Tower of Babel. Immaturity of God.

Some time after the flood, when the earth had been repopulated by the descendants of Noah, a curious thing happened.  God saw some people making life better for themselves, creating beauty, building wonders, that sort of thing.  This upset God greatly.  Why you ask?  Well, in truth, that’s a bit vague. It smacks of contempt and jealousy of humanity, for these people of Babel were building something great, a tall tower in a great city so they would not be scattered across the world.  They wanted to remain united, and really, who doesn’t.  But if Yahweh wants you scattered, scattered  you will be.  On a continually repeating theme, the big felony here seems to be not listening to God’s every random whisper and not carrying that whisper out to the fullest extent. After the fall of mankind from paradise and the great flood, you all should understand this.  No thinking on your own!  Righteousness means submitting yourself to slavery for all time.  Damn it people.  When will you listen?

Let’s carry on with the lesson of the day, (also of the week, month and millennium). That lesson is subservience, absolute, complete , abject subservience.

So descendants of Noah settled down in a valley.  They were proud and haughty men for they had the temerity to say “Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

This was a terrible thing because, well…,  because God thought it was terrible (Isn’t that always how it works?).  Then God came down from Heaven to see this city and tower.  Apparently, his all-seeing power was on the fritz because he had to come for a closer look.  So the Lord looks around and says ““Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”

Now this is a terrible crime that God seems to arbitrarily invent, that of people doing what they set their mind to and becoming great because of it.   That is truly awful. Isn’t it? Holy Shit, Batman, that could lead to dancing!   Obviously, God does not want them to accomplish great things for God has given them a world in which mud huts and manure cooking fires should be the very peak of existence. Goatherds! That’s what everyone should be, goatherds.  A city and a tower?  Bah!   To build great structures is sinful because of … um,  pride… and…,well,… because God said so!  Yes, he did!   And the same excuse that was good enough to justify the Great Genocide of the Flood, is good enough for this.  God knows, we shouldn’t think on our own.

So God said “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”  So God then scattered them to the ends of the earth after forcing them all to speak different tongues.

Isn’t that sweet.  God sees people thinking and acting independently and throws a shit fit.  According to a strict reading of this myth, not only should you be happy with the meager living he forces you to wrest from the world.  You should worship him for all your hard work, giving him all the credit for your paltry survival.  And if you ever start taking pride in said work, look out!  With great pleasure, God will knock you back down for presuming to rise above your lowly station.   You’re going to be God’s Bitch no matter how hard you work or plan or hope.  God wholeheartedly reserves the right to be a bastard for himself, and for a few select sycophantic followers (see previous post: Oh Damn! Noah’s Drunk and Naked Again.) Doesn’t this ancient Hebrew myth remind you strongly of the actions of Zeus or Odin?  Humankind rises up and the gods are forced to show them their place.

You may think I exaggerate.  To this I urge you to read the actual passage.  I’ve directly quoted most of it here already.  There really isn’t much more.  God thought humanity was on the path to no longer needing him, and that is the one horrendous crime against Him. He demands that we need him forever, even if he has to kill everyone on earth again to enforce that demand.  Remember, this is the Lord of Genocide we are discussing.  He will not be forgotten!

Stepping outside the box, let’s ask ourselves a few pertinent questions.  Is this how a divine being should act?  Isn’t there something wrong with someone who demands constant attention and obedience like this?  What kind of nut-less butt-plug thinks like this?  We see this kind of behavior in infants and toddlers, but in adults, we call it sociopathic.  In a Deity? Dangerously sociopathic.  What else can you call the mindset of a being who demands worship, and that everyone defer to his supreme almightiness.  Anyone who demands to be worshiped simply isn’t worthy of it.  If you demand people’s adoration,  you lose the moral high ground.

The people of Babel were doing something of which any benevolent creator should have been proud.  They were making great things out of what little was given them.  They were progressing, and isn’t this what any of us would want for our own children?  Do we really have the right to demand that our kids never approach the greatness of the parent?  Absolutely not!   It is a poor parent to make such a demand.  Any decent person wants their children to be better, to improve.  We want them to progress. It’s sad to hear a parent say “It was good enough for me.  It should be good enough for them.”  God takes it even a step further by demanding we never even approach his level, and he will take action to prevent us from getting there.

Again, anyone who thinks that a god capable of this is benevolent, just and merciful, needs to have their head examined.  God by his own words, is not the ethical powerhouse the theists believe.  By a literal reading, he fell from that grace long before Adam and Eve.  It’s just time the world realized it.  Once they do, it’s a very small step to admit that he doesn’t exist.

  1. And of course the irony is that that humans have since reached much, much, higher than any ancient tower could. AND English has become the linga franca of the world, so that we can all, once again, speak to each other. And with the internet we are all, effectively, together in one place again.

    But God doesn’t seem to mind … maybe he’s matured. Got over his toddler stage. Mellowed with age.

  2. According to some, god stopped doing this shit once Jesus found out what it was really like down here. So when he gets that genocidal urge his son/self ends up stepping in on our behalf.

    Which sounds like a dysfunctional family argument, to me.

    • Here ya go:Fish Shell Fish poisson: fisaiiglefhn or e9glefin: haddockhaddock: smoked haddockanchois: anchovybar: fish, like bassbarbue: brill, correlated to turbotcabillaud: fresh codcalamar: squidcoquillage: shellfishcoquille St Jacques: scallopscrabe: crabcolin: hakefletan: halibutgambas: large prawnshuitre: oysterhareng: herringhomard: lobsterlangouste: crayfishlangoustine: clawed crustaceanlotte: monkfishmaquereau: mackerelmoules marinie8re: mussels cooked in white wine, shallots, butter and herbsperche: perch (really nice!)saumon: salmonsaumon d’Ecosse: scottish salmonsaumon fume9: smoked salmontruite: trouttruite saumone9e: salmon troutIn view of the fact that Pacific red snapper is NOT native to Canadian waters (on the East Coast of Canada), the bordering thing to red snapper is vacant to be barbue which is the bordering to red snapper on this list: Snapper is a close relative of the cod family. Hope this helps ..You might want to print this out for a list that you can compare to what is written in French in the grocery stores ChristopherEDIT: I just emailed my sister, who lives in Saudi Arabia, and is fluent in French (in view of the fact that a outcome) and she says that red snapper is translated thusly:poissons de vivaneauHope this helps ..

    • amy o in yokohama
    • May 3rd, 2010

    @Danu:
    “But God doesn’t seem to mind … maybe he’s matured. Got over his toddler stage. Mellowed with age.”

    Why, surely sir, you don’t mean to imply that God has…..
    Evolved, do you!:))
    Seriously, Alan Dershowitz writes about God’s unbalanced punishments in “Genesis of Justice”, well worth looking into.

    “English has become the Lingua Franca of the world…”–what always struck me as, well, bizarre about this particular punishment was why did Yahweh think it was going to work, since people could clearly learn each other’s languages and go right back to whatever they were wanting to do in the first place? (I speak 4 languages myself, nyah!)

    The other thing that gets me about the Babel story is how…malicious and short-sighted on Yahweh’s part it is. I never could see how people didn’t read this story as Yahweh introducing stife and war into the world. Scattered groups speaking various languages would inevitably view one another as Outgroup and Other and, with communication difficulties brought on by Yahweh’s language mixing, war and bloodshed must surely follow (people being people).

    Not that I think that story is anything but a myth (as in, yo!, if Yahweh *really* wanted to mix up the languages, he wouldn’t have left them all linguistically connected to each other since it’s so easy to learn languages that are in the same language family as your own! Duh, Yahweh.).

    What really slays me about the Babel story is what is on either side of it. Go back and look at Gen 10-11. Starting at Gen10 we get the generations of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, ending with “These are the sons of Shem, by their families, their languages [what!! plural?! Before the Tower?!], their lands, and their nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.” Sounds like they were doing a pretty good job of scattering themselves around, doesn’t it?

    Then, the Babel story, which ends “…and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the earth.”

    Verse 10 then begins, “These are the decendents of Shem.”, and we get the whole thing again, only different decendents.

    What?!! God’s havin’ a senior moment? (read that like Ricky Gervais for better effect:))

    @Yahweh:
    No, no. You already said that bit. Yeah, the bit about Shem, you already said that. Yeah.

    Sorry to go on, but I just had to jump in. This blog is a hoot–I’ve been snickering for well over an hour now:) I jumped in here because, as a linguist and a polyglot, the Babel story is the one that irks me the most (not the most horrifying or disgusting–there are others that win those awards). The Babel story is so clearly taken from some other tradition and just stuck in, and badly edited (yo–Yahweh, aren’t you supposed to be, like, continuity editor here?)

    Really enjoying the blog–looking forward to the tenth plague…:))

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