Thinking Green — The New Religion
"The human species is inherently and resolutely religious. The Bible and the Christian tradition affirm this truth, even as we know that the religious impulse can so easily transform itself into idolatry.
Even the most cursory look at the world's cultures will indicate the religious fervor that characterizes humanity. The only observers who seem shocked by this universal phenomenon are the secularists and the prophets of secularization theory who were absolutely certain that religious faith and religious fervor would disappear in the modern world.
Needless to say, it hasn't turned out that way. The theory of secularization is a shadow of its former self. Leading proponents like Peter Berger of Boston University now acknowledge that the secularization thesis was not an accurate predictor of the fate of religious belief in the modern world. The modern world is not secularized. Indeed, many of the most heated conflicts around the world today involve conflicting faiths. As Berger has commented, it turns out that a few European nations and the American intellectual elites are the exceptions, rather than the rule.
And yet, the intellectual elites are not so secular as they believe themselves to be. As it happens, their religion may not be theistic, but it is a religion all the same.
That fact is confirmed in a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Stephen T. Asma, a professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, argues that the new religion of many secular folk is ecology. As Asma explains, many secular types suffer from "green guilt."
In "Green Guilt," he writes:
Now the secular world still has to make sense out of its own invisible, psychological drama-in particular, its feelings of guilt and indignation. Environmentalism, as a substitute for religion, has come to the rescue. Nietzsche's argument about an ideal God and guilt can be replicated in a new form: We need a belief in a pristine environment because we need to be cruel to ourselves as inferior beings, and we need that because we have these aggressive instincts that cannot be let out.
Asma rightly notes that Friedrich Nietzsche, the nihilist who famously declared that God is dead, understood that religion was not dead at all. He "was the first to notice that religious emotions, like guilt and indignation, are still with us, even if we're not religious."These "religious emotions," including guilt, explain why so many..."(for the rest of article)