Is Psychology Scientific?
The Enlightenment of the eighteenth century is another example of the undermining of belief in the Bible. It taught that human reasoning, instead of revelations from God was the source of truth that could be used to solve human problems. Only the things that could be confirmed logically and scientifically were accepted. This was the rejection of revealed, absolute truth from God. By rejecting absolutes of right and wrong, they emphasized what was relevant to or that worked in immediate situations. Part of the growth of the Enlightenment “made both nature and man ultimately divine and so lost any basis for absolute truth in a personal creator who transcends the changing world.”1
Science has almost become a god, but it is limited in what it can do because of the inherent shortcomings of the scientific method. Regardless of how carefully and how many times an experiment is reproduced, it is impossible to try the experiment under all conditions and at all times to prove it to be an absolute truth. So even though science can factually observe and describe what happens, when it begins trying to explain why they happen and how things can be changed, the best it can come up with is theories or opinions.
“Much of what we assume to be true is actually only theory. It is a serious error of our educational system which teaches or implies that these theories are established, proven facts.”2 The theory of evolution is a good example. Also, “science cannot discover absolute truth because science is always changing. Any scientific finding or theory may be discarded or revised tomorrow or a hundred years from now. All scientific observations and theories must be open to criticism and to possible correction or disproof. No scientific theory should be protected from criticism, because it may someday be proved to be wrong.”3
Although some forms of psychology are scientific because they describe what people do, psychological counseling or psychotherapy that deals with values, attitudes, and behavior is not. When we move from describing human behavior to explaining it and particularly changing it, we move from science to opinion… and such opinion about human behavior presented as truth or scientific fact is merely pseudoscience, it rests upon false premises (opinions, guesses, subjective explanations) and leads to false conclusions…”4
“Crucial to a science is the possibility of not only refuting theories but also predicting future events, reproducing results obtained, and controlling what is observed… Psychotherapy deals with individuals who are unique and possess a will. Interaction in a therapeutic setting involves the individuality and volition of both the therapist and the person being counseled. Additionally, there are variables of time, changing circumstances in the lives of both the therapist and counselee and in their values, which are an inevitable part of therapy. Science is at a loss because the deep thoughts and motivations of humanity escape the scientific method…”5
In addition, the cause and effect relationship, so evident in the natural sciences, is ambiguous or absent in the behavioral “sciences.” Instead of causation (cause and effect), psychotherapy rests heavily upon covariation (events which appear together which may not necessarily be related)… There is a great temptation to assume that when two events occur together (covariation) one must have caused the other.”6 This is what superstition and psychology are based on.
Finally, “if psychotherapy had succeeded as a science, then we would have some consensus in the field regarding mental-emotional-behavioral problems and how to treat them. Instead the field is filled with many contradictory theories and techniques, all of which communicate confusion rather than anything approximating scientific order.”7 This is exactly what Paul was referring to in I Timothy 6:20 when he mentioned “science falsely so called.” So psychological counseling is not scientific.
In the next issue of The Evangelist, we will explore the question, “Is psychology a religion?”
1 Arthur F. Holmes, All Truth Is God’s Truth (Grand Rapids: William B. Erdman’s, 1977), 43.
2 Robert W. Faid, A Scientific Approach To Christianity (South Plainfield, NJ: Bridge, 1982) 83.
3 Robert E. Kofahl, Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter (San Diego, CA: Beta Books, 1977) 13-14.
4 Martin and Deidre Bobgan, Psychoheresy (Santa Barbara, CA: Eastgate Publishers, 1987), 120
5 Bobgan, Psychoheresy, 37-38.
6 Ibid., 37.
7 Ibid., 3