Untitled Document

Idol Thinking

Facing the Gnostic Revival

It is not hard to understand how men come to make idols of money and power, but the story of the golden calf is a tough one. How could men look at a lifeless pile of scrap metal, but then fall on their knees to worship it once they had melted it down and poured it into a cow mold? (This question first occurred to me as a child watching my mom make JellO.)

Our modern adoration of and subjection to technology has shed new light on that story. To make a computer, men extract minerals such as aluminum, cobalt, iron, and silicon from the ground. After fashioning them into a computer, we can send electronic charges across these materials to store, arrange, and present information. But even after we melt it down and pour it all into the mold, so to speak, the aluminum and silicon remain as lifeless as ever and without a trace of actual intelligence, let alone anything godlike.


J. Douglas Johnson is the executive editor of Touchstone and the executive director of the Fellowship of St. James.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

more from the online archives

29.4—July/August 2016

The Very Idea

on Anselm's God & the Virtue of Existing  by Tara L. Jernigan

32.4—July/August 2019

A Case of Win-Win

on Probability, Death & the Existence of God by Graeme Hunter

25.3—May/Jun 2012

Just Sayin'

on What We Used to Know vs. What We Know Now by Thomas Howard

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone