Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 01:24-25, NKJV).
Rather than acknowledging the truth of a Creator, rebellious humankind have exchanged that truth for “the lie”, and in consequence have inexplicably, and historically, worshiped the work of the Creator (the creature) rather than the Deity whose power is the source and origin of all Causality.
This creature worship includes not only living things, but the planet itself, investing it with attributes of life and consciousness that flies in the face of all demonstrable fact and experience. This break with reality would be labeled insanity in a sane world, but in ours it is termed, “spiritual”.
Know this, when God is purposefully divorced or exiled from our thinking, vacuous irrationality ensues. I know from personal experience.
Gaia (Mother Earth) Worship is an example of this, and is as prevalent today in some circles as it was millennia ago. There are otherwise intelligent men, women and children who have forsaken God, replacing Him in their irreverence with an inanimate, non-living lump of rock orbiting a nuclear furnace.
Certain proponents of AGW (Anthropological Global Warming – the unproven theory that human activity is changing the planet's climate) are unapologetic Gaia Worshipers. Their sometimes unexpressed, but implicit belief system is that Mother Earth would be infinitely better off without human beings (presumably, except for themselves).
The Bible teaches the diametric opposite: that earth was created expressly for humanity and that we are to take dominion over it. Before the Fall in Eden, that stewardship was expressed as Adam “tending” (not exploiting or ravaging) the Garden. The intent was for humans to use their God-given intelligence and abilities to responsibly use planetary resources to maintain and imprint (put a uniquely human stamp on) earthly life.
I can only imagine what this would have entailed without sin having corrupted the plan. Perhaps ancient mythical tales of magnificent and almost magical kingdoms and realms comes closest to what it might have been, but the reality is quite different.
Fallen humanity has taken this directive of dominion and perverted it. Instead of responsible stewardship, there is exploitation, instead of “tending”, there is destroying. So the impulse of Creature Worshipers, while utterly without foundation, is nonetheless understandable. It is an expression of that divinely instilled desire to have the earth be as God intended.
Ironically, while this impulse comes from the Creator, its outworking in this pagan religion is the denial of the very God who made the heavens and earth and all the creatures in it.
There is a profound spiritual principle involved in this outcome, and it's this: the most brilliant human intellect becomes imbecilic without God. And the corollary is this: the most noble human impulse, without God, becomes idiotic.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that this replacement of the Creator with His creature is done through irremediable ignorance. It is willful arrogance and pride. The heavens themselves declare the glory of God, unmistakably. It takes work to look at the complexities of existence and attribute them to time and chance, or to the Universe itself, rather than to a Transcendent Intelligence and Power.
But what alternatives do the pagans or naturalists have? If they let the evidence of Creation speak for itself it can only lead to God, and that is entirely unacceptable.
As Harvard biology professor Richard Lewontin, speaking for the scientific community, famously remarked, “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Note that last remark: we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
And materialism, like Earth Worship, is just another instance of substituting that which is created – in this case matter and energy – for its unfathomable Source.
All this would all be excusable except for two things: one, every human being is endowed with an inherent certainty that there is Something beyond him or herself. This is seen by the innate desire each of us has to worship that something – either imaginary gods, intellect, materiality, or ourselves in some mystical sense. Secondly, God's self-revelation, both through the canvas of existence, and the gift if His Word, leaves us without excuse.
As Paul wrote in a previous verse... Professing to be wise, they became fools.