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.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Outcome research in counseling psychology

Vincent van Gough
Outcome research in counseling psychology suggests that the most important factor in positive outcomes isn’t the counseling technique, the counselor’s education or experience, and it isn't medication. The single most important factor is the  hurting person’s perception that the counselor is caring, concerned, and supportive. That sounds like 1 Thes 5:11 to me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Don't Leave Psychology Out Of The Homeschool Curriculm

Are They Prepared?
“You are nothing but a pack of neurons.”

Year after year, psychology is one of the top college majors and many Christian students pursue careers in counseling or social work.  But whatever their major or career choice, if your students go to college, there is an excellent chance they will take at least one psychology class.  In some respects, Psychology 101 will be like every other science course, but in others, psychology is unique. It is the study of us. Unlike every other science, psychology deals with some of the same worldview issues as the Bible. Modern psychology and a Biblical Christian worldview intersect around big questions like:

What does it mean to be human?
What is the nature of the mind?
What causes mental pain and suffering and what do we do about it?

Modern psychology’s answers to those questions have changed over the years. I first took psychology as a freshman in 1980. I learned about behaviorism, which taught that to be human meant being an advanced animal, going through life robot-like, without free-will, responding to environmental inputs. I learned about Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic psychology, which taught that the mind was a battlefield of unconscious psychic forces. I learned about humanistic psychology which taught that I had an innate goodness, that my feelings and self-image were top priority, and that morality was learned and relative. The challenge for Christian students today is the same as it was for me way back then – to learn about the wonders of the human mind while maintaining respect for the authority of the Bible and to not compromise the Christian worldview.

But students entering college today face a new challenge.  Today, evolutionary naturalism is psychology’s dominant worldview. It has been said that “evolution is the new psychology.” Evolutionary naturalism and a Christian worldview each make mutually exclusive claims about human psychology.  How one defines the word ‘psychology’ illustrates the pivotal worldview difference.

Psychology means the study of the psyche, which is from the Greek word psuche (pronounced psoo-khay).  Psuche meant “life,” but it differentiated human from other forms of life. To have psuche was to have a uniquely human combination of natural/physical and supernatural/immaterial natures. The Bible is clear that humans have psuche. Evolutionary naturalism, on the other hand, is equally clear. We have one nature and it evolved.

In the final chapter of The Origin of Species, Darwin predicted that someday:

“Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation.”

That day has come. Modern psychology presumes that every mental power and capacity, even those we think of as uniquely human, special, or God-like, were acquired, bit by bit, over a very long time, through variation and natural selection.

In what has been called “The Astonishing Hypothesis,” Dr. Francis Crick wrote:

“You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it: ‘You are nothing but a pack of neurons.’” 

Taken together, The Astonishing Hypothesis and Darwin’s prediction represent bold claims. They represent evolutionary naturalism applied to psychology and taken to their logical conclusions. Evolutionary naturalism cheapens our mental life. It reduces consciousness and free-will, language and song, love and hate, altruism and greed, and more to packs of neurons operating selfishly to assure the survival and perpetuation of our genes. Neuroscientists today peer inside the living brain and “see” its structures and functions and the billions of neurons and the trillions of connections between them.  The most complex structure in the known universe, the human brain, must have evolved by numerous and successive slight modifications. Students should not lose sight of those claims. The Theory of Evolutionary requires that they be true. 

Psychology is an opportunity for students to see for themselves that evolutionary naturalism is silly and that the Christian worldview is the most logical and meaningful paradigm for understanding the big questions about the human mind -- after all, it is God’s grandest creation. The collective discoveries of psychology point inexorably to our Creator.

When we approach psychology from a Christian perspective, it all makes sense. Psychology class is an opportunity to experience a new kind of awe at the wonder of God’s creation. The ways we sense and perceive the world, our personalities, emotional lives, and relationships are unique in the world, awe-inspiring, and worthy of study. Psychology shows us that, like the Bible says, we are born with a moral compass, but we are not inherently good. It provides an opportunity to talk with students about a host of issues, including the relationship of mental health and mental pain to one’s relationship with Christ. And for those future Christian counselors and social workers, it is an opportunity to establish a Biblical worldview foundation for their career.