Human religion (i.e. idolatry) is dark and empty. The historical reality is not that man has slowly risen from animism to higher order forms of religion, but quite the opposite.

Instead of following the revelation of God in nature in the direction of the true religion of glorifying God, humankind perverts its testimony and so descends into the depths of the false religion of idolatry. As Meyer stated: ‘For heathenism is not the primeval religion, from which man might gradually have risen to a knowledge of the true God, but is, on the contrary, the result of falling away from the known original revelation of the true God in His works.’ Idolatry results from the appalling choice of ‘changing the truth of God into a lie’ (Rom. 1:25). It indicates a devastating, perverted condition, first in the human mind, and then, inevitably, in human behavior.

It isn’t that the light of nature didn’t bear witness, but that the sinful human heart distorts and denies that witness as it descends to idolatry.

Romans 1 and Acts 14 and 17, for all their differences in historical and cultural context, are agreed in ascribing the origins of human religion to the witness of God to Himself in the created order, as well as in the personality of man (God’s offspring). And they are agreed in evaluating the results of this divine witness very negatively in light of what mankind has actually done with it. They should that the truth has been perverted into self-serving idolatry by sinful humanity.


  1. Kelly, Systematic Theology - Volume 1, p.134-144