Author Topic: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel  (Read 342 times)

Online Shiranu

As I have always been presented the story, God's choice in destroying the Tower of Babel was due to man's arrogance. However this reason for punishment doesn't actually have any biblical basis, nor does the tower itself being destroyed.


From Genesis 11 ...


Quote
1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.



3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”




5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”




8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
In the Biblical account, the people have their united language taken from them not because of man's arrogance but rather what appears to be fear that mankind can achieve anything it put it's mind to.


I'm curious as to how Biblical scholars interpret this; was it God being insecure in his position? Did he believe mankind could one day legitimately oppose him in the heavens? Or did he simply just not want mankind to be successful?

Either way it seems interesting, and it certainly shows it's roots are further back than most of Biblical history (which to be fair, so much of Genesis does show it's roots in "pagan" mythology and that early Judaism is a branch off of Mesopatamian folklore and mythology and not some divine inspiration that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe it to be.)
“The great appear great to us only because we are on our knees. LET US ARISE!” - "The Rebel", Texas' Premier Socialist Newspaper, 1892

Offline Sorginak

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2021, 11:40:35 PM »
The great thing about subjective interpretation is that each individual can apply her own spin on what something means.

Offline Hydra009

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2021, 11:59:24 PM »
In the Biblical account, the people have their united language taken from them not because of man's arrogance but rather what appears to be fear that mankind can achieve anything it put its mind to.
Right.  Which raises the question, why would God in that story want mankind disunited and ineffective as opposed united and effective?  What motivates that preference?  Fear seems like an obvious motive.

There's a similar story with the fruit tree.  'Genesis 3:22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”'  Why must he not?

Online Shiranu

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2021, 12:08:59 AM »
Right.  Which raises the question, why would God in that story want mankind disunited and ineffective as opposed united and effective?  What motivates that preference?  Fear seems like an obvious motive.

There's a similar story with the fruit tree.  'Genesis 3:22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”'  Why must he not?

It's interesting how much the modern God, not just in Christianity but in Judaism as well, has transitioned from an all-powerful deity who is yet afraid of humanity and actively plays a role in the world to a more deistic, hands off entity... and how that within their own Holy Texts he can so fundamentally change and yet that doesn't seem to raise any theological red-flags.

Or maybe it does, and that's why you never hear those stories told. Maybe he was still learning how to be all-powerful.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2021, 12:11:52 AM by Shiranu »
“The great appear great to us only because we are on our knees. LET US ARISE!” - "The Rebel", Texas' Premier Socialist Newspaper, 1892

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2021, 12:34:05 AM »
This is one of several stories Christians choose to ignore the text on and make up their own version for it. In church, I remember them taking the verse where God looks down to investigate and being like, "Oh, I have to lean over to look at you, because you're like ants to me. How funny that you think you can get up here with a building." Really reaching with that logic there. And if there were no chance Babel could reach Heaven, why do anything? Why not just sit back and watch? If you actually read the story, it clearly shows that:

1) God was initially unaware of what was going on and had to investigate to figure it out. So much for omniscience.

2) God really believed that people could build a tower big enough to reach Heaven. This is, in fact, the reason given for him causing humans to stop talking one single language and have many.

Also, that's not how language works. You mean to tell me that in all the years leading up to Babel, everyone spoke the same language? People of different regions didn't have their own dialects? Vocabularies never changed, or expanded with new things being discovered? And then God just snapped his fingers, and suddenly multiple languages exist? That's about as ridiculous and claiming that the rainbow God "made" after the global flood was the first rainbow to ever exist.

As Hydra points out, this does seem to be a very similar story to the "Fall of man." God's like, "Oh, shit. I've got to nurf these humans before they get to be more than I can control." It's also kinda like a Greek myth, used to explain why things are the way they are. Why does sea foam exist? Because the god Uranus had his penis cut off and thrown into the sea, and his semen became sea foam. Why do different languages exist? Because God wanted to confuse us to keep us from reaching Heaven.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2021, 12:38:20 AM by Blackleaf »
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Online Shiranu

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2021, 12:45:54 AM »
Quote
Also, that's not how language works. You mean to tell me that in all the years leading up to Babel, everyone spoke the same language? People of different regions didn't have their own dialects? Vocabularies never changed, or expanded with new things being discovered?

Apparently for people who really want to try and make a historical rather than mythological tale, everyone spoke "Adamic"; the perfect language that Adam spoke to God with in the Garden of Eden. It would have had no need to change because it was already perfect.

(Side note: Just ignore that it was actually Eve who first spoke with God, so shouldn't it be named either "Eveic" or after God himself?)

Coincidently, some Jews sects believe that Hebrew itself is a branch of the Adamic tree... which means it wasn't perfect and could be changed since it's not "pure" Adamic and Hebrew itself has gone through multiple iterations.

If this story can be reality, then literally any mythological tale could be reality... especially given that it itself likely dates back long before there were ever People of the Book and means that all ancient Mesopotamian tales could be true.
“The great appear great to us only because we are on our knees. LET US ARISE!” - "The Rebel", Texas' Premier Socialist Newspaper, 1892

Offline Hydra009

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2021, 01:05:36 AM »
It's interesting how much the modern God, not just in Christianity but in Judaism as well, has transitioned from an all-powerful deity who is yet afraid of humanity and actively plays a role in the world to a more deistic, hands off entity... and how that within their own Holy Texts he can so fundamentally change and yet that doesn't seem to raise any theological red-flags.

Or maybe it does, and that's why you never hear those stories told. Maybe he was still learning how to be all-powerful.
A theist might say that this changing understanding of God actually stems from mankind's own changing role - people in general were more fearful and combative in past ages, now we're more friendly and nurturing.  King of kings makes sense only in the context of a world ruled by kings, so to speak.

My own thought is that the Genesis stories likely borrowed elements from other religions - Prometheus comes readily to mind - as well as the trope of mankind seizing something from the gods and then the gods retaliating by cursing humanity.  An explanation for both good and bad things in one convenient package.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2021, 01:31:48 AM by Hydra009 »

Offline aitm

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2021, 02:05:05 PM »
I usually try to come up with an explanation of why "X" reason would be used in "X" scenario. For instance, we know that pigs and pig blood was used prominently in Egyptian religious ceremonies so banning pork as a way to differentiate yourselves from them, and perhaps why tattoo's are frowned upon for the same reason which include the greek, and certainly the openess of homosexuality among greeks would add distain for that behavior. As christianity spread, and they tried and some times perhaps had to "give a little" with regards to common culture and eating habits. Perhaps the writers saw oysters and mussells and simply said no fucking thank you, put that on the list.

The "babbel" story could simply be a question from a child and a reasonable excuse made up on the fly. We are of course familiar with all the possibiities of the "flood".

Non-the-less I just get beside myself sometimes, how can anyone read this shit and simply say, "sure..sounds reasonable"...wtf?  If they drink water like a dog they are not good soldiers...WTF kind of rational is that? Iron wheels can thwart god? Wat?  For out of all the gods I have heard of ole Jehovah is by far the whackiest, most ignorant, willfully hateful, and incompetent god of them all. its as if its all made up and the "points don't matter"...hehehe
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline SGOS

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2021, 02:23:14 PM »
The Biblical account was the one I was given by my pastor.  I remember standing there nodding my head like a good boy, truly one of God's children, as he told the story.  Now it just sounds like a really stupid story.

Offline Hydra009

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2021, 02:54:27 PM »
For instance, we know that pigs and pig blood was used prominently in Egyptian religious ceremonies so banning pork as a way to differentiate yourselves from them
I thought that was for sanitary reasons, like shellfish.  People start kicking the bucket after eating undercooked pork, and lo and behold, God says no pork.

But thinking about it, people back then weren't so stupid that they didn't know to cook meat thoroughly.  That's something I'd imagine humans would've picked up on very quickly, lest they die off.  So the Egyptian explanation seems more plausible.

Edit - competition from chickens, maybe?
« Last Edit: June 14, 2021, 02:56:46 PM by Hydra009 »

Offline SGOS

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2021, 03:03:29 PM »
Propaganda from the Hog Growers Association, no doubt.

Oops that would be from the competitors of the Hog Growers.

Offline aitm

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2021, 03:53:31 PM »
I thought that was for sanitary reasons, like shellfish.  People start kicking the bucket after eating undercooked pork, and lo and behold, God says no pork.

But thinking about it, people back then weren't so stupid that they didn't know to cook meat thoroughly.  That's something I'd imagine humans would've picked up on very quickly, lest they die off.  So the Egyptian explanation seems more plausible.

Edit - competition from chickens, maybe?
well.one would thinking ole god could give such directions to build the ark and the covenant he certainly could have said, "and yo! Verily I say unto you..cook da pig all da way done.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Re: Arrogance Was Not Why God Punished Humanity for the Tower of Babel
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2021, 02:54:02 AM »
I'd love to take the primitives who believed a tall building scares YHWH into acting out, and show them our skyscrapers, planes, and moon landing and explain YHWH ain't there. Did he move out of our neighborhood? Godflight to avoid the humans moving into the neighborhood?
Kimberly (HSBUH) aka Baroness Sylvia endorses the Meadow Party's Bill N' Opus for the 2024 Presidential election! Or a Sanders/Warren ticket.