The author of a high school textbook that introduces psychology from a Christian perspective says Christian students entering college are unprepared for the challenges of today’s Psychology classes and “schools-of-thought.” Dr. Tim Rice, LPC, author of Psychology: A Christian Perspective, High School Edition. also believes this unpreparedness is a reason for the high rate of Christian students dropping their faith after entering college.
“Surveys suggest that as many as 75 percent of Christian students ‘walk away’ from their faith within 12 months of entering college. If that statistic is accurate, and if it has anything to do with the teaching in college, it is because Christian students are unprepared for the worldview challenges embedded in modern Psychology’s theories and schools-of-thought.”
Why are Christian students unprepared?
Rice states, “Among Christians, Psychology is controversial and our disagreements are often contentious. Many Christians see Psychology as an idolatrous and ungodly rival religion and are concerned that there is no room for faith in its study. Some have called Psychology ‘the great seduction in preparation for the antichrist.’ Others believe that God created Psychology when He created Man and that we have a duty to study it.” According to Rice, “because the disagreements about Psychology are so contentious no one has taken on the task of covering this subject at the worldview level, especially in a way that supports high school students, until now.”
The publishers of Psychology: A Christian Perspective say the book equips parents and teachers to “help students to recognize psychology-specific worldview issues, and to introduce them to the study of the wonders of God’s greatest creation: the human mind.”
The Christian Post recently interviewed Rice about his book. The interview conducted by email is below.
CP: How is your book being received since its release? From both a secular and Christian perspective?
Rice: I am pleased to say that the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Jackye Biehl, the Administrator at First Baptist Academy in O’Fallon, IL wrote, “We LOVED the curriculum but better than that – our students loved it as well and the feedback from the course was amazing.” Psychology: A Christian Perspective, High School Edition is being used this school year by 42 Christian schools and by hundreds of homeschooling families. Christian educators understand that Psychology class in college will challenge students’ worldview and it seems that there has been a collective sigh of relief that someone has taken on the challenge of creating a resource to equip students to meet the challenge.
The secular community has dismissed me as an Intelligent Design quack.
CP: What is your greatest hope in regards to what you would like to see as the result of students studying this book?
Rice: I really believe that every Christian student needs to deal with Psychology class before they go to college. As a young Christian taking Psychology 101 almost 30 years ago, I was not very prepared to defend my faith and totally unprepared to recognize the worldview beliefs underlying the theories and schools-of-thought I was taught. I don’t want that to happen to students today. That is why I believe that Psychology is one of the most important electives that a student can take in high school.
I also believe that because Psychology is a contentious topic among Christians, we’ve abandoned it to the secular, humanistic, and evolutionary perspectives. We need to reclaim Psychology for Christ and that starts with high school students. The goal for the study of Psychology, just like the study of Biology, Theology, History, and every other discipline, should be to understand God’s creation and, in the words of Johannes Kepler, to “think God’s thoughts after him.” Instead of surrendering psychology or falling away in the face of the world’s teaching, we have a duty to put forth reasoned explanations for our worldview in every discipline, including psychology.
CP: How does homeschool Psychology tie-in to this book? Will homeschooling parents be more prone to require their students to read this book?
Rice: We are a homeschooling family. As my oldest daughter approached high school graduation, I discovered there was not a good resource for me to use to teach Psychology. My first book, Homeschool Psych: Preparing Christian Homeschool Students for Psychology 101 was targeted to homeschoolers. I assumed that Christian schools had good resources, but I was wrong. I wrote Psychology: A Christian Perspective in response to requests from Christian schools, but it is intended for all Christian high school students. Often, adults who took Psychology in college use the book to get the Christian perspective they did not get in college.
I believe high school students who do not plan to go to college would read the book too. Psychology has influenced not only college and the culture, it has influenced the Church. Every year Christians buy millions of books on self-help, recovery, addiction, relationships, parenting, spiritual growth, and emotional and mental health. Bible colleges, seminaries, and Christian radio promote psychological programs. Sometimes it seems Christian authors, speakers, and even some pastors “Christianize” psychological theories by sprinkling in a few verses from the New Testament and mentioning Jesus. We have to dig deep, down to the biblical worldview level to evaluate all the stuff that is out there.
CP: You’ve stated your opinion on this before, but again, what are the challenges of Christian students entering college in regards to the study of Psychology?
Rice: There are a number of challenges Christian students face in college Psychology class.
Although there are many Christian professors, psychology departments are home to some of the more anti-Christian intellectuals on college campuses. In fact, psychology professors tend to have the highest levels of agnosticism and atheism and often attack the Christian worldview as unscientific, irrational, prudish, exploitative, controlling, inhibitive, oppressive, and naïve. Many psychology professors teach that Christianity is incompatible with sound mental health, that it contributes to human suffering, and that “intelligent” students will eventually abandon their faith.
Christian students are often unprepared to recognize modern psychology’s core worldview assumptions: naturalism, behaviorism, humanism, evolutionism, empiricism, and moral relativism. Those worldview beliefs are embedded, sometimes very subtly, in modern psychology’s theories and schools of thought and they are presented under the banner of “science.” It has been reported that many Christian students walk away from their faith after the first year of college. I believe that if those reports are true and if they have anything to do with the teaching in college, it is, at least in part, because of the subtle worldview challenges embedded in psychological theories. It was for me. By simply forewarning and preparing students in advance, they are better able to resist believing ideas grounded in anti-Christian worldview.
CP: Anything else you would like to add?
Rice: I think that a Christian perspective on Psychology is a powerful tool in responding to the theory of evolution. There is a passage near the end of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in which Darwin, writing about psychology stated:
“In the distant future I see open fields for far more important research. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.”
According to Darwin, all mental activity, even what we think of as our God-likeness, is ultimately nothing more than a “capacity” that humans acquired, bit by bit, through variation and natural selection. Darwinian evolution, when applied to human psychology, reduces our consciousness, our morality, our capacity to make decisions and judgments, religious experience, love, empathy, altruism, hate, greed, dreams, and everything else that makes us human to nothing more than a bunch of neurons doing their thing.
But Psychology, more so than biology, is where the theory of evolution has the most difficulty. There are no cogent evolutionary explanations for our “higher” capacities, our God-likeness. I believe that the fight against evolution is not likely to be won with arguments of sub-cellular irreducible complexity. It is, however, winnable in the arena of the incomprehensible complexity and wonder of God’s grandest creation: the human mind.