The Tower of Babel: one of the seemingly sillier stories of the Bible. Our studies of the origin of language easily disprove it.
But the message behind this silly little story is so disturbing that it causes one to wonder what kind of mind could conceive it.
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
Gen 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Gen 11:7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
To the Biblical literalist, what kind of message must this convey? Even the Biblical literalist cannot believe that God was seriously worried about mankind reaching the heavens.
So it comes down to a story about human cooperation; about human potential. And now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do.
Can’t have that, now, can we?
So it portrays human cooperation, human imagination, human POTENTIAL, as evil. Correction: not as an evil…nothing about the story states or even implies that what the people were doing was evil. But rather, that God, for whatever reason, did not want humanity living up to it’s potential.
And going back to the snake story. God lied about the effects of the fruit, while the serpent told the truth. Again, the story is about God becoming mad that humanity might actually learn something.
Eden and Babel never happened, but the message behind each is clear enough. Learning, knowledge, cooperation, and the realization human potential, are bad things, and a direct affront to God.
The message, and the effect, are so coherent and so clear that it would seem an affront to reason to imagine that these messages were not intentional. If taken literally, one could only imagine an evil God, bent on keeping humanity ignorant and at odds with one another.
But if we assume, as evidence supports, that there is no God, what does this suggest about the writers of these passages?
The men who wrote these passages were the elite: the powerful. They wanted to keep the population weak so that they could more easily maintain their power. They knew that things like knowledge, and cooperation, and the effrontery to reach one’s potential would be a challenge to their power. So they sought to suppress it.
It would be hard to imagine, let alone create, something with a more vile message than the one conveyed in these stories. They maintain their power by portraying as evil the very things that would give humanity the ability the recognize them as such. They were created in an ignorant, fearful time by petty, selfish, and greedy people wishing to keep all of the knowledge and power for themselves.
And yet, this is the most revered book on the planet.
We who have managed to free ourselves from the petty suppressions of the book’s authors have a long, hard battle ahead of us.