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Processing reality through our personal cultural programming 1.“Mandela is a terrorist” 2.Dr. Nkosozana Zuma after Uganda visit: it’s condoms! 3.UFO abductions.

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Presentation on theme: "Processing reality through our personal cultural programming 1.“Mandela is a terrorist” 2.Dr. Nkosozana Zuma after Uganda visit: it’s condoms! 3.UFO abductions."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Processing reality through our personal cultural programming 1.“Mandela is a terrorist” 2.Dr. Nkosozana Zuma after Uganda visit: it’s condoms! 3.UFO abductions 4.“Obama is the anti-christ” 5.God called me to be a missionary to Cape Town, SA 6.Gay men are child molesters …how can we “know”?

3 Epistemology Gr. To know, remember or comprehend Core word: to cause to stand + upon The study of the ground and nature of knowledge Can your knowledge claim stand the test of scrutiny? How do you justify your belief? What is the evidentiary basis of your belief, beyond mere opinion?

4 “All observation is theory-laden” Determined by bias, assumptions, our history We assume that our perception mirrors reality Naïve realists: perception is reality Anti-realists: no necessary correlation between perception and reality Critical realists: middle ground, reality imposes some limitations on interpretation, even when assumptions and bias tend to color these interpretations. But assumptions and biases can be evaluated, judged.

5 “All observation is theory-laden” We must learn to evaluate the accuracy of our assumptions We must illuminate our Blind Spot (JOHARI) Sin (lack of virtues such as honesty, humility, diligence, respectfulness, compassion) affects our thinking…we can NEVER eliminate all error from our thinking “Our finitude and fallenness ought to increase our epistemic humility” Phillip Yancey, “Only one thing haunts me more than the sins of my past: What sins am I blind to today?”

6 Defining Social Research “A collection of methods and methodologies that researchers apply systematically to produce scientifically based knowledge about the social world” (Neuman, 2006, p. 2) A way of going about finding answers A systematic process of discovery Cannot be seen as a threat to the faith One of many ways to “know” More structured, organized, and systematic than alternatives

7 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience

8 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience Knowledge from: Parents Teachers Ministers Books TV, media Professors Government officials It’s true because an authority I trust says it is true Some authorities don’t use research The authority could also be wrong Quick, simple and cheap Has it’s limitations We all use it but it’s easy to overestimate the expertise

9 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience

10 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience A special case of authority “this is the way it has always been” Church traditions: communion, appeals to accept Jesus “at the altar”, role of the pastor Tradition can hide real understanding

11 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience

12 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience “it just makes sense” Beliefs such as “opposites attract” or “birds of a feather flock together”

13 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience

14 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience Media has become an important source of information Tend to perpetuate the myths of a culture Image of evangelists, Bible-believing Christians, welfare recipients as Black, mentally ill are violent and dangerous, most elderly are senile and in nursing homes

15 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience

16 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience “Seeing is believing” Optical illusions or mirages Four mistakes…

17 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience 1. Overgeneralization: making claims beyond what can be justified by the data 2. Selective observation: noticing only special data to reinforce preexisting thinking 3. Premature closure: you have all the answers and do not need any more data 4. Halo effect: allowing prior prestige or reputation to be over- generalized onto other non-related issues

18 Alternatives to Social Research 1. Authority 2. Tradition 3. Common Sense 4. Media Myths 5. Personal Experience

19 Social Research A way of producing knowledge about people Began with Age of Reason or Enlightenment (between 1600s and early 1800s) Automatically in conflict with traditional religious authority

20 Social Research Based on social theory: a system of interconnected ideas that condenses/ organizes knowledge of social world; explains how it works Built on data: evidences that have been gathered according to certain rules or procedures Empirical: what we can gather through our senses

21 Social Research Based on scientific method Promotes skepticism and intersubjectivity (an agreement about reality that results from comparing observations from one observer with another) Extensive use of communication Allows scrutiny by the scientific community Invites interaction to question or replicate

22 Types of Research 1. Basic research: adding to our fundamental understanding and knowledge (regardless of practical or immediate implications) 2. Applied research: program evaluation, or action- oriented research 3. Descriptive research: describe groups, activities, situations or events; normally using quantitative data analysis

23 Types of Research 4. Explanatory research: looking for causes and reasons; normally based on existing theories ground-breaking; normally using qualitative data analysis

24 “At best, we can humbly try to evaluate our beliefs carefully enough to arrive at a contingent certainty; that is, if our assumptions are correct, and if we discern an accurate epistemology, and if we apply our epistemic methodologies accurately, then we can be tentatively certain about our conclusions. To hope for (or worse, to claim) more than that is to assert a god-like quality to which frail, fallen, and infinite creatures cannot attain.” Entwistle (2004, p. 90)

25 “Hard-headed men…are generally very precise about what they are doing; that is why they are so often quite wrong about what they do.” G.K. Chesterton

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27 Three Methodologies Three methodologies to help us be less foolish 1. Logic 2. Empiricism 3. Revelation and interpretation

28 Three Methodologies Three methodologies to help us be less foolish 1. Logic 2. Empiricism 3. Revelation and interpretation

29 Logic Imago dei: capacity for rational thought To think To remember To deduce To come to a conclusion To build a logical argument Trusting on the rational consistency of our reasoning To refute foolishness, challenge incorrect assumptions, correct biases, challenge perceptions

30 Logic 1. Deductive logic Establishing truth by combining and evaluating premises based on certain rules and axioms “If the sum of the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees, and one angle of a triangle is 90 degrees then the other two angles must together be 90 degrees” Three elements of a deductive argument 1. Premise: either true or false 2. Inference: a proposition that is created after you agree on the premise 3. Conclusion: a new statement that is logically connected to the first two

31 Logic 1. Deductive logic For it to be sound, the argument must start with a true premise and include a valid inference A sound argument will lead to true conclusion Critical to experimental psychopathology (classical experimental design) 2. Inductive logic Developing a generalization from specific instances “Probabilistic”, “correlational” But correlation does not imply causation

32 Logic 1. Examples of Paul using logic? 2. “If all truth is God’s truth, and truth is one, then God does not contradict himself, and in the final analysis there will be no conflict between the truth taught in scripture and truth available from other sources” (Holmes, 1987, p. 18) 3. E.g.: Logic in the condom distribution debate

33 Does increased condom distribution lead to decreases in HIV prevalence?

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35 Three Methodologies Three methodologies to help us be less foolish 1. Logic 2. Empiricism 3. Revelation and interpretation

36 Three Methodologies Three methodologies to help us be less foolish 1. Logic 2. Empiricism 3. Revelation and interpretation

37 Empiricism 1. Gr. “relying on experience” 2. Luke 1: 1-4 “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” 3. This is not speculation: I investigated the sources!

38 Empiricism 4. Based on the scientific method Create a theory or hypothesis Test the hypothesis Observe the results of the test Support or refute the theory or hypothesis (never “prove”) 5. Science also uses testimony of past witnesses, authorities “literature review”

39 Three Methodologies Three methodologies to help us be less foolish 1. Logic 2. Empiricism 3. Revelation and interpretation

40 Three Methodologies Three methodologies to help us be less foolish 1. Logic 2. Empiricism 3. Revelation and interpretation

41 Revelation 1. General Revelation: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20) 2. Special Revelation: Old and New Testaments as well as theophanies, miracles, dreams, visions.

42 Hermeneutics 1. God’s word is without fault but human understanding of that word is not infallible 2. Rules of interpretation 3. Science and art of making sure that the message is accurately understood

43 Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet Act 2 Scene 2: O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Meaning must be determined by immediate context, overall context, specific meanings of the word that may be unclear (“wherefore”) Romeo is a Montague and Juliet a Capulet

44 Hermeneutics 1. What does the passage say? 2. Who wrote the book and to whom? 3. Why was it written? 4. What was the cultural and historic context of the author and his audience? 5. What genre is being used? 6. Are there unclear words? 7. What is the immediate and overall context? 8. How does it relate to other scriptures? 9. How has it been understood historically by other credible sources?

45 A Unified Model of Knowing 1. There is a real world out there and it can be perceived by human beings 2. God is the transcendent creator: He upholds and sustains it 3. We are limited by our objectivity because we are situated in context of time, culture, locale 4. Human beings are rational, relational, spiritual and biological

46 A Unified Model of Knowing 5. A Christian worldview recognizes All truth is God’s truth and can be known through rational, experimental or revelational means Our creative and intellectual abilities are God-given Reality is both physical and spiritual Our ability to know is limited Various means of epistemic inquiry can be used to evaluate truth claims (such as rational discourse, experimentation, and hermeneutics)

47 A Unified Model of Knowing 6. Historical events can be explored through archeology, geology, written records, oral traditions, etc. 7. The future is not completely determined but a limited degree of predictive accuracy is possible

48 “There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; the book of God’s word, which reveals the will of God; and the book of God’s works, which express His power” Francis Bacon

49 “An approach informed by both psychology and theology is desirable if we seek a fuller picture of human nature and functioning than we could gain from either discipline alone” Entwistle (2004, p. 105)

50 Conclusions “It is therefore not just our right to freely pursue truth, but our religious duty. It is indeed, part of what it means to worship God not only with our hearts but with our minds” Myers & Jeeves, 2003, p

51 Conclusions 1. God is the source of all truth a. His word: Bible (exegesis) b. His works: Creation (scientific method) 2. We must become competent readers of both books; develop competent methodological skills to evaluate adequacy a. of exegesis and merits of theological systems b. of social theory and merits of social research

52 Conclusions 3. Scripture is clear on a. God as the source of all b. The nature and sinfulness of man c. The redemptive act of Jesus on the cross d. The purpose and future of humanity e. What we should believe and how we should conduct ourselves f. How we should understand His works

53 Conclusions 4. Science is clear on a. How we exist as biological, social, cognitive, and psychological beings b. How universal scientific laws operate (gravity, aerodynamics, chemistry, electronics, etc) c. How our world system functions (plant life, animal life, astronomy, health science, etc) d. How growth and decline take place (in our bodies, in ecosystems, in agriculture)

54 Conclusions 5. It is only in reading BOTH books that we have the most comprehensive picture of human nature and functioning 6. Conflicts occur at the interpretive level of human understanding a. Our interpretation of either source of knowledge is fallible b. Our allegiance is not to theology or social science IT IS TO GOD AS THE AUTHOR OF BOTH

55 Conclusions 7. The integrative paradigm implies that there is no valid distinction between the “sacred” and the “secular” “You say grace before meals…But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and the pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, and swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink” G.K. Chesterton from his journals

56 TheologyScience RevealsGod’s wordGod’s works EpistemologyRevelationalEmpirical MethodologyHermeneuticsScientific method Locus of explanation Generally historical and sociocultural Descriptive, developmental and experimental Level of explanation MetaphysicalScientific Frame of reference Broad, global, panoramic Circumscribed, close-up

57 “ Then I think, since in relation to the book of nature, we astronomers are priests of Almighty God, we should not consider the glory of our intellects, but the glory of God….I am content with the honour of standing guard with my discovery at the door of the shrine at whose high altar Copernicus performs divine service” Johannes Kepler in a letter to a friend March 26 th, 1598


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