My Letter to Harper's on one of their essays
Barabar Ehrenrich's essay, "The Animal Cure," exhibits poor reasoning and bad history. She dismisses belief in gods by presupposing philosophical materialism and by appealing to cognitive science to explain the origin of this false belief. Appealing to very speculative theories in cognitive science is of no more help than Freud's old projection argument against religion. They are both stellar examples of the genetic fallacy: an idea can be discredited merely by citing its psychological origin. However, there may be natural reasons why someone attains a true belief in the supernatural. Only if the existence of a supernatural realm is independently defeated by argument should one try to explain how this supposedly false belief arises. Further, what if we find the cognitive science basis for belief in atheism? Would that, in itself, discredit it? Concerning history (Christianity's approach to animals), neither the Bible nor any of the historic creeds or counsels of Christianity equate animals with demons. Rather, animals are creatures of God, although not made in the divine image as are humans. God pronounces them "good" in The Book Genesis.