"Now that I have said thus much concerning God, according as he hath granted me to speak concerning himself, come we now to the human race, that we may know which of them partake of truth, and which of error. It is manifiest to us, O king, that there are three races of men in this world: those that are worshippers of them whom ye call gods, and Jews, and Christians. And again those who serve many gods are divided into three races, Chaldeans, Greeks and Egyptians, for these are to the other nations the leaders and teachers of the service and worship of the gods whose name is legion. Let us therefore see which of these hold the truth, and which error.
"The Chaldeans, which knew not God, went astray after the elements and began to worship the creature rather than their Creator, and they made figures of these creatures and called them likenesses of heaven, and earth and sea, of sun and moon, and of the other elements or luminaries. And they enclose them in temples, and worship them under the title of gods, and guard them in safety lest they be stolen by robbers. They have not understood how that which guardeth is ever greater than that which is guarded, and that the maker is greater than the thing that is made; for, if the gods be unable to take care of themselves, how can they take care of others? Great then is the error that the Chaldeans have erred in worshipping lifeless and useless images. And I am moved to wonder, O king, how they, who are called philosophers among them, fail to understand that even the very elements are corruptible. But if the elements are corruptible and subject to necessity, how are they gods? And if the elements are not gods, how are the images, created to their honour, gods?
"Come we then, O king, to the elements themselves, that we may prove concerning them, that they are not gods, but corruptible and changeable things, brought out of non-existence by the command of him who is God indeed, who is incorruptible, and unchangeable, and invisible, but yet himself seeth all things, and, as he willeth, changeth and altereth the same. What then must I say about the elements?
"They, who ween that the Heaven is a god, are in error. For we see it turning and mowing by law, and consisting of many parts, whence also it is called Cosmos! Now a `Cosmos' is the handiwork of some artificer; and that which is wrought by handiwork hath beginning and end. And the firmament is moved by law together with its luminaries. The stars are borne from Sign to Sign, each in his order and place: some rise, while others set: and they run their journey according to fixed seasons, to fulfil summer and winter, as it hath been ordained for them by God, nor do they transgress their proper bounds, according to the inexorable law of nature, in common with the heavenly firmament. Whence it is evident that the heaven is not a god, but only a work of God.
"They again that think that the Earth is a goddess have gone astray. We behold it dishonoured, mastered, defiled and rendered useless by mankind. If it be baked by the sun, it becometh dead, for nothing groweth from a potsherd. And again, if it be soaked overmuch, it rotteth, fruit and all. It is trodden under foot of men and the residue of the beasts: it is polluted with the blood of the murdered, it is digged and made a grave for dead bodies. This being so, Earth can in no wise be a goddess, but only the work of God for the use of men.
"They that think that Water is a god have gone astray. It also hath been made for the use of men. It is under their lordship: it is polluted, and perisheth: it is altered by boiling, by dyeing, by congealment, or by being brought to the cleansing of all defilements. Wherefore Water cannot be a god, but only the work of God.
"They that think that Fire is a god are in error. It too was made for the use of men. It is subject to their lordship, being carried about from place to place, for the seething and roasting of all manner of meats, yea, and for the burning of dead corpses. Moreover, it perisheth in divers ways, when it is quenched by mankind. Wherefore Fire cannot be a god, but only the work of God.
"They that think that the breath of the Winds is a goddess are in error. This, as is evident, is subject to another, and hath been prepared by God, for the sake of mankind, for the carriage of ships, and the conveyance of victuals, and for other uses of men, it riseth and falleth according to the ordinance of God. Wherefore it is not to be supposed that the breath of the Winds is a goddess, but only the work of God.