Science and Human Relations

Marion D. Barnes

From the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 1 (May 1949): i

Achievements in the realm of the physical sciences have encouraged many investigations to employ the same ideology and methodology to the study of inter-human relations. As a consequence much work is being planned and published in this field today and some of it is at variance with traditional Christianity as expressed in American protestanism and the political and social pattern which it has fostered. The following illustrative excerpts are taken from "Social Responsibility" Chisholm, Science 109, 27 (1949):

(1) "Only in the last few years has it become clear to the people in all countries who are capable of thinking independently of the hysteria of the media of mass communication that this old method of competitive survival has become synonymous with racial suicide."

(2) "Business men trained to make profits, or old-time diplomats trained in gentlemanly behavior and the classics are also obviously inadequate to the needs of interhuman relations on a world scale."

(3) "Most of us by being civilized too early or too forcibly have been driven to believe that our natural human urges are "bad," "not nice," "wicked," "sinful," or whatever the local equivalent may be. This is the dreadfully damaging concept of "original sin" which really only states that babies are not born civilized according to the local customs of the natives."

(4) "It appears that a system which imposes an early belief in one's own sinfulness, or unacceptability in one's natural state, with its consequent inferiority feelings and anxiety, must be harmful to interhuman relationships and to the ability of the human race to survive in the kind of world this has become."

It seems clear from those statements that current sociological ideology is in conflict with some of our major Christian doctrines. Surely original sin, or any sin is more than our lack of being "civilized according to the local customs of the natives." Likewise when "a system which imposes an early belief in ones own sinfulness" is accused of being harmful to interhuman relationships, we must consider that traditional Christianity, if not being subjected to a frontal assault, is being undermined very rapidly.

It appears that Christians who are students of the sciences dealing with interhuman relationships such as psychology, psychiatry, sociology and anthropology will face an increasingly formidable foe in the future. There can be no doubt that there is a great field of Christian service in the subjects mentioned above. American Scientific Affiliation members would do well to invite into their ranks more earnest Christian scholars who have chosen careers in the sciences of inter-human relationships.