Al Mohler points to a recent article by Stephen T. Asma, a professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, that argues the historically recent "environmentalism" is the latest form of religion to have mass appeal.

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.


When aggression can't go out, then it has to go inward. So we engage in a kind of self-denial, or self-cruelty. Ultimately this self-cruelty is necessary and good for society—I cannot unleash my murderous tendencies on the whipped-cream-mocha-half-decaf latte drinkers. But my aggression doesn't disappear, it just gets beat down by my own discipline. Subsequently, I feel bad about myself, and I'm supposed to. Magnify all those internal daily struggles by a hundred and you begin to see why Nietzsche thought we were always feeling a little guilty. 

Mohler observes:

Stephen Asma's essay is important for multiple reasons. It is an excellent analysis of the religious character of environmentalism, complete with a set of comprehensive doctrines and religious practices. It is also an excellent consideration of the religious nature of human beings. Asma understand the pretensions of the secular mind, and he also sees the religious impulse working its way to the surface in the modern obsessions with heath, fitness, and an ever-expanding set of "secular" sins.