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Frontiers

Psychology at the Theological Frontiers by Heather Looy.

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.

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