Science in Christian Perspective



Philip B. Marquart, M.D.

From: JASA 11 (March 1959): 25-26.

Many of the non-Freudians of the profession are wont to taunt the psychoanalytic school with being non-scientific, and many a Christian would shout "Amen". Even though this school of thought has been formulated without being validated by experimental procedure in the usual sense, there are some of the concepts formulated by Freud which stand the test of veracity. For instance, we know that some of Freud's defense mechanisms are described, though not named, in some of the Bible characters. We find many of these ego defenses illustrated in the unfortunate behavior of King Saul. Romans 2:1 describes the action of the mechanism of projection better than modern man has ever done. Men of our time have unwittingly given forth truth, because the same facts are found in the inspired Word of God. Incidentally, such validation of facts and principles is far more secure than that of the scientific method could ever be.

One of the so-called defense mechanisms is very desirable to have in the Christian life. It is the "sweetlemon" or "Pollyanna" mechanism. The Christian may well have "songs in the night" and something to be glad about, even under the worst of circumstances. job gives us a good illustration of this at job 1:21: "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord". Even an attitude of the so-called "sour-grapes" mechanism may be benign in the Christian experience, when the Lord is trying to remove some "idol" from the life of one of His children.

The man who taught his Sunday School class, but owned several liquor stores which were kept open on Sunday, found it necessary, when rebuked, to defend himself by rationalization. He answered, "I know a plenty of church members who are doing worse than I am."

On the very day, when human nature came to be as it is now, (Gen. 3:10) Adam used the first defense mechanisms in history, and thus set off a holocaust of psychologic defect. Adam lied when he said he was afraid because he was naked. He was rather afraid because he was guilty. However, he was already so mixed up that he believed his own lie. This is the way that rationalization started: an error in fact, for an unconscious purpose, but the error is believed to be true by the perpetrator. Projection is another form of rationalization. In successive verses in the same chapter we find both Adam and Eve projecting the blame for their sin upon one another, upon the serpent, and even upon God himself. These mechanisms are still the same Garden variety of human nature that we see about us today.

Gen. 3:10 is interesting in that it reveals the onset of many items of abnormality which have become inherent in our nature. These are not the first hint of abnormal psychology in Gen. 3, but they are the most significant and sweeping. Not only does this verse show the onset of defense mechanisms, it shows the most extreme form of fear, which is called panic, which arises out of disturbed emotional life. The error in the intellectual apprehension of the facts, which is illustrated by the mechanism of rationalization is but one aspect of that diffusion and clouding of man's mind which we call the "Unconscious." Apparently this "cover-up" was permitted to man so that he would not be undone by knowing everything about himself. "Who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9.) In fact this diffusion which was smoked tip into the basement of man's mind, covered up so much of man's personality, that modern man has lost sight of the fact that "heart" is the core and nucleus of his personality.