Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Christian Weltanshauung and Psychology - The Nature of Mankind (Dualism)

What differentiates humans from the animals?  Are we just advanced animals, with more complex mental lives? Christianity brings with it belief that we are spiritual beings. Christians believe in a form of dualism, meaning “of two natures.” We have a physical body and physical brain, but we also have a spiritual nature that is somehow distinct from the body, but that operates in unity with the body. The Bible is clear that there is something about us that makes us special - distinct from the animals.

We are made in the image of God.

RenĂ© Descartes is famous in the history of psychology and philosophy for “Cartesian dualism.”
Descartes applied deductive reasoning to support his worldview belief that Mankind is made of body and soul. Though distinct, the body and soul interact with one another. Descartes believed that the physical and spiritual connected at the conarium (pineal gland). 

Cartesian dualism was not a new idea. Descartes, like Christians and others for centuries, believed that human nature was both physical and spiritual.  The ancient Greeks thought our spiritual and physical natures connected in the lungs (after all, when you quit breathing you die) and Hippocrates, who was ahead of his time, thought it happened in the brain.

Naturalistic worldviews are monistic, meaning of one nature.

A Christian Weltanshauung and Psychology – The Nature Of Mankind (#1)

Psychology is interested in what it means to be human. Worldview beliefs about the nature of Mankind flow from your beliefs about  God and the accuracy of the Bible. The Bible has much to say about what it means to be human. Biblical anthropology is an important part of the Christian worldview and is fundamental to studying psychology.

Biblical Anthropology or the Biblical Doctrine of Man is the study of what the Bible says about what it means to be human, what is human nature, and what does in means to have psuche. Biblical anthropology is interested in what it means to be the purposeful creation of God -- made in His image and likeness.

In Genesis we learn that God formed man of the dust of the ground. We are part of the natural order. As such, we have much in common with the animals. We have brains and bodies. Physically, we are like the animals, we even share DNA with animals. We are born, we grow old, and our bodies eventually die

However, like God and unlike the animals, we are spiritual beings. Unlike the animals, we have moral discernment, freedom to choose, and responsibility for our behavior. We are creative and we exercise dominion. We experience guilt, grace, and love. We were created to be in relationships, with God and with families and in societies. We have consciousness, a mind, and a soul.

A Christian Weltanschauung and Psychology -- The Bible & God

A Christian Weltanschauung -- The Bible.

The first essential component of a Christian approach to psychology is respect for the inspiration and ultimate authority of the Bible. Science, psychology, and the authority of the Bible are not mutually exclusive.

A Christian Weltanschauung – God.

God exists or He does not. He created things, or not. A basic piece of everyone’s worldview includes their beliefs about God, the origin or the universe, and how we came to be. 

The Christian worldview is that there is one true triune God who created the universe and everything in it – including the human mind. He is personal, loving, just, infinite, self-revealing, all-powerful, all knowing, ever present, self-existent, sovereign, eternal, and active in the world today.

A Christian approach psychology recognizes that the entirety of human psychology is meaningless without reference to God. Our minds were designed and created by God and by his grace we reflect his likeness. If one believes that there is no God, it is meaningless to suggest that that we were created or that we were we created in the image of God.

As we’ll see, modern psychology’s major theories and schools-of-thought are naturalistic.

We are interested in God’s immutability. God is a God of order. God’s unchanging nature and his designs for the world are foundational to science.

We are interested in God’s righteousness, love, healing, and provision. They are foundational to our understanding of morality and are crucial to our approach to the causes and cures of mental pain and suffering.