Science in Christian Perspective



John Brown University
Siloam Springs, Arkansas 72761

From: JASA 24 (December 1972): 129-130.

Today nine out of ten of the scientists who have ever lived are living.1 Psychologists make up part of this pool of scientists. Of 300,000 scientists registered in 1968 by National Science Foundation, 23,077 were psychologists.2 The American Psychological Association, founded in 1892, has about 30,000 members today.

Each year approximately 25,000 bachelor's, 5,000 master's, and 2,000 doctorate's are awarded in psychology.3 With this generous supply of psychologists from the colleges and universities of the country, it might seem that a job shortage is imminent. However, as these totals show, most of those who major in psychology on the undergraduate level do not go on to become professional psychologists. One study revealed that only 9% of those who major in psychology at the undergraduate level become psychologists, Of these, 62% said they would major in psychology if they had to choose a major field again.4

For those who enter professional psychology in the seventies, the employment prospect looks good. Recently there has been an increase in unemployment in some fields of science, especially physics and chemistry.5 However, psychology remains a field in which there are more jobs available than there are prospective employees and this situation should continue in some psychological fields.

In 1963 the American Psychological Association estimated that there were three jobs available across all fields of psychology for every qualified psychologist and indicated that the future was bright.6 In 1970 the American Psychological Association confidently predicted developments which would result in "more numerous and more diversified careers in psychology than presently exist....7 This is in keeping with recent
government and private studies which predict that psychology is one of the most promising occupations for the seventies.8 The financial gains are attractive. Psychologists in 1968 had a median salary of $13,200 which was higher than the median for anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, biologists, agriculturalists, or mathematicians.9

With job openings scarce in some scientific areas, the employment prospect in psychology is a propitious one for the Christian.

In the seventies some fields of psychology hold more promise than others for growth. Today most psychologists are connected with colleges and universities (40%), with smaller numbers employed in schools (12%), clinics, hospitals and medical schools (11%), government (8%) and industry (6%).10 Of all psychological areas, the field of mental health is the fastest growing. For instance, community psychology is rising to provide mental health care in an economic and accessible way. Community mental health offers a wide range of services and involves restructuring traditional clinical practice.11

Just how many Christians are employed in professional psychology is unknown. That there are some can be attested by the existence of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies which in 1970 had 374 members. This represents a sizable increase over the 161 members listed in 1965.12

With job openings scarce in some scientific areas, the employment prospect in psychology is a propitious one for the Christian. There is a continuing need for highly trained personnel in Christian education. For instance, on the college level, qualified instructors are needed. A check of the catalogs of five well-known Christian colleges indicates that only about one in three psychology teachers holds an earned doctorate and the doctorate is not always in psychology.13

Of course, a Christian can work in the field of psychology without a doctorate. While 60% of all psychologists associated with the American Psychological Association hold doctorates,14 those who do not are increasingly in demand to meet the educational and health needs of society.

In the area of counseling, Christian organizations are in need of psychologists with academic and theological preparation. Christian schools are becoming more aware that the Christian student is not exempt from the stress which often results in emotional imbalance and consequent need for professional help. The Christian psychologist can exert a powerful influence for good in meeting the needs of students, missionaries, ministers, and other Christians.

In addition to helping believers, the Christian psychologist may direct his efforts toward the needs represented by the 750,000 patients in mental institutions and the 40,000 persons who lose their lives each year by suicide or murder.'-' Behind these human tragedies are poorly adjusted people in need not only of psychological therapy but also of Christian empathy and succor. The purpose of the American Psychological Associa tion is a noble one: "to advance psychology as a science and as a means of promoting human welfare." The Christian psychologist in the seventies can have the satisfaction of knowing that his influence is helping give psychology a biblical orientation as it seeks to achieve its goal.


1Wertheimer, Michael. Confrontation. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman, 1970, p. 1.
2Summary of American Science Manpower, 1968," National Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel, National Science Foundation.
3A Career in Psychology, American Psychological Association, 1970, P. 13.
4Barnette, W. "Feedback from Bachelor of Arts Psychology Graduates," American Psychologist, 1961, 16: 184-188. 
Job Prospects: Science Graduates Face Worst Year in Two Decades," Science, May 21, 1971, p. 823.
6 A Career in Psychology, American Psychological Association, 1963, p. 23. "The demand for qualified psychologists in all specialized areas outstrips the supply at about a three to one ratio." Whittaker, James 0. Introduction to Psychology. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1970, p. 646. 
7A Career in Psychology, 1970, op. cit., p. 12. Each month the A.P.A. Employment Bulletin lists many job opportunities.
8"Jobs for Tomorrow," Time, February 15, 1971, p. 70.
9 Summary of American Science Manpower," op. cit.
10A Career in Psychology, 1970, op cit., p. 11.
11Gendlin, E. T. "Psychotherapy and Community Psychology," Psychotherapy: Research and Practice, 1968, 5 (2), 67-72.
12Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Convention, Christian Association for Psychological Studies, p. 80.
13Based on catalogs of Azusa Pacific, Grace, Taylor, Ten nessee Temple, and Wheatnn.
14A Career in Psychology, 1963, op. cit., p. 15.
15Keezer, William S. Mental Health and Human Behavior, Dubuque, Iowa: W. C. Brown, 1971, p. 136.