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COVID-19 should destroy the foolish veneration of nature and lead more people to Jesus

Dennis Prager on

A statement widely attributed to the great British thinker G. K. Chesterton describes the modern period as perfectly as any single idea can: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything."

One of these substitute gods has been nature.

Indeed, of all the false gods, nature is probably the most natural for people to worship. Every religion prior to the Bible had nature-gods -- the sun, the moon, the sea, gods of fertility, gods of rain and so on.

That is why the farther Western society gets from biblical, i.e., Judeo-Christian, religions, the more nature is worshipped.

Everyone on the left and right cares about the environment. But caring about the environment is not the same as environmentalism. Environmentalism, for most of its adherents, is a secular religion. These people, many of whom refer to, and truly regard, the Earth as a goddess (Gaia, the name of the ancient Greek Earth goddess) worship the environment.

The man who, more than any other, started the modern environmentalist religion was James Lovelock, who developed the "Gaia hypothesis" in the 1970s. Almost 50 years later, in 2014, Lovelock told The Guardian, "Environmentalism has become a religion."

 

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat described the 2009 James Cameron blockbuster film, "Avatar," as "Cameron's long apologia for pantheism, a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world." That equation of God with nature was a major reason for the film's popularity.

Douthat, one of the only religious (as in believing in and practicing a religion) columnists at The New York Times, added, "The threat of global warming, meanwhile, has lent the cult of Nature qualities that every successful religion needs: a crusading spirit, a rigorous set of 'thou shalt nots,' and a piping-hot apocalypse."

When you ask atheists, as I have for decades, what they believe in, the most common answer is "science." There was a young man, an atheist, at the gym where I work out, who responded, "Science!" (in place of "God bless you") whenever someone sneezed. There is nothing higher than science for an atheist because the natural world is all there is. So, worship of the Earth, the environment or nature is almost inevitable in a secular world.

The Bible takes an entirely different view. As explained at length in my Bible commentary, "The Rational Bible," the first verse of the Bible -- "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth" -- contains the most radical idea in history. It stated, for the first time in history, that God created nature and is not part of nature. It is one of the reasons I believe the first five books, the Torah, are God-given. No human beings 3,000 years ago in the late Bronze Age would have come up with an idea so opposed to the way the human mind naturally works -- to regard gods as part of nature.

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