Maruthi M.B I've 45+ badges and I respect quite a few Sololearners who've half my badge count.
The badges are sort of like quests on a game where, upon completing that quest you have an acknowledgement that you've completed it. "You've made a comment", "you have 50 questions with 5 upvotes" like those.
There is no use of Badges but it show your experience Level and also shows that how much you did improvement in your knowledge. Like there is badge for Good answer and Best Answer. See the difference between them. When you got your first badge as a Good Answer it means at that time you were nothing means you didn't have much knowledge but when you got your second badge as a Best Answer it means you did some improvement in your knowledge.
So that is my openion.
Well if any characteristic gives rise for 'worshipping' as you put it, it would be probably because of XP, number of codes, number of followers, etc. Badges will probably be the last thing on my mind as vast quantities of them are easy to obtain with a focused mindset.
And yes Maruthi M.B let's see what others have got to say.
The badges stand as a motivator, to give you that little/big motivation for you to keep learning or doing whatever you are doing...
They also stand as proof of you accomplishing a task eg course engagement, 10 courses completion and many more