Monday, April 3, 2017

Stanley Milgram Prepares Christian Students for College

55 years ago at Yale University, Stanley Milgram, a Harvard PhD social psychologist, conducted one of the most famous, most shocking – in more ways than one – and most disturbing experiments in the history of psychology.

What Milgram found was that average normal people, would readily inflict very painful and perhaps even harmful electric shocks on innocent victims.

Milgram recruited participants to be part of an experiment, supposedly to study the relationship between punishment and learning. The real purpose was to learn the factors that led some people to commit harm to others when told to do so by someone in authority.

Milgram created an elaborate sham, involving a learner, a teacher, a researcher, and an ominous look shock generator.

The teacher was the real subject in the experiment. The learner was in on the sham; hired by Milgram to play a role. The experimenter was also an actor, a very distinguished “professorial type” wearing a white lab coat.

The real subject, the teacher, was made to believe that he had been assigned to serve as teacher by the luck of the draw, and was made to believe that the shock generator actually delivered a shock to the learner. In fact, the only shock that was ever given was given to the teacher to “prove” that the shocks were real.

The shock generator had a series of switches, each labeled in 15 volt increments – from 15 to 450 volts. The last three switches were marked XXX.

The teacher read a series of words that the learner was to memorize. The teacher was instructed to deliver ever-increasing shock levels for each incorrect answer.

The learner made mistakes according to the script.

The teacher and learner were separated by a wall, but the teacher heard the learner’s taped reaction to each shock. Early mistakes got little “shocks” so the teacher heard “ouch.” Later, as the shock level increased, the teacher heard “ouch, open the door and get me out of here!” then, “hey that hurts, let me out of here!!” The teacher heard banging on the wall and complaints that, “I have a heart condition – let me out of here!!!”– and then silence – no response. Zap, no response. Zap, no response.

At some point, in response to the learner’s complaints (or their silence), each teacher turned to the experimenter and asked to stop – or at least questioned whether to continue. The stern professorial looking experimenter had been trained to provide the same 4 responses.

The 1st time the teacher questioned whether to continue the experimenter said, “Please continue”
2nd time: “The experiment requires that you continue”
3rd time: “It is absolutely essential that you continue”
4th time: “You have no other choice, you must go on”

If the teacher still wished to stop after 4 verbal prods, it was over; otherwise the shocks continued until the subject had given the maximum (450 volt -- XXX) shock, 3 times in succession.

Milgram’s experiment is famous because it was so deceptive, unethical, and just plain wrong to do that to people. It’s more famous because of what it says about us. 65% delivered the maximum shock.

Interestingly, one of Milgram’s subjects was a professor of Old Testament theology. This subject disobeyed authority and stopped giving the shocks shortly after the first protest. The professor explained his actions saying, “If one had as one’s ultimate authority, God, then it trivializes human authority.”

I think that Stanley Milgram, of all people, makes a pretty good case for why we need to deal with psychology before our kids go to college. There’s a professorial looking guy there who may demand their obedience.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

We know of no other course on this topic (especially for high school students) half as thorough. Highly recommended.

It might seem that secular science has proved that the only reality is physical, and the spiritual realm is not only unnecessary but also wholly unreal. What is biology but the evolution of matter to adapt to an ever-changing ecology? What is the cosmos but the accidental explosion of molecules? What is thought but the operation of a giant muscle, and emotion but the same?

This is what seems to be true to the majority in our culture. But here's the thing about modern secular science: its practitioners are bound by the presupposition that the spiritual realm doesn't exist, and this becomes the circular logic by which they believe science to have proven that the spiritual realm doesn't exist. Nothing is proven, but the results are accepted without doubt.

So what seems to be and what actually is may not be the same thing. In fact, from the Christian worldview perspective the "truth" of secular science and the reality of the Christian worldview are at odds. Not only is there a spiritual component to reality, it actually accounts for many of the physical phenomena we witness in the material world.

Dr. Tim Rice applies his understanding of the Christian worldview to the study of psychology in Psychology: A Christian Perspective High School Edition, in which he questions the materialist presuppositions of modern psychological theory and replaces them with the presupposition that God exists and has made people in his image.

How Does This Work?

The student textbook contains 15 chapters that can be completed at the student or teacher's own pace. Each one begins with a list of topics covered, followed by text with black and white illustrations (diagrams, photos, etc.) and inset boxes containing terms, definitions, ideas, and important facts.
At the end of every chapter is a fairly long chapter summary and questions for review to students to answer on paper. There's also a teacher's guide which contains chapter summaries and outlines, key concepts and people, activities, discussion questions, learning objectives, ideas for further study, review questions, chapter quizzes, and answer keys.

This course lends itself to both a student-directed and a teacher-led approach. If you don't have time to teach or interact much with your student, they can work through the material on their own and submit review question answers and quizzes to you for grading. However, much of the material is challenging, and discussion is encouraged.

Rice begins by defining psychology and analyzing its origins. Chapter 2 might seem like an abrupt about face for some, but it's vitally important: here Rice unpacks the idea of a Christian worldview, defines and describes epistemology (how we know what we know), and begins to look at how a Christian should approach the study and practice of psychology.

The following chapters investigate the history of psychology, the people who've shaped the discipline, the influence of Darwinism on psychology, and its major ideas and principles. Rice covers both the theoretical aspects and the physical and physiological aspects of studying the mind, reminding us that the Greek word "psyche" actually means soul.

Many questions appear throughout the text concerning what the relationship of a Christian ought to be to psychology. Should a Christian be a counselor? a therapist? a social worker? Are there any aspects of the discipline off limits to a believer, or is it all based on objective study and practice? Rice answers these questions by constant reference to a biblical worldview.

Treatment of psychology as a discipline is evenhanded. Much of the content is simply informative, so that students will have a good idea what they'll encounter in college or elsewhere. When Rice comments in his capacity as a Christian, he's clear that what he's doing is thinking about psychology and its claims from a Christian perspective.

Our Honest Opinion

Psychology is an important subject, and one that Christians can't afford to ignore. Unfortunately, it is often ignored by teachers and curriculum writers, so that students have no practice thinking about it biblically before they encounter the many ideas within psychology from a secular perspective that undermines everything they believe.

This book is an excellent corrective. Dr. Rice doesn't just scrape the surface, instead treating psychology with respect in the sense that he takes it seriously, but the deeper he goes the more thoroughly he invokes God's inspired Word as the only true guide for making sense of the many concepts taught by psychologists.

Psychology: A Christian Perspective is pretty demanding. Students won't be able to just skim the rather dense text, and many of the ideas they encounter will be hard to wrestle with, but it's a rewarding study and one that will help them understand exactly what's at stake in the war between secularism and Christianity.

Rice avoids the extremes of those who accept secular psychology without reservation as well as those who demonize psychology altogether and reject all of its claims. He's very skeptical, but he also clearly knows what he's talking about, and we know of no other course on this topic (especially for high school students) half as thorough. Highly recommended.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman. Exodus Books

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Stanley Milgram and Psychology Class

It is difficult to resist immoral authority. Christians teach their children to respect and obey authority. We also teach our children to resist immoral authority.  In Daniel 6:10 – 21 we see that it is difficult and costly to resist immoral authority. That’s the same lesson Stanley Milgram demonstrated in his famous obedience study at Harvard University in 1961. It is difficult to resist immoral authority.

This fall, thousands of Christian students will fill classrooms on campuses everywhere for their first taste of Psychology 101. The authority in the room will be the professor, who may share beliefs like those of the late philosopher and professor Richard Rorty, who wrote:

“I, like most Americans who teach in colleges and universities, try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own ...”

“... when we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization… So we are going to go right on trying to discredit (your beliefs) in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours.”

You’ve probably heard that 70 -75% of Christian students walk away from their faith after the first year in college. If that statistic is accurate, and if it has anything to do with the teaching in college, I believe it has more to do with psychology than any class they’ll take in college.

I wrote Psychology: A Christian Perspective to equip parents and teachers to get in front of this problem. This book helps students to recognize psychology-specific worldview issues, and to introduce them to the study of the wonders of God’s greatest creation; the human mind.

I’m a self-published author with a near-zero advertising budget. If you’ve used my materials and liked it, please write a review, tweet, toot, like, recommend, +1, or otherwise help spread the word.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Darwin Day. Are You A True Believer?

Darwin Day is a global celebration of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin held annually on Feb. 12th – Darwin’s birthday anniversary. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has been called the biggest idea ever. I agree -- it is the biggest idea ever. But the biggest part of Darwin’s big idea is often over-looked. It is the part about evolutionary psychology.

Darwin Day is a good day to ask, does evolution explain you? Do you believe that evolution is true about human psychology – about your mind? Do you believe evolution is really true about you?

Darwin predicted in 1859 that psychology would be based on a new evolutionary foundation -- that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. “Each mental power and capacity” includes every topic in every psychology textbook and it includes many things we think of as uniquely human. We acquired each power and each capacity, bit by bit, over a very long time, through variation and natural selection.

Darwin’s theory of evolution is a big idea and it hinges ultimately, not on fossils or geology or on genes and sub cellular complexity, but on its ability to explain the wonders of the human mind.

You see, Darwinian evolution requires a psychological continuity --  an unbroken line of mental powers and capacities that extend backwards to our ancient evolutionary ancestors in the Pleistocene Epoch (about 200,000 years ago). It presumes that the brain consists of “packs of neurons” that evolved to solve the problems of living faced by our ancestors back. It has not evolved much since.  We have, what has been described as, a stone-aged mind in the modern world.

It is a big idea, but I think most people who believe evolution -- in change over time – stop short of believing that it applies to them. I don’t think many people believe evolution alone issufficient to explain their own mind. They don’t really REALLY believe.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

My prayer is that students are ready for the likes of Dr. Weber.

About 10 years ago, when I published the first edition of Homeschool Psych: Preparing Christian Homeschool Students for Psych 101, it was hard to get people to read it. When they did, they said, “great!” “much needed” “valuable resource”.

As an independent publisher, it was hard getting the word out. But gradually, via word of mouth, referrals, and recommendations, the word spread. Today thousands of Christian students use my books to do two things. #1 Introduce themselves to the study of God’s grandest creation – the human mind. #2 Expose themselves to the worldview assumptions underlying modern psychology’s major theories and school-of-thought.

Though I think that every Christian high school student should take a psychology class, many do not. That’s why I wrote, It’s Not That Simple Natty Rose. Fresh out of homeschool, my heroine comes face-to-face with psychology professor Dr. Ernst Weber. Dr. Weber is a composite of evolutionary naturalist psychology professors found on campus across the country. He ridicules Natty Rose’s worldview as na├»ve, immature, and silly. He’s not a nice guy.

My prayer is that students are ready for the likes of Dr. Weber.