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The following program is produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant he made from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Religion and science. A program from the series. Human behavior social and medical research produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service. The people you will hear today are the Rev. S. Leslie Glenn a minister and educator Dr. Earle Loomis a psychiatrist and the Reverend George Christian Anderson executive director of the Academy of Religion and mental health. And my name is Glenn Phillips. Religion has traditionally been an area of man's activity that has infrequently come under the scrutinising eyes of science. Now however more and more religion and science are finding new methods with which to study the effects of religion on people.
Psychiatry especially is looking into religious practices and religious beliefs to try better to understand man. How then are religion and science particularly psychiatric science compatible for scientific study. Reverend S. Leslie Glenn said religion and psychiatry are compatible for scientific study because both have to do with people and therefore they have essentially the same interests. Because religion has approached these things from a nonscientific point of view because when religion got star they didn't even know the word science but nevertheless the religious attitude has always been to try to find the facts about people and the facts about the man's whole environment. So it's the same essential thing that psychiatry has in its study. Therefore they compliment each other. If religion is true then what psychiatry will find out is simply what religion has always known and said long ago Freud said one time when he was asked how these discoveries of his came so late in the history of the
world in the early twentieth century Freud said one time that the poets have always known these things. Now there's a lot of poetry in the Bible in the Bible presumably has always known these things which Freud pro and scientifically much later Dr Glenn also stated the goals of such scientific study were the goals of such a stage are the health of people what the psychiatrists in the scientific people would call health the medical people. What I suppose the religious people call abundant life is the same saying that men who will always have the finest kind of life available to them from all influences the bear in their lives. Dr. Earle Loomis of the Union Theological Seminary in New York who is chairman of that institution's program in psychiatry and religion defended such studies in this way. Well our program here in psychiatry and religion I think quite legitimately can be called research in
all of several senses of the word research. It's exploratory in the sense that we're trying out some new things and we're looking around to see what's going on. Wherever psychiatry and religion are bumping against each other either in some kind of happy cooperation or some kind of collision of a negative sort. At the second level we were very curious and excited about the conceptual possibilities of relating the ideas in framework of psychiatry and the theological way of looking at man and it a very practical level we were interested in seeing how an understanding of man and psychiatry can help him gain will aid a minister in better ministering to his people understanding them knowing their needs and making the gospel.
The work of the church and the personal development of the parishioner. More relevant this is I think the practical aim of the program Reverend George Christian Andersen the executive director of the Academy of Religion and mental health pointed out that the studies in this area are far more encompassing and include other disciplines. The Academy of Religion and mental health is an effort on the part of psychiatrists psychologists social anthropologists sociologist and placement of different faiths to engage in a program of research and studies in all relations between religion and health and especially mental health. Because we all feel that we have a part to play in trying to search for the meaning of the whole man and how we can bring the whole man into existence. Although the Academy of Religion in mental health is a relatively new organization their aims are well defined as Reverend Anderson pointed out.
We would like to see the role of religion in the developing personality. We'd like to take a look and find out where religious practices may be somewhat harmful in the in the help the psychological development of a person or where perhaps religion can be used constructively as a scientific group were duty bound to explore quite candidly the religious influences on personality maturation carrying the objective of personality studies further. Dr. Loomis you know the rate of the research problems in the area of science and religion as presented to the research personnel five or six years ago the program was fairly concretely envision envisaged by a group of the faculty here at the seminary who had for many years been interested in. Personality and its relation to religious development in the
growing insights of depth psychology or the nature of man and also interested in the ways in which religion can go wrong as a force in human life. Because religion was becoming accustomed in the mid 20s and 30s to being accused of being a source of trouble rather than a source of help. And this had to be taken seriously. On the other hand the positive sides of religion the contributions and possibilities of religion for both full manhood and full mental health had not been adequately explored and had not been given their just due it was felt. At least those inside of religion had this conviction on the other hand those on the side of psychiatry had had these very calm about the sick religion and part of this was the direct outgrowth of the fact that their patients were their chief source of information about religion and they mostly saw religion through the
eyes of sick folks. People for whom many other things as well as religion were distorted but also people for whom this distorted religious outlook played a fairly central role in their illness. And. It was not surprising that many psychiatrists raised serious doubts about whether religion was a good thing at all or whether in the forms that it was understood in the ways it was taught and communicated it was not perhaps a source of harm or at least to holding men back. And this this was a great concern of psychiatrists. There were always a few however who recognized where a man of the cloth the clergyman or where a faith community had given the strength and stability to an ill person. The courage in the security to survive serious stress and help them to return to health. Or in which some of the principles of
my religion constituted principles in common with psychiatry principles such as the importance of permitting an individual to find himself come to discover himself and that this has been something that religion has had in mind and has proceed to do undertake in many ways. The importance of establishing community structure in which you have values would not simply be arbitrary but would be meaningful to people. This has been an issue that religion has been concerned about the importance of differentiating between real guilt and really being sorry for what we've really done wrong and erotic Gaylor pathological concern about that for which one is not to blame and never did perhaps never even fantasy. Objectivity is a criterion of science. And for centuries subjectivity and faith have been associated with religion as an area for scientific study and investigation. Will it be possible to achieve
objectivity in such studies as these three men have described. I ask this of each man first reverently and said No I don't think so any more than it's difficult to achieve objectivity in any studies. Scientists have always known that the personal bias is a serious a bar to accurate results and and every scientist has always had to watch his own predilections for finding the answer when he's been working with the most delicate too. And therefore I think the same thing will apply here because there are supposed to be certain religious truths which are so science sacrosanct that no one is supposed to even ask about them. But the fact is about those truths the Raavan times they do work practically and therefore they have to be looked at very sharply before being discarded. But I would say that what is going to be just as much difficulty here as it has been in every field of scientific research.
And now Reverend Anderson in certain areas it is tremendously difficult to be totally objective or to examine the problem scientifically. Let me give an illustration here. No one can psycho analyze or create a war. No one can really prove the efficacy of prayer or how valid a Sacramento life is. In other words no one can ever prove that a person was really communing with God or perhaps was only communing with themselves. But there's one thing we can study very carefully. The influence of these experiences on the individual. These can be carefully studied just as we study other factors in physical and mental health of the individual. Religion deals with mysticism and there always has to be a certain degree of subjectivity. But after having said that I think
the person is still a valid subject for intellectual and scientific scrutiny and examination. But what about religions that follow a strict dogma. I asked Reverend Anderson how these groups would accept a scientific investigation of their faith. When we when we get into the field of relations between religion and science you obviously evitable a commented they come across the traditional historic argument concerning fundamentalism which means that everything in the Bible is pretty accurate as it is recorded. This of course raises it raises some difficulties. There are many individuals who believe in the infallibility of the Bible that this is part of their faith. If this faith is meaningful to them and they live a better life because of it this is the decision they have to make. But there are many other individuals who take an entirely different approach to the Bible and for individuals of
in this school then obviously the rigidity which characterizes religion is not as great in their case and it's easier for them to absorb scientific knowledge and it's much easier for them to internalize certain psychological knowledge yes. Dr. Loomis answer the question of objectivity in this way. We have three senior men in our programs faculty in addition to collaborative faculty from the whole seminary two of these men a clergyman one a specialist in the philosophy religion as well as having clinical training and the other a specialist in pastoral care particularly through the idiom of chaplaincy and institutional ministry and experienced training chaplain who has worked in both general and mental hospitals. The outlook of
both of these men and their background and their identity are primarily those of the clergy while mine is primarily that of psychiatry. But it would be difficult to divide is that neatly. Since my interest in religion obviously would have to be strong for me to have this post in there is in psychiatry and mental health would have to be strong for them to have their post. And hence we have a great area of common background concern and interest as well as our area of specialization. And Dr. Loomis also replied this way on the question of dogma and acceptance by some of the religious groups I think psychiatrists today have taken the stance that when it comes to dogma they don't have much to say that they recognize it that the sciences do not constitute good judges of either the last afine or. The
arts or religion. Other words and scientist has no particular way to know. As a scientist using the tools of his specialty. Anything about ultimate reality you know which he can't say anything about the nature of God as a psychiatrist or as a physicist or as an astronomer. What he can do is talk about the universe as he can study it. And our field of study is man a psychiatrist so we can talk about how people behave when they hold certain ideas about God. This new approach to religion and its effect on man's behavior led me to wonder if religion was entering a new era. Reverend Glenn answered Well this question makes me think that it comes from Freud who did say that Copernicus had upset religion and Darwin had upset it and he had his turn with the discoveries that he made was going to have a third point of crisis when all men's religious ideas had to be changed. I
would think that religion going along all through the centuries has faced many times of intellectual unrest many times when new troops coming in have contributed a deeper knowledge to the faith and have made men rethink some of their fundamental presuppositions. But it but this kind of thing can be exaggerated. We all know perfectly well that hundreds of thousands of people went on practicing their religion never heard of Copernicus during his day or later than and haven't yet heard of Darwin and Freud. It's only among the top intellectual circles that these men were the change. And yet the change they worked as far certainly as Christianity or Judaism are concerned the changes in our fundamental concepts hasn't really altered in any great degree. The practice of the faith is still going on the same way the scholars and or thinking in their own. And close circles don't get in an enormous amount of change from such
people as Copernicus Darwin and Freud but for the vast majority of people and in the long run for the practice of the faith it is not exactly what you call a new era. No I would say no. He was using the same examples of Copernicus Darwin and Freud. Dr. Loomis felt this way about the dawn of a new era for religion. I think that every time and it's been challenged that is conservative man or man and his traditional modes of being and being in a community has been challenged by science and even a revolution. Freud himself suggested there'd been at least three revolutions the Copernican revolution when man came suddenly to realize that his world was a very tiny part of a vast universe rather than the central segment of. A private domain of which man was king and which got kind of oversaw for man's benefit. The second revolution was the Darwinian revolution in which man came to see that not only was he
was his planet small but he was physically the descendant of the other animals that had preceded him and was a relative of his current animal brother and. And the Freudian revolution in a sense taxman's pride in terms of his mind. Because men had the idea. Great many of the thinking people had the idea that that man's reason and man's thought were relatively precise and infallible. And Freud pointed out that a great deal of what passes for. For a reason. It is actually distorted wish fulfillment and raised in question a good deal of our confidence being utterly reasonable beings. I think this was a very useful contribution. I think all three of these revolutions however cause a tremendous stir. And if you recall the first discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo were not met entirely with
happiness in the part either of men in general or politicians of the church. Darwin raised the same Starman Freud did too. I think we're post-storm in each of these three instances. Whether or not the impact is sent in or not. Which means in a sense that one religion has regrouped and tried to find what is the real kernel of the message that it is no longer a claiming to be a cosmology or a pattern of what the physical universe is like nor is it claiming to be an anthropology in the sense of a. Paleontology or. Science of creation in the physical sense. Nor can it now oppose Freud claimed to give the the answers to psychopathology. And this means that religion has to ask the question What is its central function. And with this series of challenges we now have a
post. Storm religion and we have a science that no longer is either on the defensive in the sense of having to protect itself from being attacked or counter attacked by religion. Nor do we have a science that feels its job is particularly to to attack religion broadside but rather to talk. With theologians I've just come from a meeting in which scientists and theologians have been talking about how can we better understand man this seems now to be the question in which everybody is is putting in their two bits and asking their questions and saying how can we work together to know man. And man's in a dilemma. He's in a dilemma in terms of his mental health it's the main mental. It's the main public health problem of America a man's in a lemma as far as his world economic political and military situation is concerned. The world is terribly threatened and I think this. Fighting between the groups is fairly well over at least until there's another revolution.
But that will be no one can know. Certainly these three revolutions are I think relatively passed in the the battle lines are drawn somewhere else now. Dr Loomis gave these feelings about the future of further study on religion and science and how the answers to pertinent questions will benefit mankind. Oh there are major problems as to how we know anything whether we know through Revelation and tradition or whether we know through investigation and testing whether we know in a kind of objective factual way transmission of information. Measurement sequences logical analysis or whether we know through. Intimate experience and interpersonal relation whether we know through some kind of being handed the word in scripture or in a in a traditional fashion whether we know through God's talking to
is an every hour kind of mystical way. There are still lots of real questions about how we know but I think these questions are moved to another level of concern in that. Many many people in religion and many many people in science are no longer insisting that we know only on their level. That there are many levels on which we know we may know our. License number by writing it down and by comparing the two numbers and getting somebody else to agree that they agree too. There's a way in which we can't do this with annoying things such as does our wife love us or do we want to be an American. Or do we believe in God. These are things that cannot be validated on that level and nor can they be measured by machinery or instruments. And as one of our speakers today pointed out even when you get something it can be measured
by instruments usually somebody ends up having to read the instrument. And this is a human being and this human being can err. And his prejudice is his feelings and his total state of mind contribute to the extent to which he reads the instrument in the same way as someone else would read it. So we have this human person now as our central concern. His feelings his values. His worries his fears his hopes his loves and his faith. And. Where you. Find a religious group. That focuses exclusively on the verbal ism of a dog. And refuses to see that this is verbalised between persons. I think there's always a danger that the words will get transmitted from generation to generation from person to person but the music is lost and they become fossilized face. Because living faiths
have a way of. Developing something fresh in each period of time and each place in the world. So the superficial external similarities may change but that the inner core of relationship persists. And this is true of science too. The things that we call the facts of science 50 years ago may well be called in question today and the things we call science today may be called scientific truth today may well be changed 50 years from now. What I think science has given us is this tremendous openness to the new. And I think this has been a contribution which religion can benefit from its willingness to ask the question is it so for me now. And if it isn't what's what's changed. The theme we have followed and will follow in this series has been man's behavior.
Can the study of religion and religious behavior that be considered part of the behavioral sciences. And if so why. Reverend Landsat Oh I do very much yes. Religion has always thought of itself as a science I suppose without using the word the. The Bible is telling stories and describing events and really trying to prove the truth of what it says by the way it is actually worked out in history. This is the way certain conduct issues. This is the way other conduct issues. And you might say and in one sense without knowing you know using the word scientific they thought they were writing a scientific treatise on the nature of man's conduct how it's related to God and what results from certain points of view and it results from from other points of view so certainly religion has to be included among the behavioral sciences. Reverend Glenn pointed to the respective roles of the minister and the psychiatrist in
treating and handling a mentally disturbed person. What of a person is really mentally disturbed in the sense of being sex so iconic or neurotic or something of that sought. Then the psychiatrists must come in and then it is that expert help is required. What the rabbi does and the minister and the priest is to sort of practice what you might call preventative psychiatry by the customs of the church by the parish life. The relationship of the clergyman to his people by certain level of mental health is sustained in hundreds and hundreds of people who who never need a doctor. For that reason and people whose lives are very successful and perhaps would never come to any hardship in their lives or any mental disturbance I bided their church and the Ministry of the ordained clergy. They are lifted to a higher level of life and have a greater usefulness and
inner peace and so forth. So the function I don't have sometimes thought that the parish clergyman is like the diagnostician or the Internal Medicine Man. He's the general family doctor who handles all sorts of small things however I have a serious trouble if it's operation you're going to have a surgeon and if it's some serious mental trouble then certainly you have to have a psychiatrist and the great man has to be careful and to know when to stop his work when someone else who is an expert must come in from the hospital or something that saw him. In view of Reverend Lenz feelings about the role of the minister I wondered if a further training would be demanded of the clergy in the future with mentally or emotionally disturbed person. Yes. Oh I think I would think so. And that's been recognized now in all our first great seminaries after a man had his college training then he goes on for three years at the end of that first year of graduate study. He must spend the
summer you know a mental hospital as an orderly or as practical nurse or whatever work he can get there so that he can get the atmosphere of the hospital and see how the doctors work. Then he must himself listen to lectures and a certain amount of study of psychological work and psychiatric work because ever since Roy de made his momentous discoveries it's been recognized that here was a whole new tool for mental health and the clergy primarily interested in that must at least know the rudiments of it and be able to to understand what help they can get from other people. Next week you will hear Reverend Glenn Dr. Loomis and Reverend Anderson as they discuss religion and emotional stability on the next program from the series human behavior social and medical research. They consultant for this program was Dr. James Miller of the University of Michigan Mental Health Research Institute. And Philip speaking asking that you join
Behavioral science research
Religion and science
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University of Michigan
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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This program focuses on research in religion and science. Guests are: C. Leslie Glenn, B.D., University of Michigan; Rev. George C. Anderson, Academy of Religion and Mental Health, New York City; and Earl Loomis, M.D., Union Theological Seminary, New York City.
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A documentary series on behavioral science and its role in understanding human health.
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Host: Cowlin, Bert
Interviewee: Glenn, Leslie, 1900-
Interviewee: Anderson, George Christian
Interviewee: Loomis, Earl
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-36-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:36
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Chicago: “Behavioral science research; Religion and science,” 1961-08-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022,
MLA: “Behavioral science research; Religion and science.” 1961-08-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <>.
APA: Behavioral science research; Religion and science. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from