Romans 1:18-32 is Paul’s explanation of man’s plight. In the midst of his explanation of the condemnation of humanity, he gives a seven step descent into idolatry to show that the pagan world deserves God’s wrath. After having shown that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), in verses 19-23 he shows that God’s wrath is deserved. He is anticipating an objection: “What about those who have never heard the gospel? Do they deserve God’s wrath?” Paul says ‘yes’ and offers 2 reasons why that is so:
Reason #1 –
because that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them (v.19).
God has shown Himself to mankind. He revealed Himself through the created universe, and every person has that revelation. When someone looks at creation and fails to see the power and divinity of the Creator, that person is “holding down” ( or ‘supress’ in v.18) the truth. In other words, he has the truth and chooses to ignore it, and is therefore, without excuse (v.20).
Reason # 2 –
because knowing God, they did not honor Him as God (v.21)
And here, man begins his descent to idolatry. Verses 21-23 gives the seven step downward spiral:
Step 1 – They refused to honor God. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God.
Step 2 – They were not thankful. …or give thanks..
Step 3 – They began speculating foolishly … but they became futile in their speculations…
Step 4 – They became senseless and darkened …and their foolish heart was darkened…
Step 5 – They began to think they were wise … professing to be wise….
Step 6 – They became foolish ….they became fools…
Step 7 – They preferred idols that were patterned after mortal man and things. …and exchanged the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds, and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Contrast this description of man with what evolution teaches. Evolutionary thought says that religion developed in the process like this:
When man was primitive (after graduating for the ape tribe, lost his tail and quit climbing trees), he felt an impulse to worship something, so he took a stick, carved out an image, and began worshiping it. That was the first step. As his intellectual powers grew, he began to make moral distinctions. The next step in his reasoning process was to realize that the rain and seasons must come from one or more superhuman being so he gave thanks to the gods for their gifts. From that point he rose to the conception of the true God and became a monotheist
God says idolatry begins with the rejection of Him. The world says the opposite.