Noah and the Flood – The Psychological Significance

Following the inspirational talks of Jordan Peterson (JBP), particularly the Biblical Series (The Psychological Significance of the Bible Stories) has given me a new look at the Old Testament and the wisdom that is interwoven into the stories. On the surface, of course, these stories may seem archaic, but we should assume that the stories are not meant to be historically true but are rather archetypical stories in which life is described in a story that is truthful.
Talking about the story of Noah and the Flood, JBP notes that there is the talk of giants but he makes it clear that the text isn’t talking about fairy tale giants. The text is talking about the heroes of the past who built what we live on. The cities where we live. The political situation in which we live. The freedom (or oppression) under which we live was made possible by giants of the past. But like everything, it is subject to decay and thereby corruption, and evil becomes possible. There is a kind of evil that lurks, waiting for a chance to strike at all time. If it is allowed, things can become so bad that people say, it would have been better if I hadn’t lived. It would be better if mankind hadn’t been given its chance. The twentieth century gave us times like that, times when people suffered horribly and wished to die than to go on in that way.
The thing about “bad” people is that they are seldom outwardly bad. We want them to be obnoxious people but sometimes they appear gentle and kindly. They may be intellectually arrogant and consider everything they have done was good, and that there is no alternative. But the old portrayal in black and white movies, whereas the good wore white or light coloured clothes and the bad guy wore black, just doesn’t fit reality. Another thing JBP points out is that people think they couldn’t ever do these things, that they couldn’t even imagine them. But this a wrong attitude for two reasons. 1. If you can’t imagine such things you can’t protect yourself against them. 2. If you think you can’t imagine, then you should take a good long look at what circumstances would have to occur for you to do such horrible things. You will find that there are such circumstances. If you think that you couldn’t do such things, you have a weakness that could lead to them.
The thing about sin isn’t only doing bad things, but doing them intentionally. It is using your knowledge about yourself to inflict pain or discomfort in others. It is being aware of your malevolence. The opposite is trying, from the very core of your being to be truthful and benevolent. We need to ask ourselves to what degree do we contribute to what happens to us. Some people are bad because they don’t want to be boring. What motivates us? Resentment is so very easy that it can easily be the frame of mind that rules our actions.
Rather, to aim at the highest possible good is a guarantee that good things will happen to you. Everything else becomes trivial. Our aim is also a course that we set in a stormy sea. Another metaphor is that we tread the narrow path between order and chaos, being pulled from the one side and then from the other. “We need to act out the proposition that being itself is benevolent, and then extend this benevolence to others!”
I’ve learned something today!