Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Thoughts for Today:Through their studies Cultural Anthropologists inform us virtually all societies have had a basic belief in some form of god or deity. For certain native Americans this was characterized as spirit which moved through (or lived in) all things -- whether a rock, tree, animal, cloud or storm. In the Hindu culture/religion, it is the idea of Brahman, an underlying life force that attempts to explain the nature of existence and the endless cycle of reincarnation. In ancient Egypt creation is explained through the sun god Ra -- first appearing as an egg on the surface of primordial waters, then bringing forth children who became the earth, sky, and atmosphere.
In our passage today, Paul tells us man was created with a knowledge of God which was then "exchanged...for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." For example, Southwestern native Americans considered the coyote to be the creator and teacher of men; Hindus revere the cow partly because of its gentle nature and symbolism as nature's perfect giver (milk, hide, and even excrement used as fertilizer and fuel); and Egyptians worshipped Ra, who had the head of a hawk, allowing him to see over all things. In other words, what began as a basic inner knowledge of the existence of a Creator ("glory of the immortal God") morphed into the worship of images.
Sounds pretty primitive doesn't it? Some in Western Civilization would consider man to have evolved beyond belief in deity -- but is man evolving or devolving? I would say look around and decide for yourself if scientific explanations of creation have yielded a more moralistic society.
Questions to Ponder:Future generations will look back at modern science's attempt to explain creation through formulas and theories as just as backward and primitive as we view the beliefs of the native American Indians or Egyptians. At best they will view our attempts -- not as wise -- but foolishness. After all, how can anyone hope to capture the essence of the Creator and immortal God through images or scientific formulas? But that doesn't stop us from trying. The writer of Ecclesiastes concludes in the final chapter 12 verses 12-13, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." Have you been guilty of making God into your own image of what He should be like? What does God say about Himself? Read your Bible.