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The Failure of Psychology

I’ve been an ardent baseball fan since my youth. A much better fan than player, by the way. I’m still a devotee of the game, and follow the Local Nine with great interest. However, as I grow older, I watch my own kids’ participation in the game with greater enthusiasm than I follow the elites of Major League Baseball. Last year, for instance, the Arizona Diamondbacks were in the NLCS. Obviously a tremendous year, but to me I hadn’t but a dim idea of who most of their players were. Oh, sure, I knew Eric Byrnes, Brandon Webb, Livan Hernandez, and Tony Clark were. However, I probably knew more players in my #1 son’s American League, or certainly knew more players on my #2 Son’s A’s team.

Way back when I was in college (back before the dawn of time, or at least when the world was entirely in Black and White, if you listen to my smart-aleck offspring), I became aware of Bill James’ work. It became a rite of spring: Bill James would publish his Baseball Abstract, and I would trot on over to a B. Dalton Bookseller and shell out my hard-earned money for his latest edition. I would start read it on my way home (even while driving), and would finish that night. I still have every edition of the Abstract from 1982 to its final in 1988 on my bookshelves, and also have some of the Bill James Baseball Books that followed the Abstracts.
One of the things that I appreciated about Bill James’ writings is that while they were about baseball, he covered many other topics along the way. One paragraph that I distinctly recall was on the title of this post, “The Failure of Psychology”. I searched in vain for the salient paragraph through the books, but the gist of it was that modern psychology was that psychology was a great disappointment in solving our problems. I did find this quote in the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract: “…but I think professionalism ranks with socialism, psychology, and twice-baked potatoes as the worst ideas of the twentieth century.” I’m not sure if James was going where I’m about to go, but I’m using his ideas as a point of departure for my own.
The problem with psychology is that while it is the science of mind and behavior, all too often the concept of sin and estrangement from God is missing from the equation. I’m not negating the value, in certain instances, of psychological help. However, all too often bad behavior or sin has been misdiagnosed in our society as a psychological issue.

This post is nowhere near as elegant as I envisioned. It’s getting late, and perhaps I could have put together a more thorough critique of psychology. The problem with psychology, other than its inherent squishiness, is that it fails to get to the heart of man’s problem: He’s a desperate sinner, estranged from God, and destined to spend eternity in Hell unless he repents of his sins and places his faith and trust in the Grace provided by Christ and the Atonement for our sins that he provided through His death on the cross.

That is a much higher order of magnitude than the relatively trivial matters with which psychologists wrestle. So is everything else in life, of course.

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