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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.

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

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