms come you can stay above water for the 40 days of flooding and you're capable of leading your people through the desert when the desert makes itself manifest and you can escape from tyranny properly because you're wise enough to see it and you take the full burden of being on yourself all the suffering that's that's part and parcel of that you accept that voluntarily let's say and you do everything you can to confront the malevolence that's part of you and that's part of the state and it's part of the world and you you you make a garden around you that's the paradise a walled garden it's a walled well watered place so the forces of nature and society exist together in harmony and you place your family in that so that they can live properly and you treat your enemy as if he's yourself and the same with your brother and well then you can say then maybe you can say maybe then you have the right to say that you believe in God otherwise maybe you should think twice about it because you know there's a line in the New Testament that Christ Himself says two of them I should read them two because there are very relevant to this I guess I could pair of Frye's to paraphrase them a rich man comes up to Christ and says and and says good good leader good lord and he asked him a question about how it is that he should be a good person and Christ says don't call me good there's no one that's good but God and you know that's worth thinking about I mean the one person that in principle in our ancient stories had the right to make some direct connection between himself and the divine was unwilling to do it when challenged and so it might be reasonable to assume that each of us could be much more cautious about making that sort of statement bluntly when we're asked and then the other line is not all those who say Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven got that about right which means something approximating just because you make a claim to moral virtue let's say your belief in God which I can't see how you can make a higher claim to moral virtue than that you know I mean agnostic atheistic I don't recap the purpose the point is something like this imagine something of ultimate transcendent value I don't care whether you believe in it or not but imagine that something like that exists and then you swear allegiance to it which is to say I believe in this I mean there's a heavy moral burden that comes along with that just to allow yourself to utter the words without feeling that you should be immediately struck down appropriately by lightning and so well and so I think that's why that question makes me uncomfortable it's that I don't think I have a I don't think I have a right to make that Proclamation there's another thing too that I learned when I was going through these biblical lectures it was a fascinating thing to do was the story of Jacob who became Israel and Jacob was a real you know he was a morally ambiguous figure to put it mildly and he tricked his older brother out of his birthright and he was full of tricks and he had a lot of tricks played on him too and maybe learned something as a consequence anyways after running away from his brother who had murderous thoughts and for good reasons for I liked about 20 years maybe it was only 14 but doesn't matter it was a long time he decided that he would go back and try to make peace and he came to this river he sent his family across the river along with his belongings um and and partly as an offering to his brother a peace offering and he had a dream dream visionary experience hallucination God who knows what it was and he dreamt that he wrestled with an angel all night and that the angel was God and God he won which is very strange because well first of all he was a trickster figure you know like he wasn't your most upstanding moral creature he wasn't Noah for example and second well it was God you know it's like figure to wrestle with someone and lose there's an opponent that's likely to take you out and he did damage his hip him so what not that impressive an accomplishment on thoughts pardon my estimation but but it's a very interesting story because what it does indicate what's so cool about it you see Jacobs name is changed at that point to Israel and Israel means those who wrestle with God and then that's so that blue meal is one of the things I love about studying old stories is now and then you come across a piece of one and you and you see in it into it you know you see down into the depths that that characterizes it's very difficult but happens sometimes and it just flattens you you know to think that if Israel is that is the chore if Israel is the chosen people of God that's the hypothesis and what Israel means is those who wrestle with God then think that that gives that seems to me to be such a hopeful idea because well everyone does that to some degree I mean you do that in your life because well you don't know what's a fundamental transcendent worth you know because who the hell are you and what do you know you know you're you're struggling all the time with well I would say with good and evil when you're struggling with yourself you're struggling with the world to to to portray that as wrestling with God that's perfectly reasonable from a metaphoric perspective and the idea that that's what characterizes the true people of God is that willingness to wrestle that's really something because it kind of indicates that you're here as a contender you know you're not here to be happy you're not here to be complacent you're not here to be materially satisfied not that that would be possible anyways but that you're here to contend with the structure of reality right and that's what'll satisfy you because there's something to you you know you're not weak and nothing there's something to you there's certainly something malevolent and terrible I mean you know that you look at how people behave you you look at the blood and catastrophe of our history you can certainly see though the absolute the absolute hellish depths of the human soul but there's there's something that takes root in that and grows up out of that it's absolutely magnificent beyond belief and that's looking for for to contend you know and I've often thought that I've been fortunate in my marriage because you think well you got you get married and you live happily ever after it's like that's not it is it you don't want that either you know what you putting on it we want your partner to do just all she's gonna do is sprinkle rose petals in front of you right and pat you on the back of the head and tell you how wonderful you are constantly day after day man you'd be so sick of that after - well maybe take a month but but let's say two weeks it'd be you you'd be cuz you know she should be more on the side of who you could be than on the side of who you are and if she's deluded enough or terrified enough to worship you in your current form then well that doesn't say much for her and it certainly isn't very helpful for you you want someone that's gonna get in the way now and then you know and and to contend with and I've been fortunate in my marriage because I have someone to contend with you know we we have our our discussions and they're not easy involved but partly because we have hard problems to solve because life is full of hard problems I want someone who stand up you know and and have her say even if it's not what I would say and maybe I'm even willing at times because she's quite intuitive and a good dreamer and I'm more facile verbally and so we have to be careful in our relationship because if I'm in a particularly ornery mood and she has something to say I can usually slice up her arguments verbally you know and then that's that's fine as far as I'm concerned because I get to win but it's stupid well it's stupid it's first of all that doesn't mean I'm right it just means I can formulate verbal arguments slightly faster than she can but her intuitions and her dreams are often extraordinarily accurate and so we've learned to to some degree to buttress each other's arguments just on the off chance that the person that you were foolish enough to marriage marry might know something you don't now and then about something important you know and so what do you want well you want someone to contend with and then it's an adventure you know and then you have someone that you love and that you respect and that's not a bad combination for longevity of relationship and then maybe if you have someone that you love and respect and that you can communicate with and your children also love and respect her or him and then that's pretty good for them because they've got some parents that they could love and respect that's a good combination you know it solidifies their life and so you want to contend with them and you want a job that's challenging I would say that pushes you beyond what you already are and god only knows how much how hard you need to be pushed in order to go beyond where you are but you know to some degree if you have a choice you know it's not that uncommon that what we'll do is choose to be pushed to the limit especially when we're at our best we think well where's the limit it's here maybe I can manage that I'm gonna push myself right to the damn limit then I'm gonna push myself a little bit over just to see if it's possible and and if that happens then you know you emerge with a sense of of triumph I'm now more than I was right and maybe that's what you're here to be is to be more than you were trying to push those limits and to do that you contend with the world you wrestle with God you don't casually say I believe because who knows no one no one knows right we're separated from the infinite by death and ignorance we don't know we contend we wrestle you know and in that maybe we find our destiny at least we find our purpose we find something that's that that justifies us to some degree you know if I'm awake at night wondering and I thank God you know like I've I pushed myself as far as I could in this effort whatever the effort that I'm considering happens to be I pushed myself I don't have a weight on my conscience because I let something go or I failed to accomplish some I mean I do often have those sorts of weights I'm talking about the rare times when I don't it's like well there's something that that that's where there's some atonement and some peace as far as I'm concerned where that contending and that wrestling has been successful and I would say that insofar as you're deeply involved in that like completely involved in that thoroughly involved in that then you have the right to say that you believe in God and since I'm not like that a hundred percent of the time or even approximating the percent of the time that I would like to be like that you know despite my best efforts then when people ask me I'm not going to say something virtuous like I'm a believer because there's plenty wrong with me that needs to be fixed before I would dare utter words like that thank you [Applause] well so that's better answer to that question so thank you very much for for walking through that with me let's say now you have all not all many of you have asked some questions tonight using this nifty little device called slide Oh which I really like and so now what I'm going to do is spend 20 minutes or so looking through the questions that you asked and seeing if I have anything that isn't completely incomprehensible and embarrassing to say about them so let's try that hmm well this is a strange one I don't know about you people from Sydney so uh it's from Kathy Newman which strikes me as somewhat unlikely and it's got a hundred and sixty-four up votes so which is quite a few up votes it hurt when you destroyed me on ABC now I don't know if that's referring to last night or so many months ago but I have enrolled in university to get my facts right yeah well that probably won't work thank you for enlightening my soul the burns are still healing yeah well that's it's not exactly a question it's it's it's four sentences that are quite the strange combination that I would say something about the burns are still healing you know I mean Nietzsche said that you could tell much about a man's character by how much truth he could tolerate which is very interesting you know there's not an idea in in in the in the great western tradition that the truth is the way and the path of life and and that no one comes to the Father except through the truth and and I believe that to be the case because I don't think that you can manifest who you are without the truth and so I think it's it's it's literally and metaphorically truth that the the pathway to who you could be if you were completely who you were is through the truth and I would say and so the truth does set you free but the problem is is that it destroys everything that isn't worthy in you as it sets you free and that's that's a process of burning and and and it's it's painful because you cling to what you shouldn't be partly out of pride and partly out of ignorance and partly out of laziness and and and so then you encounter something true and you all know this you all know this well because when was the last time that you learned something important that wasn't a blow of some sort you know it's often you look back at your life and you think oh god I really learned something there I wouldn't want to do that again but it really changed my life I mean sometimes it can really destroy you you know an encounter with the truth and you never really recover but now and then something comes along and straightens you out and a lot of you has to go a law to you has to burn away you know and and and I suppose in some sense the idea is that everything about you that isn't worthy is to be put into the flames and that's that's another reason to be not so casual about claiming what you believe because it isn't something that you undertake with oh do caution you know I learned when I was kid about 25 or so little older than a kid that almost everything that I said was one form of lie or another and I wasn't any worse I would say that the people that I was associating with or any better and and the lies were manifold you know they were attempts to win arguments for the sake of winning the argument that might be one attempts to indicate my intellectual prowess when there were competitions of that sort maybe just the the sheer pleasure of engaging in an intact intellectual argument and winning my inability to distinguish between ideas that I had read and and incorporated because I had read but had realized that I hadn't yet earned the right to use all of that and you know I had this experience that lasted a long time while I would say it's really never gone away that and I think this was the awakening of my conscience essentially and I didn't realize that this until much later when I was reading Socrates apology this this voice for lack of a better made itself manifest inside me and it said every time I said something that wasn't true and that's usually what it said that's not true you don't believe that or there was a sensation that was associated with it I don't think this is that uncommon you know I asked my psychology classes for many years in a row if they hadn't experienced this experience that they had a voice in their head let's say it's a metaphor or a feeling that communicated to them when they were about to do something wrong and it was universally the case that people agreed with one of those statements or another and the other thing I would ask is well do you always listen to it and of course the answer to that was definitely no but that's also very interesting you know that you can have this faculty this conscience this seems to to me to be very tightly associated with the idea of free will is that you can have this internal voice this Damon the root word for democracy oh yes I didn't finish that story so the yes well it's important well so Socrates Damon told him it was his moral guide and democracy appears to be predicated on the idea that the polity will function if people attend to their consciousness that's the that's the that's the overlap of those conceptualizations and that's that that's it well first of all I think that's the case you know and it makes a certain amount of logical sense I mean if we assume that the political state is something like the emergent consequence of the decisions of all its citizens we would assume that the wiser the decisions of the citizens the more upright and functional the state I can't see how it could be any other way and perhaps those who are the most upright who listen to their consciousness consciences more carefully even play a disproportionately powerful role it's certainly possible so anyways back to truth well you know I learned that so much of what I was doing was false and I think I learned this CIA there was a reason that this came to me so clearly I was trying to understand why people did terrible things and I was really concentrating on the terrible terrible things that people do and I was interested in Auschwitz for example and Nora now known as a political phenomenon but as a as a psychological phenomena I was curious about how you could be a nosh wits guard and I wasn't really curious about how you could be one because well you could be whatnot of course I was more curious about how I could be one being such a good person as I thought I was and but I also knew that people many people did many terrible things during the 20th century and the idea that I was somehow better than them or that I should assume a priori that I was better than them and that I wouldn't have made the same choices or worse had I been in the same situation was a very very very dangerous supposition and in fact a sufficiently dangerous supposition to bring about the very danger that I assumed was worth avoiding I had this idea you know that what had happened especially in Nazi Germany but also in in the Soviet Union shouldn't happen again that what we needed to do because of what happened in the 20th century especially because we also managed to create hydrogen bombs that it was in that and that we had become so technologically powerful that it would there wasn't time for that anymore that time for that was over and that we really needed to understand why it happened and that perhaps we could go deep enough in that understanding which is I think what happens when you go deep and understanding so that you could stop it because if you if you understand the problem maybe you can solve it you know and and at least in part I came to believe that the problem was as Solzhenitsyn said that the problem is is that the line between good and evil runs down every human heart and I'd was reading young at the same time you know and he believed that the human soul was a tree whose roots grew all the way to hell and believed also that in the full investigation of the shadow which was the dark side of the human psyche was that it was bottomless essentially that that that it was like an experience of Hell and that also struck me as true and that the way to stop those sorts of things from happening was to stop yourself from being the sort of person who would do it who would even start to do it because the other thing you learn when you learn about atrocities of that sort you could read ordinary men by the way which is an unbelievably great study of exactly this sort of phenomena it's on my book list on my website it's about a group of German policemen who were turned into brutal murderers over a period of months when they went behind when they went into Poland after the Germans had marched - and they were just ordinary middle-class men and they weren't forced into this by their leadership by the way either which was one of the things that makes the book so interesting so for me it was a matter of understanding that if we want this sort of thing to not happen anymore then we have to start to become the sort of people who wouldn't do it which seems rather self-evident all things considered unless you know you believe that were the pawns of social forces for example like the Marxists do and I don't believe that because we're also the creator of social forces and we're also capable of standing up to social forces because I would say the individual is more powerful than the social force all things considered interestingly enough that the way to stop such things - from happening the way to remember properly is to understand that that you could do it that you could do those terrible things because the people who did them were like you and that the way out of that is to stop being like that and the way you stop being like that is well at least in part by stop by ceasing to tell yourself lies that you don't believe in and that you know you shouldn't act out and you know and that's made a huge difference in my life for better for worse I mean it was very uncanny experience I would say because it's very discombobulating to experience yourself as fragmented enough so that much of what you do and say is actually false it's a lot of work to clean that up a lot but the consequences are in principle worthwhile and so that was part of what understanding that was part of what drove me towards clinical psychology saying away from political science and law and from politics in general because I started to believe that and I think this is the great Western idea which people were quite irritated about by the way on Q&A last night as well that the proper route forward for the redemption of the individual and for mankind as a whole is as a consequence of the redemption of each individual and I truly believe that and I believe that that occurs as a consequence of adherence to the truth and courage in the face of being that's rule one right to stand up straight with your shoulders back is to take on the onslaught and to enter the contentious ring and to do your to do and to do more than your best because your best isn't enough because your best isn't as good as you could be you have to push yourself past that and and that's as far as I can tell where you find what you need in life you find the meaning that sustains you in life and you find the patterns of action that redeem the world both at the same time I mean life is a very difficult business you know it's it's fatal and it's full of suffering and it's and it's full of betrayal and malevolence there's nothing about it that's trivial it's all profound and in order to find your way through all of that that that capacity for hellish experience let's say you need to develop a relationship with something that's profound and you can you have that capacity and what could be more profound than the truth and what would you rather have on your side and you might say well that's obvious and of course everyone should do that and then you need to know why you don't and the answer is well it sort of encapsulated in this first amusing question you don't thank you for enlightening my soul the burns are still healing it's like well you know there's no shortage of Deadwood to burn off and and there's no shortage of pain when the deadwood burns off and that's what makes people afraid of the truth you know maybe that's why Moses encountered God in the burning bush who the hell knows but there's something about that idea that seems to me to be the case and so what's the decision that you make you know you decide to believe you know it's a risk an existential risk it's an active faith you believe that the truth can set you free you believe that people have an intrinsic divinity about their soul you decide that you're going to live in that manner and that you're going to let everything about yourself that isn't worthy of that goal die and that might be almost every that you are and that's a terrible thing to contemplate the only thing that's worse I would say is the alternative because the alternative is the sorts of hell's that we managed to produce around us and that we produced with particular expertise during the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century and it would be a good thing if we decided collectively and individually not to go back there again thank you you
Channel: Jordan B Peterson
Views: 1,071,150
Rating: 4.8456788 out of 5
Keywords: atheist, bible, christ, christian, christianity, existentialism, faith, free speech, god, gods, jesus, jordan peterson, lecture, openness, personality, philosophy, psychoanalysis, psychology, religion, spirit, toronto, truth, university of toronto, yeshua, iq, jordanbpeterson, Prager
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 103min 33sec (6213 seconds)
Published: Sat Jun 08 2019
Reddit Comments

i think there is a lot to learn from his position but it seems like it fundamentally boils down to.."jesus was a good man who lives in spirit but never resurrected". Is this the basic gist. I love JBP but I wish he didnt try to be special in this manner. If he takes a liberal position on the person of Jesus.. ok.. so be it. I still love him. It just seems like he keeps trying to overcplicate the issue.

👍︎︎ 13 👤︎︎ u/FightDragonGetGold 📅︎︎ Jul 07 2019 🗫︎ replies
Related Videos
Please note that this website is currently a work in progress! Lots of interesting data and statistics to come.