As I have often noted, the most dynamic and influential religion of the past hundred years has not been Christianity, let alone Judaism, the two religions that created the Western world. Nor has it been Islam. It has been Leftism.
Leftism has influenced the literary, academic, media, and, therefore, the political elite far more than any other religion. It has taken over Western schools from elementary through graduate.
For most of that time, various incarnations of Marxism have been the dominant expressions -- and motivators -- of Leftism: specifically, income redistribution, material equality and socialism. They are still powerful aspects of the left, but with the downfall of most communist regimes, other left-wing expressions have generated even more passion: first feminism and then environmentalism.
Nothing comes close to environmentalism in generating left-wing enthusiasm. It is the religion of our time. For the left, the earth has supplanted patriotism. This was largely inevitable in Europe, given its contempt for nationalism since the end of World War I and even more so since World War II. But it is now true for the elites (almost all of whose members are on the left) in America as well.
This was most graphically displayed by the infamous Time magazine cover of April 21, 2008 that altered the most iconic photograph in American history -- Joe Rosenthal's picture of the marines planting the flag on Iwo Jima. Instead of the American flag, the Time cover depicted the marines planting a tree. The caption on the cover read: "How to Win the War on Global Warming." In other words, just as German and Japanese fascism was the enemy in World War II, global warming is the enemy today. And instead of allegiance to the nation's flag, now our allegiance must be to nature.
This is the antithesis of the Judeo-Christian view of the world that has dominated Western civilization for all of the West's history. The Judeo-Christian worldview is that man is at the center of the universe; nature was therefore created for man. Nature has no intrinsic worth other than man's appreciation and (moral) use of it.
Worship of nature was the pagan worldview, a worship that the Hebrew Bible was meant to destroy. The messages of the Creation story in Genesis were that:
1) God created nature. God is not in nature, and nature is not God. Nature is nothing more than His handiwork. Therefore it is He, not nature, that is to be worshipped. The pagan world held nature in esteem; its gods were gods of nature (not above nature).
2) Nature cannot be worshipped because nature is amoral, whereas God is moral.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”