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of the person is valuable to the extent that it can open new frontiers
of explanation. It may well provide considerable information and
valuable new understanding about the functions of the human person.
But neuroscience is also freighted with considerable optimism and
interest today because it seems capable of providing a degree of
assurance regarding life beyond the grave.
Faith in science has become the modern mantra replacing faith in Christ.
Expectations are running high! Could we perhaps really know with
scientific assurance that there is something personal that will survive
Is there perhaps something "soulish" that could surely survive,
something that we could detect and measure today?"
dialogue on mind-matter |
evolutionary psychology |
views on Biblical Counseling |
resources | mental
molecules, electrons, and mind; counseling
A recent PSCF
paper by Dr. Heather Looy offers an introduction to the field of Psychology that gets at
basic Christian Worldview questions.
Counseling psychology as a psychological specialty facilitates
personal and interpersonal functioning across the life span with a focus
on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related,
developmental, and organizational concerns. Through the integration of
theory, research, and practice, and with a sensitivity to multicultural
issues, this specialty encompasses a broad range of practices that help
people improve their well-being, alleviate distress and maladjustment,
resolve crises, and increase their ability to live more highly functioning
lives. Counseling psychology is unique in its attention both to normal
developmental issues and to problems associated with physical, emotional,
and mental disorders.
studies the brain and nervous system, including molecular
neuroscience, cellular neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience,
psychophysics, computational modeling and diseases of the nervous system.
In addition to these textbook definitions, the Christian
would add the necessity for a Christian perspective on the
theories, presuppositions, and practices of theses multi-faceted disciplines. "The interface between psychology and
Christianity is perhaps most apparent in the arena of counseling and clinical psychology."
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of an explosion of
new insights into the ways that the brain
works and the implications that these findings have for human behavior and
health. The computer, imaging,
and a variety of micro-methods have
provided the means for obtaining new and often surprising information.
There are new challenges for the Christian at the ethical level and with
what it means to be human.
issue concerns the place of psychology in addressing human behavior. Is
the Bible the sole authority in treating the human condition - the notion
that all behavioral problems are rooted in spiritual issues - or, are some
problems more properly handled by mental health professionals and
historical introduction to the field.
Then a representative series
of papers on the
counseling. Use the search engine on the
home page for a more complete survey of ASA thought.
Oxford developmental psychologist Dr Olivera Petrovich
explains her research that suggests belief in a creator is the default position
of children. (Video)
Fraser Watts, "Relating Theology and Psychology: Distinctive Features and
Methodological Principles" MP3
Audio 46 Minutes.
From An ASA
"Thoughts about Psychopathy and the Moral Law"
From the September 2013 PSCF Theme Issue
Heather Looy, "Psychology at the Theological Frontiers," PSCF 65
(Sep. 2013) 147-155.
This article is an invitation to dialogue about the foundational
assumptions of North American psychology, and the implications of those
assumptions in research and practice. Mainstream psychology uses a
positivist notion of science to systematically study human experience
and behavior. This “view from without” is a valuable means of obtaining
certain kinds of information about ourselves. However, the unwillingness
of many in the field to acknowledge the basic worldview assumptions that
lead to the prioritizing of positivist science can limit and distort
our human understanding. These problems include an extreme objectivism,
bad reductions that leave out essential aspects of human experience, and
decontextualized and individualized approaches to human distress. This
type of science is also used to study religion and faith as variables
rather than as foundational contexts, to push for a transhuman future, and
to increase our disconnection with the natural world. Christians are
called to make explicit, and where appropriate challenge, the foundational
assumptions of psychology, to integrate the standard “view from without”
methods with rigorous methods that take a “view from within,” and to
reflect on the priorities of the field in light of Christian theology
Duane Kauffmann, "Biological and Environmental Constraints on Knowing the
Self," PSCF 65 (Sep. 2013): 156-162.
the context of dialogue between psychological science and Christian faith,
Heather Looy offered a critique of the assumptions and practices of
psychology, especially as they pertain to self-understanding. In response,
this article offers a brief review of research findings pertaining to
automaticity, situational effects on behavior, and heritability components
in belief patterns, and argues that this empirical work provides both
insights into, and constraints on, self-understanding. The concluding
section identifies issues and questions requiring attention as the
dialogue Looy initiated continues.
Russell D. Kosits, "Deeply Engaged and Strongly Perspectival? The
Impasse in the Psychology-Christianity Dialogue and It's Missional
Resolution." PSCF 65 (Sep. 2013): 163-178.
Christians in psychology tend to do two types of scholarship: (1) deeply
engaged, weakly perspectival research, in which the work is done for
mainstream audiences but Christian beliefs remain largely implicit,
and/or (2) strongly perspectival, relatively disengaged research, in
which Christian beliefs are made explicit but the work is done for a
nonmainstream, typically Christian, audience. Though both of these
types of scholarship are essential, there appears to be a paucity of (3)
deeply engaged, strongly perspectival research, in which the work is
done for mainstream audiences yet with an explicitly Christian
perspective. That this is the case, why
it is so, and what we might do
about it, is explored in this article
Noreen Herzfeld, "Outsourced Memory and Conversation," PSCF 65
(Sep. 2013): 179-186.
Human memory is multilayered, partial, ephemeral,
and fallible. Memory stored outside the person, as a photograph or in a
computer, is quite different. Human memories change when retrieved, and
new memories alter our perception of previous memories. Over time we
forget, which can be a good thing. While human memory
is a process, machine memory is a place. Its permanence can be an illusion
(memory corruption). Its permanence can also become a problem, in that it
does not fully allow for forgiveness and change. As we rely on computers
more and more to be our
external memories, we alter how we remember, what we remember, and our relationship to the past. Due to the differences in
human and machine memory, outsourced memory should be seen as an aid rather than a replacement, and
we should be wary of what
we commit to digital storage.
The inroads of biomedical technology into what human beings are as people
manifest themselves in many ways, one of which is to explore whether and
to what extent people can be enhanced, that is, perform better than they
would have in the absence of the technology in question. Of the various
possibilities discussed, one centers on cognitive performance, improving
concentration, memory and the like. It is against this background that
suggestions have been made that moral behavior can be, and even should be,
improved using technological avenues provided by transcranial direct
current stimulation (TDCS), deep brain stimulation (DBS), serotonin, and
oxytocin. The drive to augment morality using these means stems from the
perception of some writers that current morality is unable to cope with
the dire challenges facing humankind in the form of possible nuclear
annihilation, the plight of the global poor, and the deep divisions
between different cultural groups. This is the world of moral enhancement
and moral technology. A theological context is sought by assessing how
Jesus’s teaching on the greatest commandment, namely, loving God and one’s
neighbor, might apply to drug treatments aimed at transforming individuals
with different moral, mental, and spiritual needs. In this way The inroads
of biomedical technology into what human beings are as people manifest
themselves in many ways, one of which is to explore whether and to what
extent people can be enhanced, that is, perform better than they would
have in the absence of the technology in question. Of the various
possibilities discussed, one centers on cognitive performance, improving
concentration, memory and the like. It is against this background that
suggestions have been made that moral behavior can be, and even should be,
D. Gareth Jones. "Moral Enhancement as a Technological Imperative,"
PSCF 65 (Sep. 2013): 187-195.
June 2010 PSCF Theme Issue
Editorial: Matthew S. Stafford,
"Psychology, Neuroscience, and the American Scientific Affiliation,"
This special issue was developed with
two goals in mind: first, to continue the long tradition of the ASA and
PSCF in publishing quality, academic discussions in science and faith; and
second, to serve as a resource that ASA members might use to engage their
Christian psychology and neuroscience colleagues. It is anticipated that a
common point of contact, such as this special issue, will open
opportunities to invite your colleagues to attend the annual meeting or at
least to visit the website to learn more about the society.
Paul Moes, "Minding
Emotions: The Embodied Nature of Emotional Self-Regulation, "
PSCF 62 (June 2010): 75-87.
This article addresses concerns that the “nonreductive physicalism”
(NRP) approach to understanding human nature may lead to a new form of
determinism. The principal thesis of the article is that we can retain
the idea of willful and responsible action even within the NRP
perspective. Three additional positions are advanced: (1) Emotional
processes are an essential part of our willful nature; (2) Emotions
participate in the emergent nature of thought that leads to the quality
of “soulishness”; and (3) We can self-regulate our emotions, even within
a seemingly “closed” physical system. The article draws from current
psychological theories as well as a number of studies in
neuropsychology to support these positions...
Kevin Seybold, "Biology of Spirituality," PSCF
62 (June 2010): 89-98.
The idea that there is a biological basis for human spirituality is
controversial to many people. There is, nevertheless, a growing body of
empirical evidence coming from neuroscience, psychology, cognitive
science, and related disciplines interpreted by some as suggestive of a
biological basis for belief in God or the transcendent. The purpose of
this article is to (1) review some of that evidence, (2) address the issue
of how such a biological foundation to spirituality might have developed,
and (3) construct a rationale as to why, from a Christian perspective, a
biology of spirituality should be expected...
David O. Moberg, "Spirituality
Research: Measuring the Immeasurable?," PSCF
62 (June 2010): 99-114.
The rising popularity of spirituality is accompanied by a flood of
research in numerous disciplines to probe its relationships with
health, wellness, and countless other topics. Initially subsumed under
religion, especially Christianity, and still overlapping with it,
spirituality is increasingly treated as a distinct topic that applies to
all religions and to persons who have none with their diverse assumptions,
variables, and terminology. Besides issues common to all social and
behavioral sciences, spirituality research faces special challenges
because of its subject matter. In the context of Christian values, it is
immeasurable, yet numerous scales serve the measurement need as its
indicators or reflectors. Much more research is needed, ideally with
methodological and philosophical precautions to avoid reification,
reductionism, and other traps. Because spirituality pervades everything
that is human, its study is central to investigations of the essence of
Thaddeus J. Trenn, "Conscious
Experience and Science: Signs of Transition," PSCF
62 (June 2010): 115-121.
neurological correlates of personal conscious experience can often be
detected, identified, and measured objectively. Substituting neurological
correlates uncritically for personal conscious experience per se, if
unintended, would constitute the error of reductionism. If intended, such
substitution reflects decisions already taken on basic and highly
contentious issues concerning the acceptable nature of the human person,
offering no middle ground. Should personal aspects of individual conscious
experience be disregarded out of hand simply for not being in conformity
with available standards of objective scientific measurement? This logical
quandary presents a serious bifurcating challenge bearing significant
implications for current research in neuroscience cum neurophysiology, as
discussed in the article...
D. Gareth Jones, "Peering
into People's Brains: Neuroscience's Intrusion Into Our Inner Sanctum,"
PSCF 62 (June 2010): 122-132.
“Peering into the brain” has a number of connotations: from directly
examining aspects of the functioning of an individual’s brain and hence
what that individual may be thinking, to investigating the power of
neuroscience to provide insights into characteristic features of our
humanity. This article picks up on these different connotations and
surveys several areas in neuroscience that raise issues of relevance for
the Christian community. This is the domain of neuroethics, with
particular reference to the prospects opened up by brain imaging and, in
particular, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)....
Faw, Harold. "In
the Image of God: Exploring Links with Cognitive Psychology",
PSCF 58.4:310-314 (12/2006).
Constructive, ongoing conversations between cognitive psychologists and
theologians are both possible and valuable. Indeed, these two fields
need each other as they pursue a balanced understanding of the most
complex portion of God's creation of ourselves. Reasons for cooperation
include the significant ways in which our cognitive capacities reflect
those of our Creator, the rational nature of the theological enterprise,
and the corrective reminders biblical theology provides concerning our
creaturely status in God's world.
Trenn, Thad, "Science
and the Mystery of the Human Person," PSCF
58.3: (September 2006): 216-225."Traveling with haste, in the unerring security which transcends
all objects, instructed by the Spirit Who Alone can tell us the secret of our
individual destiny, man begins to know God as he knows his own self. The night
of faith has brought us into contact with the Object of all faith, not as an
object but as a Person Who is the center and life of our own being, at once His
own transcendent Self and the immanent source of our own identity and life."
Evolutionary Science, and the Image of God," PSCF 57 (September 2005): 170-186.
"Acknowledging the persuasive current impact of neuroscience and
neuro-philosophy this paper urges us to remember that biblical warrant and
scientific evidence join in reminding us that central to our understanding of
what it means to be a person is our psychosomatic unity. We know each other, not
as brains ensheathed in bodies, but as embodied persons. We are people who
relate to each other as beings created in the image of God. This image is not a
separate thing. It is not the possession of an immaterial soul. It is not the
capacity to reason. It is not the capacity for moral behavior. It is not the
possession of a God spot in our brains. It is acknowledging our human
vocation, given and enabled by God, to relate to God as God's partner in
covenant. To join in companionship of the human family and in relation to the
whole cosmos in ways that reflect the covenant love of God. This is realized and
modeled supremely in Jesus Christ...
David F. Siemens, Jr. "Neureoscience,
Theology, and Unintended Consequences," PSCF 57 (September 2005): 187-190.
Most contemporary neuroscientists hold that soul or mind is
no more than what emerges from complexly organized matter, that is, is strictly
a function of brain. While not necessary, this view has been adopted by some
evangelicals who seek current relevance. They, of course, have to posit a
nonmaterial deity, something clearly not part of science. Their claims have been
disputed on grounds of incompatibility with the resurrection, with spiritual
beings, with free will, and with eternal life. None of these criticisms has
noted an even more fundamental problem: non-reductive physicalism apparently
makes the Incarnation impossible.
Peter Rust, "
Dimensions of the Human Being and Divine Action,"
PSCF 57 (September 2005): 191-201.
Humans are three-dimensional, body-soul-spirit entities, but nevertheless
unitary, indivisible persons. Animal behavior includes deterministic and random
constituents. It may be modeled in terms of information systems, containing
regulatory loops. Goal settings for these may be fixed, as in ělowerî animals,
or governed by internal adaptive supervisory systems freely selecting from
alternative routines, as in conscious ěhigherî or soulish animals. A
meta-supervisor in humans provides self-consciousness, free will, conscience and
spiritual behavior. As with space, each further dimension includes the previous
one, but cannot emerge from it or be reduced to it.
Trenn, Thad, "If the Spiritual Soul Were
Beyond the Scope of Physicalism,"
Paper presented at the ASA/CSCA/CiS meeting on the theme,
Neuroscience and the Image of God, held 2004 July
22-26, at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC, Canada.
Moreland, J. P., "A
Christian Perspective on the Impact of Modern Science on Philosophy of Mind,"
PSCF 55.1:2-13 (3/2003)
it is widely held that, while broadly logically possible, dualism is no longer
plausible in light of the advances of modern science. My thesis is that once we
get clear on the central first and second-order issues in philosophy of mind, it
becomes evident that stating and resolving those issues is basically a
(theological and) philosophical matter for which discoveries in the hard
sciences are largely irrelevant. Put differently, these philosophical issues
are, with rare exceptions, autonomous from (and
authoritative with respect to) the so-called deliverances of the hard sciences.
Hall, Freud, Jung (front row) Clark University 1909
P. David Glanzer, "Mind Life," PSCF 53(June 2001): 74-83.
Donald F. Calbreath, "Aggression,
Suicide, and Serotonin: Is There a Biochemical Basis for Violent and
Self-Destructive Behavior?," PSCF 53.2
(June 2001): 84-95.
Contemporary biomedical science has attempted to explain
behavior in terms of genetic determinism, with specific mental states being
produced by alterations in the brain concentrations of one or more specific
biochemical components. The literature relating to the presumed association
between low brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and aggression and
suicide is reviewed and critiqued. Due to the variety of methodological
shortcomings in this research, conclusions based on the data cannot be
considered valid. Implications for the legal profession and for Christian moral
principles are discussed.
Psychology: A New Look at Values in Scientific Ontology, "Christian
Scholar's Review XXI (Spring 2000): 471 - 497.
Hodges explores the possibility that values are the ontological fundamentals
within which human activities such as perception, development, and emotion are
enacted. The relation of values to "laws" and "rules" in scientific accounts is
considered, and a theory of values is sketched that clarifies the enigmatic
character of behavior. Values, it is proposed, are heterarchical, legitimating,
and frustrating. Dr. Hodges teaches social, cognitive, and theoretical
psychology at Gordon College.
"Psychology and Christianity: the view both ways,"
A lecture delivered in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College,
Cambridge on Tuesday, 28th November 2000.
Warren S. Brown and Malcolm
A. Jeeves, "Portraits
of Human Nature: Reconciling Neuroscience and Christian Anthropology,"
Science and Christian Belief 11 No. 2 (October 1999):139-150.
Polischuck, Pablo "Perspectives
on the Self: Substantial and Dialogical Aspects," PSCF
50.2: 95 (6/1998)
Dialogue on Mind-Matter
Dembski, William A., "Converting
Matter into Mind: Alchemy and the Philosopher's Stone in Cognitive Science,"
PSCF 42.4:202-226 (12/1990)
Clark, Gregory A., "Rsponse
to W. Dembski's 'Converting Matter into Mind," (12/1990)"
PSCF 43.2:103-106 (6/1991)
Mind/Body Debate," PSCF
43 (March 1991): 71-72.
Dembsky, William, "Conflating
Matter and Mind," PSCF
44 (June 1991): 107-111.
Insertion of Electrode during Parkinson surgery
J. Raymond Zimmer, "Evolutionary
Psychology Challenges the Current Social Sciences," PSCF
50 (September 1998): 176.
Roger K. Bufford and Jonothan M. Garrison, "Evolutionary
Psychology: A Paradigm Whose Time May Come: A Response to J. Raymond Zimmer",
PSCF 50 (September 1998): 185.
Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, "Evolutionary
Psychology: A Primer" Center
for Evolutionary Psychology, UC Santa Barbara
Allan Chapman, "Historical Perspectives
on Mental Illness", 3 Feb. 2009 MP3
Jep Hostetler, "Humor,
Spirituality, and Well-Being,"
William M., "Defining
Consciousness: Christian and Psychological Perspectives."
PSCF 53 (June 2001):
Views on Biblical Counseling The articles offered below reflect the
tensions that may arise when one seeks to counsel or find a counselor within a
Harold D. Delaney and Thomas E. Goldsmith,
Scientific Psychology and Christian Theism
by Tim Lane
Are you facing a situation in your church that will
require pastoral care over a long period of time? If you don't have a
situation like that now ń you will in the future. Are you ready for
it? Caring for people in the local church is
challenging work. As a pastor, I remember numerous occasions where a
need for long term care arose. These were always challenging
situations and ones that caught the church by surprise. Over the span
of a decade, though, I began to see some pretty obvious things that
were essential for providing good long term care. I compiled these
ideas into a chapter for my doctoral thesisi
which I have updated to publish here. I must say that I learned these
things simply by watching brothers and sisters in Christ pour out
their lives in sacrificial love to friends and loved ones who were in
need. Perhaps it will help you to prepare for the pastoral care
demands that will come your way sooner or later...
Psychology & Christianity -
The View both ways
Biblical Counseling Movement (2010) e-book version
“David Powlison has written the definitive account of a biblical
counseling movement that arose in the 1960s and continues to influence
the field of Christian counseling today. The reader is taken on a
journey through the historical development of nouthetic counseling, its
origins, influences, theological content, organizational fault lines, and
key figures. Powlison is not a dispassionate outsider. He is clear in what
he believes, but he approaches his subject with such a thoroughness and
fairness in his research and assessment that he will leave readers from
all sides of the Christian counseling field with a new comprehension of
the theological, philosophical, personal, social, and cultural components
of the movement. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in
understanding the rapid and turbulent growth occurring in faith-based
counseling in the latter part of the twentieth century.”-- Ian F. Jones,
What is wrong with the therapeutic approach to counseling - 9 Marks
In a nutshell, "the therapeutic" borrows a wonderful metaphor from medicine - "healing" - but treats it as a literal reality. Of course, when you are healed from having cancer, the flu, or a broken leg, that's a literal healing. Something bad happens to you. You are in some essential way passive, a victim, acted upon by forces external to your identity and responsibility as a moral agent. You are a "patient." You "have" or "suffer from" some disease or dysfunction. With healing, your body has now been restored, and that's good.
But counseling deals with a different kind of problem. ...
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