"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1 All things were made by it, and without it was made nothing that was made. 3 In it was life, and that life was the light of men. 4 And that light shines in the wilderness, and the darkness comprehends it not. 5 He (the Word Jesus Christ) was in the world, and the world was made by him; and the world knew him not." (John 1) When the living Word Who made all things and Who is the only source of life entered into the world, His creatures neither knew Him nor understood that life itself is a gift from Him. This is because from the days of Noah to our own age, men have been rebelling against the living God Who exists outside of time and creation with such frequency that historian Arnold Toynbee was able to observe that the two dark traveling companions of rebellion are naturalism and antinomianism (lawlessness).
In "Against the Heathen," early Church Father Athanasius reveals that pride and haughtiness preceded man's fall into idolatry and naturalism. A haughty spirit led them to make light of the higher things of the living God, and deliberately disregarding what they knew to be true they began to seek in preference things in the lower or natural dimension. Thus they fell into idolatry---deification of self, sexual pleasures and acquisition of status and things to the living God and higher things.
The truth as to evil said Athanasius,
"....is that it originates, and resides, in the perverted choice of the darkened soul" which, "materialized by forgetting God" and engrossed in lower things, "makes them into gods," and thereby "descends into a hopeless depth of delusion and superstition," whereby "they ceased to think that anything existed beyond what is seen, or that anything was good save things temporal and bodily; so turning away and forgetting that she was in the image of the good God, she no longer... sees God the Word after whose likeness she is made; but having departed from herself, imagines and feigns what is not (and then) advancing further in evil, they came to celebrate as gods the elements and the principles of which bodies are composed...." (Against the Heathen, New Advent)
Having descended into delusion and superstition they imagined that "all that exists" is the natural dimension â€” a divine One Substance, watery abyss, chaos, void, primordial matter, animated natural powers, forces, and deterministic laws, all of which they celebrated and attributed miraculous powers to. So for example, with the Egyptians' self-created Sun-God Ra, the divine abyss or One Substance out of which he evolved is Nu â€” primordial matter:
"I came into being from primordial matter...I made all the forms under which I appeared by means of (or out of) the god-soul which I raised up out of Nu (i.e., the primeval abyss of water.) (The Long War Against God, Dr. Henry Morris, p. 243)
Naturalism is the spiritually impoverished wilderness in which the minds of the lost are filled with darkness, thus when men fall away from the Light, the living Word Who is the only source and bestower of life, their darkened minds believe foolish things in regard to what man is, hence they will say to a tree, â€œThou art my father, and to a stone, Thou hast begotten meâ€¦â€ (Jeremiah 2:27)
Believing themselves wise they became foolish in their reasoning, in their comprehension, and in their lives because knowing the truth they turned away from it and accepted a position about themselves that is intellectually foolish.
The same is true of contemporary humanists. Believing themselves wise, that is, intellectually and scientifically enlightened, they foolishly say to evolutionary forces, â€œthou art my father who has caused me to evolve from matterâ€ and to brute matter or extraterrestrials, â€œthou art the source of life that hast begotten me.â€
The living God Who exists outside time and creation is the Source of life. Matter, whether called prakriti stuff, Nu, Chaos, Darwin's pond scum, or just plain matter is not the source of life anymore than are spirits, mankind, animals, and planets. All of these things are aspects of the world made by Him.
Life is a gift from the living God which men measure off in increments of time---seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. No man knows how long his time in this world will be and how he spends it determines whether he is a self-serving idolator or not.
The man who uses his time working to earn money so that he can provide for his family or perhaps give of his money and additional time to his church or to one who is in need, is spending his time---his very life---self-sacrificially, that is, in service to others.
The same is true of the man who has a spirit for truth, such as the apostles of Jesus Christ, the early Church Fathers or in our own time, Francis Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis, as just two examples. Such people spend long hours of their time in this world using their powers of intellect to dig into, unpack, untangle, and utterly throw down the false teachings, philosophies, ideologies and science that capture the minds of other people and lead them into the wilderness.
To be on the receiving end of such a person is to benefit from his very life, time spent in service to others which he will never live over in this world.
The idolator by definition is one who, in service to self, foolishly wastes his gift of life on idols, which by definition are aspects of creation deified and served by men.
In his book, "Idols for Destruction," Herbert Schlossberg surveys the numerous idols of modern thought and life, including the idols of the modern church. These range from Mammon to Molech (choice, euthanasia), hedonism, nature, political power, science, autonomy (antinomianism), envy (equalitarianism), pseudo-love, the misuse of guilt, poverty, progressive historicism, victimhood, theology in service of revolution and redistribution of wealth, churches in service of the messianic state, and technology, which covers such things as television, video games, and the vast array of hand-held devices to which idolatrous men sacrifice the gift of life from the living God.
Though Romans 1:21-22 relates to the original fall it also speaks of any period when â€œmen knew the truth and deliberately turned away from it" thereby falling into naturalism, idolatry, and antinomianism. Therefore Romans 1:21-22 applies to the fall of Western humanists, be they atheists or clergy, occurring right now, in our own age.
In support of Athanasius and Schaeffer, historian James Baily reports that the fall of man into naturalism and idolatry is always preceded by monotheism.. He adds that "the establishment view of the history of religion" (progressive historicism) is the reverse of facts:
"....human history can now be hesitantly traced back as an unbroken narrative to 4000 B.C. The facts must not, however, be twisted to suit the fallacy of necessary human progress. For the picture emerging....is one of the Fall of Man in historic terms as well as his rise; it is a picture ...more of degradation than of success; it is a picture of monotheism breaking down into polytheism and of the struggle to return to monotheism. The establishment view of the history of religion gradually progressing from animism to polytheism, from polytheism to monotheism is the reverse of facts." (The God-Kings and the Titans: The New World Ascendancy in Ancient Times, James Baily, 1973, p. 296)
The truth as to evil, that is rebellion, naturalism and idolatry, "....is that it originates, and resides, in the perverted choice of the darkened soul." In other words, pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. From the beginning this was true, and in these last days it is still true. Self-serving pride, antinomianism and idolatry, are the common bonds linking the darkened soul to the wilderness (naturalism), Satan, and the Antichrist.