Epistemic Rights vs. Epistemic Duties: A Reply to Porter by ProQuest

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									Journal of Psychology and Christianity                                   Copyright 2010 Christian Association for Psychological Studies
2010, Vol. 29, No. 1, 27-32                                                                                           ISSN 0733-4273




             Epistemic Rights vs. Epistemic Duties:
                       A Reply to Porter
                                  David N. Entwistle                      Aaron Preston
                                  Malone University                    Valparaiso University
          Porter (2010) raised a number of important issues about the relationship of psychology and theology,
       especially about the role of Scripture in integration. The subjects that he addressed are perennial concerns
       in the integration literature, and he made several worthwhile contributions. While we acknowledge that
       Porter successfully clarified the basis for claims of theological supremacy, we do not find his argument
       compelling that “well-grounded theological claims have a higher authority than well-grounded psychologi-
       cal claims” (p. 9). However, we affirm that well-grounded theological claims about the nature and place of
       human beings are particularly relevant to psychology and have a unique place in the formation of the
       assumptions and worldview from which psychological understanding proceeds. We critique Porter’s posi-
       tion and suggest that it may be more productive to explore how a Christian worldview should frame our
       understanding of psychology rather than focusing narrowly on claims regarding the authoritative superiori-
       ty of theology in confronting alleged or theoretical conflicts between theology and psychology.

  At the outset of this critique, we are reminded                      leads to defensiveness, withdrawal,
—oddly enough—of David Hume’s comment,                                 and thus, an isolation of theology
“Truth springs from arguments among friends.”                          and psychology. (Porter, 2010, p. 4,
We have shared intense and passionate argu-                            emphasis ours.)
ments on this topic with Steve Porter over cof-                 We agree with Porter that there is an emotional
fee and by e-mail, and it is our hope that our                  aspect to this discussion, and we affirm that anx-
arguments and our friendship will lead us closer                iety can lead to “defensiveness, withdrawal…
to truth. There is much that we affirm in Porter’s              and isolation.” The emotional issues are relevant,
(2010) article, but we do not think that his argu-              particularly in conversation with those who har-
ment that “well-grounded theological claims                     bor religiously constructed suspicion of psychol-
have a higher authority than well-grounded psy-                 ogy. It is well established that propensity to
chological claims” is ultimately successful (p. 9).             anxiety may lead to unwarranted inference of
  Before we turn to Porter’s argument, we have                  danger (e.g., Arntz, Rauner, & van den Hout,
a minor comment about the origins of his con-                   1995). Unfortunately, anxiety can lead to ex-con-
cerns. In the following quotations, note the                    sequentia reasoning. We commend Porter for
prominence he placed on the emotional factors                   being aware of the emotional issues while
involved:                                                       addressing the intellectual issues.
         While this understanding of the rela-                     According to Porter, the proper basis of theolo-
         tionship between theology and psy-                     gy’s claim to supremacy is a complex state of
         chology might go over well amongst                     affairs involving the relation of well-founded the-
                                                                ological claims to God’s maximally perfect intel-
         Christian psychologists, it typically
                                                                lect as mediated by the Scriptures. In Porter’s
         makes theologians nervous. (Porter,
                                                                view, the perfection of God’s intellect confers
         2010, p. 3, emphasis ours.). While
                                                                supreme cognitive authori
								
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