We have seen that in the ancient world, idols were worshipped because it was thought that they would give us what we want. At the heart of all idolatry is the desire to get what we want. In a superstitious world, spiritual powers, real or imagined, became the means to get what we wanted. Then in the modern world, the same idolatrous fantasies focussed our hopes on the progress and prosperity that Science could be trusted to give us.

Hosea described idolatrous people who based their hopes on anything other than God as “people without understanding ...[who] shall come to ruin” (4:14). The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is a statement that many have lost faith in the idols of the modern era and are leaving her temples in droves. Those idols have not lived up to their promise of a better life, and the world, if not in ruins is at least in a far more fragile state than it was a few generations earlier.

However, in rejecting false knowledge, the way of thinking that assumed that all our blessings are the outflow of the beneficence of Reason, post-modernity has not returned to true knowledge. In fact, not merely false knowledge, but the very notion of knowledge has been rejected. Hosea was right when he said that idolaters “have rejected knowledge” (4:6). In our post-modern world, knowledge in the sense of an objective understanding of reality – be it biblical or scientific - has been rejected.

In the modern world, the ancient idol of superstition was replaced by the idol of science; now, in turn, that is being replaced by the idol of self. I am the source of my own well-being so I will pay my dues to myself. I no longer have to bow before any objective view of reality, for truth is whatever I want to make it to be. Self-knowledge is sovereign. And whereas, at the start of the humanist experiment, Protagoras famously said “Man is the measure of all things”, now it can be said “A man (namely me!) is the measure of all things.”

This too must pass. We face the sad prospect of a forgotten generation, for Hosea said of the people who rejected knowledge that “since you have forgotten the law of your God, [the Lord] will forget your children” (4:6). Not because he is spiteful and vindictive. But because the folly of the fantasy that we can be as gods must be exposed. Having rejected the God for whom we exist, we create gods that exist for us. But only as we rediscover the God for whom we exist will we ever find more than we could ever ask or imagine. When we live as those who exist for him, we will discover that God is for us, and none can be against us!