Top 10 False God’s of Today
Back in Bible times, false gods were easy to identify. Baal, Molech, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Artemis, and others are all present in the pages of Scripture as gods competing for devotion to the God of Israel. In todays day, these names don’t really seem to pop up quite as much. But don’t be fooled—just because we don’t use the same names for false gods doesn’t mean our culture doesn’t have any. We most certainly do! I’ve put together a list of the top ten false gods of our day. There are only a few things to remember about this list.
- I am defining the term “false god” as someone or something that is highly revered, followed devoutly, sacrificed for, and looked to for meaning in life and deliverance from problems.
- I actually have no idea if these are ranked in order, but that they belong on a list of false gods I am fairly certain about.
- This list isn’t perfect.
- Ranking #1 I got right for sure.
Let the list commence!
Dishonourable mentions: power, entertainment, popularity
These days we bow at the altar of education. We believe that the problem with criminals is that they lack education and believe that having better access to it will turn them into decent human beings. We gasp at the thought of someone trying to amount to anything without a formal degree. We spend tens of thousands of dollars, and even go way into debt, in order to get an education we aren’t even sure we really want to pursue as a career path. We ignore what anyone has to say unless they have a bunch of letters at the end of their name. In short, we treat education like it is a god that will deliver us from the messy state we find our world in. And while education is important and an extremely valuable thing, it cannot deliver on that promise.
We revere people who are attractive and dismiss those who aren’t. Whole racks of magazines are devoted to all the beautiful people in the world and all the insignificant details of their lives. They tell us how we too can lose weight and become like them—you know, people who actually matter. We fat-shame overweight people. We spend money on products that promise slimmer waistlines and smoother skin. We fight back father time hoping to look young forever. We dismiss people if they are bland or bald, even if they are wise. We overlook horrible character flaws if someone is good-looking (ex. 50 Shades of Grey). In short, we put way too much stock in a god that is constantly fading away.
Beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31:30)
We looooove to take it easy. The reason we work so hard is so that we can relax. Heck, even at work, if we can cut corners here and there to lighten the load we are more than happy to do so. People constantly talk about how they can’t wait for the weekend or the next vacation or the upcoming holiday. We frequently choose the path of least resistance in many areas of life. We do everything we can to avoid hardship, even if the hard things is the right thing to do. We desire life to be smooth sailing and when instead we hit stormy seas we are apt to complain about it. Somehow we have come to expect that life should be a breeze, enjoying the pleasure and leisure and good things in life without having to earn them with blood, sweat, and tears. The problem is that if comfort is our top priority, we are less likely to do the hard things in life—such as love difficult people, sacrifice for others, and follow through on commitments.
We infuse our bodies with all kinds of things to forget about our hurts, numb the pain, or spice up our boring lives. There are the big and obvious ones, like hard drugs, whether they be street drugs or pharmaceuticals. But there are less ominous substances we turn to also, such as pot, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. Heck, sometimes we even use just regular old junk food because it makes us feel better (aka comfort food). Our bodies react favourably to these things at first because they make us feel good, but in the long run they are addicting substances that harm us in other ways. They promise a better life but can’t deliver on that for the long haul. It eventually becomes self-inflicted slavery to an addiction.
Wait a second…family? What is something like family doing on this list? Well, family is a wonderful thing—don’t get me wrong. But family makes a lousy god. People often think, If I could just get a husband I would be happy, or If I could just get a wife I would be happy, or once we have kids and a picture perfect family I will finally be happy. But these things aren’t true. Yes, family can bring great happiness, but it is a complicated happiness that is not unconditional. For example, if you are trusting a spouse to bring meaning to your life, you will inevitably disdain them when they let you down. If you are trusting in kids to make your life worth living, you will be left empty when they grow up and begin their own lives. The truth is that families are messy and difficult. They bring a lot of pleasure but also a lot of pain. Because people aren’t perfect (and hey, neither are you) family will never end up being exactly the way you always pictured it to be, which means you are destined to live in perpetual disappointment if that is where you have placed your hope.
Religion and God are not the same thing. Some people trust in God, but other people trust in religion. The first is a good bet, but the second in a major mistake. Religion itself has little it can do for you. Sure, religious people gain some benefit from their beliefs and devotion. They might have great peace in their lives. Prayer might help them to relieve anxiety. But in the long run, religion without God is an empty shell. You can tell when someone is trusting in religion and not God because they might say something like it doesn’t matter if it’s true because it works for me. This is flawed thinking. The belief that there could be life after death, for example, might bring a sense of comfort when a loved one dies (or you are facing your own death), but that is a false sense of comfort unless it is actually true. Religion offers comfort, but not necessarily real hope. Only God rightly known and understood can bring true hope, because it is a hope that is grounded in reality and not blind faith. Religion can’t deliver you, but God can.
It might be true that in our increasingly secular society, more people trust in science than trust in religion. We believe that science has all of the answers for us. We believe that if science confirms something to be true, it must be true—despite the fact that science changes all the time depending on recent findings. We trust that science will give us the solutions to all the plagues that face humanity. Science certainly does benefit us greatly. We enjoy the benefits of technology and medicine and physics every moment of every day. But if we think that science is the one hope for mankind we are fooling ourselves. Mankind cannot save itself. Rather, the one thing mankind is an expert at is self-imploding. Science can help ward that off for a while, but it cannot be counted on to deliver us in the end.
Fifty years ago people would talk freely about death but never hush a word about sex. Nowadays it is the complete reverse. Sex is everywhere. It dominates music, movies, video games, TV shows, advertising, and even just everyday life. To some degree this makes sense: sexuality is a part of human nature and an important and powerful one at that. But when we take a good thing and make it a god-thing we have gone too far. Sex, perhaps more than any other area of life, is considered to be untouchable by moral restraints. The one moral guideline for sex of any kind is consent. Other than that, have at it! But such a sexual free-for-all is also wreaking havoc in the world. Marriages fall apart left and right. STD’s and unplanned pregnancies are common. People are hooked on pornography in increasingly violent forms and at increasingly younger ages. We are destroying ourselves because of our licentiousness. We are even willing to kill our own children to have consequence-free sex. We really aren’t that far off from the ancient gods who required child sacrifice.
I’m on the fence about flip-flopping money and sex in the #2 and #3 spots. In the end I went with money here since even a lot of the sex industry is built on the love of money. Sex trafficking, for instance, doesn’t just demonstrate people’s love for sex but also their love for money. The Bible tells us “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Truer words have never been spoken. People will do just about anything if it means they can make money off it. We are willing to compromise our integrity if it means that profit is possible. I’m not sure that corruption happens more frequently than when money is at stake. While money is a necessary part of societal living, it should not be the dominant influence in our decision making. Unfortunately, it usually is. Money is one of our culture’s greatest gods.
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
You can cut down a troublesome weed by mowing over it, or you can pull it up be the roots once and for all. Every false god on this list is a ultimately just a symptom of an underlying god that rules over all: me. People are inherently self-centred and self-focused. Though we are still capable of being selfless at times, when push comes to shove, we demonstrate who we really are. We all are inclined to put ourselves first. If we can do something that benefits us, even at the expense of someone else, and if we know we can get away with it, we do it almost every time. Even some of our acts of generosity are self-congratulating. We post it on Facebook and make sure everyone knows that we are a good person. This runs completely contrary to what the Bible teaches. The Bible says not that we should embrace our true selves but rather that we must die to self in order to live as God would desire us to. We must put aside selfish ambition and put God and others first. Ultimately, we need to be “born again” and become new people, changed by God from the inside out.
Humanity is broken. We all know it. Things are not as they should be. As a result, we are all looking for answers to solve our problems. My fear is that people are turning to the wrongs things for hope. They are trusting in false gods that cannot deliver them. In that sense, we are lost. As I have said before, humanity needs intervention from the outside. We need help and deliverance by a force more powerful than we. God is our only hope. He alone is the real God of this universe, and the good news is that he loves us and can help us and has a plan for us. But that is of no use to us if we continue to ignore him. I realize I might just sound like a wacko nutjob to someone who doesn’t believe in God or is not particularly “religious”. Nevertheless, I would encourage you to think long and hard about it. Is there anything in this world that is truly worthy of our hope? Or are we broken beyond repair? Thousands of years of human existence has proven that we are not on an evolutionary trajectory upward. We are on a never-ending cycle of chaos. The only way we will ever escape this mess is stop turning to gods that can do nothing but let us down. We must turn to the One True God who is our ever-present help in times of trouble and know that he has it all under control and will sort everything out in the end.