Noted theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul says that:
Idolatry is our most basic sin, and in it an exchange is made: God reveals His truth about Himself, and we trade in that truth and walk out with a lie. We exchange the glory of God for the glory of the creature. 1
I recently ran across an old cartoon that I think illustrates the root of the problem: We set ourselves up as the authority in our lives, as god. The cartoon, from the syndicated strip, Pickles by Brad Crane is very simple. It’s about a dog and cat being fed by their owner.
Let’s look at the cat, Muffin, first. Opal, her owner puts her food in front of her and Muffin’s reaction? “She feeds me every day and cares for my every need. I must be a god.” We could go off on a tangent about how some Americans treat their pets like royalty, but…perhaps fodder for another entry.
I am not equating Opal with God, but she clearly is the closest thing to God that Muffin will know. And yet, just as it’s written in Romans, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him.” 1:21a The world revolves around Muffin. Isn’t our culture like that? The world revolves around us. We exchange the truth of God for a lie.
The dog, Roscoe, in the flow of the strip actually comes first. His reaction to being fed and cared for? Gratitude. He knows that the woman, Opal, is meeting his every need, including food.
A little known songwriter penned these related lyrics in the 1970s—
Imagination of their hearts
Changes the way things are
They lift an image in creation
trusting it as their god
Crying out for a quench of thirst
Gasping for the air
That keeps their hearts alive
Calling out and asking
Why, Why am I alive?
Can it be there’s more
Than they see? 2
Generations have grown up on the “scientific method,” a way of proving a hypothesis that serves us well. However, I think that we’ve elevated the “scientific method” to god-status: If it can’t be proven “scientifically” then it must not be true. But, you see, there is more than they can see.
Even so, if that hypothesis (if can’t be proven scientifically…) is true, then it is a small wonder that we’ve elevated ourselves to be gods, that we’ve become like the cat, Muffin.
1 Tabletalk, March 2014, p. 5
2 William David Romanowski, from the album Riches