The real reason people refuse to believe in God is not logical, rational, or scientific. People simply refuse to open their eyes and see the fingerprints of God all around them. This was caused by humanity’s thinking becoming futile at the fall. Apart from God’s grace, humans no longer use their God given intellect for what it was made for – glorifying God – but instead use it to prop themselves up. Instead of giving God glory for the works he has done, they live as if God can be molded into their liking.
Furthermore, the foolish human heart has become darkened and no longer works right, apart from God’s grace. The heart, according to the Bible, refers to the core of our being, the immaterial place from where all our thoughts, actions, attitudes, and emotions flow. Sin diseases us at the core: “Why did I respond that way? Why did I behave that way? I know better. Why do I feel so dim when all I want to do is shine?” The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9)?”
Our suppression of the truth about God contaminates every facet of our being. Theologians call this total depravity. Total depravity does not mean we behave as bad as we can every time. Nor does it mean no good exists in us. Rather it means every facet of our being is in some way impacted by our sinful nature. We might do something very good, but our motives are rarely, if ever, entirely pure.
This dulling of our intellect and darkening of our heart results in a tragic exchange. We exchange a diamond for dung. We turn away from the glorious Creator of all things and make created things into gods. As created matter comes in a seemingly endless array, these idols can take on a seemingly endless variety of forms. We simply fashion an idol that fulfills our longing to worship, while at the same time condescending to our sinful desires for wealth, health, sex, relationships, reputation, and so on.
Idols consequently allow us to make up our own versions of morality. Instead of asking, “What does God desire of me?” the idolater asks, “What do I think and feel is right or wrong?” – a dangerous question for a darkened heart!
As someone once said, “immorality in life proceeds from apostasy in doctrine.” We think that turning away from God sets us free, but it actually makes us slaves of our own sinful nature.