A few weeks ago I met a Fresno State psychology alumni while taking my dog for a walk at the park. He and I chatted for a while as our dogs took a dip in the river. After earning his BA in psychology, he was accepted into Fresno Pacific’s Christian Ministry masters program. Like many of us, his initial interest in psychology was spurred on by the desire to help people; however, he eventually found that a career in psychology was not the ideal way for him, personally, to help. He expressed that he had felt out of place; he claimed that psychology’s culture is the most atheistic of all disciplines, and that it conflicted with his desire to use his faith to help others.
In our class, much emphasis has been placed on the fact that an adaptation’s success is based on how well it works; not how rational it is. Similarly, when it comes to helping people, it’s usually best to opt for the method that works the best. I have always considered religion to be beneficial because it acts as a heuristic. Religion justified and encouraged evolutionarily beneficial behaviors for millennia prior to our discovery of evolution; and religion usually encourages and justifies behaviors that are healthy and beneficial to the individual.
What the student at the park said is true, there is in-fact an unusually high proportion of atheists and agnostics in psychology; even when compared to other sciences. It’s understandable how one who would go on to study ministry may have felt out of place. Perhaps, considering the amount of psychology students who aspire to be clinicians, something more should be done to discourage the trivialization of religion.
I myself am not religious, so I certainly appreciate that not all atheist and agnostics stud...
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... most aspects of life have become fairly cushy with the advent of technology like agriculture, industry, record keeping, etc. We rarely need to develop new, creative, techniques to catch our dinner or outsmart predators. When we do need to learn a skill to survive, we can usually rely on cultural practices, rather than our own cunningness. Today, even very advanced skills are a google search away.
Prior to our species’ interconnectivity, small populations had to be self-reliant. Just as two heads are better than one, 7 billion are far better than 20 to 30. As population and variance grow, technology advances exponentially and the intellectual demand on each individual decreases. With very few environmental factors selecting out intelligence, and very little intellectual demand from nature, we are left to explore the abstract, experiment for leisure, and create art.
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