Thursday, July 02, 2009
The Tower of Babel -
Unless you're into funny names like Nimrod and Arphaxad, or if you like reading more into things than you need to, I would advise skipping Chapter 10 of Genesis. Chapter 10 is just the usual boring family lineage one finds sprinkled here and there throughout the Bible. The ancient Israelites idea of "family values" was basically to protect and preserve the family line as much as possible.
After all the 'begats' I come across another famous tale - the Tower of Babel. The Bible tells me that prior to the Tower's downfall, all of humanity spoke one language. I'm going to call "Bullsh*t!" on this one! The Tower of Babel event supposedly occurred around 2400 BCE. By this time, there were numerous civilizations in full effect. Not just the Sumerians, but the Egyptians as well. And what about the smattering of Native American tribes who may not have been full-fledged civilizations, but were on what would one day be American soil at the time? Or the various Asian, European, and African tribes. Archaeologists believed Neandertals (who went extinct maybe 24,000 years ago) had to have some sort of language. And of course, are own ancient ancestors evolved maybe 2 million years ago. Anyways, you get the picture.
The story of the Tower begins in Genesis, Chapter 11. In order to be closer to the gods, men start building a humongous tower so that they can be close to heaven. Given that these are superstitious men in the desert, this seems like a fairly innocent thing to do.
But God sees this from his heavenly perch, and decides to come down and inspect the tower. An ALL-KNOWING, ALL-POWERFUL God, comes down from heaven, to look at a tower being built by Bronze Age men. Actually, God and at least one other came down, because He says, "Let US come down."
If I was reading the Bible for spiritual inspiration, I would've stopped reading at the conflicting creation story in the second chapter of Genesis. Fortunately, I'm reading it for other reasons, so I'm just letting the "physical God who needs to come down and inspect buildings" thing slide.
After inspection, God apparently sees this tower as a threat. A THREAT!!! He thinks that if the humans reach Him in heaven, they will become omnipotent like Him. Huh?
In response, God and his friend(s) (other gods? Angels?) go down among the builders of the tower and confuse them by giving them multiple languages and then scatter these people to all ends of the Earth.
The rest of the Chapter 11 is more geneaology that we can casually skip. The most important thing is the birth of one of Judaism's legendary and mythological heroes, Abraham, whom I will discuss next time.
I am more suspicious than ever that those religious folks who claim to have read the Bible, didn't. Or they are lacking reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. More likely, they have so much conviction in the Talking Snake theory, that their minds are doing unneccessary mental gymnastics just to fit the Bible's message with a modern-day worldview with up-to-date data and facts. Either way, I'm really starting to feel bad for pious, religious people, and concerned for American politics in general.
In conclusion, I must invoke our modern day understanding of reality on this story. When we're talking about towers to heaven, the Tower of Babel must have been very UNIMPRESSIVE in light of all the buildings that have ever been built. We're talking about Bronze Age technology here, folks. This thing, if it even existed, was way smaller than the average skyscraper, let alone the Sears Tower. If the Sears Tower can't reach "heaven", then imagine how inadequate the Tower of Babel was.
I am sad to report that the god of the Bible is a very petty god, indeed. Can't these religious people just believe in a deist God? That's what all of their arguments (Prime Mover, First Cause, Design, etc.) point to, not this mentally unstable character in the Bible. As a nonbeliever, I have no problem with a deist God, because there's no dogma attached to it.
Tune in next time to read about Abraham, the supposed founder of Judaism, and his near-successful attempt at child sacrifice.