July 23, 2018
Dear Dr. Peterson,
I figured that communicating with you in person was the best way since your email and Twitter accounts must be flooded with thousands of messages per day.
I met you in March of 2017 after your talk at the Ottawa Public Library. In this brief meeting, I mentioned I was giving a talk comparing your thoughts with those of Derrida in relation to Bill C-16 at Ryerson University later that spring. At the time, you had asked me to send you a copy of the paper that would result from that talk. When I found out you were coming back to Ottawa, I thought that I should give you a hard copy in person. Well, here it is. It’s titled, “The Deconstructing of Deconstructionism: Peterson versus Derrida.” It is not in its final form, but I had asked the editor of the volume to send the draft version before it undergoes some light editing. Unfortunately, the final printed version will not be available until the fall in volume 13 of Philosophy, Culture, and Tradition. I would have preferred to have given you that copy. I have also included an essay I wrote for a magazine on your encounter with philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig since I think much of his work, spanning over 40 years, answers many of your doubts. I must say that although I think that Sam Harris has many important things to say on cultural issues and is a prominent public intellectual, he is ill-equipped to examine questions pertaining to God. He has not engaged with the relevant literature. Ever since the 1960s, there has been a renaissance in Christian philosophy with reformulations of old arguments in natural theology. Many of which utilize the best contemporary understanding of science, math, history, and philosophy. Scholars have spent many years pondering, debating, discussing, and revising them. Likewise, ever since the 1970s, New Testament scholarship has undergone a shift in examining the historicity of particular claims regarding Jesus, such as His resurrection and divine self-awareness. The pop new-atheists have barely if at all, engaged with these two powerful trends in scholarship. I touch upon these in my essay. I am very curious as to what you think of them.
Your work has affected me in positive ways. Ever since I saw your engagement with students on the U of T campus at the free speech rally in September 2016, I was captivated. I have written several pieces since December 2016 about your thought and cultural engagement, including a review of 12 Rules for Life. I have watched many of your interviews, debates, and lectures. They’re a great source of intellectual stimulation. You have taught me to be more precise with my words, even though I find that I am still too hasty with my judgments and in my articulation of them. I appreciate your emphasis on tearing down the best possible counterargument as opposed to weaker, more convenient forms.
I find the cultural climate we are living in to be rather unfortunate. Many people are not willing to engage. They dismiss provocative ideas for superficial reasons. Reversing this trend is what will help us survive the many current and future challenges that await Western civilization. This is why both truth and love are so vital at this juncture, especially since the two are inextricably linked. That is if they are aimed at ultimacy since they share the same source.
I appreciate your openness and your willingness to engage with difficult ideas. This is one of the many reasons your new interviews and videos, although covering similar ground to previous ones, can still be stimulating and fresh.
I am publishing a book with Wipf & Stock, a publishing house that specializes in philosophy and theology. My book is on consciousness; it’s titled: On the Origin of Consciousness: An Exploration through the Lens of the Christian Conception of God and Creation. Given that you have a profound interest in consciousness, would you be interested in taking a look? Would you consider endorsing it if you think it has any merit? If so, could you please email me? I will be requesting endorsements in the next couple of months.
I understand that you are constantly traveling and busy with speaking engagements, but if you ever had some extra time, I would also be very appreciative to hear from you and your thoughts on my two writings and/or anything else. Thanks for all that you do!
Scott Ventureyra, PhD