Whatever you think about psychology, the time to deal with it is now.

March 14, 2016

Whatever you think about psychology and its effect on Christian students, the time to deal with it is now.

Do you think the study of psychology is tantamount to declaring the Bible inadequate? Do you believe that God created psychology when He created Mankind in His own image? Have you ever given it much thought?

Some Christians think that psychology is an important discipline, that it is consistent with a Christian worldview, and that it is an acceptable field of study and career choice. Other Christians see psychology as an idolatrous and ungodly rival religion. Some Christians think that God created psychology when He created Mankind. Others describe psychology as psychobabble, psycho-heresy, and the most deadly form of modernism to ever confront the Church.

Whatever you think about psychology, the time to deal with it is now because many Christian students go to college to become psychologists, counselors, or social workers. Most colleges (including Christian colleges) require students to at least take an introductory psychology class. Although there are many Christian professors, psychology departments are home to some of the more anti-Christian intellectuals on college campuses. In fact, psychology professors tend to have high levels of agnosticism and atheism and may attack the Christian worldview as unscientific, irrational, prudish, exploitative, controlling, inhibitive, oppressive, and naïve. Many psychology professors also believe that Christianity is incompatible with sound mental health, that it contributes to human suffering, and that the intelligent believer will eventually abandon their faith.

The material taught in any introductory psychology course will challenge a student’s beliefs. Christian students are not usually well-prepared to recognize and refute modern psychology’s core philosophical assumptions: naturalism, behaviorism, humanism, evolutionism, empiricism, moral relativism, and reductionism. Those core assumptions are embedded, sometimes very subtly, in modern psychology’s theories and schools of thought, and they are presented under the banner of “science.” Assumptions that are wholly inconsistent with a Christian worldview are thoroughly embedded in most psychology courses, even at some Christian colleges. Students need to recognize and be able to refute the anti-Christian and anti-scientific philosophies embedded in modern psychology. Failure to recognize those assumptions may lead Christian students to inadvertently compromise their Christian worldview.

If it is true that many Christian students walk away from their faith after the first year of college, and if that has anything to do with the teaching in college, it may be, at least in part, because of the subtle worldview challenges embedded in psychological theories. By simply being forewarned and prepared in advance, students are better able to resist believing false assumptions.

The time to deal with psychology is now because Darwinian evolution is the “new” psychology. Freudian psychology, behaviorists, humanists, and cognitive psychology are considered by many as yesterday’s news. Today, neuro-biology and evolution are psychology’s main theories. Darwin anticipated evolution’s impact on psychology in 1859 when he wrote:

“In the distant future I see open fields for far more important research. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history (Darwin, 1859).”

According to Darwin, all mental activity, even what we think of as our God-likeness, is ultimately nothing more than a “capacity” that humans acquired, bit by bit, through variation and natural selection. Darwinian evolution, when applied to human psychology, reduces our consciousness, our morality, our capacity to make decisions and judgments, religious experience, love, empathy, altruism, hate, greed, dreams, and everything else that makes us human to nothing more than a bunch of neurons doing their thing.

Psychology, more so than biology, is where the theory of evolution has the most difficulty. There are no cogent evolutionary explanations for our “higher” capacities, our God-likeness. It is the author’s opinion that evolution’s death knell will not come from cellular biology, it will come from psychology. The fight against evolution is not likely to be won with arguments of sub-cellular irreducible complexity. It is winnable in the arena of the incomprehensible complexity of the human mind.

It is also important to deal with psychology because people are hurting. Christians have long been at the forefront of meeting the world’s physical needs with food, blankets, and shelter. But are we at the forefront of meeting the world’s psychological needs? Too often, secular community mental health centers serve more hurting people than they can handle, while Christians debate whether nouthetic or Christian counseling or “just praying harder” is the answer. That is not right. Correcting the problem begins by re-claiming psychology for Christ.

The goal for our study of psychology, just like the study of biology, theology, history, and every other discipline, is to understand God’s creation and, in the words of Johannes Kepler, to “think God’s thoughts after him.” Instead of surrendering psychology or falling away in the face of the world’s beliefs and teaching, we have a duty to put forth reasoned explanations for our worldview in every discipline, including psychology.

That is the goal for Psychology: A Christian Perspective. There are many excellent works that explain a Christian worldview, and there are dozens of excellent introductory psychology texts. But there are very few introductory psychology texts that present psychology’s content from a Christian perspective and none, to the author’s knowledge, intended for Christian high school students.

I believe that the study of the soul, the mind, and behavior are right and proper for Christians and that Christian students should bring their worldview and become part of the future intellectual leadership in Christian psychology.

Let’s get started!

Categories: Psychology