Episode 19 – Genesis – Chaos and Order

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Lecture II in my Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories from May 23 at Isabel Bader Theatre, Toronto. In this lecture, I present Genesis 1, which presents the idea that a pre-existent cognitive structure (God the Father) uses the Logos, the Christian Word, the second Person of the Trinity, to generate habitable order out of precosmogonic chaos at the beginning of time. It is in that Image that Man and Woman are created — indicating, perhaps, that it is (1) through speech that we participate in the creation of the cosmos of experience and (2) that what true speech creates is good.

It is a predicate of Western culture that each individual partakes in some manner in the divine. This is the true significance of consciousness, which has a world-creating aspect.


  • Elle Sig

    People are waking up and looking for answers for the human condition (Dan 12:2-4, 8-10). Christianity started to derail shortly after
    Jesus died. Foreseeing this he left explicit instructions as to what he would be looking for on his return. This instruction has for the most part be totally ignored by a system of belief that is focused on sin and being saved. His explicit instructions for that day (Matt 7:22) are brief and to the point (Matt 7:1-14, 24, 25). We are now in the time when useable fish are being pulled out to the dragnet (Matt13:47, 48). Those not meeting the required standard for entry to the next level are described at Matt 7:15 -23, 26, and 27).

    The instruction is applicable to all persons regardless of literacy, culture, systems of belief or disciplines. Human kind has to change
    the way it thinks and reasons if it is to survive as a species and the instructions are the primer for the next step or our development. That this
    process is underway is demonstrated by the numerous discussions such as these as well as every other sphere of human activity.

  • Kurt Baker

    I’ve studies Eastern philosophy for 20 years, and now am rounding back on my western heritage. Thanks Mr. Peterson for your generosity and insight:

    To begin with, Eastern science doesn’t “evolve”. It may collect
    new information from other cultures within or without, but it’s main
    concern is the harmony of relationships, which stays the same for a
    very long time; verses us, in the west, who’ve learned to build an
    “understanding” of the world. Understanding advances in scope and
    detail–evolves–and this understanding creates a belief of the
    world. In the east its not what one believes, but what has been tried
    and true (precession ). In the west its what can be proven through
    research (in laboratory or clinic), and then applied to philosophy.
    Philosophy in the west tries to clarify the rational mind based off
    of its findings from either a magnitude of cases (empirical) or
    through a series of controlled testing (experimental). The eastern
    philosophy often confuses the rational mind in order to break through
    conventional and habitual ideas, so that you may get out of your own
    way (Wuweidaoism)—that is when its not teaching you about the
    nature of relationships (Confucianism)…or is it?

  • Kurt Baker

    Yet there is a direction towards for fruition. And if I can accomplish that (gulp) I don’t know, but I will try

  • Kurt Baker

    But the dark side of the moon isn’t always psychotic, it can be quite pleasant Zzzzz!

  • Thea Read

    “…what can something like that [God as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent] lack? And the idea is ‘limitation’…”

    Exerpt from the poem “Outside of Sense,” written in November 2012…

    “In defiance of any concept of nakedness
    Form takes shape in fealty to meaning
    Authored in painful trust which understands
    A limit is not a barrier, but an impetus…”

  • stpetric

    Please be careful about perpetuating legends as historical facts: Michelangelo did not undertake dissection only at the peril of death! “Dissection in the service of teaching and research began in Bologna about 1300, inspired by renewed interest in Galen, the second-century writer. The first anatomy textbook based on human dissection was written by Mondino de’ Liuzzi (1275-1326), and it was a staple of university instruction into the 16th century. From Italy, dissection spread north, being performed at universities in both Catholic and Protestant regions by the 16th century. What Boniface’s bull forbade was the boiling of the flesh of corpses from bones as a funerary practice. The prohibition was taken narrowly, and Mondino noted that it prevented him from boiling ear-bones to make them easier to examine. But dispensations from the law could be granted. “I know of no case in which an anatomist was ever prosecuted,” writes Professor Park, “and no case in which the Church ever rejected a request for a dispensation.” … So Leonardo dissected an aged patient whom he had befriended at the hospital of Santa Maria Nova, Florence. As an artist he had no standing to request a corpse for medical research, but he did not get into trouble.”

  • Pingback: Science Fiction Writer John C. Wright’s “More Rational Model,” and a Deeper Evaluation of the Difference Christian Faith Makes | theology like a child()

  • Matt Patton

    I’ve been consuming your media content veraciously. The practical bits of wisdom have made noticeable improvements in my life in a very short time, (I know it’s true because my wife said so.) I had a question for Dr. Peterson. Your interpretations of scripture encourage people to go “act out in the world” the principles they find in the text. Would merely “doing things” miss the biblical emphasis on a personal knowing of God? John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (The Greek for “know” in this case insinuates a personal knowledge rather than knowing information)

    • Andros

      What you’re asking is religion and faith. If you believe in Jesus Christ and the Bible as his word, then Peterson’s take on the matter is not enough. Remember that the Apostles were sent to Preach the Gospel with exactly the sentiment you mentioned, Their task was to show others to know the “true God and Jesus Christ”.

      Religion or no religions, that’s basically the difference.

      • Matt Patton

        I’m trying to approach the question not from a purely religious perspective, but with the constraints Mr. Peterson himself is using in the discussion of biblical texts. If the Bible that can produce good results from a phenomenological perspective if “acted out,” how would you act out the parts that seem to suggest “knowing God” is more important than merely following moral principles?

        • Andros

          The disciples believed Jesus was God. You can’t try to “force” that out and say that the moral arguments are just as valid on their own without disavowing that belief.

          Professor Peterson’s take on the manner is not approaching it from the disciple’s point of view directly (which were ignorant to today’s scientific knowledge). But rather, how a modern person with access to that knowledge can reinterpret those writings and find value in them.

          Direct belief in God still requires faith. You either believe or you don’t.

  • Make America Texas Again

    I am loving this series! Thank you Dr. Peterson for putting your lectures online!

    In Genesis we have the Spirit brooding over the waters (Abyss / chaos) and in John we have Jesus (Logos) walking on the water (Abyss). I take from these parallel images that creation happens when there is motion (E-motion or spirit) along the boundary between the Logos (order or explored territory) and the Abyss (chaos or potential). The Logos is a self-referential self-contained bubble of structure “floating” on an abyss of anti-structure. Since there is no foundation for logical systems, but only an infinite regress or vicious circle, the logic “floats” upon the abyss by the collective “faith” of the Logos.