Secular perspective skewered

At least two articles in your Winter 1999 issue show a lack of faith in God and trust in Man. This is contrary to our purpose in life. The "Rise of Ecotheology" article asserts that attention should be directed by theologists to the ecology and ecological problems. I call this Earth Mother Awareness, a kind of worship of the earth in place of worship of God. But Man makes mistakes, and an overreliance on Man is a big mistake.

The article "Cutting Down the Dissonance: The Psychology of Gullibility" is even worse. It seems to put faith in God under the category of "gullibility." One doesn't need a psychologist or philosopher to affirm that God exists. Freud's theories and the Kinsey Report were all wrong, as were the theories of Kant and the rest of their cohorts. The battle cry of these people is "Ecce Homo" instead of "Ecce Agnus Dei." That God exists is evidenced by our being here, by the physical and moral laws (which someone made), and by our daily struggles. It is meant to teach us to rely on Him. Even Einstein realized that God exists.

Ed Ciaccio, Ph.D.
Department of Pharmacology
Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons

This letter was forwarded to the authors of the articles in question, who offer the following replies:

Although I cannot claim to speak for the religion and ecology movement, it has been my observation that its concern for the environment is embedded firmly in a theological perspective; there is no suggestion, as Dr.Ciaccio asserts, of "a kind of worship of the earth in place of worship of God." Religion and ecology activists seek to find in scripture a rationale for shifting industrial culture's attitude toward the earth from exploitation to stewardship. The divine remains the source of power, and humans act only as its representatives in the physical world. Dr. Ciaccio's criticism might be more appropriately directed toward the deep ecology movement, which has been more concerned with removing humanity from its privileged position in relation to other forms of life.

Valerie Brown
Portland, Ore.

I'm afraid that Dr. Ciaccio misunderstands the focus of the article. "Cutting Down the Dissonance" in no way refutes or supposes the existence of God. Rather, it looks at the common traits of belief systems -- a superstition about a rabbit's foot, a faith in guardian angels, a religious conviction -- and why people are quick to embrace them. Supernatural beliefs by definition extend beyond the customary borders of rationality, but this recognition does not imply that all nonrational beliefs are simply irrational.

Christina Valhouli
New York, N.Y.

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