Jordan Peterson’s Jungian best-seller is banal, superficial, and insidious

The real danger in 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is its apologia for social Darwinism and bourgeois individualism covered over with a theological patina.

Canadian psychologist and professor Dr. Jordan Peterson is the author of "12 Rules for Life". (Image: YouTube)

I was a high-school student in 1990 when Robert Bly’s Iron John: A Book About Men came out. I ordered a copy and read it in a couple of evenings confined after foot surgery. It was a runaway bestseller then, just as Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is today.

Shortly thereafter, in 1991, Sam Keen’s Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man came out, and I read that as well. It was very similar in content and approach to Bly. The two of them, over a quarter-century ago now, claimed to have discovered that “today’s” young men were lacking direction and wondering about their identity, much as Peterson claims now.

Then as now it all seemed so gimmicky and cleverly packaged, lacking substance and having only one purpose: to sell books. But that’s not quite fair. What I found in all three are attempts at theologizing in a Jungian fashion. And none has done that more than Peterson, whose many Christian fans seem blithely unaware that what Peterson advocates today is merely third-rate recycled gnostic paganism rejected by the Church in the fourth century.

To cite perhaps the most egregious example: Jung thought we all have a “shadow” side where evil resides, and none was exempt from this, including Christ. Peterson wholly accepts this when he claims that “Christ is always he who is willing to confront evil—consciously, fully, and voluntarily—in the form that dwelt simultaneously within him and in the world (180; my emphasis).

Jung and a neo-pagan agenda

I began reading Jung in high-school thanks to a wonderful English teacher who introduced us to Jung first so that we would be able to understand the novels of Robertson Davies (especially the Deptford Trilogy), which we had to read that year. Davies, like Peterson and Jung, made much of supposedly unconscious archetypes, searches for heroes, and other paranormal fetishes; his novels were cluttered with the stuff.

After high school I completed a degree in psychology and underwent a classical psychoanalysis myself before turning to study moral philosophy and then theology at the graduate level. This made it clear very quickly that Jung’s ideas cannot be reconciled with Chalcedonian Christology and Trinitarian theology of the Nicene period—to say nothing of his heterodox Mariology or highly questionable theodicy. Jung, who described himself as bored by doctrine when taking Confirmation classes in his father’s Swiss Reformed church in the 1880s, found himself excited by the prospect of “reforming” the Trinity, which he subjected to all sorts of bizarre machinations, not least his idea of the missing or “problematic fourth”—a claim that the Trinity is incomplete without a feminine fourth to be supplied by the Theotokos. On this point Jung was ecstatic when Pope Pius XII dogmatized the Assumption in 1950, for Jung, tendentiously misconstruing the dogma, claimed the pope was finally “fixing” the Trinity with its missing fourth.

But in many other areas, Jung scorned the hide-bound ways of the Catholic Church and its intransigence in defense of Trinitarian, Christological, and Mariological dogmas. The Dominican scholar Fr. Victor White, who entered into a 15-year correspondence with Jung on these dogmas, finally seems to have given up in despair at Jung’s own intransigent defense of heterodox doctrine hidden under a gauzy morass of “mystical” emoting.

That sorry track record has not stopped Jordan Peterson, who continues the Jungian tradition of traducing theology for a sinister and neo-pagan agenda with shop-worn idols and illusions. Having been reading psychoanalytic literature for a quarter-century now (especially the British so-called Independent school—Melanie Klein, Nina Coltart, D.W. Winnicott, Ronald Fairbairn, Christopher Bollas, and more recently Adam Phillips), I have long preferred an “honest atheist” and “godless Jew” like Freud to this estranged and strange Reformed pastor’s son of Switzerland. Freud clears the path to see clearly, acutely aware of the dangers of idols and illusions; Jung clutters the path with a jumble of idols masquerading as the Christian God. The fact that many Christians have preferred Jung’s path merely proves Freud correct: most of us prefer our idols and illusions to the truth.

Banality and bourgeois individualism

As I began reading Freud, I also discovered the works of the late historian Christopher Lasch, whose 1979 book Culture of Narcissism emerged as a dense book of social critique and psychohistory. It was Lasch who used the memorable phrase “the banality of pseudo-self-awareness.” That phrase came rushing back to mind as I began making my way through Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.

Peterson’s book is unbearably banal. Its “rules” offer only the shallowest insights into human life, never getting into any real depth, and certainly offering no serious social critique of the problems of our time. It lurches from topic to topic, often on the same page. And all this requires 400 pages! The supreme irony of this book is that for someone whose 12 rules really boil down to one (stop being so undisciplined!), its prose shows little discipline. As serious writers know, it takes far more discipline to write a short book than a sprawling 400-page mess such as this. As someone who has been editing academically for the better part of two decades now, I see no serious editing here at all.

But the real problems in Peterson are far more dangerous than his prolixity, superficiality, or banality. The real danger in this book is its apologia for social Darwinism and bourgeois individualism covered over with a theological patina. This, as we shall see, becomes obvious in a number of places early in the book, but it is confirmed in an offhand comment near the middle of the book. (As Adam Phillips reminds us in Side Effects, offhand comments usually reveal far more than we intend, and are often closer to the truth.) Here, purportedly while telling us about his intellectual trajectory (which he never finishes because nearly every page spasmodically lurches to another topic at precisely the moment he might have to develop or substantiate a point), Peterson says of his early days that “I had outgrown the shallow Christianity of my youth by the time I could understand the fundamentals of Darwinian theory” (196).

But he could not quite abandon the Christianity of his youth, and so Peterson spends a lot of time in this book purporting to tell us what Scripture really says, and does so with all the exegetical and hermeneutical skill of Ayn Rand. While Rand’s scorn for theology and Christianity was well known, warning most believers off her, Peterson’s presentation, given the lack of theological literacy of our time, contains just enough jargon and scriptural references to fool a lot of people into thinking he knows what he’s talking about. He does not. If his psychology is suspect, his theology is absolutely insidious.

As I was reading this book, and monitoring, if you will, my own “counter-transference” reactions to it, the face of Jean Vanier kept appearing in my mind’s eye. This great Canadian Catholic, who has spent his life founding and living in L’Arche communities with those considered losers by most of the world, was a silent rebuke to Peterson’s unbridled boosterism for social hierarchy and libido dominandi. People like those in L’Arche or in Catholic Worker Houses, and many others elsewhere who are sick, handicapped, elderly, and impoverished, are the rejects of our “throwaway society,” as the pope calls it.

Being, Meaning, and … Boredom

Peterson has nothing to offer them but his tawdry philosophical sloganeering. This theme is laid out at the very beginning, when Peterson claims that the solution to “the terrible dilemma of conflict, on the one hand, and psychological and social dissolution, on the other…was this: through the elevation and development of the individual, and through the willingness of everyone to shoulder the burden of Being and to take the heroic path” (xxxiii). On the next page we are told that “the soul of the individual eternally hungers for the heroism of genuine Being” (xxxiv-v). This claptrap about Being (always uppercased, he claims, based on his reading of Heidegger which is painfully sophomoric), and about being “heroic,” is the leitmotif of the entire book. It leads into a tedious first chapter about both lobsters and wrens defending their turf and striving to achieve social dominance in their supposed hierarchies, all behaviors that humans are endlessly exhorted by Peterson to emulate: “You step forward to take your place in the dominance hierarchy, and occupy your territory” (27). This is “heroism” of the Übermensch, not of the Son of Man who came to serve and not to be served.

To occupy your territory, means (wait for it) you actually have to stand up: “Standing up means voluntarily accepting the burden of Being” (27). Stop that ontological slouching!

Later on, continuing to capitalize bogus terms, Peterson says that this standing up to take responsibility means that you move from Being to “Meaning with a capital M” (63). None of this is ever explained in any detail, of course. It is a neat trick to sound clever and profound while having nothing of substance or originality to say, which lead to my second counter-transferential response to this book: an intense boredom-induced drowsiness made all the worse by the leaden prose, which, once more, is like Jung’s, especially in the latter’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, a book, like Peterson’s, that was a barely disguised autobiography rambling on for over 400 pages as well. (Freud, by contrast, was admirably succinct, a master stylist and rhetorician, and winner of the Goethe Prize for his magnificent prose.)

Nevertheless, I heroically stood up and stretched my limbs to stave off sleep, and ploughed on in search of Being and Meaning, vacuous exhortations to which came, of course, with absolutely no word about or for those who cannot pull themselves up for social or economic or other reasons; they are invisible and inconsequential. There is very little social critique here, and Catholics who accept, as we must, the Church’s social teaching can only be extremely wary: the Church’s teaching of the common good, of the universal destination of goods, and of solidarity with the sick, suffering, and poor, is utterly foreign to—and entirely absent from—Peterson’s pseudo-Christian libertarianism and solipsistic individualism.

He claims that his program is an antidote to lives of “chaos” today, but he never once considers the possibility that such “chaos” has anything to do with the rampaging and rapacious success of neoliberalism and advanced capitalism today. Rather, all chaos and all problems are the fault of individuals, and any hint of socioeconomic factors (which Pope Francis regularly criticizes) is openly scorned. (Peterson, no doubt, would say that my very mentioning of such factors is a sure sign that I’m one of those “postmodern” “cultural Marxist” academics he slanders late in the book [306ff] with the same precision, detail, and evidence he has brought to his purported reading of Heidegger, the Bible, etc.)

Surely any Christian reading Peterson must find this mindless praise of hierarchical dominance and protection of one’s turf morally and above all theologically objectionable. But many Christians are lapping this stuff up, blissfully ignoring the fact they claim to worship the Son of God who inverts all hierarchies by coming to serve, by being born in an animal feeding trough in the middle of nowhere; and by allowing Himself, the Creator who hung the heavens, to be hung upon a Cross by His Creatures, in all this showing, as Cardinal Ratzinger argued years ago in Salt of the Earth, that “hierarchy” really ought to be translated as “sacred origin” rather than “sacred rule”.

An apologia for social Darwinism

Peterson, like Jung—who is described as “psychoanalyst extraordinaire” (180)—is all in favor of propagating myths of our sacred origins in such a way that we (that is, men like Peterson) are destined to be dominant creatures protecting our turf against the slackers and sitters of the world. Indeed, we have to resist such people, perhaps even threaten them: “Dare to be dangerous” (90, and earlier) is advice repeated in this book.

Peterson argues in favor of sacred rule and dominance because he is a reactionary, as his tantrums against revolutions, “diversity,” and other shibboleths make plain (118-19, 158, and passim). But his own reactions and rules are not consistent: if much of this tiresome tract consists of telling people what to do, his advice-giving become a truly fatuous exercise on p. 158 when he says that “You can use your own standards of judgment. You can rely on yourself for guidance.” Why, then, dear Dr. Peterson, have we shelled out money to hear you prescribing 12 rules if it’s all up to us? (And why 12 rules? Here my mind freely associated to the droll story Margaret MacMillan tells in her splendid book Paris 1919 of Georges Clemenceau, with delicious Gallic hauteur and sarcasm, dismissing Woodrow Wilson: “God himself was content with 10 commandments. Wilson modestly inflicted fourteen points on us…the fourteen commandments of the most empty theory!”)

Peterson’s empty book, then, with it bogus Jungian theory and its monstrous pseudo-theology, is nothing more than an apologia for social Darwinism of the crudest, most class-bound, and least self-aware and self-critical sort, covered over with a pseudo-Christian layer of linoleum. In a just world, this book would never have been published, let alone become a best-seller. That many people may be and are deceived into thinking Peterson proffers sound theology, let alone anything else, means that catechists and preachers, and professors such as I, have far more work to do than we thought.

Related CWR articles: 
“Jordan Peterson is a prophet—and a problem for progressives” (Jan 30, 2018) by Dr. Anne Hendershott
“Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is a call to clarity in an age of chaos” (Feb 11, 2018) by Dorothy Cummings McLean
“The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon” (Feb 27, 2018) by Bishop Robert Barron

About Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille 59 Articles
Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille is associate professor and chairman of the Department of Theology-Philosophy, University of Saint Francis (Fort Wayne, IN) and author of Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy (University of Notre Dame, 2011).

178 Comments

  1. “That many people may be and are deceived into thinking Peterson proffers sound theology…”

    Who are the people who are so ignorant of Peterson and Christianity that they are deceived into believing this?

    • This is all the more reason to PRAY for professor Peterson. He has shown his honesty and courage in being willing and able to stand up against those who want to force “political correctness”.
      Very intelligent people often have a blind spot–a great difficulty understanding the needs of those who have not been blessed with great intellectual gifts. We all need to remember that it IS a gift.
      We ALL need Jesus.

      • I beg to disagree. I would say that Peterson has shown his dishonesty over and over again. One example: He forcefully asserts that all Progressive activists are murderous Marxists just like the dictator Stalin, whether they even know it or not. That’s false and dishonest. That’s like claiming that all Conservatives are murderous Nazis just the dictator Hitler, whether they know it or not. Decent people do not engage in such extremist, non-factual, pandering, self-serving rhetoric. Ipso facto, Peterson is not a decent person. This article (upon which we are commenting) gets this all across far better than I ever could. Yes, we should pray for Peterson, just as we should pray for Putin, atheist activists, Neo-Nazis, the KKK, con men, New Age teachers like Oprah, and so on.

        • There is plenty to argue with in Peterson’s world view. And he seems to have a hearty appetite for such debate. But in no way does he say “that all Progressive activists are murderous Marxists just like the dictator Stalin, whether they even know it or not”. How can one be murderous and not know it? One could not be so much as a vegetarian and not know it. He does say that identity (read class warfare) politics, which is the consistent and pernicious ethic of postmodernists, is a dangerous ideology. And he points to the genocidal rage it enabled in the 20th century. Sohlzentitzen is his teacher here. along with many millions of people in their Siberian graves. That’s a large lot of dishonest dead people.

          • Peterson does say what I said he says, in his famous debate with the UK host Cathy Newman. She calls him on this extremist statement, and he just doubles down. He says this in many of this other videos as well. It is one of the keystones of his whole philosophy and movement that all Progressives are insidious, lying, dishonest, power-hungry, murderous fiends just like Stalin and Mao. Just go and watch Peterson explain to the shocked Cathy Newman that trans activists really are as evil as Stalin. Peterson sees himself as a victim of Marxist oppression just like Solzhenitsyn was a victim of Marxist oppression.

        • Well Dr. Peterson was wrong about one thing. He sided with the Catholic Church against the dangers of intellectual arrogance. The author of this contemptuous article pridefully parades it. And I don’t know why. If he thinks Peterson is sophomoric and solipsistic he would do well to heed his Lord’s advice and remove the beam from his own eye. Acerbic diatribes full of flagrant ignorance, folly and ad hominem such as this one, which clings to an antiquated orthodoxy of the fourth century, are the very reason the Church has all but lost its voice in our time. It made me wonder if the author still believes the earth is only six thousand years old.
          So by all means, denounce Peterson as a heretic. Deride him. Misconstrue his words and intentions. Ignore his humility. Sit around and feign prayer for his “lost” soul from your sanctimonious throne while you idly wait for your soon-to-return Lord. Take your cues on manhood from a manmade (hierharchical!) establishment with a protracted history of patriarchal child abuse. Narrow your gaze to a single theology among a wealth of variants…
          Meanwhile, hundreds and thousands of young men and women, disillusioned with the apathy, hypocrisy, and haughtiness of the Church, are learning from Jordan’s humble and intelligent approach. They are seeking the truth with open minds and ears to hear, taking responsibility, re-centering their lives and making an effort to actively transform the world, all in the name of good. All the while, your ilk usurp the role of judge and engage in passive-aggressive slander and pseudo intellectual one-upmanship whereby jargon has become your best ally.

          • damn Malcolm, I was going to write a reply but now I don’t have to. you perfectly summed up the way I feel about this shambles of an article.

          • Did you wear out your thesaurus trying to match the intellectual-sounding tone of everyone else’s posts? lmao

          • I agree with Malcolm. Well said. People are looking outside their religious leaders for direction. Institutions all around us are being exposed for their corruptness..politics, FBI, higher education, and religious hierarchy. Universities are teaching my children what to think, not how to think, and their blatant agenda is appalling. This is how Jordan Peterson got thrown into the spotlight in Canada. Plain and simple. I’ve been to his lectures. I looked at the people around me as they looked at me..we were happy that someone is finally speaking with logic about issues in our world, our country, with the intention of making people better humans. To call his writing sophomoric shows to me that your ego has become over involved here.

          • Amen to that! Peterson is being derided because he is “speaking the truth in love,” and it’s relevant. The author of this article is just reviling him because deep down, he knows that. Yes, get that beam out of your eye. Peterson is helping a lot of disenfranchised people with the specks in their eyes. What’s so wrong about helping people take responsibility for their lives? And when did Jesus ever say anything about not being strong against all of the forces of victimization and the voices of the culture that are shouting for people to just go with the flow and live for self, whether there’s any honor in it or not. We need more men to start talking about what it would mean to live purposefully, even heroically. I think Peterson is a Godsend in connecting us with our lost traditions and the stories that are told by them. Is the fact that he looks at the evolution of faith in a way that synthesizes what we know from science and natural history so offensive? Well, that’s exactly what we need. We can’t have kids going off to college thinking that they have to totally leave their faith behind, then step into church thinking they have to forget what they learned in school. Peterson is synthesizing science and faith into something coherent and relevant. We should applaud his efforts to give philosophical therapy to a world in desperate need of it. If that kind of thinking scares you, so be it.

        • Bartolomé de las Casas,

          It wouldn’t let me reply to your other comment “Peterson does say what I said he says, in his famous debate with the UK host Cathy Newman…”, so I am writing this here.

          Peterson’s precise argument was that we know when right-wing radicals go too far — when they make claims of racial superiority. An analogous marker for when left-wing radicals go too far remains undefined, or too unintuitive and nuanced to easily apprehend. Dr Peterson invites people to present such a threshold. The one he presents is the claim for “equality of outcome”. Cathy Newman did not see a distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Both to her ears speak of “equality”, and she stumbled when it came to this distinction.

          Advocating for equality of outcome is Peterson’s demarcation line for when it makes the startling and somewhat absurd shift from harmless late-teens sociology students with neon hair, to Stalin-esque brutality. While I don’t automatically characterize trans-activist as brutal, I am willing to allow them the human agency and consequential capacity for brutality that comes with such agency — one they themselves do not acknowledge, which is precisely what will allow them to stumble into actual Stalinesque brutality fueled by Marxist “high vs low” rhetoric — the end goal of which is to stoke resentment against the “high” under the guise of virtue and justice. True justice is in fact to give each man his due according to personal affinity and thus enable his individual destiny.

          There is a serious problem in society when people justify brutality against others on the grounds that their vengeance is righteous, that their vengeance is equality and justice. If you characterize them as harmless activists, you feed the righteousness and neoteny that enables their brutality. They are not children, and to infantalize them as such is to leave their capacity for danger uncontended. A man aware of his capacity for danger is actually able to have it addressed. You cannot fight an opponent of which you are not aware. A blade in unsteady hands is twice deadly. The danger comes about precisely when they think “if I was in charge, I would do it correctly”. Peterson cautions against this kind of oblivious thinking more than he creates ideology. His argument is that every human has the capacity and potential to be as brutal as Stalin, and there is historical and neurological evidence for this. The book Ordinary Men is one example of the brutality of which “normal citizens” are capable. The work of Dr Frans de Waal with chimps tackles it from a neurological, tribalistic angle. We must keep a watchful eye not only outward, but inward.

          With leftists openly calling for civil war and death (see Dan Harmon’s outburst, see the compilation videos of celebrities advocating and normalizing assassination of the President), I see his point.

          Additionally Cathy Newman catastrophically contradicted herself as a journalist with the whole “right not to be offended” spiel. It’s more of the “rules for thee, none for me” manipulation. To think at all is predicated on the freedom to offend. For you to ignore this in her favor speaks to your ideological motivation.

      • Great Post and shame on a magazine (especially a Christian one) which denounces a person who is unshackling thousands of atheists and getting them pointed in the right direction. Isn’t that a good start to propel the movement of the Gospel again.
        The author of this should be excoriated for his narcissistic take on JP. Sad.

    • Dear Dr. Your article suggests that you have not actually listened to Mr. Peterson speak. In particular, your remarks about what he ignores regarding extreme liberalism, neomarxism, and capitalism. I suggest you broaden your knowledge base, instead of stamping your foot like a child who is jealous when someone else gets attention.

      • I have listened to hundreds of hours of Jordan Peterson, and read tons of his writing, and I conclude that this article (upon which we are all commenting) gets Peterson exactly right.

        Thank you Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille. Thank you Catholic World Report.

        Practically the whole Conservative world (Fox News Channel, etc.) is running after Jordan Peterson like he’s the new Messiah.

        Thank God some people are brave enough to stand against the crowd and stand up for the Holy, Sacred Truth of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church, and to call Peterson’s unholy paganism by its name.

        • Everyone is trying to tag on to JP’s popularity. Listen to the interview of JP by Patrick Coffin, “what’s keeping you from becoming a Catholic?” They all want JP in their camp. Theologically, JP is working out his “salvation with fear and trembling.”

      • Kathy I agree with you completely. Dr. Peterson has never claimed to be a theologian. However, he does understand human behavior and what motivates us from an extremely young age to either go towards good or bad behavior. His courage and calm headed temperament are, sadly, much needed in today’s social environment.

      • Agree with your assessment of the author. Petulant is the word I’d use.

        Lots and lots of words and not an ounce of understanding, love, nor Jesus.

        The author apparently thinks Christians are too stupid to both embrace Jesus and also embrace Jordan B. We’re not morons, and we’re not heretics.

  2. After reading De Ville’s in depth review of Peterson’s book I’m happily convinced not to read it. 12 Rules may be the new Emile.

      • Paula having been accused by a woman of being “squeamish” I bravely listened to Peterson until I became, well…squeamish. He borrows, seizes, hijacks, invents, abuses, reinvents concepts from cosmology, literature [great], religion [perhaps Catholic] asserting that unlike CS Lewis he’s musing on religion from outside [from where perhaps outer space?] straining to appear above we mortals by mysterious incoherency embedded in coherency. Somewhere someone mentioned Gnosticism. 12 Rules insofar as what he says in his enthusiastic preacher disciple’s interview is no more than Rousseau’s Emile clothed with New Age apparel.

        • If you can’t understand it that’s your problem, certainly enough people have. Should we reject Socrates or Aristotle merely because they lived outside the Faith?

          • No Ezra I agree my response to Paula was a write off based on a 10 minute interview in which Peterson waxed philosophically. Perhaps I present a better assessment in two of my posts below which i should add here I do recognize the positive psych counsel for self improvement in his approach.

      • Pastor Paul VanderKlay is some sort of Protestant pastor. I’ve watched many of the videos of Pastor Paul VanderKlay, and can only conclude that he’s had some sort of crisis of faith and is turning away from the authentic Christian religion in favor of this new and exciting neo-pagan pseudo-Christian Gnosticism being spread by Jordan Peterson. Pastor Paul VanderKlay is in love with Peterson’s messages, but I think it’s sad. Pastor Paul VanderKlay is leading many, many people away from Christ.

  3. Jordan Peterson is a prophet of our times. Millions of young people, especially young men, from all over the world avidly hear him because he speaks to there profound human need for guidance and light. Jordan Peterson is a giant of intellectual and spiritual integrity, honesty and passion for the truth. That you are blind to this, says more about you than him.

    • Jordan Peterson is a prophet of our time. Millions of young people, especially young men, from all over the world avidly hear him, because he speaks to THEIR profound need for guidance and light. Jordan Peterson is a giant of intellectual and spiritual integrity, honesty and passion for truth. That you are blind and deaf to this says more about you than him. Consult those who are learning from him, rather than your own abstract prejudices…

      • If you have a counter argument to De Ville’s critique you would have written it by now.

        But here all you can muster is : many young people believe in Peterson.

        So did many young people believe in Hitler.

        • De Ville doesn’t seem to offer an argument to counter. In fact the article is mostly about the author and hardly about Peterson at all. Peterson never asserts that everything Jung or Nitsche or anyone has all the answers and he doesn’t pretend to be a theologian, only a psychologist. And he admits he may be wrong. Something De Ville doesn’t admit.

        • Its difficult to detect a specific argument in DeVille’s criticism, but I will try as best I can to answer your challenge concisely.

          At the start, Peterson is called gimmicky. A gimmick is “a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business.” This is to accuse Peterson of deliberately manipulating for private gain. I don’t think it is unfair to ask for more evidence than this when condemning someone who has risked his career to counter ideologies that few have dared to challenge. A sneer is not an argument.

          We are told that people are “blithely unaware that what Peterson advocates today is merely third-rate recycled gnostic paganism rejected by the Church in the fourth century.” OK. Well that’s easy enough. Why this is so we are not told. One might with equal aplomb assert something like “De Ville is blissfully locked in an echo chamber of reactionary anti-scientific superstition”. Both techniques are simply a type of “tawdry philosophical sloganeering” that we counseled to reject. Neither is an argument and therefore cannot be countered with argument.

          Jung is dismissed for the belief that “we all have a “shadow” side where evil resides”. This can be seen as a rewording of orthodox Catholic morality captured in the notion of Adam’s fall and the motive force of every sacramental confession. That Jung or Peterson are not orthodox Catholic is not in question, so they would not recognize an exception in Christ. How could they? The responsibility of the Catholic critic is to say why they should see the exception in Christ, and DeVille misses this opportunity. Instead (to borrow a phrase) we are told of DeVille’s intellectual trajectory, which (ironically) he never finishes because nearly every paragraph spasmodically lurches to another objection at precisely the moment he might have developed or substantiated a point.

          Next we are advised to simply accept that “archetypes, [and] searches for heroes [are] paranormal fetishes” – mere “clutter”. Is it too much to ask why? Chesterton, Lewis and Tolkien all touched in different ways on the mythological facets of faith. Chesterton said that if the Christian story is true, one would expect deviations from that truth among those removed from its center. If we are so made as to need a savior (i.e., perceive an archetypical redeemer), then we should expect variations on theme in separated cultures. Similarly, if Catholics accept that the truth about God was gradually revealed over time, we do well to explore the natural expressions of that fact in creation instead of just dismissing it all as Social Darwinism as if that explains all as error. Similarly, ff Catholics defend hierarchy, it seems helpful to know that it is a natural way to organize societies. To dismiss it as tedium about lobsters is to perfect the art of missing the point.

          The review continues to get thinner in my view. And when Peterson is described as lost in ‘prolixity, superficiality, [and] banality” then irony thickens. It is disappointing that DeVille sees only bogus claptrap in Petersons call to heroism in the face of suffering and injustice. Telling the truth makes us more fully human and more completely our true selves, and affects the world around us. That is what he means by genuine Being, and fighting this way (e.g., carrying one’s cross) is what gives life its highest meaning. Why this is dismissed as a neat trick to sound clever and profound while having nothing of substance is baffling. He is thinking his way right into Catholic orthodoxy and DeVille seems dead set against it. The review starts with a sneer and ends in sarcasm. Heirs to the patrimony of Catholic philosophy should do better.

          • Great debate. Thanks to both of you for engaging so thoroughly. You both helped me think through this important node for young men, not so much for geriatrics like me.

          • Excellent response, Patrick.

            It’s hard to believe DeVille read the same book I just finished. I don’t suppose he’s lying, but he can’t have read it very carefully to come away with the belief that Peterson is advocating for some kind of radical relativism or disinterest in the plight of the unfortunate.

            When Peterson says, “You can use your own standards of judgment. You can rely on yourself for guidance,” he isn’t positing relativism, nor is he talking in absolute terms about morality. He’s just offering a practical “lowest common denominator” for moving in a positive direction in your life. Only you can decide what goals you can and will seek as you try to improve your life, step by step. He’s also showing a kind of faith in the capacity of the individual human being to recognize and desire the good — not that far off from Paul in Romans.

            But here, DeVille really gets it wrong, and — again — it’s hard to believe he read this book with any care: “Peterson … is all in favor of propagating myths of our sacred origins in such a way that we … are destined to be dominant creatures protecting our turf against the slackers and sitters of the world.”

            This is perfect nonsense. The LAST people we have to “protect our turf against” are the “slackers and sitters of the world,” and Peterson couldn’t be clearer about this. Peterson is talking TO the slackers (and to the slacker in each of us), urging them to recognize the bare fact that much of human life is competition. Those who aren’t willing to get in the game have already lost it.

            But Peterson has a nuanced idea of what “competition” really means. He argues that the genius of human beings is that we can compete on multiple levels all at the same time; that we can in a sense create our own hierarchies. “Winning” isn’t about destroying the competition, as DeVille suggests Peterson thinks, but about playing in such a way that others WANT to play with you, and in such a way that you do well across the whole set of all possible games (to continue the “game” analogy).

            Peterson is encouraging people — especially young men — to get in the game, to play fair, to find out what they can become more competent at, and then seek that competency.

            No, it’s not Catholicism. But it’s a whole lot closer — and more likely to promote human flourishing — than the nihilism we’re being bombarded with today, especially for young men who are being told every day that their masculinity itself is “toxic.”

          • Your review of the review is amazingly well thought and substantiated. Wish I could have said that! Thank you.

          • Patrick you out into words exactly what I was thinking as I read this article. Thank you. I followed the link from Simcha Fishers page and I’m quite disappointed that she’s dismissed him as a result of this article. I felt it lacked substantial critique of Peterson’s ideas. Peterson is viewed purely as an enemy with no charity extended to him as a potential seeker or truth. He is only seen as a danger and threat and therefore treated with less than civility.

    • Hail Caesar! I’m being sarcastic. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24

  4. Fortunately, I know just enough about psychology to know that, whether Jung or Freud, I’ll pass.

    But thanks for the warning on Peterson.

  5. I wish that Dr. DeVille had given more data to contradict the book rather than so much ad hominem. What I mainly gathered from his review is that he doesn’t like what Dr. Peterson has to say.

    • If you think the review contains ad hominem why don’t you point it out instead of casting these unsubstantiated aspersions?

      • Third-rate recycled (could have just said “gnostic paganism”);estranged and strange Reformed pastor’s son of Switzerland; a sprawling 400-page mess; I heroically stood up and stretched my limbs to stave off sleep; mindless praise; tiresome tract, etc. – there is in this review more than the necessary amount of ad hominem required. I can understand Dr. DeVille’s passion in warning against heresy in truth’s clothing – but his tone at times does sound personal and is not helpful toward his noble purpose.

        • Ad hominem does not mean “insulting.” It means using an insult in lieu of actually making an argument.

          For example, if I say “You’re wrong, moron,” it is not ad hominem. It is ad hominem only if I say “You are wrong BECAUSE you are a moron,” or “You are a moron so I don’t need to respond to your argument.”

          In this piece, the language which seems to have hurt some commenters’ feelings is being used as rhetorical flair and not as an argument in and of itself. Nowhere does Dr. DeVille use Peterson’s personal characteristics as a reason to dismiss his views; they are incidental to his point.

          • Actually it means – “to the man”. (and I would suggest to you that “You are a moron” – in your example – is using an insult in lieu of an argument – it tacitly yet intentionally confers error; while I never declared that all of Dr. DeVilles’s argument was ad hominem but that it relied often on that logical fallacy). Arguing “ad hominem” is taking (part or all of) the argument to your opponent rather than to his argument, for example, using insult (via emotion) as a distraction to gain the upper hand in an argument is ad hominem. Rhetorical flair? But I thought you said that Dr. DeVille was “insulting”. So now Dr. De Ville’s style (rhetoric) is “insulting”, that is to say he presents his argument so as to have an insulting effect. But for what purpose – possibly to malign his opponent to the audience? You present a very tidy definition of ad hominem. One might say you use “ad hominem” ad libitum.

    • This article got Peterson exactly correct. If you want more Peterson quotes, seek them out. Here’s a few I’ve found:

      Listen to Dr. Peterson acknowledge the centrality of Darwinism in his thinking in these quotes:

      (1) “What I think about religion is very Darwinian. I think religion is an evolved–it’s evolved knowledge.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Ys4tQPRis&t=1815s

      (2) “You can reduce religion to sort of Darwinian principles and sort of destroy it that way. Or, you can expand your notion of Darwinism, so that it actually encompasses the genuine phenomena of religion.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Ys4tQPRis&t=1631s

      (3) BRENT McKAY (interviewer): “As you were talking, it sounds like these narratives or these metanarratives or these archetypes, there’s sort of A DARWINIAN THING GOING ON. You talk a lot about SURVIVAL AND FAILURE and the stories that are useful for people to thrive in this world. Those are THE ONES THAT SURVIVED, and we still have them today because they are transcripts.”

      JORDAN PETERSON: Yeah, well, I would say that that’s part of what I’ve added to the Jungian corpus of thinking, is I’ve tried to place the idea of the functional myth IN A DARWINIAN CONTEXT and take seriously the idea that our FUNDAMENTAL RELIGIOUS NARRATIVES which are associated with these great myths ARE ACTUALLY EVOLVED STRUCTURES, and they’ve evolved at multiple levels. First of all, they’re expressions of our physiological being, because we act in certain ways in the world as a consequence of the manner in which we’re constituted physiologically.
      Our physiological constitution is OBVIOUSLY A PRODUCT OF DARWINIAN PROCESSES, insofar as you buy the evolutional theory as a generative, as an account of the mechanism that generated us. Our physiology evolved, our behaviors evolved, and our accounts of those behaviors, both successful and unsuccessful, evolved. As those accounts evolved and we shared them, we also changed the landscape in which we were being selected. All of these things tangled together, but they tangled together in a way that embeds these great stories deeply within us, I would say BOTH PHYSIOLOGICALLY and PSYCHOLOGICALLY.
      Yeah, I THINK about it as a DEEPLY DARWINIAN PROCESS.”
      https://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/08/31/podcast-335-using-power-myths-live-flourishing-life/

      • Our physiological constitution obviously IS a product of Dawrwinian processes. Yes, that is right. We have no other epistemic, scientific framework by which to understand biology. Our brains are part of our physiology and are formed (restricted?) to conceptualize reality is certain ways. That is Peterson’s main point. The anatomical and physiological constituents of our biological nature are a key part of our identity and they define (i.e., limit) us. This nature includes our capacity to contemplate religious concepts, perceive beauty, desire goodness, hunger for truth, draw toward narrative story as a means of understanding, be moved to certain emotions by declining minor notes in music, associate “up” with hope and “down” with despair, experience gratification in symmetry and the ten thousand attributes of man. We cannot be otherwise. What I take from Peterson’s point is that religion is natural to man, something Christianity has insisted on in its anthropology from the beginning. If your only objections is that he invokes Darwin, I can only say that it is no threat to the Christian that God can create on any time scale.

        • My objection is that for Peterson there is no literal personal, thinking, acting Creator God existing outside of the human mind.

          My objection is that for Peterson the natural process of biological evolution is the only Creator.

          My objection is that for Peterson morality and religion are outcomes of the natural process of biological evolution.

          Peterson did not invent or first conceive of this naturalistic explanation of culture, religion, and morality. Scholars in the fields of Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology have been saying all this for at least 40 years, and maybe much longer.

          My objection is that Peterson intentionally misleads millions of people into thinking that he is endorsing the God of the Bible, when in fact he views the God of the Bible as being merely a concept in the human mind put there by biological evolution.

          Peterson does regard the concept of God as very important in fighting off the influence of Marxists and other Progressives in society.

          But ultimately, Peterson’s naturalistic, Darwinian conception of God, morality, and religion undermines the very authority that Peterson wants God, morality, and Christianity to have.

          If there never was any genuine Divine Revelation from an eternal, conscious, thinking, acting, feeling Supreme Being, then why believe in any religion?

          Peterson’s answer to that is: believe Christianity because the principle of Individualism that Peterson claims was born with Christianity is the pinnacle of human evolution (thus far–the process of evolution never ends, so an even better religion may be yet to come, under Peterson’s theory).

          But this Darwinian justification for Christianity is and will be very weak in the minds of most people.

          If, as Peterson teaches, no God ever literally, really did speak to Man (men and women), then religion will lose its authority in the minds of practically everyone.

          Peterson is just as detrimental to real Christianity as were Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung.

          We aren’t helping Peterson by coddling him. He’ll be more likely to reach faith in Christ if Christians pull away from him and call him out for what he really is and what he’s really teaching.

          We aren’t helping the Church by following or praising “Saint” Jordan.

          We aren’t helping ourselves or leading anyone to salvation in Jesus Christ by pointing lost people to “Pope” Peterson.

          • I appreciate your comments. They give the same sensation as the Cathy Newman interview. You have a villain in your mind, and whatever it takes, you will insist on that persona. Then you impugn anyone who finds profit in his psychological approach as somehow an enemy of truth. I don’t believe anything you said is accurate. I don’t think you are really listening. It would be more interesting if you would contend with his ideas as ideas. Ditto for DeVille.

            I could use any of your assertions to illustrate this but I will take just one. You assert that “Peterson’s naturalistic, Darwinian conception of God, morality, and religion undermines the very authority that Peterson wants God, morality, and Christianity to have.” The opposite is true. If God is the author of creation, and creation proclaims His glory, then it is a tribute to the manifold truth of Christianity all things prove it – that one can enter the Church from any angle. A cosmology is interesting if one thing can prove it – it is compelling (and moving in a profoundly mystical way) if everything points to it.

            Put another way, if you can only defend the truths of Christianity from revelation, it is a weaker defense than one that can also marshal the discoveries of science, the principles of civic organization, commonalities in mammalian neurochemistry, forensic genetics and natural science, the universal attributes of human psychology, and a thousand other things. It doesn’t mean everything he says is true, only that an infallible strength of the Catholic mind is that it “tests everything and clings to that which is true”.

      • You make the followig statement and present yourself as Bartolomé de las Casas: “It is true that Catholic men like Christopher Columbus believed that Catholic principles of Social Justice did not apply to Native Americans, but in those dark days Columbus was fiercely countered and condemned by the Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas”. Judging on this statement, I have to come to the conclusion that you know little or nothing about the real story of Las Casas nor about what kind of a person Christopher Columbus was either. I would imagine that if you knew the real history of Las Casas, you would never sign with his name. Not that he was not well-intentioned, but he was an extremist and made claims about the treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards which are TOTALLY FALSE AND EASY TO DISPROVE. For instance, he claimed that 2 million people were killed in the island of Hispaniola by the Spaniards when in the whole of North and South America there were not more than some 13 million.He was appointed bishop of Chiapas and he abandoned his post and went back to Spain without authorization. He was against the system of the “encomiendas” and he was proven wrong. He proposed that the missionaries go to evangelize without being guarded by soldiers and in Guatemala due to this navie proposal several Spanish missionaries were slaughtered by the Indians. He had a bad conscience for his own mistreatment of the Indians and thought others were like him. I am not saying that he did not have some good points.

        • All or virtually all of the best historians (Yale, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, the Sorbonne) agree that what Columbus did as governor of Hispaniola quality as “crimes against humanity” as defined at Nuremberg, and also as crimes under Spanish law at the time these crimes were committed.

          That’s why the King of Spain had Columbus arrested in the Indies and brought back to Spain in chains.

          Governor Columbus had authorized his soldiers to cut off the hand of any adult Taino who failed to bring a certain number of ounces of gold to Governor Columbus as “tribute.” Many hands were so cut off. When the Tainos began to fight back against these crimes, Columbus ordered his soldiers to round up hundreds of Tainos, hang them from poles, publicly torture them, and let them hang there for days to die slowly.

          This is part of the Columbus story that has been mainly ignored or untold to the public for centuries.

          After being brought back to Spain in chains, Columbus was in prison for a few weeks, and then released. No trial was ever held, so he was never found innocent or guilty. But professional historians have rendered a verdict, and it is virtually unanimous: Guilty.

          We know that Columbus depicted himself as a pious, devout Catholic in his letters and journals. But so what? That’s easy to do.

          The Turkish government to this day denies that there was any genocide against the Christian Armenians during the time period of WW1. But virtually all professional historian disagree, and say that there was in fact a horrible genocide, killing about 1.5 million Christians.

          If we can’t trust the overwhelming consensus of professional historians regarding the facticity of events in the past, who can we trust?

          But what are we really talking about when we are talking about the crimes of Columbus against los indios?

          I think we are talking about whether the poor and powerless have any inherent rights that must be respected by the rich and powerful, and which must be enforced by government.

          Catholic Social Doctrine insists that the poor and powerless do have such inherent rights, such as the right to healthcare, or to a job.

          But many or most people in the political Conservative Movement disagree, and say that the government should only enforce property rights, and the right to be free from violence, and the right to engage in business activities, and some other Liberty rights (gun ownership, speech, religion, etc.).

          So, this is the real conflict that’s at play, I think, whenever people debate the crimes of Columbus.

          P.S. If Columbus had retired after his first voyage to the Indies, he reputation would be untarnished, and his accomplishment would deserve to be celebrated.

    • Are you appealing to Bishop Barron’s arguments, independent of his authority as a bishop and his reputation, or are you appealing to his authority and reputation alone and immediately accept his conclusions? If the former, you would do better to briefly summarize his main points, rather than merely drop the name.

  6. Dr. Adam LeVille is, of course correct in what he says.

    He’s also missed the whole point, however.

    Yes, Jordan Peterson’s exegesis of Scripture is low-quality and sometimes rubbish. (What else can one expect, really, from a person who isn’t sure whether to “believe in God” because he hasn’t settled on what is meant by either “believe” or “God?”)

    Yes, Jordan Peterson’s moralizing is, in many ways, trite and banal.

    (Though, it isn’t, by-the-way, “Social Darwinism”; not in the “dog-eat-dog” way. That’s bad exegesis — a willfully unfriendly reading? — on LeVille’s part.)

    But that all misses the point.

    In fact, LeVille’s piece is almost as myopic as it would have been if he’d claimed that neither Billy Graham nor C.S.Lewis ever helped anyone to better know and love Jesus Christ, since neither Graham nor Lewis was Catholic.

    Here is the deal:
    1. Half the kids these days are as ignorant of God and Christianity as Peterson is, or more so.
    2. Half the kids these days believe that matter and energy are all there is — or else, they fear they are being anti-intellectual cretins whenever they wonder whether, perhaps, matter and energy are NOT all there is.
    3. Half the kids these days think that the moral judgments of Leftist Postmodernist Social Justice Warriors really ARE the Moral Law, in its entirety…and also that there is no Moral Law…and also that they themselves should feel morally guilty if they ever entertain doubts about what the SJWs say.
    4. Half the kids these days think that their ONLY HOPE of being a morally good person is to hold politically-correct opinions. They know, with firm faith, that their various non-traditional sexual activities are not morally blameworthy, and thus have no explanation for their own feelings of guilt. They embrace political correctness out of a desperation to be absolved of this unexplained guilt.
    5. Half the kids these days will not listen to a lesson if it comes from a Christian, since they already know that Christians, as a source for moral guidance, are no better than Hitler. If a moral lesson sounds too nearly-Christian, they will reject it, just as they would reject any guidance which seems tainted by Nazism.

    That is our situation.

    In that situation, real Christian morality simply cannot be taught. The ground is FAR less fertile than it was when St. Paul preached; our culture is FAR less healthy than that of the Greek and Roman pagans.

    Jordan Peterson does something which — against THAT backdrop — is profound:
    1. He rejects SJW-ism as childish and silly, and shows moderate moral courage in doing so;
    2. He shows that a logical and moral person can admit, and even boldly assert, that maleness and femaleness are real things;
    3. He shows the silliness of the idea that one can “buy” the status of being a moral hero by holding politically-correct opinions;
    4. He calls readers/listeners to a more-real moral heroism by achieving real, measurable improvements in one’s own self and surroundings, thereby replacing SJW-ism with something like Humility.
    5. He treats things OTHER than matter and energy as being both REAL and IMPORTANT.

    This is HUGE.

    It isn’t Christianity, of course. It won’t (directly) save a single soul.

    But Christianity is like Calculus. You can’t teach Calculus to a populace who have never heard of Multiplication or Division, and who’re still struggling with single-digit sums.

    That’s what our population is like. You can’t teach them Christianity; they’re too morally ignorant. They only know about 100 things, and 96 of them aren’t even true.

    So Peterson is what we need, for the moment, to prepare this culture to hear the Gospel.

    They have eaten poison for so long, their first dose of medicine must be partly mixed with the poison, so that they won’t vomit it up.

    To be sure, if a Christian gets deceived into becoming a Petersonian, he’ll be abandoning good food (however bland) for poison. So it’s vital that CHRISTIANS know how ignorant Peterson is.

    But for Half The Kids These Days?

    Peterson’s the best they can currently ingest.

    Perhaps God raised him up for this purpose, because no Christian could do the job and be heard.

    • Thank you for this comment R.C. It is spot on. Mr. DeVille seems to be oblivious to the cultural and moral wasteland in which most young men of the West live, and equally oblivious to the good Dr. Peterson has done in raising many such men out of total despair and nihilism.

      Certainly, the article makes a few good points regarding the problems with Peterson’s theology and scriptural exegesis. But Peterson never claims to be a theologian, and more importantly, repeatedly admits in his Youtube lectures that his psychological and archetypal focus on Scripture is not to the exclusion of the metaphysical, spiritual and moral truths contained therein. To be sure, anyone who has spent any significant time listening to Dr. Peterson knows that he holds the Bible as the foundational document of the West and the source of the West’s upholding the sovereignty and dignity of the individual as made in the image and likeness of God. At least Peterson has the intellectual and moral honesty to admit that he is not completely sure about the fundamental truth of Christianity (i.e. the Resurrection), and that he requires more study to get there.

      To be honest, I found Mr. DeVille’s article as mean-spirited as any attack I’ve seen against Dr. Peterson from the Left (which if no small feat). It seemed as if Mr. DeVille was on a quest to prove how much smarter he is than Peterson by name dropping as many obscure works and authors as possible.

      I’ve watched virtually every lecture and interview Peterson has done, and I’m convinced that he is on the road to the fullness of truth in Christianity, specifically the Catholic Church (and will get there one day with a little help from G.K. Chesterton). Let’s hope unfair screeds like this don’t deter him from that path.

    • I think your reading of Peterson is correct. Catholics can be excited about him because he provides preparation for the Gospel and I hope he is also preparing himself for the Gospel.

    • Yes, anybody who even begins to lift others out of the contemporary narcissistic irrationality that engulfs society is to be commended, even if such a one hasn’t himself entered into the light of genuine Christianity.

      Maybe Christian scholars ought to engage Peterson in a constructive way instead of assaulting him. He makes a lot of sense to a lot of people because he does possess some truth (though certainly not the fullness of truth) that he articulates such that it exposes some of the intellectual absurdities commonly accepted in our times.

    • “is almost if he’d claimed that neither Billy Graham nor C.S.Lewis ever helped anyone to better know and love Jesus Christ, since neither Graham nor Lewis was Catholic.”

      which is the refrain you trip over all the time in very Trad conversations.

    • Good. Indeed, what do Christians often have to offer except weakened or even heretical versions of the Gospel that take their inspiration from feminism or liberalism?

      • What Christians all too often DO offer is as you indicate, but what Christians HAVE AVAILABLE TO OFFER is quite a bit better.

        “Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.” The treasure is there, even if the householder is too lazy to bring out anything better than a piece of litter he found outside on the street.

    • I don’t agree that Christianity is like Calculus and that some people are ‘too morally ignorant’ for Christianity. That is pure gnosticism. Nor do I agree that we need a semi-truth (such as Petersoniamism) to help us along the way to full Christian truth, because then the old heresies that may be embedded in Peterson’s views will eventually come back to haunt us. Jordan Peterson is the most dangerous thinker out there right now, precisely because he’s closer to the truth than most. Catholic thinkers need to study what he says very carefully and respond thoughtfully, bearing in mind always that even the manliest of heroes ultimately serves a higher purpose than himself.

      • Ciaran:

        “I don’t agree that Christianity is like Calculus and that some people are ‘too morally ignorant’ for Christianity.”

        Interestingly, although you phrase this as a disagreement with me, I mostly agree with what you’ve said here.

        No single individual is “too morally ignorant” for Christianity in the sense of being unconvertible by the Holy Spirit IF the Holy Spirit should exert a kind of Calvinist, irresistible form of grace.

        But I generalize about the preparedness of persons generally. My view is that some cultures are better-prepared for the gospel, and some cultures are worse-prepared, and that ours is one of the worse-prepared.

        And in the worse-prepared cultures, God COULD in theory exert supernatural grace to an extent which would override the free will of all the humans in the last five hundred years which have led us to this current, Nearly/Mostly Unteachable Moment. He could, but that is not His usual practice.

        Consequently, most of the non-Christian population of our society will not be converted directly to Christianity; they will instead be converted to Christianity (IF they are) by first being converted to a neo-Stoic notion of virtue, which is what Peterson is delivering.

        (It’s best-described as neo-Stoic, please note: Peterson is something of a modern Seneca. It isn’t “Gnostic.” Not even slightly. We ought to be careful about labels, and this is one you’re using inaccurately. Peterson does not in any way disapprove of the body or of matter as such; nor do I. Nor do I propose that Christianity has any secret doctrines (and Peterson’s quite public about his opinions); only that (a.) most of the under-30 crowd thinks — incorrectly — that they already know those doctrines and that they are evil and need, as a moral obligation, to be destroyed; and (b.) until they discover that they’re wrong about this, they will be exceptionally closed to evangelization.)

        You see, Greek and Roman paganism had already benefited from centuries of moral philosophers, often of the Stoic variety. And here is what they found: They were unable to follow those moral teachings, even though they could see their rightness. Merely KNOWING that you “ought to clean your room and exercise” was not enough: They needed power to overcome sin, and they lacked it.

        Then the Christians showed up. And without benefit of education in Stoical philosophy, they lived lives of exemplary virtue and died for the faith. Naturally the pagan world asked, “We know we have no power over our own sin; how come these Christians DO have that power?” And THAT is a culture ripe for conversion.

        So when you say, “Nor do I agree that we need a semi-truth (such as Petersoniamism) to help us along the way to full Christian truth, because then the old heresies that may be embedded in Peterson’s views will eventually come back to haunt us…,” I mostly agree with you.

        Petersonianism will bring a certain number of persons to a quasi-Stoical concept of virtue, currently lacking. Some will STOP there, and that will make Petersonianism a new (old) heresy/ideology with which Christianity will compete.

        However, others will NOT stop there, precisely because they’ll now know what they ought to do (and that IS an improvement), but find themselves unable to do it. Norman Vincent Peale only gets you so far.

        And that is why Peterson can be — if God uses him this way — a tool for making our culture ripe for conversion.

        You conclude: “Jordan Peterson is the most dangerous thinker out there right now, precisely because he’s closer to the truth than most. Catholic thinkers need to study what he says very carefully and respond thoughtfully, bearing in mind always that even the manliest of heroes ultimately serves a higher purpose than himself.”

        Yes. I totally agree with this. But, if we play this correctly, Peterson will be a tool in the hand of God. You fear — correctly — that the partial truths in what Peterson says may be a tool in the hand of the Enemy. And that’s true. But remember: Our God does judo. He is adept at using the Enemy’s best tools — even death and suffering — to bring about the Enemy’s downfall.

    • The ultimate problem with Jordan Peterson is that he is an atheist, and is an aggressive promoter of atheism. Yes, it’s confusing, since he fiercely denounces atheism, and he claims to have resolved the conflict between religion and science. But if you do some research into what Peterson really says about God and religion, you eventually discover and realize that the “God” that Peterson talks about does not have any literal existence outside of the human minds. That meets the definition that most people give to the term “atheism.” The “God” that Jordan Peterson promotes is Western Civilization itself (or rather, his conception of that). He sees Western Civilization as the pinnacle of human evolution. He sees Progressives as the enemies of Western Civilization. And he sees Atheist Activists as working to undermind Sacred Faith and trust in the sacred Western Civilization. It is true that you will not find Jordan Peterson saying, “I am an atheist.” But read and listen carefully to what he does say about the “God” that he promotes, and you will see the “sleight of hand” that’s going on in his lectures and writings, as he replaces the literally-existing eternal God of Christianity with the false psychologically-existing “God” of Carl Jung. Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille summed all this up very well in this article that Catholic World Report had the great courage to publish.

      • Jordan Peterson is not an atheist and has said that the Catholic religion is the closest to getting the Bible right.

        • Peterson has praised Catholicism. Peterson does condemn Atheist Activists who denigrate the concept of God.

          But for Peterson there is no literal personal, thinking, acting Creator God existing outside of the human mind.

          For Peterson the natural process of biological evolution is the only Creator.

          For Peterson morality and religion are outcomes of the natural process of biological evolution.

          Peterson did not invent or first conceive of this naturalistic explanation of culture, religion, and morality. Scholars in the fields of Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology have been saying all this for at least 40 years, and maybe much longer.

          My objection is that Peterson intentionally misleads millions of people into thinking that he is endorsing the God of the Bible, when in fact he views the God of the Bible as being merely a concept in the human mind put there by biological evolution.

          Peterson does regard the concept of God as very important in fighting off the influence of Marxists and other Progressives in society.

          But ultimately, Peterson’s naturalistic, Darwinian conception of God, morality, and religion undermines the very authority that Peterson wants God, morality, and Christianity to have.

          If there never was any genuine Divine Revelation from an eternal, conscious, thinking, acting, feeling Supreme Being, then why believe in any religion?

          Peterson’s answer to that is: believe Christianity because the principle of Individualism that Peterson claims was born with Christianity is the pinnacle of human evolution (thus far–the process of evolution never ends, so an even better religion may be yet to come, under Peterson’s theory).

          To see Peterson actually saying all this, go to his videos in which he discusses religion and God. I’ve included some quotes from these Peterson videos in this comments section. I won’t repeat them all here, but here’s just one: “What I think about religion is very Darwinian. I think religion is an evolved–it’s evolved knowledge.”

          Beware of Peterson. He is a deceiver.

  7. I had read some reviews that made me leery of this book, so I thank you for this article.

    (But I still have to say that I found hilarious the interview with the British TV host whose head pretty much exploded. I guess I’m just evil.)

  8. I wonder if the reviewer would have such a sharp reaction for Thomas Merton or Malcolm X, both social voices that appealed to drifters despite their dubious moorings? JP does sound sub-Christian, but maybe he is filling a vacuum created a feminine Church. His philosophy sounds flawed, but I am not sure it’s fair to lacerate his motives, which I sense being done here. It all gives pause… taking responsibility for yourself hardly sounds like super-alarming advice, and most men won’t become Jungian in the long run. It does make me curious about JPs personal life… he strikes me as a male Dr Laura…

    • Yes, he is the male Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who is another non-Christian who promotes Conservatism.

  9. Many thanks for your critique of this widely praised book. The fact that he has not reached the point of recognizing authentic Christianity as the solution to the world’s problems already tells us that he is really a distraction (however learned) to reaching a knowledge of the real foundational truth of reality.

  10. Dr. DeVillk:
    You have no evidence–none–behind your assertion that Dr. Peterson has anything more to do with Social Darwinism than any other intellectual of any stripe (show me the man and I will show you the Social Darwinism.

    And your use of the polemical cant term “bourgeois individualism” reveals you as a warmed-over Marxist: there is nothing intrinsically wrong with being either bourgeois or an individualist.

    A cursory look at your own scholarship shows that you are at no height from which to be raining down calumny. And by (a.) failing to credit a fellow academic’s classroom use of Jungian archetypes as being–as you know as well as I that they are–a typical donnish frame from which to organise a captivating delivery of idea (in a 400-level Course which his Institute mandates ‘Pshcyhology of Meaning”; and (b.) criticising a popular book written directly at a general (and largely non-literary) male audience as if it were set for an *academic* audience, you yourself are a discredit to academics, and no great credit to your Church.

    • “(show me the man and I will show you the Social Darwinism.”

      Where is the social Darwinism in, say, Noam Chomsky’s work?

      • To poster ‘Jordan Peberson’:
        Gnome Chomsky:”Occupy The Future.” In These Times. November 1, 2011.

        “The 1970s marked a turning point for the United States. Since the country began, it had been a developing society, not always in very pretty ways, but with general progress toward industrialization and wealth.

        Even in dark times, the expectation was that the progress would continue. I’m just old enough to remember the Great Depression. By the mid-1930s, even though the situation was objectively much harsher than today, the spirit was quite different.

        Karl Marx said, “The task is not just to understand the world but to change it.”

        If you can’t work up Social Darwinism from these–at the same level that Peterson was smeared with smeared with as a Social Darwinist–then you are not trying.

  11. To use the authors imagery: half way through the critique, I stood up & stretched, for fear that reading one more trite ‘jab’ I might fall into a narcoleptic transe. ..

  12. Yes, by all means, trash Dr Peterson. The fact that he’s helping thousands of young men better their lives is a something only lefties like “Dr.” Adam would hate. Yes, Peterson is no Christian scholar, but at least he’s getting the message out about Christianity to millions, something Dr Adam and other Christian academics should be doing instead of writing papers only other academics read.

    • lmao no young man who is reading JBP is “bettering their lives”

      oh, cleaning their room, bucko? lmao, these “young men” are shutin incels who aren’t changing anything about their lives but becoming more bitter at women for not having sex with them.

  13. I did read the book without the scepticism (as per this review) that i’ve read after the fact. Ok, I liked his story telling and his overall theme of chaos vs order and how this view helps explains things. He did not bring in St. Michael vs Lucifer but the idea was there for me. Was I wrong? I did not get the I was leaving my catholicism behind. Is that what this reviewer is afraid has happened to me? I really appreciate his concern. Truly. I did think that it was wordy in parts but did like the synopsis at the end of the chapters. The older I get the more diffuculty I have in understanding and remembering things.

  14. More vitriol than an ignorant like I ever intended to write even to Obama or Pope Francis! Holy Cow that was unproductively meanspirited. Who would forward that to their son? Wasted.

  15. I haven’t read the book yet, but I watched some of his videos. While I think the theological and anthropological assessment may well be true he does seem willing to counter the PC mafia. Any guy that refuses to play the trans game of gender pronouns has some guts, especially in Canada. Ironically he has more courage to refuse this PC garbage then some of the German bishops and maybe some American ones.

  16. If CWR had titled the article, “Thoughts on Jordan Peterson” that would be one thing. I’ll read it since it will surely contain some real insight. But if it’s trying to say, “Don’t be fooled, stuff this guy in the garbage can immediately don’t even LOOK!” then wow. JBP is doing SO MUCH GOOD! He is getting guys by the droves (even millions) out of their mothers’ basements, and once they’ve brushed the Cheeto dust off themselves, they’re getting their live in order, thinking of career/job/marriage – and ultimately on a trajectory for thinking for themselves. (JBP doesn’t like identity politics, and says the etymology of “slogan” is “battle cry of the damned.”) We saw him in NYC on 3/25/18 at the Beacon Theatre (had tickets that were meet-and-greet and photo op) so shook his hand and handed him a manila folder called “Jordan Peterson Refreshment Kit” in which there were two stunning stories by Jacques Lusseyran (Poetry in Buchenwald and Jeremy from “Against the Pollution of the I” – heard about JL in First Things) and a couple other things I love.

    • It’s a review. As such, it’s expresses the reviewer’s thoughts on the book reviewed. That’s elementary.

      Also note that CWR has run THREE positive or mostly positive pieces (linked at the bottom of Dr. DeVille’s review) about Peterson’s book.

      Dr. DeVille has a background in psychiatric thought and history, and he is also a theologian, so he brings a somewhat unique set of credentials to the table. Feel free, of course, to disagree with him, but instead of saying “this is what DeVille is trying to say,” simply engage with what he actually says.

      Finally, you write, “He is getting guys by the droves (even millions) out of their mothers’ basements…” Really? I keep seeing comments here and elsewhere about how Peterson is changing the lives of thousands (or millions!) of young men, but I have to wonder how much of this is projection or wish fulfillment or hopeful thinking. This is not to deny the good that Peterson may be doing; rather, I tend to be bit skeptical of this sort of hyperbolic praise, especially when there is scant evidence to support it.

      It also seems to me that far too many folks act as though only living, current authors and thinkers can have an impact on the lives of young people. When I was a young man a quarter century ago, I found that nearly all of the thinkers and authors that had the deepest impact on me were dead–many of them for centuries: Chesterton, Newman, Aquinas, Aristotle, Jean Danielou, Henri de Lubac, the early Church Fathers, CS Lewis, TS Eliot, and so forth. Some exceptions were John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger. Put another way, it’s as if the “rules” of the current situation is that something is older than five years, it’s not worthy of consideration and contemplation. That is a serious problem.

      • “Put another way, it’s as if the “rules” of the current situation is that something is older than five years, it’s not worthy of consideration and contemplation. That is a serious problem.”
        Two things: evidence for your statement above and second: You are clearly a very bright man. I’m not sure of your level of education but i’ve always been impressed with your ‘well readness” and intellect. Not everyone has your capacity. I certainly don’t. So I think cutting some younger people some slack on their reading is a good thing. Newman is not easy reading, Chesterton sometimes can be light then heavy. Cut us some slack. No?

        • Thank you for the kind words. I don’t know that it’s really about education; I think it’s about a desire for truth and a love of learning, regardless of one’s education. Yes, I have always been a voracious reader, but it’s not because of my education; I was reading at the age of three and was reading Dickens, Milton, and Shakespeare on my own in fifth grade (along, I must note, Louis L’Amour, “Encyclopedia Brown”, and the “Hardy Boys”!). But my parents weren’t heavy readers, and my pre-college education was rather run-of-the-mill (with a couple of notable exceptions).

          Yes, Newman can be challenging, but he wrote for a wide and even popular audience, and Chesterton most certainly wrote for a popular audience: the vast majority of his essays were for newspapers. We can lament, I think, the general dumbing down of our culture, but I also think there is a more significant issue: the flattening of our cultural vision, so that we don’t think in terms of truth, reality, integrity, beauty, order, and goodness, but more in terms of practicality, technology, functionality, and so forth. Thus, we have a conservative politician (yes, I’m using that descriptive broadly) like Marco Rubio dismissing the value of philosophy, only to finally figure out, in his 40s, that maybe it is good for something. And so it goes!

        • The public education system has done much to damage the ability of the young to read and learn by reading. (Even Mortimer Adler knew this.)

          Baby steps.

      • “Scant evidence to support it”? Come on Carl, you’re a better researcher than that. Simply look at how many concert halls he’s selling out on a regular basis all over the world. Read the testimonials of young men posted on any one of his numerous Youtube videos. Call it anecdotal evidence if you like, but to say there is “scant evidence” to support the impact he’s having on young men is absurd.

      • Carl E. Olson, You wrote:

        Finally, you write, “He is getting guys by the droves (even millions) out of their mothers’ basements…” Really? …good Peterson may be doing…there is scant evidence to support it.

        This is only 40 seconds, but this is the talk my husband and I attended. Note the “Lobster claw clicking” 😉 These young men (the crowd was about 70% male) were out of their mothers’ basements. And here’s how they greeted him.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHsZcSrvCag
        Jordan Peterson on 3/25/18 at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan

        Less of the intellectual posturing, Carl, and more of the gladness of heart at seeing someone doing so much good.

        And discounting him because he’s “new”??? Look at his website and at the books he recommends. I am particularly thrilled at JBP’s “resurrection” of the great Solzhenitsyn, and Dostoyevsky… He doesn’t point to HIMSELF. People who do that are kind of ugghy.

  17. Scott Alexander at slatestarcodex has done a review of 12 Rules, and a follow-up yesterday highlighting people’s comments on that review. Here’s a commentator I liked:

    “I really don’t think C.S. Lewis would look down on Peterson’s theology at all – Peterson’s “LET’S JUST ACT LIKE ITS TRUE, AND NOT WORRY ABOUT PROVING THE METAPHYSICS”. Take this quote from Lewis’s Mere Christianity:

    C.S. LEWIS: The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. DO NOT WASTE TIME BOTHERING WHETHER YOU ‘LOVE’ YOUR NEIGHBOR; ACT AS IF YOU DID. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him…

    Commentator adds: “Compare this to PETERSON’S ANSWER TO A QUESTION ABOUT HOW A PERSON WHO IS AN ATHEIST MIGHT COME TO BELIEVE AGAIN:

    JORDAN PETERSON: I would say that you start believing not by convincing yourself that the statement “There is a God” is true, like a fact is true, but rather act out the proposition that you should shoulder your cross and stumble uphill towards the City of God. That’s belief, man!

    Commentator finishes off: “By this logic, I’d say Lewis would consider Peterson a believer in the ways that really matter – at least in public. And he might also respect Peterson’s wish to keep his dogmatic commitments private.”

    • There is no imposed gender language from the state in the West today. Why is there any need to speak out against something that does not exist?

      • A commentator here says, “There is no imposed gender language from the state in the West today. Why is there any need to speak out against something that does not exist?”

        It DOES exist under Bill C-16 in Canada (via its connection the the Canadian Human Rights Commission). It is COMPELLED SPEECH. This is what JPB will not countenance.

        Here it is in NYC, Snopes verified:

        https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/transgender-pronouns-fine-nyc/


        Discrimination against a transgender individual could result in fines of up to $250,000, but these fines won’t be handed out for accidentally misusing pronouns. According to the new guidelines, the commission can impose civil penalties of up to $125,000 for violations of the law and (in extreme circumstances) of up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of “willful, wanton, or malicious” conduct.”

        • Bill C-16 does not compel speech. Jordan Peterson is lying to you. If you have proof that it does compel speech, you should cite it.
          http://sds.utoronto.ca/blog/bill-c-16-no-its-not-about-criminalizing-pronoun-misuse/

          As for the NYC rules, reading the link you provided, and even the text you quoted, makes it clear that it does not result in “imposed gender language.” It outlaws discrimination; it does not constitute compelled speech. For example, intentionally and repeatedly using the wrong pronoun is discrimination (just as intentionally and repeatedly referring to a woman named “Lisa” as “Larry” would constitute harassment). However, you are not forced to use any words you don’t want to: if you don’t want to refer to someone using their preferred pronoun, just use their name.

          • Flapdoodle. Referring to someone using the correct pronoun and being punished for it is compelled speech. They are attempting to force one to lie.

          • Read beyond the mainstream. At least two universities have made it a transgression to discuss gender.

      • No, and there is no confusion in the Vatican about the possibility of hell, no lacking in churchmen willing to warn about the danger of islamification throughout the west. No shortage of priest giving mixed messages about SSM, no shortage of priest backtracking on contraception. The list could go on. The reality is that it is being left to lay men and women to proclaim what were once universal beliefs. It really is not a good time to be a Catholic or to persuade others to cross the Tiber.

  18. This review is a sorely needed corrective to the popularity of this book. Many thanks to Professor DeVille for providing it. He is especially right about the insidious nature of a book that actually does deal with an issue that is real, but from completely wrong assumptions that sort of (in some way) look Christian, even though they are emptied of their content. Such a book, then, stands to do more damage over time than help anything.

      • As I recall from my days when I was as uncharitable and certain of my moral and intellectual superiority as our apparent ‘prodigy’ Carl and the good Professor Deville…it is not necessary to read opposing arguments by those we have determined to be our inferiors.

        Please God let those who are more charitably minded realize how well Peterson would be received (not deified or canonized but respected) by Chesterton and C.S. Lewis and yes, Newman.

        • “As I recall from my days when I was as uncharitable and certain of my moral and intellectual superiority as our apparent ‘prodigy’ Carl and the good Professor Deville…it is not necessary to read opposing arguments by those we have determined to be our inferiors.”

          Your newfound maturity and charity are evident. I just placed an order for sackcloth and ashes at Amazon.com.

          I would also point out, at risk of revealing my prodigious abilities (not to mention openminded sensibilities), that CWR has posted three very positive pieces about Dr. Peterson and his book.

  19. Methinks thou protesteth too much. Twice DeVille mentions his counter-transference…. “As I was reading this book, and monitoring, if you will, my own “counter-transference” reactions to it.” and “which lead to my second counter-transferential response to this book” DeVille, You might want to fix your monitoring mechanism you supposedly have in place for your counter-transference reactions because I think it’s broken. This critique is seething with hostility. Who might you really be so enraged with? Is it your Daddy? Did he espouse “bourgeois individualism”? Did he tell you to clean your room? Maybe it’s your Mommy? Maybe it’s the school bully? Maybe the USA? You’re fighting some phantom and it ain’t Jordan Peterson. Young men enjoy listening to Jordan Peterson because he invites them on his journey for truth. I suspect the reason you are unknown and your book isn’t a best seller ( “In a just world, this book would never have been published, let alone become a best-seller”. Waah! waah! guess what Deville? We don’t live in a just world and are you saying a just world would be one in which only books like yours would be allowed to be published? If so, that’s scary) is because you believe you already know all the answers and have nothing to learn from anyone and you must impart your wisdom on the underlings. You might want to read or re-read Jean Vanier’s book “Becoming Human”. I’m pretty sure you have a lot more to learn about being a broken human being like the rest of us.

        • You right Leslie. I’m a wicked horrible classless woman and so were my mommy and Daddy. Thank you Leslie for the insults. I deserve it and I’m so much worse. The worst sinner you could ever imagine.

          • Lambie pie, I was doing nothing but applying parts of your rant at the author of the article back at you. If you find that insulting, you can blame yourself – sincerely, not with spite-filled pseudo-humility.

          • BEth, we pray for these ‘angelic and tolerant’ who project upon us behavior that is not evidenced. Keep strong.

  20. Oh Dear Carl, Classy I’m not. I’m actually the scum that Christ wipes off the bottom of his sandal and I’m very grateful I know my place. I apologize for sarcastically commenting to your comment to me. That was my hideously ugly pride.

  21. “As I was reading this book, and monitoring, if you will, my own “counter-transference” reactions to it, the face of Jean Vanier kept appearing in my mind’s eye. This great Canadian Catholic, who has spent his life founding and living in L’Arche communities with those considered losers by most of the world, was a silent rebuke to Peterson’s unbridled boosterism for social hierarchy and libido dominandi. People like those in L’Arche or in Catholic Worker Houses, and many others elsewhere who are sick, handicapped, elderly, and impoverished, are the rejects of our “throwaway society,” as the pope calls it.”

    Be careful citing Vanier. He has recently come out in fuzzy support of assisted suicide and not on the basis of individualism. Perhaps we should also consider false communiatrianism that the current Pope supports (and likely led to Vanier’s heresy) as well as such deluded movements such as Communio and Distributism.

    https://catholicinsight.com/the-sad-interview-with-jean-vanier/

  22. Dr. DeVille’s jealousy of someone else’s success overtook his good judgment. Why can’t we just cheer for someone who is actually encouraging “manly” behavior? Jordan Peterson is (finally!) a breath of fresh air in a politically-correct world.

  23. You’re right Leslie . You win again. I’m spite filled and practice pseudo -humility. Keep the insults coming. I love it. I deserve it and so much more.

      • Leslie, So you’re admiting you were insulting me but lied when you said you were doing nothing of the sort. Thanks for proving my point.

        • No, dearie. My point was that when I said that it was probably your Mommy or your Daddy, I was being charmingly amusing by quoting you in response to your snideness to Mr. Olson. You were so hilariously miffed at Mr. Olson for daring to make a really quite mild remark about your angry rant at the author of the article that I made a mock-apology for you. That’s not the same thing as insulting you. If you took it as an insult then it is because you were being insulting to the author of the article and you didn’t realize how risible your comments were.

          When I indicated that your drama-queen self-blame was only spite-filled pseudo-humility, I was stating the truth, which your subsequent behavior proves. I suppose pointing out the truth about your behavior was insulting, but again, you’ve only yourself to blame; if your behavior weren’t so bad, telling the truth about it wouldn’t be an insult.

          Strange that you feel free to sling insults and make personal attacks on the author but you are remarkably hypersensitive about anything you consider might be lacking in respect for you or your opinions.

    • Dr. DeVille’s scholarship and theology are sound. I have no argument with him on that score. And clearly, Jordan Peterson is not promoting Catholicism. And yet, I read the article with disappointment and some anger.

      As a high school theology teacher, I rejoice in the Jordan Peterson phenomenon. Am I impressed by his profound theology? No. I’m impressed rather by his common sense and his courage to call things what they are–qualities which are in rather short supply today. He has a short video on Prager U called “Fix Yourself” in which he demolishes the idea that Social Justice Warriors or any college student is equipped to ‘change the world’. I could criticize his less than Augustinian understanding of original sin and its effects on the will and our ability to save ourselves. Theologically he could be criticized for a certain Pelagianism perhaps. But none of that is the point. He is simply saying–reasonably it seems to me–that before we change the world we should look to our own house. Paul Johnson makes a similar point in his book ‘Intellectuals’.

      In a well known anecdote, President Lincoln decided that he needed a general who would fight the enemy until the enemy was defeated, and he had settled on Grant. Someone mentioned to him that Grant was a drinker. Lincoln said something like “Find out what kind of whiskey he drinks and get it for all my generals.” He then said, “I can’t spare this man; he fights.”

      Catholics don’t have many leaders who fight. Jordan Peterson flat out refused to be forced to use the new “pronouns” mandated by Canadian law. How many of our leaders have spoken out on these matters?

      Again, Jordan Peterson is not a theological hero for many of us. But he is a brave man standing against cultural insanity. For that he deserves recognition and praise.

      • Many people said of Mussolini and Franco that each of them was “a brave man standing against cultural insanity.”

        But each of them also taught great evil and ordered or committed acts of great evil.

        It isn’t enough to be a pretend or real macho man standing up against activists of Transgenderism Movement.

        It isn’t enough to be a master of on-stage histrionics.

        Jesus didn’t come to the earth to anoint Jordan Peterson as our new prophet, priest or philosopher-king.

        Jesus said, “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.”

  24. I rather read his book and use my discernment, than reading current catholic heretic apostate literature, which most of the time are silent if not promote homosexualism, abortion and other liberal agendas (not to mention paganism in the form of deceptive gnosticism)

  25. When I see a Catholic attacking someone for “social Darwinism,” I’m pretty sure the person being attacked has come out against the New Deal/Great Society poverty-pimp, womb-to-tomb-infancy, vote-harvesting plantation. I.e., the Democrat-USCCB money machine.

    • The Vatican has spoken of and condemned Social Darwinism. See: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdlife/documents/rc_pont-acd_life_doc_20040903_euthanasia-netherlands_en.html

      The Catholics popes themselves have, contrary to Jordan Peterson, praised and called for Social Justice over and over again. See this article in Catholic World Report: “What is Social Justice? From John Paul II to Benedict XVI,” http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2013/07/25/what-is-social-justice-from-john-paul-ii-to-benedict-xvi/

      During Nazi rule in Germany, the pope and Catholic bishops issued many documents condemning the “paganism” of the Nazi philosophy, and condemning the Nazi’s lack of respect for Social Justice and Human Rights. See the Wikipedia article, “Catholic resistance to Nazi Germany,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_resistance_to_Nazi_Germany

      If someone doesn’t want to be Catholic or Christian, I can see how they may want to be a follower of Jordan Peterson, Ayn Rand, L. Ron Hubbard, or Joseph Smith, Jr.

      But Catholics, or anyone who ready to die with Christ and live with Christ, can’t have anything to do with these shiny new neo-pagan mystics and prophets.

      • Social justice is a rather novel theological opinion of the patriarchate of Rome. Give it another two centuries to see if it withstands time.

        • In my humble opinion, the notion that Catholic Social Doctrine (which includes principles of Social Justice) is a “novel theological opinion of the patriarchate of Rome” is a Right Wing myth.

          The idea that Pope Leo XIII broke with Sacred Tradition and concocted Catholic Social Doctrine in the 1800s is an oft’ told tale in Right Wing circles.

          But acceptance of this oft’ told tale depends up people being unfamiliar with the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and being unfamiliar with the Holy Word of God found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Leviticus, and so many other books of the Bible.

          It is true that Catholic men like Christopher Columbus believed that Catholic principles of Social Justice did not apply to Native Americans, but in those dark days Columbus was fiercely countered and condemned by the Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas.

          It is true that the patriarchate of Moscow has never taught Social Justice. But that’s not surprising since he’s never been Catholic. If the patriarchate of Moscow had been Catholic, there never would have been any Bolshevik Revolution.

          It is true that the Freemasons, Deists, and slave-traders who founded the USA did not believe in Social Justice, and did not include very many principles of Social Justice in the U.S. Constitution. If the U.S. Founding Fathers had been Catholic, the whole Civil War of 1861-1865 probably could have been avoided.

          It is true that in the 1920s-1940s, various “strong man” leaders in Italy, Spain, and Germany declared that Catholic principles of Social Justice did not apply to racial and religious minorities or political enemies of the one-party state.

          But these “strong men” and their political parties and ideologies were condemned over and over again by the popes and bishops in that period (except in Spain, where the bishops mainly cowered before the strongman leader, Franco). If the leaders of Germany and Italy in the 1920-1940s had been Catholic, there would have been no WW2 or Holocaust.

          And now, today, it seems that there is a whole segment of Catholics, especially in the U.S., who dismiss and swat Catholic Social Doctrine as they would an annoying mosquito.

          If Catholics today continue to spurn Catholic Social Doctrine, I fear that we headed toward once again towards the cataclysmic catastrophes of Europe in the 1920s-1940s…Bolsheviks, Fascists, Nazis, Falangists, gulags, death camps, global war….

          Why do we have to go through all this again???

          • Show me “social justice” as opposed to other terms using the word justice, before the 19th century. Show me its use, or a discussion of justice (in the Hellenistic sense, not the scriptural sense) in the various ecclesial traditions in the first millenium. Aquinas speaks of justice as he has received from Aristotle and the Romans. But he does not speak of “social justice.”

            Roman Catholics have adopted liberalism instead of sound moral theology, and this heresy, coupled with an erroneous judgment about the modern nation-state, renders Roman Catholics generally useless when it comes to political discussions.

            I’ll ignore the comment about Russia and the American founding; these sort of comments generally reflect the mindset of a Latin traditionalist and that sort of triumphalism is useless.

    • Yep. Notre Dame, as a Catholic bastion, has put in question its credentials as I’ve yet to see an apology to all Catholics for its support of the speech from Obama, chastising the university for not ‘getting with the times’ and promoting abortion.

      Nothing from these marvelous academics even yet has come out to apologize for this message being disseminated to an impressionable flock.

      I do not extol Jordan as the way, the truth and the life. I am hanging on for dear life to Christ, but I know well that Pope Benedict XVI himself acknowledged the marvelous variety of how the Holy Spirit can reap harvest from sown seeds.

      By their fruits. By their fruits. Due in part to Jordan we are harvesting fruits that have been abandoned in the interest of social justice and false compassion by a too large, Alinsky loving contingent of our church. Their patronizing and condescending bigotry of low expectations is awful.

      My Catholic faith is solid and growing.

      This uncharitable and verbose scree was not something that would lead me to seek Christ further if I was seeking a closer relationship.

  26. Clean up your room, stand up straight…insidious? For once a figure in popular culture is unabashedly proclaiming the Bible and its teachings have eternal truth and endless value to the modern human, yet you choose to lambast him? You apparently have never listened to his lectures b/c he clearly and repeatedly states he is commenting on the Bible with respect to its psychological significance…not exposing theological dogma. He repeatedly says he is not qualified to do so. I’ve read a couple other of your articles and you are clearly a brilliant man, however I think you missed the mark here.

  27. How hateful and ignorant is this essay?
    Sadly, Prof. Peterson is the one doing more for Christianity in the 21st Century than you Catholics and Protestants combined, with your suicidal siding with the totalitarian atheist social justice movement and political correctness. Christian teachings have go so bad that I have given up going to my church and moved my donations to a free speech think tank.
    Prof. Peterson has revived my study of Christianity and if nothing else, he got me to stop wasting time watching TV and read the eye opening Gulag Archipelago.
    You should examine your own motives for trashing someone doing good and being successful.

    • “Sadly, Prof. Peterson is the one doing more for Christianity in the 21st Century than you Catholics and Protestants combined….”

      You’re not helping your credibility at all.

      “….and if nothing else, he got me to stop wasting time watching TV.”

      Hope springs eternal.

  28. Jordan Peterson is a great lecturer who can easily keep an audience’s attention for 1 ½ hours. The advantage of his lectures on 12 Rules is he is able to elaborate off the cuff. His message is person focused practical self improvement rather than interpersonal. The latter meaning others are there for our utilization. Rule 5 commends positive reinforcement of others within the sphere of one’s success as a person rather than a certain detachment from self in interest of the other. He frequently inverts Christian doctrine into psychological premises. Example the “Matthew Principle” in which Christ refers to the more one is given [grace] the more expected and the one who ends with less will lose even that is reinterpreted as give and take reinforcement of personality. The Messiah Christ assumes the evil of others but not for sake of saving us but more as an example of bad reinforcement. In short 12 Rules is more a religion of the self, a guide to success and self improvement that inverts Christian charity for the good of others to a form of utilitarianism. That Peterson frequently applies Christian mores in inverted practical form is understandably attractive to today’s youth searching for a soul.

  29. Truth, when spoken, resonates with people. They are attracted to it like bees to pollen. I have to think that there is something in what Peterson is saying that resonates with people. Secondly, give me an honest searcher for truth any day than someone who professes to have all the answers.

    • Actually, in the Bible, it says clearly that MOST (or MANY) people have a natural resonance with or affinity for LIES.

      Consider these words of Jesus Christ in John 8:44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is NO TRUTH in him. When he LIES, he speaks his native language, for he is a LIAR and the father of LIES.”

      Consider these words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and MANY enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and ONLY A FEW find it.”

      Jordan Peterson’s mass popularity proves nothing.

      L. Ron Hubbard has 8 million followers in the Scientology movement.

      Joseph Smith, Jr. has 15 million followers in the Mormon movement.

      If anything, I’d say Jordan Peterson’s mass popularity proves he’s not teaching the Truth.

      Stay away from the Flavor of the Month. Stay away from these shiny new messiahs who come and go.

      Cling to the Cross of Jesus Christ, and to His Resurrection, and to his Second Coming.

  30. There is another aspect of Prof Jordan Peterson’s vision of reality which enthusiasts are alerted to by Dr DeVille. It is Prof Peterson’e borrowed notion from Karl Jung of a “Dark Side” of human nature. In Peterson’s schemata it assumes like Jung [Jung was influenced by Nietzsche’s amorality] a Zoroastrian inherent dimension of human nature that is similar to Zoroaster and Manes. A symbiotic part of human nature neither good or evil. Peterson addresses this view in referencing a book Ordinary Men describing atrocities committed in Poland by volunteer German police. Essayed by Peterson as just simply men who had to do a terrible job and sickened by it. In Peterson’s view it was not evil in the sense of moral evil rather an expression of our dark side that should be avoided by incremental positive acts. He appeared conflicted and hinted at his own struggle [which most of us at times experience] and personal psychological analysis. The problem for Peterson is he perceives our Dark Side as an inherent available option that is not morally condemning, simply a preferably avoidable option that could be assumed if events warrant. This is dangerous within an ethics that denies the profound religious distinction between good and evil.

  31. THE 12 CATHOLIC RULES FOR LIFE: AN ANTIDOTE TO EVIL

    Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille summed up Jordan Peterson very well, very accurately.

    But judging from the comments, many people were not convinced by Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille’s article. Some commentators said that Dr. DeVille should have included more quotations from Peterson in order to justify his conclusions.

    I actually agree with that. So many people are so in love with and enthralled by Jordan Peterson, by his speaking style (histrionics), and by his messages and ideology, that they will not even consider changing their minds about Peterson unless they see quite a few quotations of Peterson saying things that are untrue, dubious, contradictory, extremist, irrational, dishonest, hateful, weird, etc. (Such Peterson quotations are out there, but it takes some time to collect them, since most of them are in videos.)

    So, I would really enjoy reading another article by Dr. DeVille, one that includes many more quotations from Peterson.

    And I would hope that Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille could also make his case about Peterson by using many quotations from the Scriptures, the Creed, and other authortative documents of the Catholic Church, and from Catholic saints and theologians of great holiness and respectability.

    But even more than that, I wish Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille would simply BE the “counter Jordan Peterson.”

    I.e., exposing how corrupt and corrupting Jordan Peterson is, in book reviews, is not going to slow down the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon one bit. Why not?

    Because that’s not going to provide Jordan Peterson fans and followers with what they want and long for: A strong, forceful, intelligent man who will stand up and be a leader and teacher of the truth, and who will show them and teach them the Best and Right Way to Live. Alas, we are in a period in the Catholic Church when we have a real shortage of such men.

    Still, what’s stopping Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille from being such a man?

    What’s stopping Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille from putting hundreds of hours of lectures on video up on YouTube? (which is what Peterson did and is what led to his fame)

    What’s stopping Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille from writing and publishing a book titled:

    THE 12 CATHOLIC RULES FOR LIFE: AN ANTIDOTE TO EVIL

      • I won’t become a Manichaean or a Jungian no matter what Dr. Peterson–or anyone else, for that matter–says. It seems to me that there are two things going on in this debate. Some are warning against the dangers of Dr. Peterson’s teaching–that it is not orthodox Catholic teaching and therefore it is dangerous to naively embrace it and unknowingly fall into heresy or sub-Christian thinking.

        Fair enough; point taken.

        Many of us, however, are looking at the extraordinary response Dr. Peterson is getting from all sorts of people and trying to see what it he is saying that is striking a chord with so many. The article from Dr. DeVille seemed to be attacking someone who is not in the orthodox Catholic camp but may be heading there–and even if he isn’t, he is still a cultural ally. His words of advice to college students are practical and wise. For example, in the Prager U video “Fix Yourself”, he tells young people to ‘stop doing what you know to be wrong. Stop today.’ He tells them not to waste time asking how they know that what they’re doing is wrong. This gets to the heart of what the JP phenomenon is about. Our young people live in a nearly total relativistic vortex. So even if their lives are trainwrecks, they have a hard time thinking they’re wrong because everyone around them says that its okay to do whatever you want. I’m afraid most of us older people (I’m 57) don’t understand how all-pervasive this mindset is. Peterson is trying to help them by saying ‘You already know the truth; do what you know is right. Stop doing what you know is wrong.’ He tells them ‘You can know something is right or wrong without knowing why.’ This seems to me to be basic Natural Law reasoning. Could Jordan Peterson or anyone else be mistaken about what they think is right or wrong. Of course they could, but at least this is an honest attempt to do the right thing and straighten out a morally confused life. Why such animosity toward Jordan Peterson?

        It seems to me that there is great danger here of missing the obvious. It is good to be careful, and those who are learned in the arcane world of psychology and who are also Catholic Christians do well to point out the dangers. But don’t lets miss the clear and refreshing message that Peterson is speaking to this culture. Call things by their real name and do the right thing, come what may. Dr. Peterson has risked more than most of us ever will to do just that.

        • Tom Jordan Peterson admittedly is more than my short preliminary critical analysis. He searches truth from a psychological perspective and admits his own inability to answer all questions. He offers a reasoned approach to a chaotic world with a plan for establishing order. Order is the very basis of morality so he’s apparently not opposed to going further. He was interviewed by Patrick Coffin the major subject of interest The Resurrection. Although he’s a non believer at this stage he said he needs more time to understand perhaps even accept what he calls a merger of myth with metaphysics that he thought can only be a miracle. When asked about a church he claimed he adopted as his ‘church’ the Italian Cistercian Joachim of Flores {Fiore] who held a three stage epochal Trinitarian process of Father Son and Holy Spirit. Peterson as we know sees much of history as interconnected process. When asked about Catholicism he responded that the Catholic doctrine of mercy, agreeing with Coffin merciful sacramental forgiveness separates Catholicism from Protestantism which leaves us with sin and guilt. If this man were to convert to Catholicism he certainly be a great asset.

        • Tom Nealon urges us to view Jordan Peterson as a “cultural ally.”

          Please consider that in light of what the Ludwig von Mises (the “patron saint” of free-market economic theory) said about Fascism in his 1927 book “Liberalism:”

          “It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error.”

          There you can see that Ludwig von Mises in 1927 viewed the Fascist dictators and their political movements as “cultural allies,” and as “salvation,” even if they were not perfect.

          Of course, Ludwig von Mises did not foresee or imagine the horrific calamities that would soon be brought upon Europe by the Fascist dictators and their followers.

          All that Ludwig von Mises could see was that the Marxists and other Left Wing parties were being destroyed by the Fascist dictators and their followers.

          So, I wonder: Are those who embrace Jordan Peterson as a “cultural ally,” and who are quick to dismiss, as trivial, Peterson’s neo-pagan, Darwinian, Nietzschean, Gnostic, occultish, Jungian, crypto-atheist doctrines, making the same tragic mistake that Ludwig von Mises (and many others like him) made in the 1920s-1930s?

          Isn’t that a fair question?

          (P.S. Again I thank and praise Catholic World Review for the moral courage publishing this article in the face of such strong push-back from the millions who are enthralled and inspired by Jordan Peterson Movement.)

          • Its not a matter of the question being fair, but only sensible. Your “argument” amounts to: “Ludwig was mistaken, so you might be mistaken”. No distinctions, no discernments, no attempt to connect ideas, nothing analogous in your analogy. Shrug.

  32. Thank you for publishing the link to Bishop Barron’s review. His piece is much more helpful than yours, which ends up sounding like a confession of how unimpressive and ineffectual you are with your students.

  33. St. Justin Martyr thought that “semina verbi” or the “logos spermatikos”, or seeds of the Word were present in pagan philosophy especially Platonism. Eusebius of Caesarea wrote a book called Preparatio Evangelica. So, it seems to me that the reviewer is rather extreme in his judgments. I am not saying that he is incorrect in what he writes, but we cannot expect from Peterson what he cannot give as he is not a Christian and has no knowledge of the great Catholic tradition, such as St. Augustine on Original Sin, St. Thomas Aquinas and so many other great Catholic doctors. He is not aware of the doctrine of original sin. Yes, he delves into Scripture from a Jungian perspective and obviously cannot truly understand it in all its depth. There is an expression in Spanish which runs “you cannot expect to get pears from an elm tree”. The impression I get from the extremely negative review is that the author seems to think that Peterson should be giving what he is not capable of. I also saw Peterson a video explain how it is so important to listen to others, or actively listen, and try to rescue whatever is positive in what the other says, although a good part of it is not correct. St. Paul talks about giving his converts from paganism milk and not solid food. Yes, Peterson is not capable of giving “solid food” which is, of course, Catholic Christianity, but what he is proposing is not totally negative or useless, as the reviewer seems to think. Even Cervantes thought no book was so bereft of value that it had absolutely nothing good or useful to offer, and that is what the reviewer seems to propose.
    The Church Fathers were aware of the many errors of paganism and its incomplete response to the real needs of human beings, but they were able to find in Platonism and Stoicism some good and thus be able to debate with pagans and attract them to the faith. Maybe the incomplete and partly flawed suggestions made by Peterson can be of help to some of the disoriented people who are the majority in the world today. I think tha reviewer might do good to learn a little about how to dialogue as it does seem that Peterson does have something positive to say.

  34. Peterson in this regards resonates with G.K. Chesterton in The Everlasting Man: “[The Incarnation of Christ] met the mythological search for romance by being a story and the philosophical search for truth by being a true story. That is why the ideal figure had to be a historical character as nobody had ever felt Adonis or Pan to be a historical character. But that is also why the historical character had to be the ideal figure; and even fulfill many of the functions given to these other ideal figures; why he was at once the sacrifice and the feast, why he could be shown under the emblems of the growing vine or the rising sun.”

  35. SHOULD THESE PETERSON QUOTES SEEM TROUBLING TO A CATHOLIC?

    (1) Jordan Peterson, “My New Year’s Letter to the World” (Dec. 2016):

    “THE CENTRAL PROBLEM OF HUMAN BEINGS isn’t religion, as the New Atheists insist. IT’S TRIBALISM….One alternative to fragmentation is union under a banner – a collective ideal, cause, or purpose….
    The problem with uniting under a banner, as the postmodernists who push identity politics rightly point out, is that to value something means simultaneously to devalue other things….Thus, a society without a unifying principle, oscillates, unmoored, between nihilism and totalitarianism….
    HUMAN BEINGS HAVE BEEN WRESTLING WITH THIS PROBLEM SINCE THE BEGINNING OF CIVILIZATION, when our capacity to form large groups, for all its advantages, also started to pose a new threat: that of the hyper-domination of the state, collective or purpose….
    In the west, starting in the Middle East, thousands of years ago, A NEW IDEA BEGAN TO EMERGE (EVOLVE is not too strong a word) in the collective imagination. You might, following Dawkins, consider it a meme, although this is far too weak a word. This idea, whose development CAN BE TRACED BACK THROUGH EGYPT TO MESOPOTAMIA, before disappearing into unwritten history, is that of the Divine Individual. This eons-old work of the imagination is a dramatic presentation of AN EMERGENT IDEA, which is the solution to how to organize social being without falling prey to nihilistic divisiveness or deceitful totalitarian certainty: The group must unite under the banner of the individual. THE INDIVIDUAL IS the source of THE NEW WISDOM that updates the antiquated, nihilistic or totalitarian detritus and glory of the past.
    For better for worse, THAT IDEA REACHES ITS APOGEE IN CHRISTIANITY….However, it a hallmark of Christian supposition that the REDEMPTION…COMES THROUGH…THE INDIVIDUAL. The central realization…is that…THE IDEAL OF THE DIVINE INDIVIDUAL IS THE ANSWER….”

    (2) Jordan Peterson, “12 Rules for Life” (2018):

    “Christ’s Sermon on the Mount,…is the attempt of the Spirit of Mankind to transform the understanding of ethics from…the Ten Commandments into the fully articulated, positive vision of the true individual.”

    (3) Jordan Peterson, “Maps of Meaning” (1999)

    “Careful comparative analysis of this great body of religious philosophy might allow us to provisionally determine the nature of essential human motivation and morality—if we were willing to admit our ignorance, and take the risk. Accurate specification of underlying mythological commonalities might comprise THE FIRST DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE IN THE CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION OF A TRULY UNIVERSAL SYSTEM OF MORALITY.”

    (4) Jordan Peterson on YouTube (2015):

    “What I think about RELIGION is VERY DARWINIAN. I think RELIGION IS an EVOLVED–it’s EVOLVED knowledge.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Ys4tQPRis&t=1815s

    (5) Jordan Peterson in an interview (2017):

    “I would say that that’s part of what I’ve added to the Jungian corpus of thinking, is I’ve tried to place the idea of the functional myth IN A DARWINIAN CONTEXT and take seriously the idea that our FUNDAMENTAL RELIGIOUS NARRATIVES which are associated with these great myths ARE ACTUALLY EVOLVED STRUCTURES.”
    https://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/08/31/podcast-335-using-power-myths-live-flourishing-life/

    That’s the end of Peterson quotes (for now–there are many more in this vein).

    (A) So, is Peterson’s Teaching compatible with the Nicene Creed, the Catholic Catechism (current Vatican-approved one or some older one such as the Catechism of the Council of Trent), with the papal encyclicals, with the dogmatic Ecumenical Councils–or is Peterson’s Teaching incompatible with Catholic Teaching?

    (B) Can Catholics agree with Peterson’s teaching that “The central problem of human beings….It’s tribalism.”

    (C) Can Catholics agree with Peterson’s teaching that “Relgion is an evolved-it’s evolved knowledge.”

    (D) Can Catholics agree with Peterson, speaking of the doctrine of Individualism, that “This idea, whose development can be traced back through Egypt to Mesopotamia, before disappearing into unwritten history, is that of the Divine Individual. This eons-old work of the imagination is a dramatic presentation of an emergent idea,….For better for worse, that idea reaches its apogee in Christianity….it a hallmark of Christian supposition that the redemption…comes through…the individual….the ideal of the Divine Individual is the answer”

    (E) Can Catholics agree with Peterson “that our fundamental religious narratives which are associated with these great myths are actually evolved structures.”

    (F) Can Catholics agree with Peterson’s teaching that “Christ’s Sermon on the Mount,…is the attempt of the Spirit of Mankind to transform the understanding of ethics from…the Ten Commandments into the fully articulated, positive vision of the true individual.”

    (G) Can Catholics endorse Peterson’s personal mission in life as described in this passage: “Careful comparative analysis of this great body of religious philosophy might allow us to provisionally determine the nature of essential human motivation and morality—if we were willing to admit our ignorance, and take the risk. Accurate specification of underlying mythological commonalities might comprise the first developmental stage in the conscious evolution of a truly universal system of morality.” Notice that Peterson does not want to return to the Bible or the traditional, perennial Catholic moral teachings. He wants scientists, like himself, to study religions and myths, and for the first time ever in history consciously devise a “truly universal system of morality.”

    Whew!

    Who needs Divine Revelation or Natural Law or the Popes or theologians or the Catholic Church when you’ve got scientists like Peterson on the verge of delivering to us mere mortals “the first…truly universal system of morality.”

    I submit that these Peterson quotes more than justify the conclusions in this article by Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille, and more than justify the use of the term “insidious” in the title of this article.

    And aren’t these Peterson teachings at least as wrong and harmful as the wrong and harmful teachings taught by the Catholic “Liberation Theologians” (Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, etc.) and by Cardinal Reinhard Marx and Cardinal Walter Kasper?

    • Sure why not? The first question is obviously loaded. Why would you expect a Jungian psychologist to recapitulate the Nicene creed? Otherwise, I believe none of the other quotes are irreconcilable with Catholic philosophy. I believe it is fairly easy to explain why.

  36. PETERSON’S MAGIC TRICK: HOW HE “SOLVED” THE CONFLICT BETWEEN RELIGION & SCIENCE
    (10 key Peterson quotes included)

    I believe that Jordan Peterson “solved” the conflict between Religion & Science by getting rid of Supernaturalism.

    And, an integral part of Peterson phony solution lies in obscuring the fact that he is promoting a conception of religion and God and Christ that is devoid of, and opposed to, authentic supernatural elements.

    I think that Peterson is like a stage magician carrying out a beautiful and mesmerizing sleight of hand, except Peterson’s “magic trick” is being accomplished without props, and with just his spoken words references to famous thinkers, and with his arm and body gestures, facial expressions, theatrical vocal tonal modulations, pacing around the stage, and various other tried-and-true methods of stage histrionics.

    My point is this: It is only Supernaturalism that is in conflict with Naturalism (science).

    A Naturalistic conception of God and Religion has no conflict whatsoever with Science.

    Now, all Atheists have a Naturalistic conception of God and Religion.

    All Atheists ackowledge that God exists–as a conception in the minds of people and as a phenomenon in society and history deriving from that widespread human mental conception.

    And most Atheists Activists (those actively writing, speaking, and organizing to thwart Supernaturalism) are also anti-God and anti-Religion, because they have concluded, from studying History and Psychology, that Supernaturalism is, on the whole, a bad influence on human beings.

    There are two aspects of Atheism that need to be distinguished, but usually aren’t distinguished.

    First, there is the fact that all Atheists have concluded, based on their review of the evidence, that there is no deity or deities or supernatural realm at all. (There are Atheists who have never reviewed the evidence for and against God, and who simply oppose God out of hate, but I’m not considering these here, since none of the famous Atheists can fairly be said to fit only into that category.) But not all Atheists become Atheist Activists. Many, perhaps most, Atheists just keep their Atheism to themselves. These Atheists see Theism as untrue, but harmless.

    Second, there are Atheists who decide to become Activists against Theism, because they see Supernaturalism as harmful and see Naturalism as beneficial.

    Now, Jordan Peterson, just like all Atheists, has a completely Naturalistic conception of God and Religion.

    But Peterson is one of the few Atheists who has made the judgment, as a result of studying Psychology and History, that it is beneficial and even necessary for most people in a society to believe in God and Religion. This is the sense in which Peterson “believes in” God and religion. I.e., he views it as useful.

    Peterson is not the only one who has made this judgment. There are quite a few others. Many of the liberal cardinals and bishops in the Roman Catholic Church almost certainly fit into this category, though they generally cannot directly or openly make this known to the public. They do make it known in various indirect, vague, and obscure ways, however. We’ve all seen this, or suspected that that’s what we’ve seen for some of the notoriously liberal prelates.

    Even the Catholic Liberation Theologians believe that God and religion are useful–useful for spreading Marxist ideas.

    But does Peterson want people to believe in a Supernatural conception of God and religion? No. Like Atheist Activists, and like the promoters of Catholic Liberation Theology, the atheist Peterson sees harm and dangers in Supernaturalism. That’s why Peterson says that both Pro-Supernaturalism Fundamentalists and Anti-Religion Atheists are wrong about religion.

    JORDAN PETERSON:
    “I think that fundamentalists and atheistic scientists have the same problem.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x-pvcdLTJg

    JORDAN PETERSON:
    “Christian fundamentalists in the US make the proposition that biblical stories–we’ll call them mythological stories–are literal representations of the truth.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x-pvcdLTJg

    JORDAN PETERSON:
    “Even the fundamentalists have the wrong idea about religious truth. Religious truth is not scientific truth. The stories in Genesis, which are very old stories, maybe tens of thousands of years old—they’re obviously not scientific theories, because the people who wrote them weren’t scientists…these stories, they come up everywhere, there’s no avoiding them, and it’s because they’re true, but they’re not true like scientific truths. They’re a behavioral truth, or a pragmatic truth, or a dramatic truth”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28i3lWxW5xs

    JORDAN PETERSON:
    “People know perfectly well that they need meaning in their lives. Let’s say the atheist skeptical types, who I have a fair bit of respect for, I understand where they’re coming from, they can’t formulate a straightforward identification with, say, a religious creed because it conflicts with their rationality. It’s partly because the more fundamentalist types on the religious end insist in their metaphysical ignorance that Biblical stories are scientific theories, which they’re not.”
    https://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/08/31/podcast-335-using-power-myths-live-flourishing-life/

    But Peterson realizes that, overall, Supernaturalistic God and religion is less dangerous than Anti-Religion Atheism, so he views the believers in Supernaturalistic God and religion as being allies to his Movement, and as being likely converts to his Movement.

    Now, what is Peterson’s Movement? Peterson, in his own words, has said that the main problem facing humanity is Collectivism. And for Peterson the salvation from the fundamental problem of Collectivism lies in the doctrine and practice of Individualism. (All this is clearly stated in his Dec. 2016 “My New Year’s Letter to the World” https://jordanbpeterson.com/philosophy/new-years-letter/ ).

    But if that’s the essence of the Jordan Peterson Movement, then why does he teach and preach the Bible, God, and religion? If the Doctrine of Individualism is the heart of his message, why talk about God and Christ at all? Why doesn’t Peterson teach a completely secular version of Libertarian Individualism, as did the famous Ayn Rand?

    The answer to that question is this: Peterson sees Christianity as “evolved knowledge” (the fuller quote from Peterson is: “Relgion is an evolved-it’s evolved knowledge”–the source citation for that is given in my earlier comment above) that represents the “apogee” of the Doctrine of Individualism.

    In other words, Peterson’s study of History, Psychology, Religions, Myths, Literature, Legends, Fairy Tales, and such, have led him to the supposedly scientific conclusion that knowledge about and affection for the Christian myth (and for Peterson that’s all that it is: a myth) is the best destroyer of Collectivism and the best promoter of Individualism. (All this is made clear in his Dec. 2016 “My New Year’s Letter to the World,” which can be found on Peterson’s personal website: https://jordanbpeterson.com/philosophy/new-years-letter/ ).

    What would be a proper name for Peterson’s Movement?

    I propose “Darwinian Individualism.”

    I base that proposed descriptive name on quotes and the information above from Peterson himself, plus these quotes from Peterson:

    JORDAN PETERSON:
    “You can reduce religion to sort of DARWINIAN principles and sort of destroy it that way. Or, you can expand your notion of DARWINISM, so that it actually encompasses the genuine phenomena of religion.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Ys4tQPRis&t=1631s

    JORDAN PETERSON:
    “What I think about RELIGION is VERY DARWINIAN.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Ys4tQPRis&t=1815s

    Peterson’s Darwinian Individualism is meant to destroy and replace Marxian Collectivism. That’s Peterson life mission.

    And herein lies the great enthusiasm that has arisen within the political Conservative Movement for Peterson’s teachings. The political Conservative Movement is also a huge enterprise designed to destroy Marxian Collectivism.

    Alas, if that were the only mission of the political Conservative Movement!

    But the political Conservative Movement also has the unholy mission of destroying Catholic Social Doctrine (and also Protestant doctrines that are virtually identical). If you have any doubts about that, just read all the online comments from Catholics any time someone praises and promotes Catholic Social Doctrine. In the minds of Catholics who are also part of the political Conservative Movement, Catholic Social Doctrine is the same thing as Marxism.

    But, as said above, a key element of the success of the Peterson Movement obscures the fact that Peterson is an anti-Supernaturalist.

    But it is a fundamental tenet of the political Conservative Movement that the Movement will always, in public at least, be strongly pro-Supernaturalism.

    That is a fundamental tenet of the political Conservative Movement because this is necessary, in order to win electionis, to keep the Christian Supernaturalists as members of the political Conservative coalition.

    Looking back at the last century, especially in Europe, it is very easy to see that all the effective anti-Marxist political parties maintained a pro-Supernaturalist public stance, even if many of their top leaders were, in private, strongly anti-Supernaturalist.

    There is a pretty famous quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

    That’s how many anti-Marxist political leaders view supernaturalistic religion.

    And, in essence, that’s how Jordan Peterson views religion and God: as useful.

    JORDAN PETERSON:
    “Metaphysically, I am an American pragmatist.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x-pvcdLTJg

    JORDAN PETERSON:
    “[my] definition of truth is actually something like a tool rather than an ontological statement about the reality of the world.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x-pvcdLTJg

  37. Links for Catholics who want to escape the insidious Jordan Peterson Movement:

    (1) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (approved by John Paul II):
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

    (2) Foundation Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (a Vatican institution established by John Paul II)
    http://www.centesimusannus.org/en/the-institution/history/

    (3) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
    (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compendium_of_the_Social_Doctrine_of_the_Church

    (4) Catholic social teaching (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_social_teaching

  38. I’m sure a substantive critique of Peterson could be written, but I find no such review forthcoming from the pen of DeVille. Instead, I find an article buckling under the weight of its author’s rabid invective. There is something to be said for polemic, but as with the seasoning of a dish, one must do so skillfully. It makes little sense to serve guests a plate of musty ground pepper. Ironically, for all the attention DeVille devotes to Peterson’s prose, he himself has produced what can only be described as a scarecrow riddled with an awkward excess of adverbs. It leaves the reader with the mental image of a livid, sweating, red-faced man possessed by a rustic incarnation of the Furies, struggling to articulate their overwhelming eldritch energies through the coarse instruments of his hands.

    There is no doubt much that can be written about Jordan Peterson’s book. His embrace of Jung alone is enough to merit an article on its own. That some of his views lack sophistication is no reason not to address them in the spirit of charity, both for readers and for Peterson himself. Christians have leveled forests and spilled oceans of ink on the barbaric and philistine blatherings of the New Atheists. There is no reason why a single coherent and well-argued analysis of Peterson’s book cannot also be written.

    We need less Cruella and more Aquinas.

    • I agree.

      I would add the following. Padre las Casas might be *totally correct* in every objection to Peterson. Where would that leave the men and women who have found something of value in Peterson? With nothing. Instead of taking such people from what partial or individual truths they found in Peterson to a fuller understanding of the Truth, you would have told such people that they have been conned, and Peterson is EVIL, EVIL, EVIL. Which says what about such people?

      I mean there are plenty of people for whom quite imperfect thinkers (Peterson, Ayn Rand, the *pagan eugenicist* Aristotle, even Karl Marx for Alasdair MacIntyre) were their first introduction to the pursuit of wisdom. What is the better way to help prod these people to advance on the road of wisdom? I suspect it’s the “Peterson gets you this far; I can help you get further” approach. Not the “spit out that poisoned Kool-Aid approach.”

      Of course, there are different audiences. If you’re talking with Catholics who already have access to the best resources, then No, they don’t have much to learn from Ayn Rand or Peterson or Karl Marx (or even from Aristotle) that they can’t find better expressed within the Christian tradition. For *that* audience, it’s good to highlight the wrongs.

      But there also needs to be *some* consciousness that for a number of people, reading Peterson might have been a step in the right direction. On the ladder of wisdom, some people on the “Jordan Peterson” rung are going down the ladder–and some are going up.

  39. I read this review, and I have not read Dr. Peterson’s book. I have watched the following YouTube video, in which Dr. Peterson says that we need inequality in society so there can be innovation, but also need a mechanism for regulating inequality and redistributing wealth so that revolution doesn’t result (language warning):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DxWBXOZ9PM

    That sounds a lot like what Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI would have said: inequality is a fact, and necessary, but we need to regulate it so it stays within limits that serve the common good and human nature.

    Based on the review here, it’s clear that Jordan Peterson has a lot of problems. He’s a worldling. Sometimes the world’s errors are at the surface, sometimes they’re not as obvious.

    That said, Dr. DeVille’s review also has problems. He describes Peterson as though he’s a tool of neoliberal bourgeois individualism. He implies that Peterson should *instead* focus on social change, or perhaps (?) on asceticism and the Gospel challenge to worldly values.

    What this evaluation ignores is that, even *if* we fixed whatever social problems Dr. DeVille objects to, even *if* each of us tried consciously to live the Gospel, we would *still* need to live in the world. We would still need to get up in the morning and try to find direction. We would still need to be disciplined. We would still need to earn our own living. Many of us would still need to compete, and innovate (“be dangerous”). Living in the Garden of Eden is not an option. We still need to win our bread by the sweat of our brow, and Peterson (like Jung before him) seems to want to provide some ideation for men in this predicament so they have an image of what they’re striving for.

    No, worldly success is not everything. But as a matter of fact, most people work out their salvation through their career in the world, where they do need to perform, innovate, strive, compete. They do need to *try* to succeed, and try not to fail, and they can’t wait until “neoliberalism” is replaced by whatever better (but, due to Original Sin, also irremediably flawed) system replaces it. They do need to find some sense of worth in the here and now, if only as part of living according to the Natural Law, and Peterson does reference human nature.

    Throwing around “bourgeois” as a mere cussword, as Dr. DeVille does, doesn’t help people who actually belong to the bourgeoisie and must, for their own sake and that of their families, earn money through work in the world. Peterson is at least trying to help those people, and for all his flaws, I think it’s charitable to presume that he truly is concerned to provide some help for them.

    I would recommend that Dr. DeVille review Matthew Kelly’s self-help books for professionals and let us know what he thinks of them. Matthew Kelly is, as I understand, an orthodox Catholic, and he does address himself to the same audience as Jordan Peterson. How does Kelly compare to Peterson as far as self-help for professionals goes?

  40. Bartolome, like devil, sorry DeVille, you appear to be somewhat antagonistic towards Peterson. May I ask why? What is it that you think is going to happen if people listen to Dr Peterson? He does not make the claim to be a theologian, and never has to my knowledge. He is preaching neither atheism nor Christian faith. He recognises the existence of these belief systems and he sees the former as unfruitful and the latter as fruitful. However, generally speaking, he concentrates on the PSYCHOLOGICAL significance of the biblical stories. I’ve heard him say numerous times that he is aware this doesn’t even come close to exhausting them. So if people find these things helpful, if this is a gateway to truth for them, if they improve themselves and the world around them, why are you so angry about it? Is it because you believe they are going to suffer in fire and brimstone and eternal conscious torment? IS that really where your heart is at? And are you to be the judge of that anyway? If you think your way is better than Peterson’s then why not just live it out?

    Furthermore, let’s not forget that not only has there been a historic movement of the largest scale against the theology of the Catholic church, but even within the Catholic church there have been numerous conflicting doctrines on all manner of subjects. You speak as if there was a historically fixed version of Christianity. Perhaps you should read a bit more church history before being so quick to condemn Dr Peterson. And I’d be wary of inflexibility. Darwin once had a faith too. I’m convinced that it wasn’t his scientific discoveries but the Church’s dogged intractability that caused him to abandon it. I can only hope that God is more merciful and competent than his most zealous defenders.

  41. First, I have to say that this comments thread puts pretty much every comments thread I have ever read to shame. I am not a Catholic and had no idea you all were so passionate and articulate.

    Second, though I am not a Catholic, even I, in my extreme ignorance, note the presence of what I think you and your ilk would consider to be “sins,” namely that of excessive pride and envy.

    As a consequence of these sins, I wonder if you might possibly be overestimating the current relevance of your organization (and credibility, given the somewhat more high-profile sins of many of your leadership).

    I also wonder if you might not be overestimating your claim on the truth. Surely you aren’t the custodians of ALL of it. Maybe you are. But it seems unlikely.

    Best of luck to you.

  42. Jordan Peterson is the Richard Dawkins.

    it seems that every ten years some dorky univery professor has to step out outside his field and regurgitate Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Marx, Kant etc. while never attaining even one iota of their respective levels.

    Lots of fanboys in their early twenties, who have video games as their primary education, then get all fired up and elevate the guy to cult-leader status.

  43. Hmmm writer of article says Peterson promotes idols ,,, yet Catholic Church worships Mary ( idol and not scripturally backed ) and also the same with claims that pope is gods voice on earth or any other dispenser of anything more than the mere man he is like all of us ,,, this comment won’t be allowed to be posted ,, cause it shows the hypocrisy of the article writer and theologically pulls that church off its foundations which certainly isn’t Jesus Christ

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