Thursday, July 13, 2017

Psychology is not rocket science

In many ways, studying the history of psychology is like studying the history of any science – like biology or chemistry or quantum physics.  We could learn the names and contributions of famous psychologists – along with the date of their birth and death. We might approach the history of psychology by listing important discoveries, major theories, famous experiments, or the ways psychology has been used for good or ill.

But the history of psychology is also unlike that of other sciences. The history of psychology brings with it major worldview perspectives. Our goal is to trace psychology’s worldview perspectives, from its roots in philosophy, through behaviorism, Freud, and humanism, to the evolutionary naturalism of today. Our goal is to contrast each of psychology’s major worldview perspectives with the Christian worldview. 

Who do you think was the world’s first psychologist – the first person to wonder about the human mind?   

King David thought about it, Job did, Moses, Abraham, and Issac did. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Persians did too. The Psalmist asked, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” Poets, theologians, and philosophers wrote about the mind centuries before psychology became a “science.” Homer, Plato, Shakespeare, and others were early psychologists in the sense that they explored the human condition – our love and hate, hopes and dreams, and fears and fantasies.

But as a scientific endeavor, psychology is pretty new.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Christian View of Man – Sin & Redemption

An important part of the Christian worldview is known as the Doctrine of Sin. Humans were created in the image of God, but when Adam sinned, it changed everything. The Fall had psychological consequences. As we’ll see, humanistic psychologies suggest that to be human means to be “basically good.” A Christian psychology recognizes Man’s sin nature.  The “noetic” effect of sin describes the effect of sin on our minds. Jeremiah 17:9 suggests that we cannot fathom or comprehend the corrupting, distorting, and destructive influence of sin on human thinking. A Christian psychology recognizes that the “Natural” or “Carnal” man” is alienated from God and blinded to truth,

God’s grace brings freedom from many of the secondary effects of the Fall – namely the darkening of our minds. Jesus came to transform minds, our behavior, our social relationships, our motives, and our emotions. By God’s grace we can pursue the mind of Christ. A Christian psychology recognizes that by God’s grace, our mind is renewed.

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.