The Prayer of the Ignorant
Multatuli (Alias of Eduard Douwes Dekker, 1820-1887)
I don't know whether we have been created for a purpose...
Or are hére just by chance. Nor whether a God
Or... gods, enjoy themselves with our sorrow, and gibe
At the imperfection of our existence. If it were like thát,
It would be dreadful! Whom to blame
For the weakness of the weak, the illness of the ill, and stupidity of the
If we have been made on purpose, to an end,
And because of our imperfection do not reach it...
Then no blame for all wrongs attaches to us
Not to the make... but to the Maker! Call him Zeus,
Or Jupiter, Jehovah, Baäl, Jaô...whatever:
He either is not there, or he must be good, and forgive
That we don't understand him. It rested with him
To reveal himself, and he did not! If he hád,
He'd have done it in súch a way that nobody would doubt;
That every one would say: ‘I know him, feel him, and understand him'. (*)
Now, what others claim to know about that God...
Doesn't help me... I do not understand him! I ask why
He revealed himself to others, and not to me?
Is the óne child closer to the father than the other?...
As long as one son of man doesn't know that God
Só long it is slander to believe in that God!
The child that calls the father in vain, does no evil..
The father, who lets his child call, acts cruel!
And finer is the believe: there is no father,
Than that he would be deaf to his child!
Once maybe we will be wiser! Once, may be
We see, that He is there, that He watched us,
And that his silence had cause, and reason... Well,
As soon as we know, it is time for praise...
But no sooner.. not now! It would grieve God,
To perceive that we'd worship him without reason...
And it is foolishness, wanting to brighten the dark ignorance of to-day
With a light... that doesn't shine yet.
Serve him?... Foolishness! If He'd want service,
He'd reveal to us: in what way...
And it is absurd, that He expects of man
Worship, service or praise... while He Himself
About the way how to - left us in doubt.
If we don't serve God to his liking...
Then it is His fault... his fault... and it is not our fault!
In the mean time -until we will be wiser - is good and evil the same?
I don't see in what way a God serves us, in distinguishing
Evil from good... On the contrary! He who does good
In order that a God would repay him, turns, for thát very reason
The good into something bad, into commerce... And he who flees wickedness
Out of fear for the disgrace of that God, is... a coward!
I don't know You, oh God! I invoked You, I searched,
I beseeched an answer, and You were silent! I was so eager
To do Your will... not out of fear for punishment, out of hope for pay,
But like a child that does the will of his father... out of love!
You were silent.. and all the time You were silent!
And I wander about, and gasp
For the hour, that I will know that You exist...
Then I will ask: Father, why now, for the first time
Shown your child that it had a father?...
And that it was not alone in the struggle,
The fierce struggle for humanity and justice?...
Or were You certain, that I would do Your will
Also without knowing it? That I, unconscious
Of Your existence, would serve You, the way You want to be served?...
Would that be true?...
Answer, Father, if You are thére, answer...
Don't let Your child despair... Father, don't remain mute
To the bloody-extorted lama sabacthani!..."
That's the way the ignorant groans at his self-chosen cross
And writhe of pain, and laments that he is thirsty...
The wise man - he who dóes know... who dóes know God - mocks the fool,
And reaches gall to him, and jubilates: "hear, he calls his father!"
And mutters: "thank, oh Lord, that I'm not like him!..."
And sings a psalm: "blessed is he who doesn't seek
Evil counsel and does not walk upon the dirty path of the sinners..."
The wise man... sneaks to the Exchange, and barters integrals.
The father is silent... Oh God, heresy (blind)there is no God!
The Hague, 26 February 1861
(*) Read: ‘I feel him, know him, and understand him'. Feeling should come
first an that does happens to those who believe. But they do not get any
further. They mistake their recruit for a soldier. The belief in God has not
firmer base than the belief in ghosts.
- Would all those capable, scholarly, able people be mistaken?
My answer is simply: yes! And that is not so strange, considering Keppler. The
great, mathematical-thinking Keppler believed in witches. When his own mother
was accused of witchcraft, he defended her, without basing himself on the absurdity of the charge. That major step seemed too risky for the man who dared
to write his name upon our solar system.
When believe is involved, logic and science are silent. That is why one should
impose silence upon belief, at least if we want to find truth.