1For truly all men who had no perception of God were foolish by nature, and didn’t gain power to know him who exists from the good things that are seen. They didn’t recognise the architect from his works.
2But they thought that either fire, or wind, or swift air, or circling stars, or raging water, or luminaries of heaven were gods that rule the world.
3If it was through delight in their beauty that they took them to be gods, let them know how much better their Sovereign Lord is than these, for the first author of beauty created them.
4But if it was through astonishment at their power and influence, then let them understand from them how much more powerful he who formed them is.
5For from the greatness of the beauty of created things, mankind forms the corresponding perception of their Maker.
6But yet for these men there is but small blame, for they too perhaps go astray while they are seeking God and desiring to find him.
7For they diligently search while living amongst his works, and they trust their sight that the things that they look at are beautiful.
8But again even they are not to be excused.
9For if they had power to know so much, that they should be able to explore the world, how is it that they didn’t find the Sovereign Lord sooner?
10But they were miserable, and their hopes were in dead things, who called them gods which are works of men’s hands, gold and silver, skilfully made, and likenesses of animals, or a useless stone, the work of an ancient hand.
11Yes and some woodcutter might saw down a tree that is easily moved, skilfully strip away all its bark, and fashion it in attractive form, make a useful vessel to serve his life’s needs.
12Burning the scraps from his handiwork to cook his food, he eats his fill.
13Taking a discarded scrap which served no purpose, a crooked piece of wood and full of knots, he carves it with the diligence of his idleness, and shapes it by the skill of his idleness. He shapes it in the image of a man,
14or makes it like some worthless animal, smearing it with something red, painting it red, and smearing over every stain in it.
15Having made a worthy chamber for it, he sets it in a wall, securing it with iron.
16He plans for it that it may not fall down, knowing that it is unable to help itself (for truly it is an image, and needs help).
17When he makes his prayer concerning goods and his marriage and children, he is not ashamed to speak to that which has no life.
18Yes, for health, he calls upon that which is weak. For life, he implores that which is dead. For aid, he supplicates that which has no experience. For a good journey, he asks that which can’t so much as move a step.
19And for profit in business and good success of his hands, he asks ability from that which has hands with no ability.