Jordan Peterson comes to Omaha
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and his wife Tammy at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Neb. Photo credit: Ben Kuehmichel.

Jordan Peterson comes to Omaha

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson — a Canadian clinical psychologist known widely for his Biblical lectures and best-selling books such as 12 Rules for Life — came to Omaha on Feb. 22 as part of his We Who Wrestle with God tour. Peterson appeared with his wife Tammy and spoke to an arena of 3000-3500 people.

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

The event opened with a music act by guitarist David Cotter from Cambridge, England. Tammy Peterson then took the stage to introduce herself and her husband, and speaking briefly on her journey toward religion after abandoning the faith at 13.

“I was diagnosed with a terminal illness,” she said, “and when I went to tell my son that I was going to die in ten months, I realized that it wasn’t up to me whether I died in 10 months. And it wasn’t up to the doctor either, it was just up to God. And that was an inspiration I’d never had before.”

Dr. Peterson then took the stage and spoke for an hour on a handful of Biblical stories, primarily the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11. He linked the story to the rise and fall of totalitarian states and also to the subsequent restrictions on freedom of speech that come from totalitarian regimes.

“You wonder why we can’t agree on the most basic fact, let’s say, such as, ‘What is a woman?'” Peterson asked. “The answer could well be that we’ve built Towers of Babel that are a little bit too high.”

Peterson characterized the Tower of Babel as a warning against “centralized, unidimensional, prideful, mad power-seeking,” which would “inevitably degenerate into mutual incomprehensibility and collapse.”

“How else do you approach the history of the 20th century?” Peterson asked. “What happened repeatedly to the various Towers of Babels that we built politically? What happened to the Soviet Union? What happened to Nazi Germany? What happened to Maoist China? What happened to Cambodia? What happened every single time people in their intellectual pride attempted to build a structure that was oriented toward some destination other than what should properly be placed in the highest place? The answer is, people degenerated into mutual incomprehensibility. Chaos emerged, and we built Hell.”

At the end of the event was a brief Q&A, where Peterson took questions from the audience. The first was on Legislative Bill 1092, introduced by State Sen. Dave Murman (LD38), which would require pornographic websites to digitally verify the ages of visitors before sharing images and videos.

“As far as I’m concerned, pornography is bad news in every possible way. It’s terrible for young people,” Peterson said. “But here’s the problem … it’s possible that the solution of universal ID is worse than the problem of pornography. … How do you protect your children against online pornography? You instill in them the wisdom that enables them to differentiate between that which they should consume and that which they shouldn’t. And that’s a very difficult thing to do.”

Peterson’s stop in Omaha was one of over two dozen events held across the United States in concert with his upcoming book, also titled We Who Wrestle with God, which will be released in November.

Photo credit above, Gage Skidmore.