Article Critique: Missed Opportunities in Dialogue Between Psychology and Religion, by James M. Nelson. Introduction Nelson (2006) argues that although religion informed general knowledge relative to natural science and human conduct during the Middle Ages, it has increasingly become detached from knowledge relative to human behaviour and natural sciences in general…
Thus there is no room for religion in the study and understanding of human behaviour and the natural science in today’s academic world and in particular in psychology. Nelson (2006) argues that these developments are unfortunate since, since science is not capable of explaining every human or worldly phenomenon. Science leaves a number of knowledge gaps that not only renders science as much a statement of ideas as religion does. Therefore religion has value in terms of understanding the natural world and human behaviour and thus is valuable to psychology (Nelson, 2006). Nelson’s (2006) argument that religion has value in terms of providing an understanding of the natural world and human behaviour is decidedly logical. Certainly, science is based on natural world realities, but it does not explain everything and thus leaves open the possibility of supernatural forces which can be explained by religion just as logically as any other untested or unverified scientific theory. Summary Nelson (2006) argues that during the Middle Ages, there was an integration of science and religion in the formation of a “body of knowledge” (p. 205). ...
Nelson (2006) starts out by defining integration as the combining of at least two disciplines for forming a consensus on the same issue. However, integrating religion and science has become increasingly difficult. The difficulties can be traced back to philosophical thinking prior to Socrates in which materialism influenced philosophical conceptualization of the world as a purely physical entity (Nelson, 2006). In other words, the world as a physical entity was only capable of explanation via physical evidence of facts and its nature. This is known as materialism (Nelson, 2006). The materialism approach is at odds with the naturalism approach which obviously accepts religion because naturalism holds that certain things about the world are natural facts and do not require physical proof. Naturalism also adheres to the concept that much of the world can be explained by reference to physical evidence (Nelson, 2006). It therefore follows that from the naturalist perspective, religion is relevant for explaining the supernatural while science is relevant for proven that which can be physically observed, tested and measured (Nelson, 2006). During the 1500s, Sir Francis Bacon, while supporting the value of religion, advocated for the separation of science and religion on that grounds that integration was an obstacle to learning (Nelson, 2006). By the 1800s, during the Enlightenment, positivism grew out of “anti-religious” agendas “shaped by centuries of state-church repression” and “the effects of religious wars and intolerance” (Nelson, 2006, p. 210). Science emerged as based on hard facts and physical proof of the existence of those facts. Psychologists such as Sigmund Freud were determined to establish ...
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