For Aron: What Does It Mean?

>> Friday, July 10, 2009

For Aron: Someone claimed that the Tower of Babel proved that god did not want humanity to conduct macro-Engineering projects. Does this story mean this?

I have no idea. In order for me to know with certainty the real lesson intended in the story, I'd have to crawl into the head of the author, know his motivations, culture, background. Or, presuming it were inspired directly by God, I would have to also crawl into God's head. Both tasks are beyond me.

But even if I knew the original intent, I can't see how that would make a particular interpretation right or wrong.

For me, I always thought the intent was that there was no road directly to Heaven, that you can't obtain Godhood by building a pathway. I can see the interpretation you've mentioned and half a dozen others.

Do I think God has an issue with macro-Engineering projects? No, not of it they're done in an environmentally friendly. But that's my own opinion.

Actually, though I hadn't given this story much thought, my first reaction is this story is in response to some of the pyramid building, wherein a King would plan a path to an afterlife. More than one of those attempts failed abysmally and I could see this story falling out of that failure.

In the end, it shouldn't be about what anyone else thinks God means - just what you think.


  • Bob Johnson

    Like you Stephanie I don't really know what Moses was thinking at the time when he wrote this to the people at the time. A lot of Bible stories mean a lot more back when they were written specifically to the people back then then they do to us today, and some stories can be just as meaningful today.

    It was a message that the tower in itself is not wrong, it is when we build monuments like this, and this was truly a great human achievement for the time, it is when we use them to give us identity and self worth, trying to fill the hole in our lives with material possessions as opposed to God, well the rest of the story goes God gets mad and scatters the people across the world and no one understands one another any more, just like today,lol.

  • Shakespeare

    More than a story meant to impart a huge moral, I think the story was likely written (like many myths) to explain rather than admonish. Why do we speak so many languages? Hard to follow language progression or formation, so instead peoples said we likely started out with one language (Adam and Eve started it, according to this particular tradition), but then something had to happen to separate us all and make it hard for us to communicate. In the same way myths are used to explain natural occurrences and other human traits.

    Speaking of human traits, I think the story is also a commentary on our tendency to try to "out-do" God, not realizing we don't have the power to do that. Other mythic traditions are filled with stories of mortals who try to out-smart or win over a god (or group of gods), usually with disastrous results.

  • Stephanie B

    That's an excellent point, Shakespeare. Greek Mythology is up to its eyeballs in the ugly results of one-upping the Gods, even if its inadvertently. Of course, the Greeks also didn't make their Gods omniscient or all-powerful, just more powerful than the rest of us. But they could be fooled...

  • The Mother

    Ever read Terry Pratchett's "Pyramids"?

  • Stephanie B

    I have not, the Mother, or is that an official question?

  • Aron Sora

    Thanks, I couldn't counter this point, now I can. It's annoying because, you could interpret it in that way, but it doesn't make sense. Our world is based on macro-Engineering so, god should have give each person unique language by now.

    But, this story could explain the civil war in NASA over Ares...

  • The Mother

    Not an official question--how does one write a blog post about a book one HASN'T read?

    The book is just massively pertinent to the topic at hand. Not to mention screamingly funny.

  • Stephanie B

    The Mother, start the blog post:

    "I haven't read this book but it's massively pertinent to the topic at hand not to mention screamingly funny." You might also add WHY you haven't read it.

  • Relax Max

    I agree with Shakespeare too, I think - about explaining where different languages came from. But didn’t the story also say something about God wanting the people to spread out and populate the earth, and they weren’t doing that because they were all together there? And so he “confounded their languages,” so they HAD to move out? Maybe not. I should go back and read the whole story because I think it is really short. True, one main reason was because they were getting all cocky and big-headed about being able to build this engineering marvel, and that was part of it, surely. But I think the other was also part of it. Much of this seems (as others have stated) to be really allegories for some lesson that is supposed to be learned rather than trying to be an actual history. If you want to jump far forward in time, Jesus seemed to teach by telling stories and never tried to say they were anything but stories. To try to help get his points across.

    So.... some actual history here and there, perhaps. But a lot of stories to “teach” various principles. Trouble is, it is often hard to determine when it is trying to record real history and when it is meant to be an allegory.

    Most Bible scholars now accept that Moses didn’t really write the first 5 books of the Bible. Much too diverse for one person, they say. This is assuming you don’t believe God wrote them and jsut handed them to Moses.

  • The Mother

    Actually most scholars believe that at least 5 people wrote the first 5 books. And the differences point clearly to the political agendas of each.

  • Relax Max

    I never thought about political agendas. I had always assumed they were all just grinding the axe of the Jews. So, there was more than one political view besides making the Hebrews look good?

  • Stephanie B

    Is that an official question, Relax Max?

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