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A Godly Man's Worldview - DaleTedder.com

Part 2 Lenses of a Biblical Worldview

There is mixed feelings about the use of psychology within Christianity.  I remember hearing sermons that denounced any form of psychology within Christian ministry.  I also have sat under teaching that has used certain psychological principles and jargon to enhance or explain biblical truths.  Is there a place for psychology in the church?  If so in what capacity?  We will look at these questions as we seek to just start a conversation on the subject.  This paper will discuss mostly the presuppositional thinking of modern psychology and the outworking application of this thinking.  Next, we will contrast the Christian presuppositions and finally examine areas of integration.    

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior.  The history of psychology is an interesting one.  One that I will forgo at this time, but for an outstanding overview of the subject I recommend Harold Delaney and Timothy Goldsmith work, Scientific Psychology and Christian Theism.  Moral, social, ontological, and epistemological ramifications result directly from psychological studies and conclusions.    The very person of man and the weight of his actions hang in the balance upon our understanding of this field.   The issue we will open up with is this:  can we understand human mind and behavior from the inside out, from a purely naturalistic perspective?  In this approach, what conclusions manifest. 

Movement to Naturalistic Thinking

For time’s sake we take up tracing the history of psychological thinking in post enlightenment era.  Such figures as William James, B.F. Skinner, David Hume, and Robert Wright were important cogs in the movement of psychological studies to a predominant naturalistic worldview.  Religion’s role was reduced to pragmatism at best and eventually jettisoned altogether.  One of the first to integrate Darwinism into psychological thinking was John B. Watson.  It is noted that Watson, “helped to cement evolutionary thinking onto American Psychology.” (Goldsmith)  [1]David Robison later says of psychological method, “Method as Metaphysic.”  The result of this premise defines man in a closed physical system. 

In modern times, almost universally, Darwin’s naturalistic theories have been transposed onto the psychological canvas.  Goldsmith says:

[2]The fundamental presupposition of not only radical behaviorism but of modern psychology in general is that of naturalism.  Human behavior, like the phenomena of other natural sciences, is to be explained by citing only natural causes. 

The result is 2 fold: the mind and the behavior of humanity has biological and environmental causes.  Additionally, most of modern psychology uses the premise of empiricism for investigation and conclusion.  See an inconsistency here?  More on that later. 

Implications of Naturalism

So the foundational thinking of psychology is mostly naturalistic.  The implications of this is terrifying.  First, by placing man in a closed system, we exclude any form of absolute.  The result of such thinking is the corrosion of morality.  Morality becomes now a means to self-preservation and pleasure.  [3]As Skinner writes:

We say that there is something ‘morally wrong’ about a totalitarian state, a gambling enterprise, uncontrolled piecework wages, the sale of harmful drugs or undue personal influence, not because of any absolute set of values, but because all these things have aversive consequences.

The article goes on to say:

That is, ‘the good’ is labeled such because of its association with pleasant experiences, and the ‘evil’ is labeled such because of its association with unpleasant experiences. (Goldsmith)

What terrible ramifications.  Morality is relative, subjective, and only serving the baser survival instinct of man.  The quality of man is reduced to that of a brute.  As Watson says in his manifesto, Psychology as the Behaviorist Views it, “there was no dividing line between man and brute.”

The second effect of the naturalistic premise of modern psychology is that it compromises the very trustworthiness of the scientific method which it stands upon.  For instance, in formulating a theory, does the scientist account for his own behavior or biological predisposition when adopting it?  In concluding that there are no absolutes in this closed universe, is that an absolute?  The hypocritical nature of the psychological community positing objective observation of those [4]“hopelessly governed by their conditioning history and biological predispositions.”  However one tries to reconcile objectivity/rationality with biological/environmental conditioning there will still be inconsistency.  [5]Richard Dawkins recently twitted this:

You can’t believe something because it make you feel good, or to confirm your society.  Believing is not something you can decide to do. 

He assumes a predisposition to believing.  Doesn’t this do well for the scientific method approach?  The essence of man according to most modern psychologist is can be summed up in the song by Kansas as “Dust in the Wind”.  We are driven by behavior condition by environment and biological wiring.  Morals are relative and a study in ontology and epistemology is an exercise in vanity.  There is no fixed point, no axiom to derive solid conclusions.  So we are dust in the wind. 

[6]I close my eyes only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind
Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind
Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind (all we are is dust in the wind)
Dust in the wind (everything is dust in the wind), everything is dust in the wind (the wind)

To Transcend or Not?

The last issue I will briefly deal with is that naturalistic perspective cannot transcend to answer the ultimate “why” questions.  We have seen that within the naturalistic paradigm we are disposed to a natural predetermined way of believing, of thinking.  Kosits rightly says:

“The point is that scientific practice in psychology, which is said to focus exclusively on strictly empirical, testable questions, frequently goes beyond the merely empirical as it attempts to give an “ultimate” accounting for its findings, and usually that accounting is given in terms of evolutionary theory.” (Kosits)

Many times when interpreting the facts, an evolutionary worldview is used.  The “ultimate answers” that are posited are not scientific theories but opinions based upon evolutionary worldview.  Kosits concludes that, “the actual interpretive practices of scientific psychologists, faith and science are after all not truly separate spheres.” (Kosits)


In conclusion with this section, I hope to have illustrated how a naturalistic premise colors the entire philosophy of most modern psychology.  Boundaries are define and parameters set that allows no room for intellectual wiggle room.  I have listed two, I believe, fatal flaws to their naturalistic premise.  Now we turn our attention to the Christian perspective. 

The Christian Perspective

The Christian perspective is as follows: The scripture is the revealed word of God.  It is the axiom from which we derive all absolutes, and standards.  Without the scripture, everything plunges into subjectivism.  The truth of scripture is not grasped my natural man.  Here is the intersection of theology and psychology: man is created in the image of God.  He reflects that image in a moral, intellectual, creative and rational way.  Yet man is a child of nature.  He reflects such as being immortal, animalistic, limited, fixed, and flawed.  Man is fallen and cannot receive the things of God.  His worldview is a fallen orientation, therefore, he cannot transcend himself.  He is hopelessly limited in perspective and ability.  Only through direct intervention by God (regeneration) can man rely upon God, and His Word for foundational axioms.  Relying upon anything else produces error or limited insight. 

The Christian method is not based upon scientism.  That is limiting the investigation process and theory assimilation process strictly to the natural realm.   What are the alternative perspectives?  A good starting point is a snapshot of various perspective given by [7]C. Stephen Evans.  Any good Christian will say that the very basis of thought and belief is the scripture.  I agree, but how does one work out of that.  Is there a method that can capture the biblical worldview? In studying the human mind and behavior, can we make progress in discovery and understanding that fits within a Christian worldview?  I believe we can.  Let’s first look at the Evan’s perspective in brief. 


Evans philosophy consists of three dialogues with scientism.  1. Reinterpreter method.  That is one accepts the perspective of science, and argues that God works exclusively through natural means in bringing about his will.  This is akin to the naturalistic closed-universe.  2.  The Limiter of Science position is the second.  This position holds that science (as the naturalist holds it) does not account for all knowledge about the universe.  Other knowledge sources are permitted and held into account.  3.  The Humanizer of science.  This position rejects scientism and the unity of science stance.  It is positively defined as seeking to human action in history in terms of their beliefs, motivations, and intentions.  It is within these last positions that the Christian worldview can emerge and thrive as viable force in psychology. 

Evans is not the only one to attempt in integrate Christian faith into psychology.  David Myers in his work, On Professing Psychological Science and Christian Faith, notes [8]seven paths toward integrating psychology and faith. 

1. Believing that everything deals with God.  God as seen in scripture is the axiom, we are the investigators of his work. 

2. In a spirit of humility, test the testable claims.  This position holds that truth is revealed in scripture and natural data. 

3.  Inject Christian assumptions in teaching and writing. 

4. Apply psychological insight into the life of the church.  This is mostly done in counseling and effective communication. 

5. Relate psychological and Judeo-Christian descriptions of human nature.  This is simply looking for and naming biblical concepts with psychological concepts. 

6.  Study determinates of religious experience.  Faith as a source of action. 

7.  The effects of religious experience.  Does faith make a difference in people’s lives? (Myers)


These attempts are just the start at a dialogue in the field of psychology and theology.  It is important to note that one must be built upon the other.  As I have shown, the Christian worldview can be welcoming to various philosophies.  In fact, much of psychology can be enhanced through a Christian perspective.  I am very careful to say that the reverse cannot be true.  Apart from scripture, we learn nothing, can add nothing to a Christian worldview through independent investigation.  Additionally, [9]Kosits proposes a worldview test of sorts.  To look at the facts through an evolutionary worldview.   Does the conclusions about various human development, morality, language, rational, etc., make sense using this worldview?  Now do the same with the Christian worldview.  Which makes the most sense?  We maintain the Christian worldview has the most acceptable answers for our most troublesome questions.   

It really does boil down to a worldview.  A simple presupposition that everyone has.  Everyone uses a worldview to interpret facts, evidences, and essentially their reality.  A worldview is a lens, if you will, that colors information and assimilates them into answers to the why questions we all have.  We have clearly discussed the naturalistic vs Christian worldview respecting the field of psychology.  I maintain that the Christian worldview lens is the best rational selection of the two, it is the rock in which we must build our realities. 

Works Cited

Goldsmith, Harold Delaney and Timothy. “Scientific Psychology and Christian Theism.” 1999. Faculty Commons Academic Initiative . Web. 30 April 2009.

Kosits, Russ. “Redeeming Psychology Means Developing an Apologetic Edge.” 1 June 2009. Cardus. Web. 1 June 2015.

Myers, David. “On Professing Psychological Science and Christian Faith.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity (1996): 143-149. Web.

[1] “By this Robinson means that psychology’s adoption of empiricism or the scientific method as an epistemology has developed into an endorsement of materialism as the nearly universally accepted position on metaphysics or ontology.”  (Goldsmith)

[2] Page 5

[3] This is taken from the article, Scientific Psychology and Christian Theism

[4] C. Stephen Evans has a helpful study in his book, Preserving the Person: A look at the Human Sciences (Goldsmith)

[5] www.twitter.com 5:07am May 26, 2015 @RichardDawkins

[6] Kansas, Kerry Livgren

[7] Goldsmith p.7, 8

[8] P. 144-146, “On Professing Psychological Science and Christian Faith.”

[9] See Kosits work, “Redeeming Psychology Means Developing an apologetic Edge” p. 3. 

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