In the Judeo-Christian tradition, man and man alone among living things has a higher origin and a higher destiny. Made in the image and likeness of God, and the only creature so made, he comes from God and is called to return to God for his ultimate felicity and fulfillment. He is, to be sure, an animal, but one called to theosis and thus an animal qualitatively different from every other type of animal.
In that now languishing tradition, man had a calling, a vocation.
But God is dead, culturally speaking, at least among the the elites of the West, and since 1859 the qualitative superiority of the human animal is no longer much believed in. Man is back among the animals, 'in series' with them, just another product of evolution, whose origin is measly and whose destiny is extinction. Man on a naturalist construal is at best quantitatively superior to his non-human progenitors.
Now consider a naturalist about the human species who is also a misanthrope and an animal lover. He hates man while loving animals even though he holds that man is just an animal. He hates man because he is destroying the earth and the flora and fauna upon it.
There is something paradoxically selective about our naturalist's misanthropic love of animals. He is out to save the whales but doesn't give a rat's ass about prenatal human animals . . . . He loves animals except for the species of animal of which he is a specimen.
The misanthropy goes together with nature idolatry.
Unable to worship God, and unable to appreciate man's greatness, he makes a god of nature and its irrational beasts.
You may recall the case of Timothy Treadwell, who camped among grizzlies, and whose luck ran out.
In an Outside article, the author, Doug Peacock, reports that Treadwell "told people he would be honored to 'end up in bear scat.'" And in his last letter, Treadwell refers to the grizzly as a "perfect animal." There are here the unmistakable signs of nature idolatry. Man must worship something, and if God be denied, then an idol must take his place, whether it be nature with its flora and fauna, or money, or sex, or the Revolution, or some other 'icon.'
Deny God, devalue man, and end up bear shit. Way to go 'man.'