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March 31, 2023

Added Crabb’s Christian Psychology (2023) by Timothy Chambers to the Psychology of Religion page under Theism, and the Christian Worldview page under Christianity, in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

Does the Christian worldview provide a suitable guide to human psychology? The late counselor Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr. thought so, inspiring his bestselling counseling text Effective Biblical Counseling, first published in 1977 and reprinted in 2013, all in all selling over 200,000 copies. In this essay Timothy Chambers outlines Crabb’s Bible-based model of how the human mind works, shining a light on the broader Christian view of “fallen” human psychology that it represents. Chambers then subjects this model to critical scrutiny, noting both the ways in which it echos more mainstream theories in psychotherapy and deviates from them and related sciences (such as when Crabb seems to suggest that non-Christians’ moral development is arrested at a self-centered stage). This central theme throughout the book delineates what Crabb takes to be essential psychological differences between “saved” Christians and “lost” non-Christians. As one might imagine, nonbelievers are characterized as enslaved to sin, self-serving, and self-glorifying in multiple places. In addition to substantial questions about Crabb’s model’s testability, the model is out of step with contemporary psychology in a number of places, particularly concerning child development, human altruism, neurobiology, and psychopharmacology.

New in the Kiosk: Modern Liberalism Born of Enlightenment Thought (2023) by James A. Haught

At a time when brutal leaders ruled according to the divine right of kings and serfs approximated slaves, intolerance fostered by the union of church and state led to the execution or jailing of heretics representing a threat to state power. But more than three centuries ago, chiefly in England and France, an epoch now known as the Enlightenment broke forth, spawning ideas that later grew into what we now call modern liberalism. The Enlightenment roused a new way of thinking: a sense that all people should have some control over their lives, a voice in their own destiny. Absolute power of authorities—either on the throne or in the cathedral—was challenged. Reformers sought to improve society and benefit nearly everyone using human reason and the scientific method. It is from this Enlightment spirit that the freedoms enjoyed across modern liberal democracies today sprouted, projecting a model for humane, safe, and fair treatment.

Recommended reading: Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World (2016) by Tim Whitmarsh

Although adherents and opponents alike today present atheism as an invention of the European Enlightenment, when the forces of science and secularism broadly challenged those of faith, disbelief in the gods, in fact, originated in a far more remote past. In Battling the Gods, Tim Whitmarsh journeys into the ancient Mediterranean, a world almost unimaginably different from our own, to recover the stories and voices of those who first refused the divinities. Whitmarsh provides a bracing antidote to our assumptions about the roots of freethinking. By shining a light on atheism’s first thousand years, Battling the Gods offers a timely reminder that nonbelief has a wealth of tradition of its own, and, indeed, its own heroes.

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