A big part of the Cain and Abel story is God's blessing on Abel's sacrifice ... and God's lack of blessing on Cain's sacrifice. In the story, God tells Cain that:
"For whether you offer well, or whether you do not, at the tent flap sin crouches and for you is its longing, but you will rule over it."
Peterson takes this to mean that Cain's heart is not in his sacrifice. He is sacrificing for gain only. He is sacrificing with sin in his heart (ill intent, not good intent). He is trying to buy into the next ponzi scheme and be in early enough to win, and he's pissed that his brother who is doing the hard work is being rewarded.
God's blessing is only granted when the heart is in the right place. Intent matters. It matters more than material actions themselves. The world is made of meaning, not of stuff. This is Peterson's main takeaway from this part of the story.
Hoppe also highlights this truth, but in his own value-free way. He notes that societies that are free of oppressive state oversight will have a healthy culture of saving, capital accumulation, and overall honesty in trade. However, if the society is one of parasitism and authoritarianism (profit through exploitation and deception), time preference becomes very high and civilization begins to crumble. The sacrifice isn't from a pure heart and it will not receive God's blessing.
Again, it's the intent that determines the structure of the society. It's not the amount of accumulated wealth, it's the way in which people interact with each other. Is it through good will, or through deception? The world is made of meaning.
The value-free axioms of classical economics and the meaning rich landscape of the Biblical stories reflect each other. Or, perhaps more accurately, we could say that our observations of economic behavior reflect the deeper realities of humanity as found archetypical Biblical stories.
Remembering that economic activity is an outgrowth of human nature, and not the other way around, keeps our thinking grounded and provides humility. It keeps the rational thinker from saying how things "should" be. It reminds us that for society to be better in the future, for it to be lower time preference, we must in our lives as individuals:
- Act with good intention (God's blessing is only for the pure in heart)
- Make honest bargains with our future selves (Make an honest bargain with the future)
- Sacrifice our immediate desires in each moment (That which you value most)
When we each live our lives in this way, the society improves as a natural consequence of our actions. No political action is necessary. All that's required to build a low time preference society that becomes ever more peaceful and prosperous is to clean up our rooms, a little bit more, every day.