22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Professing [alleging] to be wise,
If people reject revelation from God, they must turn to themselves as the source of truth. This is called “solipsism” in philosophy. The idea of this thinking is that nothing outside of one’s mind can be justified. There is no extrinsic truth. The subject or self is the starting and end point for truth.
The Greeks developed the greatest focus on philosophical “wisdom” of the ancient world, yet its own culture was depraved.
they became fools,
Reducing truth to the self is foolish. It is a downward path of worthless thinking. It is ironic that the “wise” became “fools.” Their man-centered worldview developed only spiritual pigmies. Their philosophical speculations darkened their hearts. Man devoid of God’s revelation cannot determine absolute truth. He cannot see the difference between the transitory and the eternal.
and changed the glory of the incorruptible [imperishable] God
People in the process of rebellion against revelation devolve from worshipping the Creator to worshipping the creature.
The word “changed” is exchanged. They exchanged something of true worth (the glory of God) for something of no value (an image). They transmuted God’s truth into something else. Today man has devised an exchange from God’s revelation to philosophy and human perspectives on truth.
God’s glory is “incorruptible.” It is not subject to corruption or decay. There is no liability of decay in God demonstrating something of His majesty.
into an image made like corruptible man
People attempted to make God into an “image” of mortal man. God is “incorruptible” but man is “corruptible.” This tautological expression shows the unreality of mankind’s attempt—it was nothing more than imitation that made them do this. They chose to worship not simply man but the image of man who wastes away.
However, this sorry story does not finish here. The next phrase shows the extent of their devolution. The exchange was mortality for immortality, something in creation for something outside creation.
—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
There is a procession from the highest creature to the lowest. They went from worshipping the image of man to images of lesser beings—birds, quadrupeds, and reptiles. They were determined to worship anything but God.
Devolution of man roots in rejection of revelation.
People today choose to ignore God and His revelation and come up with their own versions of truth. This kind of speculation will lead to futility and a plunge into darkness regarding God and His revelation. People want to barter God’s revelation for their own system of coming to truth.
In our day unbelievers base their wisdom on the assumptions of secularism, existentialism, postmodernism, and many other philosophies. They exchange these ideas for the truth of God’s Word. In God’s thinking, this is how people become “fools.” The finite will never come to infinite truth. They are incapable of doing so.
Anti-biblical unbelievers begin with their own subjectivity or with the self as the arbiter of truth. This creates an insuperable task in coming to ultimate truth. Truth from God’s perspective is utterly beyond the unaided capacity of man. This laboring under mental dearth will never allow man to understand God. All of this is the devolution of man’s philosophies.