A Valid Subject?
Is there anybody out there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Many, in these final moments of the twentieth century,
believe that religion itself is a non-event, a vestigial irrelevance,
an opiate of the people. What then does Science examine when
it turns to Psychology of Religion?
Is Psychology of Religion a valid subject? Some people question its
legitimacy for reasons that include:
Psychology of Religion responds to these objections with a principle, the Principle of
the Exclusion of the Transcendent
It is not Psychology of Religion's place
to verify or disprove, were it possible, the existence of a religious object. Theology and
philosophy address that matter. But the feeling of transcendence and the observation of
behaviors associated with it fall within Psychology of Religion's purview.
Psychology itself is not a valid subject -- some claim that
it has betrayed the purpose inherent in the word's etymology. Psyche
means the soul or the spirit. As spiritual matters are no
longer the focus of modern psyschology, some believe that psychology is a poor
lens with which to examine humankind's understanding of spiritual matters.
Another semantic objection argues that religion itself is not a valid
subject because it is based on a false assessment of reality and therefore study
or discussion of human behavior about God is meaningless because religious
statements themselves are meaningless.
Psychology, as the study of behavior, does not need to study a meta subject
such as religion because such higher order subjects as art, music, poetry, and
religion are more than adequately explained within such existing psychological constructs
as child development, motivation theory, attitude formation, and psychopathologiy.
Some theologians, notably
Karl Barth, claim that God is totally "other" and that neither
God nor religious behavior are valid objects of empirical observation.
Web Design by Christine Norstrand