Tag Archives: Christian values

On Jordan Peterson, Religion, & Atheism – Part 5, The Dostoevsky Distraction

The Dostoevsky Distraction

<< Previous, Part 4 – The Deuteronomistic Paradigm

On Fictional Proof

For some reason known only to Jordan, he has a passion for Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which he cites repeatedly in several of his talks. For Jordan, the fictional world of the main character serves as a stark warning on the dangers of abandoning Christian values.

“Read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. That’s the best investigation into that tactic that’s ever been produced.

What happens in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is that the main character, whose name is Raskolnikov, decides that there’s no intrinsic value to other people and that, as a consequence, he can do whatever he wants… Well, then why can’t I do exactly what I want, when I want? Which is the psychopath’s viewpoint…

Crime and Punishment is the best investigation, I know, of what happens if you take the notion that there’s nothing divine about the individual seriously. Most of the people I know who are deeply atheistic—and I understand why they’re deeply atheistic—haven’t contended with people like Dostoevsky. Not as far as I can tell, because I don’t see logical flaws in Crime and Punishment.”

Or, as fellow psychologist, Susan Blackmore, refuted:

“That doesn’t have to be true, that’s a character in a novel, I don’t think that that’s so.”

Lumberg

On Atheism

As a “deeply atheistic” person, it might be considered impolite, if not downright unchristian of me, to point out to Jordan that:

  • atheists merely have a lack of belief in the existence of divine entities;
  • we don’t advocate (as far as I know) that others have no intrinsic value; or,
  • that people can do whatever they want, whenever they want

As Jordan—a trained clinical psychologist who should know!—points out, believing that other people have no value is the psychopath’s viewpoint. It is begging the question, is he seriously equating psychopathy with atheism? Considering that atheists, by and large, tend to be vocal advocates against religious privilege and for universal secular human rights, how does he conflate atheists with psychopaths? Oh wait, because it says so in that fictional book he loves so much, and because he equates communist oppression with atheism (part 4); therefore, atheists equal amoral totalitarian psychopaths. Riiiiight…

Dr. Evil

On the Bait and Switch

On the list of logical fallacies, where does appeal to a fictional character fall? This is right up there with the evangelical appeal to The Flintstones in refuting evolution.

Given that:

it seems rather disingenuous of Jordan to hype this book while burying the lede that it is precisely the Christian propaganda that it was clearly written to be. That Dostoevsky plumbed profound psychological depths, years before Freud, is not in question, but citing his thinking as an example of a legitimate case of what happens when “religious values” are abandoned hardly rises to the level of intellectual integrity one would expect of someone with Jordan’s educational/experiential pedigree. Paging Dr. Freud, Dr. Freud to the stage please.

Frasier - Jungian

It is exactly the point that Raskolnikov is a psychopath that makes him discount human life and commit murder, not that he was an atheist. For Jordan to overlook the deep neuroses of the character, and fail to attribute the behaviour to the underlying psychological issues rather than to atheism, is troubling; but it makes sense from the perspective that it does not serve Jordan’s {apparent} agenda-driven motivation to promote, like Dostoevsky, the merits of Christian values.

Next, Part 6 – The Moral Atheist Mystification >>

Video References:

Biblical Series I (BS1): Introduction to the Idea of God, (transcript)

Biblical Series II (BS2): Genesis 1: Chaos & Order, (transcript)

Pangburn Philosophy (PP): An Evening With Matt Dillahunty & Jordan Peterson

Unbelievable (U): Jordan Peterson vs Susan Blackmore • Do we need God to make sense of life?

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