STORYTELLING, TRUTH, AND “THE GOD PROBLEM” — IS BRET WEINSTEIN WRONG?

  • Metaphorical truth may be more important than literal truth. [Read more in Part 1, but the short version is that belief in an afterlife may have propelled humanity forward evolutionarily. Bret Weinstein called belief in an afterlife “metaphorically true, but literally false.” Ergo (Note: always use “ergo” when the opportunity presents itself), Jordan Peterson wondered if metaphorical truth could be superior to literal truth, and then questioned whether the highest form of truth could be considered Divine.]
  • Fiction writers and storytellers, as purveyors of “metaphorical truth,” have a responsibility to behave like scientists and theologians. [Read more in Part 2. Basically: scientists observe, hypothesize, and then test those hypotheses, just like writers should. And theologians study the Divine. Storytellers should combine those two mindsets when telling a story that intends to reveal the truth.]

The stories we tell today will either help us become better as a species or ultimately bring about our demise.

The God Problem

  • They have observed their environment and landed on a question: What makes human beings different from animals?
  • They have formed a hypothesis: Delayed gratification separates human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom.
  • Their discussion begins to test this hypothesis. Notably, Bret has already considered this. And he has a suggestion: The ultimate form of delayed gratification, a belief in the afterlife, seems to have separated human beings from animals. We construct stories in order to avoid “sinning,” and by doing so we delay gratification and help our species thrive. Except Bret Weinstein says that belief in an afterlife, while extremely beneficial to the species, is: “metaphorically true, but literally false.”
  • That prompts Jordan Peterson to present another question: Can metaphorical truth, if it’s the highest possible form of truth (i.e., abiding by said truth produces the best possible outcome for humanity), be considered Divine?
  1. These hypotheses and theories are bullshit (i.e., unproven and unsound). Completely flawed.
  2. These hypotheses and theories are onto something, but they’re not complete. Partially flawed.
  3. These hypotheses and theories are Divine truth. Flawless.

If These Hypotheses Are Bullshit… (Completely Flawed)

If These Hypotheses are at Least Partially True (or Partially Flawed)

  1. Let’s say that the initial hypothesis is accurate: Humans are different from animals in meaningful ways.
  2. Then, let’s assume the second hypothesis is also accurate: The ability to delay gratification is one of the more significant ways humans are different from animals.
  3. And finally, let’s say the third hypothesis is also accurate: Delayed gratification has led to the formulation of belief systems that include rewards in the form of an afterlife.

More Thoughts to Come

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I love storytelling. I write novels and screenplays. My latest book, DEATH OF A BOUNTY HUNTER, is out now!

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Jay Sherer

Jay Sherer

I love storytelling. I write novels and screenplays. My latest book, DEATH OF A BOUNTY HUNTER, is out now!

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