While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes. (Romans 1:22-23)
In this passage, Paul considers the Gentiles under the wrath of God. He uses a description that is in consonance with the way Jews of the first century looked at the pagans: impure, morally depraved, enamored of wisdom but fools and darkened in their minds. Their idolatry is a witness to their foolishness; they fail to recognize God in His creation and confuse the creature with the Creator.
Man without God is a futile existential project. Man’s true greatness can be understood only in the light of God who created him in His image and likeness. Take away God and man is only left with himself. Jean-Paul Sartre — in his God-less worldview — is correct in saying that man is doomed to futile searching for fulfillment, for there is no fulfillment. There is no meaning. All is nausea.
Man’s true nature can only be understood through the divine image that is stamped in him. The prohibition of idolatry, after all, is a reminder that God’s true image is man. Man without this divine image in him is nothing. To know him is to know God, just as to know God is to know him.
“Let me know myself; let me know You” (St. Augustine of Hippo)