Now some writers seem to think that in coming up with a suggestion as to the evolutionary origin of religion, they are in some way discrediting it. . . . Describing the origin of religious belief and the cognitive mechanisms involved does nothing . . . to impugn its truth. No one thinks describing the mechanisms involved in perception impugns the truth of perceptual beliefs; why should one think things are different with respect to religion? According to Christian belief, God has created us in such a way that we can know and be in fellowship with him. He could have done this in many ways; for example, he could have brought it about that our cognitive faculties evolve by natural selection, and evolve in such a way that it is natural for us to form beliefs about the supernatural in general and God himself in particular. Finding a "natural" origin for religion in no way discredits it.
(Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism [New York: Oxford University Press, 2011], 140 [ellipses added; footnotes omitted])
Note from KBJ: I wonder about the intelligence of people who think that explaining religion in naturalistic terms somehow discredits it. Do they not realize that this is a flagrant example of the genetic fallacy? Do we philosophers not teach our introductory students that the questions "How did X originate" and "Is X true" are distinct questions, with no necessary connections between them? But let's waive this difficulty. Here's an even worse problem for the naturalist. If it's an objection to the truth of religious belief that it has a naturalistic explanation, then why is it not an objection to the truth of scientific belief or mathematical belief or philosophical belief that it has a naturalistic explanation? Everything has a naturalistic explanation! The point is that nothing follows from this fact, as far as the truth of the beliefs in question is concerned. It seems to me that naturalists confuse:
1. Religion has a naturalistic explanation.
2. Religion is false.
1. Religion is false.
2. Religion has (i.e., must have) a naturalistic explanation.
The first argument is invalid, though it has a true premise. The second argument is question-begging. The question at issue is whether religious belief is true; you can't assume that it isn't!