Why Are Fundamentalists Opposed To Psychology?

Why are fundamentalist Christians opposed to psychology? The usual argument I’ve heard is that it should be left to God but than again most of them don’t reject physical medicene.

Are they?

< googles> It looks like a common problem. One of thefirst google results I got:

In other words, once again religion denies reality and disregards the consequences.

Psychology as we know it today hasn’t been around that long. A lot of it still is not totally understood i.e. causes for many disorders, especially personality disorders. Back in the day much of these problems were attributed to religious causes (at least that is what I learned in my history of psychology course). Only recently have psychological disorders been thought of more as a medical issue that can be treated by science. Guess religion isn’t catching up?

Asking “why do Fundamentalists do _____” is almost like asking “Why do Californians do ____?” because they’re at least that diverse a group. That said, I know of at least some who dislike psychology because they really do honest-to-Gawd believe in spirit possession for things like schizophrenic and manic episodes and Satanic interference for things like depression and anxiety disorders. Just as some (not all by any means) chiropractors believe all that ails you stems from/can be cured by the the nature and positioning of your bones and nervous system, some Fundamentalists believe all that ails you emotionally stems from/can be cured by the nature of your relationship with Jesus.

Of course there are atheists and liberal Christians who have major problems with psychology as well. I’ll admit I’m in there somewhere; I don’t think it’s without merit at all and I’m not quite Alex P. Keaton (“Psychology… my favorite of the false disciplines”) but I think it’s got a LOT more quacks than physiological medicine and I think it’s a lot closer to the bleeding and leeches stage than other modern healthcares.

First, we really gotta define “Fundamentalist”. I think all Dopers would categorize Dr. James Dobson as a Fundamentalist, yet he is also a psychologist. By Doper standards, Curtis, you & perhaps I are “Fund’ists”. And that’s OK in the original sense of the term- a Christian who holds to the Divine authority of the Bible and the Deity, Virgin Birth, Sacrificial Death, Bodily Resurrection & Personal Return of Jesus. For the real whackos (such as the Amazing Grace folks), I prefer “Fundies”.

To the Q, they think psychology lessens personal responsibility for “sinful” or problematic behavior & attitudes, and also downplays the role of the spiritual in contributing to problem behavior & attitudes (personal sinfulness & demons) and in healing of such (trust, spiritual discipline, the power of the Holy Spirit).

Oh yeah, in my undergrad days, I minored in Psych (B.A. in PoliSci) and then got an M.S. in Counseling. Got put off pursuing it because of third-party payment issues in Indiana, then got settled into another job, saw the burnout among that field & lost interest.

They are opposed to logic and reason. Why wouldn’t they be opposed to their products should they provide non-compliant, conflicting, or threatening paradigms?

They see Psychologists as secular Priests who examine others’ behaviors and feelings and suggest agnostic remedies. It’s a misperception issue, and maybe a job security issue.

Curtis, could you present a little more evidence to show that fundamentalists are opposed to psychology? I think you’ve made an assumption.

Here’s a good example of one fundamentalist ministry that is specifically focused on opposing psychology. Yet most of the Christians psychologists, counselors & ministries it opposes would be considered fundamentalist by many Doper standards (Dobson, Larry Crabb, Tim LaHaye, Promise Keepers).

In the mid-80s, Jimmy Swaggart touched off a rejection of psychology amongst evangelicals/charismatics/pentecostals with an anti-psychology article on the cover of his widely read/circulated magazine. Around that time, a number of evangelical-led liberal arts colleges began to phase out their psychology majors in favor of a science-light (or science-free) “Biblical counseling” major which was also picked up in a number of Bible colleges.

The college I attended (as a psychology major, no less) was of the same denomination (pre-defrocking) as Swaggart and only retained its program because of the fervent protest of the faculty against the rationale Swaggart offered, which was not only that mental illness is simply a manifestation of sin, but also, that using man’s science to understand the workings of the mind was somehow questioning the sovereignty of God by delving into things he does not wish for men to understand.

To risk hijacking, about that time I was almost addicted to Swaggart’s daily 30-min. discussion show because I would always get so mad at him & his panel of yes-men (and his wife.) Every week focused on a different subject, with many of such subjects being “Who Do We Hate This Week?”

Fortunately, the scandal broke his influence. Also fortunately, my local Assembly of God, while whacky Fundies compared to most everyone else, is actually rather moderate by AoG standards. The fact that it has me as a member is proof of that!
(Though I do keep my Universalist leanings somewhat guarded. That would be a bit much to expect them to handle!)

Really, i’d say it would be reasonable to suspect a higher rejection rate of psychology among fundamentalists, but only because there seems to be a higher suspicion of psychology among people in general over physical medicine. Quite a bit of it may be factors which aren’t unique to fundamentalists.

To the extent to which this is actually true, one factor may be the psychologists (e.g. Freud) who have been openly hostile to religion/Christianity.

Oh I don’t know maybe it’s because you have to be fairly psychotic to buy into a lot of the crap they’re selling. It’s hard to be told a lot of your “truths” are simply irrational.

Curtis, this is basically like asking, “have you stopped beating your wife yet?”

(Besides, the #1 religion against psychology isn’t a fundie Christian one at all – Scientology.)

Taking the ‘mental’ out of ‘fundamental’? :dubious:

Okay, I’ll go away now.

But surely Fundamentalists are more likely to take certain positions on issues such as abortion, evolution, and gay issues than either non-fundamentalist Christians or agnostics, etc. F-ism doesn’t appear to have as strong an influence on views of psychology, but there’s some.

Add to that the fact that it’s easier to argue that supernaturtal forces are at work in areas that are still somewhat mysterious (i.e. what happens when you die, what happened 5000 years ago, what causes dreams) vs more tangible issues like what causes your car to run --or break down.

No, he’s saying, “why do jerks beat their wives?”. Many don’t, plenty do.