R. Jacobsen: Behavioral Science Seminar, Messiah College
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BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE SEMINAR

MESSIAH COLLEGE

Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen

DESCRIPTION OF THE COURSE:

There are two foci of this course: (1) the general issue of how science and religion can be brought into constructive dialogue with each other; and (2) the more specific problem of how behavioral science, and especially psychology, can be related to various theological ways of understanding what it means to be human. In terms of course progression, the class will begin with a general philosophical analysis of the relations of science and religion, move on to a more detailed discussion of the relationship of psychology and theology, and conclude with a constructive unit designed to help each student develop a personal philosophy of integration. that could inform one's future research and/or professional practice.

TEXTS:

Barbour, Ian. (1990). Religion in an age of science. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

Carter, John D. & Narramore, Bruce. (1979). The integration of psychology and theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Gilkey, Langdon. (1966). Shantung compound: The story of men and women under pressure. San Francisco: HarperCollins.

Packet of photocopied materials.

GOALS FOR STUDENTS

To attain a working knowledge of various models for relating science and theology.

To understand the relationship of behavioral science (and especially psychology) to the fields of natural science and theology.

To be able to evaluate critically the works of a variety of authors who have written about the integration of science and religion.

To articulate consciously and to evaluate the personal assumptions one brings to the study of behavioral science, religion and the inter-relations of these two fields.

To develop and defend one' s own model for understanding the relationship of science and theology.

EVALUATION AND GRADING:

A final grade will be determined as follows:

Two major exams, each worth 20% 40.0%
Three major papers, each worth 15% 45.0%
A quiz during final exam week 7.5%
Participation 7.5 %

Major exams will use primarily an essay format to evaluate comprehension of the assigned reading material as well as the student's ability to analyze and synthesize the material.

Papers will require the student to apply concepts discussed in a unit to one particular topic. Students will be expected to make reference to reading material from the course as a way of articulating their own view. Each paper will be approximately eight pages in length.

Paper #1, "Evolution, Religion, and the Methods of Science. will require each student to describe their own "control beliefs" regarding evolution, and then to discuss them in light on the material presented in unit one.

Paper #2, "The Mind/Body Problem" will require students to describe their own model of the relationship between the soul and the brain, and then to develop an corresponding description of the interrelationship of theology, psychology, and natural science.

Paper #3, "A Response to Shantung Compound"' will require students to interact with Langdon Gilkey's book. How did Gilkey describe and interpret the experience? Which of these ways are "scientific" and which are "theological"? Which ways are appropriate for behavioral scientists? What other theological or scientific frames of interpretation would you add to an analysis of life in Shantung Compound?

Final Quiz will use primarily objective questions to evaluate comprehension of the reading material in the third unit.

Participation will be based on the professor's evaluation of the student's preparation for class and participation in class. Frequently, students will be asked to write "mini-essays" at the beginning of class sessions. While these will not be graded, they will be collected and their quality will be considered in assigning the participation grade. Also, students will be given the opportunity to describe their own participation.

TENTATIVE CALENDAR

UNIT I: Religion and the Methods and Theories of Science (Weeks 1-6)

During this unit of the course, class instruction and discussion will be devoted to a philosophic analysis of the possible relations between religion and science. A first step will be clarification of exactly what we mean by the terms "religion" and "science." Having defined the broad range of activities that could validly be labeled either religion or science, this section of the course will focus discussion on religion as theology and science as a method of inquiry and theory formation. The goal is to familiarize students with the major debates and issues that have been raised in this area during the twentieth century in a manner that will, later in the course, help them better articulate the specific ways in which psychology and religion have been and might be related to each other. The unit ends with a discussion of evolution which will be used as the vehicle for opening up the most important and most conflictive "meta-issues" of science and religion as both fields seek to address what it means to be human.

Week One: Introduction to the Course
Lecture/Discussion: God-at-the-Center
Reading: Richard Bube, "The Failure of the God of the Gaps"

Week Two: Models for relating Science and Religion
Lecture/Discussion: Conflict, Independence, and Dialogue
Lecture/Discussion: Integration of Faith and Learning
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 1

Week Three: Paradigms in Science and Religion
Lecture/Discussion: Kuhn and Philosophy of Science
Lecture/Discussion: Religion and Control Beliefs
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 2

Weeks Four-Five: The Data of Science and Religion
Lecture/Discussion: History in Science and Religion
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 3, part one
Reading: Edward B. Davis, "Blessed are the Peacemakers:
Rewriting the history of Christianity and Science"
Lecture/Discussion: The Social Construction of Science
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 3, part two
Lecture/Discussion: Religious Experience and Religious Pluralism
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 3, part three
Reading: Nancey Murphy, "What has theology to learn from scientific methodology?"

**Exam One**

Week Six: Application-Approaches to Evolution
Lecture/Discussion: Evolutionary Theory
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 6
Lecture/Discussion: Evangelicals and Evolution
Reading: Christianity Today Institute (1988)

**Paper One**

UNIT II. The Relationship of Psychology and Theology (Weeks 7-12)

Building on the first unit of the course, the lectures and discussion of this section will expose students to a range of options currently being proposed concerning the relationship of psychology and theology. As a discipline, psychology includes both a physical science component and a social science dimension, both of which are evident in the essays that will be read and discussed in this unit. Similarly, the science of psychology moves necessarily and constantly from theory to practice and back again. Finally, the field of theology is vastly contested at this time in terms of both method and structure. Students need to learn how to negotiate the complex and multi-layered webs of discourse that emerge when all these factors are brought together. The unit closes with a rather more specific discussion of the mind-body problem that is intended to help students sort through the most fundamental physiological and philosophic issues pertinent to any theoretical discussion of the relationship of psychology and theology.

Week Seven: The Data of Psychology and Theology
Lecture/Discussion: The Subject of Human Science
Reading: Carter & Narramore, Chapter 1
Lecture/Discussion: Is integration possible?
Reading: Carter & Narramore, Chapters 2 - 3

Week Eight: Models for Relating Theology and Psychology
Student-led discussions of four models
Reading: Carter & Narramore, Chapters 4-8
Weeks Nine-Ten: Examples of Integration
Lecture/Discussion: Perspectivalism
Reading: Donald MacKay, Brains. Machines. and Persons, Ch.2
Discussion: Dangers of integration
Reading: Hendrika VandeKemp, "Dangers of Psychologism: The Place of God in Psychology"
Lecture Discussion: Theorizing within Psychological Paradigms
Reading: Don S. Browning, "Faith and Modern Psychologies"
Lecture/Discussion: Christians in Mainstream Psychology
Reading: Robert Coles, "Psychoanalysis and Religion"
Lecture/Discussion: Evangelicals and Professional Psychology
Reading: Stanton L. Jones, "A Constructive Relationship for Religion with the Science and Profession of Psychology"

**Exam Two**

Weeks Eleven-Twelve: Application—The Mind-Body Problem
Lecture/Discussion: Sociobiology
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 7
Lecture/Discussion: Options in the Mind/Body Debate
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 7
Guest Lecturer(s) from Biology and/or Philosophy Department
(Reading to be assigned)

**Paper Two**

UNIT III: God and Human Nature

The purpose of this unit is for each student to think through some of the "big questions" that have been raised during the semester in a manner that will "put feet" on the discussion and help them see connections both to everyday life and to the diverse areas of research or professional practice within the area of psychology they intend to pursue. The first two weeks of the unit will re-define some of the major questions raised in the class from a slightly different frame of reference--one that gives first preference to religious language rather than to scientific discourse. In particular, the notions of providence and human agency become core, and the issue of how religious language does and does not allow room for scientific explanations of the world (or does and does not augment scientific language) becomes crucial. The last week of the course will use Shantung Compound as a case study to prompt students to bring all of the subject matter of the course to bear on their understanding and interpretation of one particular human situation. The issues raised by Shantung Compound extend from the physiological (e.g., what impact does hunger have on individuals) to the socio-psychological (e.g., what effect does forced crowding have on human behavior and thought) to the theological (e.g., how does any theory or practice give meaning to life and/or express one's perception of the transcendent) and, as such, force students to develop an inclusive understanding of what can and cannot be part of psychological science.

Week Thirteen: God and Human Agency
Lecture/Discussion: Process Theology
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 8
Lecture/Discussion: The Problem of Evil and Suffering
Reading: C.S. Lewis, excerpt from The Problem of Pain

Week Fourteen: God and Nature
Lecture/Discussion: Models of God's Role in Nature
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 9, part one
Lecture/Discussion: Defining Theology
Reading: Barbour, Chapter 9, parts two and three

**Paper Three**

Week Fifteen: Application—A Theological Sociology
Lecture/Discussion: A Laboratory for Human Nature
Reading: Shantung Compound

**Final Quiz**


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