Paul Vitz

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The ex-atheist Paul Vitz

Paul Vitz is a Psychology professor at New York University. He graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1957 and with a Ph.D in Psychology from Stanford University in 1962. An atheist until he was in his late 30s, he is now a practicing Roman Catholic.[1] His focus is on the connection between Christianity and Psychology.[2] He is a member of the fellowship of Catholic Scholars, but also has strong contact to Evangelical Protestant organizations and deeply religious Jews.[3]

Vitz criticizes liberalism and believes there is a link between fatherlessness and atheism, as he demonstrates in his book Faith of the Fatherless, the Psychology of Atheism (1999). The thesis of Faith of the Fatherless holds that famous believers;e.g., Blaise Pascal, Edmund Burke, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer had strong and loving fathers, whereas their atheistic counterparts who were militant/intense atheists;e.g., Thomas Hobbes, Sigmund Freud, Mao Zedong, etc.; all had fathers who were weak, unloving, or absent (See: Psychology of atheism and Atheism and poor relationships with parents). Thus, philosophers, professors, and political tyrants who denounce God do so in order to relive traumatic childhood experiences and to subconsciously seek out help rather than to explore any sort of valid or respectable reasoning process.

The Daily Mail reported that a study conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service found that "children raised by divorced parents are more likely than children whose parents are married to be non-religious as adults."[4]

In Modern art and modern science: the parallel analysis of vision (1984) Vitz and co-author Glimcher provide an illustrated guide showing how modern science—i.e., experimental psychology—has influenced modern art. The book has been widely reviewed and well received.[5]

In Censorship: Evidence of bias in our children's textbooks (1986) Vitz shows how "a widespread secular and liberal mindset" within the leadership of the professional education community has resulted in the removal of conservative religious, family, and economic descriptions of American life from children's textbooks.[6] Even a person holding to the idea of a "noble pagan" believing in the virtues of hard work, discipline, patriotism, and concern for others has good reason to reject all state-approved social studies textbooks. Through the absence of such ideas, these textbooks make millions of Americans who hold traditional views on marriage, business, and politics seem alien and on the fringe. This is done by excluding accurate descriptions of contemporary religious, marital, economic, and political commitments. Vitz concludes a section discussing the positive effect of lawsuits by black parents on textbooks with "Our present textbooks, therefore, are as antireligious as our earlier books were racist." [7]

In his book Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self Worship (1994 2nd Ed.) he contends that Psychology, based on current theories and practice, is oftentimes damaging. By a series of 'blaming' incidents for childhood experiences and 'trauma', people have victimhood placed upon them and therefore become victims.[8]

Vitz and Creativity

Vitz has stated that the academic, or secular humanistic, idea of creativity since the 19th century has been deeply flawed. Instead Vitz suggests a different definition of creativity:[9]

For a Christian, however, all creativity has its origin in God; and to claim that an individual human is really creative is either silly or blasphemous. A person can express his individual capacity in a creative fashion only by aligning himself with God's will. Real creativity requires a soul cooperating with God— a soul who becomes God's loving agent in all its activity however mundane.


  • Presented (at timestamp 20 minutes 00 seconds) in Clergy in the classroom [videorecording]: the religion of secular humanism. (Manitou Springs, CO : Summit Ministries ; Cleveland, OH : American Portrait Films, c1998)

See also

External links


  4. Children who grow up with divorced parents 'are less likely to be religious', Daily Mail
    • Bornstein, M.H., The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism,v. 43 (Spring 1985) p. 330

    "This volume is hallmarked by clarity, conciseness, and scholarship. It is historically minded, attending to the origins of phenomena in science and art equally closely. It is intimate in detail, evaluating openly and rationally who is likely to have come in contact with what or whom and when. And, it is authentic, marshalling considerable information and citing equally aptly scientists and artists, art historians, and art critics of the last century and one-half. The book is also professionally organized, and its theses are spelled out, buttressed, and evaluated self-critically. . . . With considerable adroitness and skill, Vitz and Glimcher show how new perceptions of reality reflected themselves in sciences and arts concerned with human visual thinking."

    • Choice v. 21 (May 1984) p. 1294

    "[This is a] new and most welcome addition to the literature. . . . [The authors provide a] thoughtful and well-balanced discussion. . . . The many good illustrations contribute to the clarity and readability of the discussions. This is a stimulating and informative book that deserves a large audience, from the general reader to undergraduate and graduate students in psychology and art."

    • Kubovy, Michael (Rutgers University, Department of Psychology) American Scientist v. 73 (March/April 1985) p. 192-3

    "Vitz, an experimental psychologist who does research on visual perception, and Glimcher, director of the Pace Gallery in New York, have joined forces in this wide-ranging study of the interrelations of visual science and visual art in the 19th and 20th centuries….A reader unfamiliar with art history might infer from this book that the 19th century was the first time that there were close ties between science and art. Nothing could be further from the truth….Despite its flaws, this book will repay the efforts of those who are interested in the development of modern art, because it maps the course of a major underground river that links the two lakes of modern art and modern experimental psychology."

    • Rembert, Virginia Pitts, Leonardo v. 22 no. 2 (1989) p. 270-2
    • Doyle, Robert J., Perspectives in Biology and Medicine v. 29 (Spring 1986 pt1) p. 481-2
    • Wertheimer, Michael and Werner, John S., The American Journal of Psychology v. 98 (Summer 1985) p. 328-31
    • Richardson, John Adkins, The Journal of Aesthetic Education v. 19 (Fall 1985) p. 89-99
    • Bornstein, Marc H., The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism v. 43 (Spring 1985) p. 330-1
  5. Library Journal, Patricia Smith Butcher, 1987
  6. Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children's textbooks, Paul C. Vitz, p. 77-78, 83
  8. Psychology As Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship (Wm. B. Eerdmans 1977), p. 63