Why Jordan Peterson is Wrong About Sam Harris Being a Christian

I still very much like JP, but I am getting wary of how so many of his fans are brutally averse to hearing any critique of this man.
I am a Christian. I don’t consider JP to even be a Christian. He doesn’t share my “literal” convictions.
That being said, when I saw his “you’re really a Christian” claims, I bristled. Why this seems so irresponsible and even immature is that it reflects a basic lack of historical knowledge. A LOT of the ethics we assign uniquely to Christianity were shared in other times and places (before and after Christ) completely independent of Christianity.
Concepts like the innate value of the individual were wrestled with by the Greeks long before they ever encountered a Christian.
While Islam came after Christianity (so you can argue whether it adopted a lot of Christian ethos), the fact remains that Muslim philosophers, long before John Locke, were also wrestling with issues of individual self-rule, and many were siding with the individual.
“Christian” ethics in various forms have long existed. For JP to cite “charity” as proof of being a Christian would be like me assigning the label “Eagles fan” to a Cowboys fan because we both like watching football (see, only Eagles fans really value watching football, and we invented watching football).

Here is an excellent video covering this topic, followed by more commentary from me:

 

 

JP is essentially making a flawed presuppositional apologetic that appeals to logic and reason (though significantly flawed, in my opinion), when presuppositional apologetics does not appeal, at its core, on logic and reason, but rather rests more in spiritual “belief.”
Presuppositional apologetics holds that God created the laws of the Universe, and the only we understand that is because we were born with the knowledge of God in our hearts, which enables us to understand his laws, supernaturally.
I was once a big fan of presuppositional apologetics, but not so much anymore.
The flaw with it, to me, is that it creates a typical false dichotomy- either EVERYTHING is relative and uncertain (and thus meaningless and non-utilitarian) or everything rests on the certainty of absolute, even (for most) knowable laws.
Since then, I’ve come to understand the choice is NOT between nonsense and certainty. The allowance of uncertainty does not necessitate loss of ALL meaning and purpose.
One can develop varying degrees of moving towards or away from certainty, and act, with some degree, in near-certainty (even if never fully attained).
Although I acknowledge I cannot fully, objectively, and without doubt, prove that the chair I am about to sit on will be there when I sit on, based on a number of other methods of gathering data (and within the narrow scope of your ability to process that data), I can make a high-near-certain assumption and rest comfortably on that chair, even without certainty that that chair will be there.
Without the NEED for certainty to sit on chairs and solve for x, the whole presuppositional argument becomes irrelevant.
One does not need certainty to make decisions that will, for the most part, prove to be the right decision (like deciding to ‘trust’ that the chair will be there, even if you acknowledge that absolute certainty the chair will be there is not possible).

About Paul Gordon 2955 Articles
Paul Gordon is the publisher and editor of iState.TV. He has published and edited newspapers, poetry magazines and online weekly magazines. He is the director of Social Cognito, an SEO/Web Marketing Company. You can reach Paul at pg@istate.tv