1. Yes, naturally stupid are all who are unaware of God, and who, from good things seen, have not been able to discover Him-who-is, or, by studying the works, have not recognised the Artificer.
2. Fire, however, or wind, or the swift air, the sphere of the stars, impetuous water, heaven's lamps, are what they have held to be the gods who govern the world.
3. If, charmed by their beauty, they have taken these for gods, let them know how much the Master of these excels them, since he was the very source of beauty that created them.
4. And if they have been impressed by their power and energy, let them deduce from these how much mightier is he that has formed them,
5. since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author.
6. Small blame, however, attaches to them, for perhaps they go astray only in their search for God and their eagerness to find him;
7. familiar with his works, they investigate them and fall victim to appearances, seeing so much beauty.
8. But even so, they have no excuse:
9. if they are capable of acquiring enough knowledge to be able to investigate the world, how have they been so slow to find its Master?
10. But wretched are they, with their hopes set on dead things, who have given the title of gods to human artefacts, gold or silver, skilfully worked, figures of animals, or useless stone, carved by some hand long ago.
11. Take a woodcutter. He fells a suitable tree, neatly strips off the bark all over and then with admirable skill works the wood into an object useful in daily life.
12. The bits left over from his work he uses for cooking his food, then eats his fill.
13. There is still a good-for-nothing bit left over, a gnarled and knotted billet: he takes it and whittles it with the concentration of his leisure hours, he shapes it with the skill of experience, he gives it a human shape
14. or perhaps he makes it into some vile animal, smears it with ochre, paints its surface red, coats over all its blemishes.
15. He next makes a worthy home for it, lets it into the wall, fixes it with an iron clamp.
16. Thus he makes sure that it will not fall down -- being well aware that it cannot help itself, since it is only an image, and needs to be helped.
17. And yet, if he wishes to pray for his goods, for his marriage, for his children, he does not blush to harangue this lifeless thing -- for health, he invokes what is weak,
18. for life, he pleads with what is dead, for help, he goes begging to total inexperience, for a journey, what cannot even use its feet,
19. for profit, an undertaking, and success in pursuing his craft, he asks skill from something whose hands have no skill whatever.