Do You Really Believe That? (II)

The Tower of Babel

The second installment of “Do You Really Believe That?” will examine another classic Old Testament story, the Tower of Babel. According to this story, in the days after Noah’s flood, all humanity spoke one language. Filled with pride and ambition, they came together and began to build a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). God witnesses this and is upset, not because the building of the tower displays hubris, but because he actually fears that humanity will become omnipotent if they complete the tower (11:6). He responds by afflicting them with different languages so that they could no longer understand each other, causing them to scatter across the face of the earth, leaving the tower unfinished.

Again, like Noah’s flood, there are theists who take this story seriously and believe it actually happened, despite its numerous and obvious absurdities. Here’s one such:

As is evident from the above, I believe that the account of Genesis 11 has a solid historical foundation in early Mesopotamia. The details are authentic and realistic. The identification of the urbanization process and the accompanying development of the ziggurat with fundamental changes in the religious perspectives of the people demonstrates the keen analytical insight of the Biblical author.

First of all, what was it about this tower that drew God’s punishment? Human beings today regularly rear skyscrapers and other structures that far surpass anything that primitive people working with mud bricks could have built. The Christian Answers site linked above claims that it was not the height of the tower that invited doom, but its devotion to the pagan Babylonian gods. But even so, we regularly build statues, mosques and other edifices to religions which the Bible claims are false. Why have none of the builders of these structures been stricken with curses? Has God calmed down, so that hubris in the present era enrages him less than hubris of past eras? Or is it simply that, in superstitious and pre-scientific times, miracles could be claimed with less fear of contradiction?

Second: What did God fear the builders would achieve? The Christian Answers site says he was merely jealous of the tower’s devotion to gods other than himself. This is a classic example of smoothing out the rough edges, where subtle theological explanations developed over centuries are blithely read back into the crude, primitive fairy tales that religions start out as, as if that was the author’s intent all along. The Bible says explicitly why God sent his curse:

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.

According to Genesis, God was worried that human beings would become too powerful for him to control if they learned to work together. Thus, his only choice was to keep them divided and separate, prevented from cooperating by barriers of mutual incomprehension. This is, ironically, a fairly good allegory for the effect religion has actually had on the world. But in the context of a literal event, it makes no sense whatsoever. If God was truly all-powerful, it would hardly matter whether people worked together or not. (On the other hand, if the earlier parts of the Old Testament envisioned God as a tribal deity, superhuman but not omnipotent, then this passage makes considerably more sense.)

Third: Why would the confusion of tongues cause the people to give up and scatter? If I woke up one morning mysteriously unable to communicate with my family and friends, I certainly wouldn’t abandon them and flee into the wilderness. Why wouldn’t the people of Babel stay together? Even if they couldn’t communicate, their situation would be no worse than that of many foreign cultures meeting for the first time. (It certainly doesn’t prevent the diplomats of the United Nations from working together.) Over time they could learn each other’s new languages, develop pidgins and creoles, and finally be able to speak again and resume building the tower. Not only was the punishment bizarre, it seems as if it shouldn’t even have been effective.

But the final nail in the coffin of the Babel story is our subsequent understanding of linguistic evolution. Languages did not suddenly appear all at once, the way the biblical authors evidently imagined and tried to explain with this silly fairy tale. Instead, languages drift apart and evolve from each other over long periods of time, with accents becoming dialects becoming whole new tongues. (This Talk.Origins Post of the Month gives some examples of the evolution of English.) Though the ultimate roots of human language may be lost to prehistory, we can trace this evolution backwards to see how many languages, including Hebrew and other Ancient Near East tongues, diversified from each other in a given time period. The linguistic evidence offers no support for the idea that humanity was ever united by a single tongue, nor that the varying languages all appeared at once in a sudden event. Like many biblical stories, the Tower of Babel is a tall tale with no basis in evidence or reality, and so I ask: Do you really believe that?

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://6thfloorblog.blogspot.com Ceetar

    Not to mention, that if they suddenly couldn’t communicate, the one thing that connected them all and would’ve provided a means to understand each other was BUILDING THE TOWER! Do you really need language to do what you did yesterday?

    So God fears Humans getting to powerful? Is that the proper answer to “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Little Susie was getting too powerful, so that’s why God gave her cancer?

  • http://atheistself.blogspot.com David W.

    The Christian Answers site says he was merely jealous of the tower’s devotion to gods other than himself.

    Five words: The Great Pyramid of Giza

    If it wasn’t height, but the devotion to other gods, then the Egyptian culture must have really pissed off god. The Great Pyramid had both — lots of spooky pre-Christian gods, and it was the highest known man-made structure in the world until the Lincoln Cathedral was built around 1300. Not only that, but you couldn’t say that God cooled his temper by the time it was built, because Babel was after the Noachian flood, which (according to young-earthers) was around 2348 B.C., and the Great Pyramid was built around 2570 B.C. (which I guess was before the flood!).

  • Stargazer

    This story seems to be just another example of God’s fear of the knowledge people could gain. Just as with the story of Adam and Eve, God chooses to punish people for their desire to learn, progress, and better themselves. It seems as though the writers of the Bible chose to create a deity that was all-knowing and all-powerful, yet afraid that his creation would have difficulty recognizing his greatness unless he punished them for using the brains (and language) that he gave them in the first place. Since becoming an atheist, the thing that still continues to amaze me the most about the religion I left behind is that its greatest hold on people seems to come from keeping them ignorant, especially of the many inconsistencies written in its own holy book. This is, however, a tradition that they seem to have received from “God Himself,” so I suppose it really should come as no surprise.

    On a side note about the Egyptians and young-Earth creationists: I always find it funny that the people who make such a big deal about the Earth only being 6000 years old or so have completely failed to recognize that the ancient Egyptians already had a calendar system in place before the year in which they say God created the Earth. They are always going on about dinosaurs not being as old as they say they are and all that, but completely gloss over the fact that an entire civilization had evolved to the point of creating a calendar system before they say the Earth was ever created. Just another way in which religion chooses to use ignorance of the facts as evidence of God, rather than using knowledge or evidence.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    The linguistic evidence offers no support for the idea that humanity was ever united by a single tongue

    Don’t let the Proto-World guys hear you say that! ;-)

    But of course even they don’t think all the languages just appeared.

    And, Stargazer: those Egyptians are just a bunch of big old liars. Why, they don’t even mention the Flood, even though it killed them all off!

  • Norbert

    This whole discussion is pathetic – all these “atheist” arguments are arguing with “opponets” who never made it beyond a young children’s understanding of the bible. The texgts of the bible are documents of religious reflections of people of their times, but most of you on this list seem to take it – like so many misguided “fundamentalists” – as if it would be a literal, scientific description of facts.

    The US fundamentalist have really succeeded to brainwash even the self declared atheists to “believe in every word of the bible” – and then fight it.

    What a tragedy of intellectual under-development.

  • Alex Weaver

    *sigh*. I wondered when this particular stupid cop-out was going to raise its ugly head.

    What a tragedy of intellectual under-development.

    I agree.

  • Alex Weaver

    See Here also. And I know Adam’s addressed this particular form of sophistry before, but I can’t find the posts offhand. I’m sure he’ll be happy to link them when he has a chance.

  • a sinking ship

    Ebonmuse, you make some excellent points. As we all know, when illuminated by the light of modern science and humanity’s continously evolving grasp of logic, many ancient “truths” turn out to be merely preposterious legends and myths riddled with fallacies that would be laughable (and to us freethinkers often are) were they not so somberly upheld by the religious as ineffable truths.

    This story always fascinated me as a child. I often found myself admiring the ingenuity and common purpose the builders shared, and felt the bible potrayed a rather petty and despotic god, but it was only later after I began thinking for myself in later years that I realized how many different parts of the bible were riddled with a fearful and flawed god attempting to control his creation in a manner seemingly akin to a 5-year old boy, standing amidst an upturned anthill, wreaking havoc, armed with a magnifying glass and a big shoe.

    One thing I noted after reading about the Tower, is the biblical inconsistencies of the story. God referes to himself as “us,” rather than “I” when in Genesis 11:7, he says “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Perhaps this is an early reference to the Trinity?

    Also, it is traditonally understood that until the fall of the Tower of Babel, all mankind shared a common language, and this view is attested to in Genesis 11:1 where it states “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.” However, in Genesis 10:5 is says “from these the maritime peoples spread into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.” Those two statements are diametric opposites, plainly viewed in scripture.

  • Alex Weaver

    One thing I noted after reading about the Tower, is the biblical inconsistencies of the story. God referes to himself as “us,” rather than “I” when in Genesis 11:7, he says “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Perhaps this is an early reference to the Trinity?

    I think the general consensus among the laity is that God was either using “the royal we” or speaking to the angels, even they even stop to consider it, and the consensus among bible scholars is that the early Hebrews were actually polytheistic but held that their god was superior to all others (hence “you shall have no gods before me” rather than “there is no god but me”, etc., and the use of “elohim,” a Hebrew plural form, as one of the words that is translated into English as “God” or “the lord”).

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    There’s something incredibly resonant about Biblical myths, but God never seems to be the good guy. Instead, we have valiant human beings with whom we can identify, seeking wisdom and aspiring to new heights, and a God who doesn’t like it. I’m not sure if I had that way of looking at it before I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, but after reading it the viewpoint starts to seem inevitable.

    Norbert, atheists have come up with various arguments agaist more liberal religion, too, but naturally we are more worried about people whose view is more rigid. Feel free to look for (or ask for directions to) the arguments that discuss something of more interest to you.

  • http://bouncingoffthebottom.blogspot.com/ Martha Woodroof

    I’d be much more interested in intelligent arguments against the existence of God rather than that religion has got God wrong. I consider myself a person of faith in God who is not in the least religious. Nor am I particularly spiritual. I few faith as an active partnership with something that I can’t explain. This partnership got me sober when nothing else would and now keeps me active and involved in productive and real life. I’d love it if you’d e-mail me and we could talk at greater length.

  • valhar2000

    Norbert wrote:

    [...]The texgts of the bible are documents of religious reflections of people of their times[...]

    Right there, you hit the nail on the head! And you had no idea you did…

    The writers of those parts of the bible were people of their times, ignorant, poor and brutish. Later generations of beleivers, upon becoming a little less ignorant of the way the world works, simply re-interpreted those stories, and now the original meaning and intent is regarded as “young children’s understanding of the bible”.

    We are perfectly aware of this, as we are of the fact that there is no more evidence for the convoluted mental gymnastics of modern theologians trying to make sense of the mess that is the bible than there is for the bible itself, taken as it is.

  • valhar2000

    I’d be much more interested in intelligent arguments against the existence of God rather than that religion has got God wrong. I consider myself a person of faith in God who is not in the least religious. Nor am I particularly spiritual. I few faith as an active partnership with something that I can’t explain. This partnership got me sober when nothing else would and now keeps me active and involved in productive and real life. I’d love it if you’d e-mail me and we could talk at greater length.

    If your view of faith is such that it results in no harm being done to others (or to you), it actually helps to be a happier and better person, and it does not compel you to reject substantiated knowledge of the world and convince others to do so, then I am very glad that you have it, as I’m sure everyone else here will be.

    Even though, due to pragmatic considerations, I do not call myself that, I am an agnostic atheist (as are most of the atheists you will around here). I cannot honestly argue that you are wrong, that there is no god of any kind, and that there is nothing “out there”. I see no evidence of such things, and no other reason to give those ideas consideration.

  • milukfrog

    Oh, I can tell you there are people who still believe in this story LITERALY. My inlaws are very conservative evangelicals. A couple of years ago, my brother-in-law and I were talking about some work I was doing on my tribe’s language. He asked about how and why languages change over time. I opened my mouth to explain what I could recall from a historical linguistics class I’d had. Right then his wife jumped in and reminded him of the Tower of Babel story. I was quite taken aback that anyone could believe in that story literally. I did not contradict her just to keep the peace at a family gathering.

  • colluvial

    This is, ironically, a fairly good allegory for the effect religion has actually had on the world.

    This isn’t the only example of ways the bible points at reasons for not being religious – Abraham, Job, god’s continued torment of the Jews, the crucifixion of Jesus, etc. We all eventually learn that Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny are fictitious – and to them was attributed only good things. Why is it so hard to shake the belief in a trickster god who’s out to get us?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    One of my first posts, in my October 2006 archive, was about the Tower of Babel.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    “But back to the plagiarism issue I hinted at earlier. When one reads chapters 10 and 11 of Genesis, the Tower of Babel story does not make any sense, and in fact, it looks like it was conspicuously inserted between Genesis 10:32 and Genesis 11:10. Genesis 10 covers the three sons of Noah and their descendants in the aftermath of the Flood. The descendants of the three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, are said to have occupied specific territories and having their own languages The last section of Genesis 10, from verses 21 through 32, cover the descendants of Shem.

    Now, just to reiterate, Genesis 10 clearly tells us that the descendants of each of Noah’s three sons occupied specific geographic areas and had their own languages. And then we go write into Genesis 11:1, in which “the whole world had one language and one common speech” and that they all moved “eastward”, though from where we are not told, to the plain of Shinar. And then in Genesis 11:10, the story picks up again with Shem two years after the flood. The Tower of Babel totally interrupts the flow of the story. This clearly shows that what we know as the Book of Genesis is not a single book, but in fact a collection of stories cut and pasted together from various sources. I get the impression that some Hebrew priest overseeing the assembling of their holy texts came across the Tower of Babel story from some Mesopotamian sources and thought “I better put that in here to explain why different nations speak different languages.” The Tower of Babel story is a cut and paste job, and a poor one at that.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Don’t let the Proto-World guys hear you say that!

    Well, I’m sure some people think that all human languages have a common origin. :) But there’s no linguistic evidence for that. There are countless tongues (such as Piraha) that have no known relation to any other language, living or dead. If there is a common origin, it’s so far back in time that it’s utterly obscured.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    There’s something incredibly resonant about Biblical myths, but God never seems to be the good guy. Instead, we have valiant human beings with whom we can identify, seeking wisdom and aspiring to new heights, and a God who doesn’t like it. I’m not sure if I had that way of looking at it before I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, but after reading it the viewpoint starts to seem inevitable.

    Yes: it’s the villian who threatens to slaughter your whole family if you don’t do what he says, or who beats you and says it’s your fault…

    ps – the Proto-World comment was a joke. Though, as I say, even they don’t think the other languages just poofed into existence.

  • Alex Weaver

    Incidentally, I wonder what Christians–both literalists and “sophisticated metaphor”ists alike–have to say about the premises of this passage. Quite apart from the logical absurdity, speaking as a father I find the prospect of God punishing his “children” for trying to exceed him appalling.

  • Believer

    As a “Christian literalist”, I guess my question would be . . . why does anyone find it so hard to believe that there is a God who knows best? Why is it most children and teens that are disciplined by a parent who is trying to guide, warning of drug abuse, addictions, hanging out with wrong friends, driving drunk, don’t receive it well. (Can you tell I am a parent of a teen). Much of the Bible describes God as our Father. And most of us could admit to a few stories when the consequences of our actions got us into trouble and our parents said, “I told you so.” (Unlike the flood), I don’t view this as a story of punishment, the people were not destroyed. God told them to fill the earth or spread out, and they disobeyed by staying in one place. There are many reasons God could have wanted them to spread out, I can take educated guesses, by unfortunately He doesn’t privy me to all His information. I view the Tower of Babel as man’s attempt to be God or think they know better than God. (Not much has changed since our teen years). I don’t think God is threatened by man’s intelligence as some perceive. Again, instead I view this passage as God saying, “Man thinks nothing is impossible for him and he continues to get himself into trouble.” For example, think for a moment on the subject of cloning. I find it sad that anyone would get hung up on God’s punishment when so much of the Bible is about His mercy and His provision for us. For me the stories are there to provoke me to think and search myself. The Bible says God hates pride. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong to take pride in your accomplishments, but it is wrong to slap the face of the creator who gave you the gift to accomplish so much. So instead, I prefer to admit I do not know it all and may never know it all on this earth. This is a faith issue. And it does take as much faith to be an atheist as it does a Christian. BUT that does NOT mean I put my head in the sand. I actually do read a lot and even get out. I even have friends who don’t share my beliefs. I honestly am not interested in debating the issue, I came accross the site quite by accident. The last posting was asking for a literalist’s premise of this passage.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    As a “Christian literalist”, I guess my question would be . . . why does anyone find it so hard to believe that there is a God who knows best?

    Because we see no evidence of it, and because the people who claim that they know what God wants, and that it is the best thing for us, turn out to be wrong over and over again. People who claimed that women, by God’s design, were better off silent and subservient – were wrong. People who claimed that non-Europeans, by God’s design, were best off as the slaves of whites – were wrong. People who claimed that God intended the races not to mix, and that doing so would cause disaster – were wrong. The endless hordes throughout history who claimed to know the date of the apocalypse – were all wrong. And we see this again and again today: People who claim that Christian-themed abstinence-only sex education will reduce pregnancy are wrong. People who claim that gay marriage will destroy the fabric of society are wrong. People who claim that politicians who profess a strong religious faith will be honest and upright officeholders are wrong.

    If religious people want the rest of us to believe they know better than we do, they’d do well to first establish a better track record.

    Much of the Bible describes God as our Father.

    And going with your analogy of the parent of a teenager, do you really believe that any good parent would punish their child by setting him on fire, or holding his head underwater in the swimming pool – no matter what the misdeed?

    I find it sad that anyone would get hung up on God’s punishment when so much of the Bible is about His mercy and His provision for us.

    “Believer”, if you really think that is an accurate depiction of the Bible, I have a wager for you. You go through the text and list verses that explicitly mention God’s attributes of mercy, love, or forgiveness. I will go through the text and list verses that mention God’s wrath, judgment, and punishment. Whose list do you think will be longer, and by how much?

  • Polly

    @Believer: I know you don’t want a debate. But, just for your consideration regarding god’s intentions for the Tower of Babel. Since it’s about different perspectives on biblical interpretation you may find it interesting.

    I can take educated guesses, b[ut] unfortunately He doesn’t privy me to all His information

    The post does reproduce the relevant biblical text in answer to this point.

    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.

    The only thing the people were doing was building a high tower and a city to make a name for themselves. It seems that god didn’t want them to succeed in their…uh…”urban development project.”
    I think taking the text at its word is the safest way to proceed. Had god had any other ideas, he was certainly free to include them in his book. Hence, it’s reasonable to conclude that he said exactly what he meant. He wanted to prevent man from realizing his ambitions. This tack didn’t exactly work since man still kept building high edifices anyway. So, one has to wonder what the point was. Much like the flood, god’s purpose is once again thwarted.
    The builders of the city indicate that being spread across the face of the Earth is a bad thing. The closing of the story doesn’t say anything to contradict or affirm that. So, what we are left with is, at best, a neutral or, at worst, a bad ending. The text does not hint that god’s reckoning was in any way beneficial to man.
    Also, god doesn’t follow this episode up with any commandments as divine building inspector, like, “Thou shalt not build ziggurats of ## cubits in height or higher…”-Celestial Bldg. Code section 1335-777.1.
    I think this story, like so many in Genesis, was grafted in from the mythology of the broader culture.(Tho, I can’t prove that) So, for me it’s no surprise that god would display paranoid, despotic behavior, here.

    As for the parent analogy, I implore you, Believer, to take the Bible seriously when it relates god’s purposeful drowning of every man, woman, and child and baby on Earth and all the animals, too. When the Bible records god’s orders to exterminate the 7 nations of Canaan specifying children and the elderly, it is being QUITE serious. Please take a long, sober look at this book and ask yourself if it’s god being “parental” or being just plain vicious.

  • Believer

    I like good conversation but am not interested in being proven right or winning a debate. I never claimed that all christians are accurate. And Jesus did come to correct the wrongs of the religious people of that day. In my opinion, he helped liberate women. Jesus never said they should be silent. There were women prophets and even judges. In the story of the Samaritan woman, Jews were not even to talk to Samaritans. Jesus broke those rules and talked to her and showed her kindness. He did that a lot. He hung out with the outcasts and told them about God and His love for them. And you hit the nail on the head when you said SOME claim what God says. Saying all christians are wrong is very narrow minded. There were christians in that time that fought against slavery and equality for women. I don’t know what your exposure to other christians has been or what has been said to you. I am not responsible for them or for history. I believe in the Bible. I believe God inspired it and I believe that when Jesus died on the cross, he demonstrated more love than He ever demonstrated wrath. Yes, no doubt there is punishment and wrath. There are commandments like not murdering, obeying your parents, being faithful to your spouse, not stealing, not lying, not being jealous, etc. And there are natural consequences to breaking these. Divorce, prison, bitterness, etc. I don’t understand the comment about setting on fire and holding under water. I am interested in setting a good track record, but let’s be honest, people aren’t perfect. I don’t hold atheists to an unrealistic, perfect, track record. We all mess up or as the Bible says, “sins”. Only God can forgive and give us the power to try and live above our shortcomings.

  • Believer

    Polly,
    I appreciate that everyone who has posted to me has been patient and kind. I honestly did stumble across the website as I do not have a death wish :) I have take a long, hard, sober look at the Bible. I have spent my whole life studying it. But that does not make me an expert on it no more than you are an expert on atheism. Alex asked for a “literalist christian’s” perspective, so blame him :) Ultimately people either accept, reject, or spend their whole life looking for God. And no matter how much we try, we are never going to understand everything, hence we are not God. That doesn’t mean I want to spend my life stupid. I am studying and trying to figure things out as much as the next person. At some point, people have to come to peace with that. I chose to accept Him and am trying to learn all I can. I don’t know why a lot of wrath is shown in the Old Testament. I am thankful for the New Testament. But I must accept that both represent God. However, I am not fearful of Him. I settled that long ago. And God is a big boy, I don’t have to fight his battles. All I have to do is be responsible for me, and that’s a full time job :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I don’t understand the comment about setting on fire and holding under water.

    Allow me to give you a hint or two, then:

    “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” —2 Thessalonians 1:7-8

    “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered… All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.” —Genesis 7:19-22

  • Believer

    Ebonmuse,
    Sorry, I didn’t realize you were talking about the flood. I didn’t quite picture it as God holding people under the water to drown. As far as 2 Thessalonians, your leaving out the part before that talks about christians who have been persecuted and even martyred for their belief. Remember, Rome was persecuting christians at that time – burned at the stake, ripped apart by animals in the colloseum for sport, there is historical evidence for that. It goes on to say in verse 5, “All this is evidence that God’s judgement is right” because of their persecution. This isn’t God just getting angry and going on a killing rampage. Genesis 4:6 says, “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.’” I find there is usually a reason about His commandments and He even spells things out ahead of time to avoid wrath (much like a parent). He knew Cain was going to kill Abel, but appealed to him anyway. How long did Noah preach that a flood was coming and for people to repent and accept God? These “innocent” people that drowned made fun of Noah for his belief. The Bible describes the world as men’s every thought was evil all the time. How do you view that as innocence being destroyed? Again, it is a faith issue. It takes just as much faith to believe that God isn’t real or is the bad guy as it does God is real and there is a reason and a purpose for our lives. There really is another side of the coin here. The truth is God is searching for us and wants us to come to him. It always strikes me as funny to hear someone say, “I found God.” The Bible says He knew us in our mother’s womb. Because of all these things, I am not fearful. You may view this as just plain ignorant of me, but I am convinced that a God that loved me enough to create me and the Bible says He knows the number of hairs on my head, that He would guide me and even warn me before I experienced His wrath. It really is a choice. And if I decide on out and out willful rebellion and don’t care who I hurt, well that brings the wrath side not to mention natural consequences. That brings us back to the parental side. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but all to have everylasting life.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    How long did Noah preach that a flood was coming and for people to repent and accept God? These “innocent” people that drowned made fun of Noah for his belief.

    But the question is, was it reasonable for the other people to believe Noah? Or was Noah indistinguishable from any old mad guy on a street corner who believes we’re all going to be attacked by mud monsters or something, any day now?

    Tell me, would you believe just anyone who came up to you and said “Hey, in a few days’ time there’s going to be a world-wide flood”? Because, if so, I have a beach view house in Nepal I’d like to sell you…

  • Believer

    Lynet,
    I appreciate your humor. Yes, I believe it was reasonable. These were not people who had never heard of God. With the ages that they lived to be then, approximately 1,000 years, it wasn’t that long before Adam and Eve sinned and there was oral tradition passed down if not written. But the real point is in Genesis 6:5, every thought was evil ALL THE TIME. Verse 11, again describes people as corrupt, full of violence. The difference in Noah was 6:9, but Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Yes, it is reasonable that the people knew they were evil and Noah was obeying God. It took years for Noah to build the ark, they had his track record to know he wasn’t a mad man, but a man who wasn’t evil.

  • Polly

    But that does not make me an expert on it no more than you are an expert on atheism.

    LOL! That’s for sure. I haven’t been one for nearly as long as most (all) here.
    I actually devoted myself to extracting every bit of Truth and wisdom out of the Bible as I could. I’ve read it many times and meditated on its words and “lessons” day and night – both OT and NT. Various books, a lot of reading online, and some debunking over at talkorigins.com finally convinced me that the Bible was simply man-made.

    I understand where you’re coming from. Thank you for your response and good luck in your pursuit of figuring things out.

    N-joy.

  • bassmanpete

    How long did Noah preach that a flood was coming and for people to repent and accept God? These “innocent” people that drowned made fun of Noah for his belief.

    So tell me how all the people in the world heard Noah’s message? How did it reach the Chinese, the Aborigines in Australia & New Guinea, the Eskimos, the tribes in the Amazon rain forest etc. etc.? Even if Noah had had access to CNN & the internet his message wouldn’t have reached every single person in the world but they’d have been drowned anyway. It’s a completely ridiculous story IMO.

  • Believer

    There weren’t that many people on the earth then. The Tower of Babel came after the flood, so they all still spoke the same language when Noah was preaching.

    I still maintain that I the Bible to be true as much of history backs it up. The Dead Seas Scrolls, and the many other secular books prove the people in the Bible existed. I have taken secular Western Civilization college classes that actually discuss Abraham in Ur and the proof of his existence and how they may have been the first known civilization. Even secular colleges must admit due to the proof that parts of the Bible are real. Archeological finds have proven cities existed where the Bible claimed they did, and even used the Bible to help locate them. The Bible is a proven historical text. Unfortunatley, there is not 100% tangible proof in anything. No one has found the missing links. Both sides are frantically searching for the missing piece to be discovered so they can prove they were right all along. And it seems the more we discover the more we realize we didn’t know, like cloning and microbiology, not as cut and dried as we thought. I recently took an intro to physiology and had to learn modern chemistry. Things have changed a little since I was in high school. They keep discovering smaller particles. I have some southern roots so excuse me for saying, “We could fight till the cows came home”, but it will ultimately come down to faith. Everyone has to believe in something, even if they choose to believe in nothing. If you choose to believe in evolution, I would suggest that even that is a miracle that there was one out of a million chance that life developed. If everything is so out of control, why are we here against the odds? Why haven’t we just blown each other up yet? The world is again filled with a lot of evil. Murders, child abuse, hatred, gang fighting, starvation because of greed of those who have so much don’t care about others suffering, etc. Why aren’t we still evolving? Is there a purpose in our lives? All these questions and you still have to choose what to believe to fill in the gaps. There is nothing that can be proven 100% by tangible evidence.

    There are christians in philosophy and science that can debate much better than I ever could. If anyone is interesed in pursuing this further from a christian perspective, Ravi Zacharias has his own website. You can google him and he has online lectures. He has debated in some very well known universities. And he also discusses subjects like why bad things happen to good people.

    You have all been gracious to hear me out. I feel I have overstayed my welcome. I wish you all well.

  • http://www.anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Believer, the book of Genesis is no more historically accurate than the tales of Homer. Yes, there was likely a city Troy and there were Mycenaean Greeks, but that does not prove that there was a warrior named Achilles who was dipped by his mother into the waters of the River Styx and made invulnerable.

    Thus, just because the book of Genesis speaks of real places that existed like Egypt or Ur does not mean that we should believe that the Flood story or the Tower of Babel story are literally true.

  • Believer

    Tommykey,
    I couldn’t disagree more. I just came out of a secular Western Civilizations college class that used a secular textbook. Historical records verify people, places, and events in the Bible. History and early forms of writing show a King named Solomon, other kings and judges mentioned in the Bible. History records the same wars the Bible does, with the same outcomes. History proves Jesus was a real person. His resurrection was not and has not to date been disproved, the flood hasn’t been disproved. I know we can speculate, but who has evidence that these things definitely did not occur? As a matter of fact, when Mt. St. Helen erupted, geologists were suprised at the flood it created from a local lake and viewed the area as an extremely small version of the Grand Canyon and stated, wow, what would a worldwide flood do? Isn’t it odd that several early cultures had a story similar to the flood that has been passed down, but not all cultures know the Greek myths? Just how much proof is enough if there is no such thing as 100% tangible proof?

    We can all view what evidence there is and make it fit our side, Christians included. There is a huge price of pride on the table between our sides, isn’t there? Each side doesn’t want to look stupid. The real issue revolves around the idea that the Bible may be viewed as historically accuarate, but not worthy of faith in the supernatural. It is an unlevel playing ground with only a person’s word to go from, it is unfamiliar, unrepeatable, and outside of our intellect. I know a lot of the Bible and can defend my side all day long, however, it always comes down to the faith issue. And I keep trying to sign off because I think it is a cyclical argument from there. This is why I am not a good debater, even though I don’t believe Christians should check their intellect or reasoning abilities at the door, the real issue can’t be debated because it comes down to an encounter with God that seals the deal on the issue. And I don’t say that prideful. I do not think I am better than anyone or think I am God’s favorite. I just stopped trying to explain everything away, rationalize everything, and stopped trying to control everything and everyone. The funny part is we probably have more common ground than you would guess. I bet we would agree on not liking tv evangelists, the way some christians wrongly treat others, and the way some churches hurt people. But I just decided one day to ask God if He was real and to show me so I could believe. How can I debate that intellectually?

  • OMGF

    Believer,
    I can unequivocally say that your grasp of science and history are lacking, but not to get trapped in a cyclical argument I’ll only ask one thing.

    What faith must I have to disbelieve in your god?

    These positions are not equal, and though I like the irony of a Christian arguing for a relativistic viewpoint, I still feel obliged to note that it simply is not true that the two positions are equal faith positions.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Believer, there is nothing outside of the Bible to prove that Solomon existed. There is no stele or cuneiform tabulet from non-Jewish sources from the time period in question that mentions him.

    Most early human settlements were near rivers, so of course they are going to have flood myths. So what does that prove.

    The Bible and the God depicted in it are so obviously human creations that it is plain as day to anyone who reads it with their blinders off.

    Feel free to peruse my November 2006 archive wherein I demolish the Noah’s Ark story.

  • OMGF

    To support Tommykey here, If Abraham was in Ur, that would explain the Noachian flood myth, as they plucked it from the earlier Summerian stories, although embellished a bit. They stole the myth outright from the inhabitants of Ur.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    If anyone doubts that there are still people who take these ludicrous fairy tales literally, I offer “Believer” as exhibit A. And I’ve noticed a point I’d like to call attention to:

    Saying all christians are wrong is very narrow minded. There were christians in that time that fought against slavery and equality for women. I don’t know what your exposure to other christians has been or what has been said to you. I am not responsible for them or for history.

    Christians claim that God’s commands are infallible, and yet there are many, many examples of people claiming to act in God’s name, with his authority, quoting scripture and defending their positions with apologetics, who turned out to be completely wrong. How do they handle this? They decide that if someone was wrong then, by definition, he was not on God’s side. The positions which God supports are decided retroactively by noting who the winners were. How can you lose with logic like that?

    Fortunately for them, God himself remains completely silent and absent, never contradicting them by showing up and declaring this position or that to be his will. All we have are various groups of people claiming to act in his name. But then, that is the atheist’s very point: that is all we have ever had. Search however you will, you will ultimately find that every source which claims to teach or to know anything about God is, in the end, a human being.

  • Demagogue

    This is a very interesting argument, but I realize that without someone like Believer to convey her views, the rest would only be agreeing on how ridiculous biblical stories are. Thank you Believer for taking the time to reveal the knowledge you have gained on biblical matters and for sharing with us. Of course, this does not mean that anyone will suddenly turn to the bible for guidance, but it spices up the debate.

    I, for one, think if you take out all the contradictions, fabrications, and stolen stories of the bible, it is a perfect book. The part that gets me most though is the paradigm shift from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The bible has obviously been tampered with because Jesus never wrote any part of the bible and only those Apostles, which the Nicene Council deemed “appropriate” to their organized and controlling version of religion, were allowed to make the grade. Also, in the Nicene Council, Jesus went from a prophet to the son of god status. This was to lend more strength to the churches’ position of power.

    As for atheists, I think that some of them are like Benjamin Franklin and are hedging their bets (you know…Ben put money down on both sides of the Revolutionary War). IMHO some atheists are probably closet Deists, but don’t admit to it. You know…the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

    Me? I’m an Epicurean. Much easier to believe in science and philosophy than to deny the existence of those things which I cannot prove or disprove. It all comes down to what religion you subscribe to…science or supernatural. And yes, science is a religion…I saw it on the original version of the “Planet of the Apes.” I mean…how much proof do you need?

  • CHUCK

    PERSONALLY I THINK I WOULD LIKE TO LIVE MY LIFE MORE LIKE GOD, SO THAT YOU HAVE TO DO EXACTLY WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO, YOU HAVE TO BEG ME EVERY DAY FOR MY FORGIVENESS AND IF YOU DONT THEN, I GET TO PUNISH YOU FOR ALL ETERNITY – BECAUSE I LOVE YOU

  • Demagogue

    Chuck,
    Do you have to shout like your god? The voice may pierce my skull and cause my brain to explode. Of course, I meant, explode with love. And, for those of you that have sex on your minds all the time, exploding with love can be metaphorical too!

  • Sheralyn

    Hey Chuck — Your post was hilarious and made my day! “…punish you for all eternity – because I LOVE YOU!” LOL!

    And personally, I think all the religion stuff was totally invented by humans.

  • Polly

    Chuck,
    There’s no reason you can’t enjoy such a lifestyle. As we speak an ex-con is travelling the world proclaiming that he is the risen JC returned.

    My advice: Gather some followers to be your witnesses and then get ready for some mass adoration! If indeed you do achieve your goal you should enjoy postively oodles of popularity 60-70%, with those who don’t actively worship you still showing plenty of obsequieous repsect based soley on your large following.
    Of course, about 10% of the population will think you’re a total DICK, but, hey, that’s the price for success. And deep down, you can feel comforted by the fact that they, too, know how great you are, but they’re just being obstinate and rebellious. Your followers will see to them.

  • Ed

    I am by no means a bible literalist! But if you are going to criticize a text please criticize it for what it says, not for what its critics make up about it. In the entire story of the tower of Babel, I did not find a single reference of God being afraid of humanity. (And I reread this story twice before writing this post.) Its just not there!

    Mr. Dawkins is using an old debate trick called “straw-man”… you give your enemy an attribute that is bad, then attack the attribute. For example, if I didn’t like Mr. Dawkins, and I wanted to use a “strawman attack” I would say. “Mr. Dawkins shouldn’t be beleived… especially because he is a pedophile… you don’t want to agree with a pedophile do you?” Of course this logic is flawed. Mr. Dawkins is not a pedophile. And even if he was, that has nothing to do with his argument.

    Now if you actually read the story, nothing mentions God being afraid. God did say that anything will be possible for humanity… The fact is, we don’t know why God did what he did in this story… becuase it doesn’t tell us! For all we know God could have been worried that these people would build an atomic bomb and destroy themselves. God could have just been in a bad mood. We don’t know.

    Honestly, my theory is that this was a self fulfilling prophecy, The people tried to build the tower so that they would not be scattered. As a result, they are scattered. As for building a Tower with confused languages? Please, I’ve worked at companies where we could barely get things done, and we all spoke the same language!

    But please, if you are going to read a text critically, please READ THE TEXT critically. Don’t make up your own version, insert motives where none are given, assume things that make sense only from our cultural reference, etc.

  • Oldbuzzard

    I believe a point is possibly being missed. One gently asserts that the fatal spiritual flaw was inherent in he attitude of the tower builders. They were trying to reach toward God, which in itself is harmless enough in itself. Unfortunately they were trying to reach toward God in order to be as God; to be equal with God. Big mistake!

    I don’t understand God to be inherently against building tall buildings. I don’t understand God to be inherently against building structures devoted to other religions by people of other religions. (He does have something inherently against HIS people worshipping other than HIMSELF. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me!”)

    Unfortunately it is all too easy to attack a faith on unmerited grounds. You can sound hip and intelligent. You are fooling only yourself and those who pander after you. Hardly an exercise in intellect.

    There are none so blind as those who WILL not see.

  • messenger

    where r your holy spirits? Do u have a relationship with God & Jesus? & in any relationship, u will have to communicate, kinda like talking with the best pal you have or ever dreamed of. Do it & soon question & doubt will clear. But first, u gotta picture God or Jesus as the most loving entity you can ever dream of.The truth is they actually love u more than u can think or feel. then how come u don’t know or feel it? Cos its a fallen world, satan rules in this matrix, u gotta take the pill to extract yourself from the lies satan used to mess up your senses & mind. you need to be saved.
    We can go on & talk abt facts & truth but without a relationship with the creator, you can never see eye to eye with anyone becos we have yet been thinking his thoughts & let’s remind ourselves that God is a spirit, so is satan. An indication of who rules your world is what thoughts you think. are u thinking God’s thoughts or satan’s.& the job of satan is to kill, steal & destroy & btw he doesn’t feel remorsed cos he’s a spirit, but you do cos you’ve got feelings & stuff, so he’s working through u till u just wanna die. or the other option… let God work through you… come on… use your imaginations, put yourself in the position of God & understand things from his point of view, how it hurts him when we virtually destroy ourselves. yeah, i said spirits don’t have feelings but if they incarnate in human form, they can. that’s what God did, he came down as Jesus to save human kind. The ultimatum. the ultimate sacrifice. Please dun try to be like God, but try to like God cos he may be the only real friend you will ever have.

  • Ed

    Old Buzzard,

    No where in the text does it say that the people of Babel wanted to be equal to God. The only motive we have that is actually in the text (not made up) is that they did not want to be scattered and they wanted to make a name for themselves.
    My please READ THE TEXT comment was for Athiests and Thiests alike

  • OMGF

    Mr. Dawkins is using an old debate trick called “straw-man”… you give your enemy an attribute that is bad, then attack the attribute. For example, if I didn’t like Mr. Dawkins, and I wanted to use a “strawman attack” I would say. “Mr. Dawkins shouldn’t be beleived… especially because he is a pedophile… you don’t want to agree with a pedophile do you?” Of course this logic is flawed. Mr. Dawkins is not a pedophile. And even if he was, that has nothing to do with his argument.

    For the love of FSM, if you are going to cry “logical fallacy” at least know what you are talking about. AFAIK, this is Ebon’s post, not one by Dawkins. Second, that is not what a straw-man argument is. You are describing an ad hominem, which is most certainly not what the above argument is.

  • Josh Moshinsky

    This discussion is getting way too deep for me. My simple self says this, knowledge of The Almighty and the world comes like water. You can’t fight it. All that can be done is let it flow. People, who aren’t perfect by the way, could have made mistakes writing down ancient knowledge, so let the small stuff slide. Whether or not one is or isn’t a believer, we still must consider this . The Almighty only asks of us to do what is morally acceptable. If it’s too much to ask, to be a human with morals, than what’s going on? Is it too much to ask for one to live with morals and to be humane? To me, having morals and being humane is part of being a human and not a beast. If not, maybe I’m still just a caveman, but at least I’ll be trying to change, because I don’t believe that it’s right to just take advantage of others my whole life to make myself a little taller thanks to the fact that I cut the throats of others whose heads I am now standing on top of…

  • James Bradbury

    @messenger

    How do you know that?

    (thanks tobe38)

  • Ed

    Actually I am speaking about Straw Man argument:
    Defined as:
    1) Present a misrepresentation of the opponent’s position, refute it, and pretend that the opponent’s actual position has been refuted.

    2)Quote an opponent’s words out of context — i.e., choose quotations that are not representative of the opponent’s actual intentions (see contextomy).

    3)Present someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, refute that person’s arguments, and pretend that every upholder of that position, and thus the position itself, has been defeated.

    4)Invent a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs that are criticized, and pretend that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.

    5)Oversimplify a person’s argument into a simple analogy, which can then be attacked.

    The above article states:
    ” Filled with pride and ambition, they came together and began to build a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). God witnesses this and is upset, not because the building of the tower displays hubris, but because he actually fears that humanity will become omnipotent if they complete the tower (11:6). He responds by afflicting them with different languages so that they could no longer understand each other, causing them to scatter across the face of the earth, leaving the tower unfinished.”
    “According to Genesis, God was worried that human beings would become too powerful for him to control if they learned to work together. Thus, his only choice was to keep them divided and separate, prevented from cooperating by barriers of mutual incomprehension. ”

    But the actual story as it appears in the original text, not the (“make up my own version” text), makes no mention of God being afraid or worried of humans or feeling he will lose control. nor does the text mention pride and hubris of the people… The text gives 2 motives for the building of the tower…. 1) so that they won’t be scattered 2)make a name for themselves.

    If you take the original text… and change it into a fearful god afraid of losing control and power to a proud people. That would be setting up the Strawman. It is very easy to attack such a story… (attacking the straw man)which many people do! But that is not the story that appears in the text!
    This is a strawman attack.

    Adhominem would be how rather than addressing the point in my argument, you attempt to attack me for “not knowing what I’m talking about”

    p.s. I do apologize for saying that Mr. Dawkins was making the strawman attack as I thought that he wrote this article. I am mistaken. now you can post about how I don’t know what I’m talking about again… or you can actually address my point.

  • OMGF

    Ed,
    I feel well justified in saying that you didn’t display any knowledge of what you were talking about, because your example was an ad hominem. Saying that Dawkins should not be believed because he is a pedophile, is not an example of a straw man, but rather an ad hominem attack. Saying that you don’t know what you are talking about is not an ad hominem because you actually don’t.

    Now, to the OP, it is not a straw man as much as you would like it to be. It may be an erroneous interpretation, but it is not a straw man. The text is reproduced correctly. Nowhere does Ebon say attribute his own words as being part of the text. That’s why he uses blockquotes, so that you can tell what is quoted and what is his. What you are arguing against is his interpretation of the text. Now, I can possibly see why you may be bent out of shape if you only read the first paragraph (the intro) then jumped down to the bottom to complain, but it doesn’t make your complaint have any more weight.

    Now, if god is not upset with the people building the tower, then why did he punish them? Also, why is god expressing worry that they will accomplish all that they want to do?

  • RSS

    It is so easy for many to discount the existance of God when referring to the miracles of the Bible, and many of those same people will turn around and blame God when something bad happens such as 9/11. I suppose that is why the Bible says that very few will see the kingdom of Heaven.

  • OMGF

    RSS,
    Who are these people? Who in their right mind blames an entity that they don’t even think exists? How ridiculous.

    Perhaps you mean to say that we blame those who believe in irrationality through the form of gods? What is objectionable to that?

  • Ed

    Yes the author quoted the text correctly. Then applied his interpretation to the text. Then attacked his interpretation. This fits within definition #1 of a strawman attack.

    I am not at all bent out of shape. You asked a great question! Why is God expressing worry? the answer is that the text doesn’t tell us. All of the “obvious” answers that theists and atheits give us: pride of the people, idolatry, fear of the people… none of this appears in the text. The only thing that the text tells us is that God thought that people working together would be able to do anything… and the text implies that God did not think this was a good thing. Dont ask me why? Cause the text doesn’t elaborate. So anyone who starts elaborating either has a text that biblical scholars haven’t yet discovered or is making stuff up.

    Now I never said God isn’t upset, my point is we don’t know what it is about the tower that upset/concerned him. There is a big leap to go from the text, the actual text, to talking about fear, jealousy,anger, loss of control… because the text never mentions fear, jealousy, anger, loss of control.

    Its like saying: “The law says I can only drive 30 miles per hour in a residential area. Therefore the government is afraid, angry and jealous of my ability to drive faster”

    By the way: most people who us ad hominem attacks insist that its not an attack because its true. Infact most ad hominems are true, never the less they have no impact on the discussion at hand. My hypothetical Dawkins example is a Strawman attack precisely because it is fictional. See definition #4 of Strawman attack. Ironically if Mr. Dawkins was infact how I described him in my hypothetical… then it would be an ad hominem attack because I would be attacking him as he is, as opposed to making up false attributes to him. Either way we are now debating about labels.

  • Sheralyn

    Food for thought — I truly believe that some day, perhaps far in the future, people will be classifying “Christian Mythology” right along with Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies. Also — note well the uncannily similar stories of Jesus Christ and the ancient Persian god Mithra. And remember: The virgin birth story is NOT unique to Christianity; there were tales of “gods” mating with mortals long before the time of Christ.

  • OMGF

    Yes the author quoted the text correctly. Then applied his interpretation to the text. Then attacked his interpretation. This fits within definition #1 of a strawman attack.

    No, actually it isn’t because the interpretation was the argument. If Ebon had changed your argument then attacked his change, that would be a straw man.

    I am not at all bent out of shape.

    My apologies.

    Why is God expressing worry? the answer is that the text doesn’t tell us.

    Well, we can certainly guess why from the clues that the text gives us. If we can’t get the moral of the story because we don’t know why god did what he did, then what’s the point of having it in there in the first place? Aren’t we supposed to learn from the Bible?

    Now I never said God isn’t upset, my point is we don’t know what it is about the tower that upset/concerned him. There is a big leap to go from the text, the actual text, to talking about fear, jealousy,anger, loss of control… because the text never mentions fear, jealousy, anger, loss of control.

    Are you saying that we can’t use the stated reasons and the verses to come to some conclusion?

    Its like saying: “The law says I can only drive 30 miles per hour in a residential area. Therefore the government is afraid, angry and jealous of my ability to drive faster”

    I don’t know, did the government express the sentiment that, “and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do?” That is what god says. Why is he worried that they will be able to accomplish things?

    My hypothetical Dawkins example is a Strawman attack precisely because it is fictional.

    No, that is incorrect. Straw men are always directed at the argument itself, never at the person. Ad hominem attacks are aimed at the person, and used as “proof” that the person’s argument is wrong. Saying that Dawkins is wrong because you claim he is a pedophile is ad hominem, not a straw man. Please, look it up. Your example is not in accordance with your definition #4.

    Ironically if Mr. Dawkins was infact how I described him in my hypothetical… then it would be an ad hominem attack because I would be attacking him as he is, as opposed to making up false attributes to him.

    No, that is incorrect. Making an attack on a person, whether true or false, in order to discredit his/her argument is an ad hominem attack.

  • http://www.anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    One thing I pondered which I don’t think anyone has mentioned regarding the Babel story is that if God is literally responsible for scattering the peoples of the Earth and having them speak different languages, then it is God’s fault why it took so many centuries for the message of Christ to be transmitted to all the peoples of the world.

    The people of the Americas lived approximately 1,500 years in ignorance of the vital message of God’s salvation. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense for an all wise and loving God.

  • Thomas Fruge

    The meaning of the story is;
    If you creat city’s
    You create over crowdedness,stresss,traffic jam’s,smog,higher crime rates which gives govenment a reason to create a police state.

  • coolrayfruge

    The Bible is the Philosophy of man not god.
    The story’s weren’t meant to be taken literally.
    Back then they didn’t have TV or Movies or radio.
    They intertained them selves by telling stories,doing plays,poetry..music and sitting around theorizing and philosophying on things they didn’t have a real answer to.
    If they couldn’t explain it.
    Usally there answer was the work of god!
    And like 911. fear was a way of getting the people to surrender their freedom and liberty’s without question.

  • coolrayfruge

    The Bible is not the word of god,but it is a good book with a lot of good philosophy in it that makes sense.

    Take 1 Samuel Chapter 8.
    There’s alot of truth in what their saying in that chapter.
    I think that Christ was a Anarchest.
    Who tought people to goven there own lives.
    That they didn’t need a Priest or King to do it for them.
    That’s why he was crucified by church and state!

  • William Rieken

    In the end it is really very simple.

    Religion is a “control mechanism” for all the peoples of the earth, except those who do as they wish to us.

    Will…

  • jopo

    The bible is just as ridiculous as every other man made text concerning God.
    Why people squabble over religion is beyond me, it’s so easy to see through all the bullshit.
    Faith in Hope, that’s all you people ever want, get over your myths already and stop wasting time.

    Hands that help are better than lips that pray. Give US a hand.

  • Brent

    First, I find it funny that your arguement against this historical occurance PROVES that a GOD exists! You state that the author was very accurate and historically correct in describling this BABYLONIAN project. But, you fail to answer WHY and HOW could all of UNITED humankind SUDDENLY and almost instantaniously become so confused and diverse( by the way…dont liberals teach DIVERSITY is a good thing…lol ) so as to scatter and abandon the project. This would prove by the SUDDENESS and abandonment of the Tower that SOMETHING occured to make people speak in other languages….Did this happen instantaniously like spontanious combustion that science always thought as fact? How do you explain this sudden abandonment of UNITED humanity???? You say GOD did it…yet you constantly belittle and are not tolerant of people who believe that a God exists! LOL….You have actually PROVEN that GOD did this and does exists or else you would not be able to explain the sudden abandonment and scattering of the people..a UNITED MANKIND per say. You state that the author is accurate and historically correct but you FAILED to explin WHY this happned because you really do not belive there is a GOD. So, how did this happen and do you have credible and substantiated evidence in historical documentaion or recorded writings from that age? I find it funny that the scientific methos has cobstantly had to re update it s theories it believes as FACT! What hypocrisy!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I don’t know what post Brent’s comment was in reply to, but it certainly wasn’t mine.

  • GOD

    Ok…Ok…Ok…the reason I made them stop building the Tower of Babel was because if it went to high the earth was going to fall over. The reason I made everybody speak different languages was because Mrs. God was on her period and was driving me nuts!!! So I took out my frustration on everyone else…well the humans, all the angels knew about Mrs. God and they all took off. It was a joke, I tried to make myself laugh…so sue me. And for those of you who don’t believe in me…well you can all just go to….you know where. So There!!!!!

  • GOD

    Also, I am not a spammer, I just forgot to uncheck the box.

  • Digital

    The texgts of the bible are documents of religious reflections of people of their times – Norbert

    No. The Council of Nicea carefully chose and edited which texts to include in your “Bible” for their own political agenda. Which has then been translated + re-edited countless times since. Like a literary chinese whisper on a grand scale. The end result?: Bullshit.

    What a tragedy of intellectual under-development.

    The only intellectual under-development is that of you theists.

  • lbrunnels

    The reason for the mixing of tongues is not because God was afraid of anything. Hear what men were saying.

    Ge 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

    Making a city and a tower that reaches to heaven has an ecological impact that would destroy the earth (imagine the wobble), and keep men bound to a pursuit that offers no real satisfaction in the meantime. God wants men to be truly satisfied. He knows that men can not be truly satisfied without a knowledge of Himself.

    Using what has been observable with the natural senses, men have created name after name in an attempt to establish a compelling interest around which all of humanity can be united. However, when men name the interest, politics destroys equality- and and the greater part of society becomes the bearer of loads with counterfeit value created, interminably, by vain men. God wants men to be free.

    “Lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth”? All of that loss of freedom for THIS reason? Are you kidding? Wouldn’t you do something if you sere God? Talk about a load with counterfeit value…

    God made a beautiful planet. The falls, the gorges, the fjords, the mountains, the islands- all of these things have a power to effect men with awe and comfort. If God had not busted up a plan like the one those Babel-builders devised He would have been derelict of duty.

    Now, something science does not see is how we are connected to each other through the measurable brainwaves generated by each of us. Sent out through the liquid iron antenna which our cardio-vascular system is, we are transmitting and receiving to each other raw data in a language understanding of which no one holds.

    This knowledge might include every experience of every human that ever lived, that super Intelligence using our sleeping minds to store (and, in some cases, analyze) all that knowledge, don’t you think God is capable of working a little “software” change in a network like that without hurting anyone?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    It was absolutely impossible for the people of the Earth to build a tower that reached to heaven. For starters, the suggestion implies that a place called Heaven where God dwells is a physical place just above the Earth. Second, the technology did not exist at the time to build a tower that pierced the Earth’s atmosphere into space. The workers would have passed out from altitude sickness long before that at any rate.

    Yeah, God sure made a beautiful planet lbrunnels, filled with microbes and parasites lethal to humans. How beautiful it is that nearly 20% of Zambian children die from malaria before reaching their 5th birthday because they are bitten by mosquitos that transmit deadly parasites into their bloodstream.

  • Alex Weaver

    Using what has been observable with the natural senses, men have created name after name in an attempt to establish a compelling interest around which all of humanity can be united. However, when men name the interest, politics destroys equality- and and the greater part of society becomes the bearer of loads with counterfeit value created, interminably, by vain men. God wants men to be free.

    Um, if uniting humanity under an interest and naming it destroys equality and violates God’s wishes… Just what is it you think you Christians are trying to do, hmm?

    Now, something science does not see is how we are connected to each other through the measurable brainwaves generated by each of us. Sent out through the liquid iron antenna which our cardio-vascular system is, we are transmitting and receiving to each other raw data in a language understanding of which no one holds.

    1) Brainwaves do not work that way.
    2) Neither do electrolyes.
    3) Evidence plz, thx.

    This knowledge might include every experience of every human that ever lived, that super Intelligence using our sleeping minds to store (and, in some cases, analyze) all that knowledge, don’t you think God is capable of working a little “software” change in a network like that without hurting anyone?

    No, for the same reason I don’t think the Great Pumpkin is capable of working a little “software” change.

  • Jane

    Sheralyn and OMGF, reading your posts gives me hope! Now I see how religion must start. Something resonates with someone, and they share it with another, and humans are framework builders, so they naturally reify it.

    Norbert, I disagree with you. I see a lot of recording of a culture’s wisdom in the Christian bible. However, most of the people I know who call themselves “Christians” are really Paulists, and they cherry pick from Paul’s list which cultural practices they or others should follow. Paul was a cultural engineer. And instead of studying what Jesus of Nazarath actually had to say, they have focused in on his death and missed his message. And, if you are right, what does that say about the president of the U.S.?

  • OMGF

    Cool, thanks Jane.

  • SultanME

    What amazes me are people who become Athiests because they do not beleive in the Christian God or in the Bible. Have you considered that there may be other religions and not beleiving that Jesus is God does not implicitly exclude other concepts of what God might be ?
    You are not doing your homework on such an important issue were the margin of error is Zero.

  • James Bradbury

    SultanME,

    You make a good point and one that I think all theists should listen to as well. (The theists I’ve spoken with recently seem even more reluctant to discuss other religions than atheism) Have we all really investigated all other religions properly before making a decision? They can’t all be right, but they could all be wrong. What if YOU’RE wrong?

    So when considering the multitude of beliefs out there I try to keep in mind that many of the big arguments against Christianity are equally effective against other religions. The problem of evil for example causes contradictions for any claims about the existence of all-powerful and all-good beings, which renders quite a few religions unlikely.

    From there I would ask if there is any evidence for a particular claim. In the absence of reliable evidence I would assume the simplest situation possible, which of course is as follows: The Universe is a lump of sweetcorn in the faeces of a half-leopard half-goat creature who desires that everything in the world be yellow. Only when we have painted or dyed everything yellow will we all be able to find peace. ;)

  • Joseph Kim

    It is not currently possible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the ancient stories of the Bible. However, it is interesting to note that to date, the archaeological spade has uncannily been in agreement with the Bible. By the way, it is not possible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that man landed on the moon (unless you were the one on it), that there was a man named Columbus that led Europeans westward, that the Chinese emperors actually existed, or that any relatively recent or ancient person existed. How do we know that any and all of these historical persons were not the result of an elaborate hoax to “control people”?

    [off-topic proselytization removed --Ebonmuse]

    In closing, I heard an interesting story that I thought was interesting. A well known atheist and Christian were debating in a public forum. Both had excellent arguments for their position, but obviously neither could “prove” their case. At the end of the debate the Christian posed the following question to the atheist. Suppose you were walking late at night on the streets of South Los Angeles and you encountered a group of very muscular, burly looking men. Would you be scared? Would you feel any different knowing that these men had just come from a Bible study? True Christianity is readily evident in the lives of people who have been transformed by the saving truths of the gospel. People who were murderers, drug addicts, adulterers, promiscuous, or who just had a tendency to use swear words, who encountered Jesus and were completely changed are the real “proof” that God is real.

  • http://www.anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Oh boy, Joseph Kim is employing the Dennis Prager argument.

    For starters, I don’t doubt that most professed Christians are decent people, just as most professed atheists or Buddhists, or Jews or Muslims are decent people. So, of course one might feel relief that the burly men in question had just left a Bible study class. Heck, I would feel relief knowing they had just come from a poetry reading too. So what does your question prove?

    Of course one would expect archeology to provide some support for the Bible. The people who wrote it, or who put into written form what had previously been passed down through oral tales, lived in the area. It doesn’t even come close to proving though that a serpent spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden, that there was a Tower of Babel, or a Noah’s Ark. Heck, Homer’s tales of the Trojan War describe real places that have been confirmed by archeologists, but that does not warrant consideration as evidence that there was a real Achilles who was dipped as a child in the magic waters of the River Styx, or that different Greek gods really existed and took sides in the Trojan War. Greek legend also speeks of a King Minos of Crete and a half man half bull creature called a minotaur. Archeologists have found the remains of the palace at Knossos, and Cretan paintings show that the bull was a prominent motif in their art work, but no serious person would deduce from that that there was an actual minotaur.

    As for the tales of prophecy, anyone can write something down and attribute it to a prediction made by a Hebrew prophet one or two centuries earlier. The Bible does not in any way contain predictions about the future. The book of Isaiah refers to the Nile River drying up, but that has not happened in recorded history.

    I know you raised other points, and maybe I will return later on to address them, as my lunch break at work is almost over. As for the hygiene argument, I would not be surprised if the Israelites learned much of that from either the Egyptians or the Mesopotamians.

  • OMGF

    Suppose you were walking late at night on the streets of South Los Angeles and you encountered a group of very muscular, burly looking men. Would you be scared? Would you feel any different knowing that these men had just come from a Bible study?

    Yeah, this question was posed to Christopher Hitchens. His answer, sadly, was not included in the post above. I’ll include it for you all:

    Just to stay within the letter B, I have actually had that experience in Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade, Bethlehem, and Baghdad. In each case I can say absolutely, and can give my reasons, why I would feel immediately threatened if I thought that the group of men approaching me in the dusk were coming from a religious observance.

  • Harvard

    @Joseph Kim —- OK. I’m in South LA, a rough, tough, dangerous ‘hood. And these burly, big guys are coming out of a bible study class. Since they’ve spent hours, weeks, months, perhaps years of their lives wasting their time discussing childish, silly, superstitious nonsense, I feel nervous approaching them. People who base their lives blindly on magic and pray to supernatural beings make me feel uncomfortable and afraid. I have a problem trusting delusional people. Tell me, Joseph, what will happen to me when I suggest to them they have been brainwashed since birth, fed bucketfuls of manure about the real world by smiling elders, priests, and ministers, from a man-made ancient book of fairy tales. Will these bulky, muscular men from South LA debate me with reason and rational responses? Or will they explode into a holy rage, and beat me to within a millimeter of my life?
    And so, I melt into the shadows until these gigantic simpletons pass by.
    .
    Joseph, your “interesting” story is not. It’s something one of your naive elders concocted in his feeble attempt to prove that religion is a good thing. Religion is not a good thing. It causes murderous divisions in society – US against THEM. How many religions say, “We are right, and you are wrong, and – too bad for you, stupid – you will go to hell?”
    .

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Joseph, this blog is not a place where atheists assemble so they can be more conveniently preached at. Please confine your comment, if you have one, to topics relevant to the post.

    It is not currently possible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the ancient stories of the Bible. However, it is interesting to note that to date, the archaeological spade has uncannily been in agreement with the Bible.

    As is par for the course in these matters, Joseph’s sweeping claim is presented without any substantiating details. Hardly surprising, because anyone who actually knows anything about archaeology knows that these starry-eyed claims are flatly contradicted by the facts. My essay “Let the Stones Speak” on Ebon Musings shows, in detail, how the claims of the Bible actually fare when compared to the evidence uncovered by archaeologists in the last several decades.

    Would you be scared? Would you feel any different knowing that these men had just come from a Bible study?

    Christopher Hitchens provides what I think is the decisive refutation of that silly question:

    Just to stay within the letter B, I have actually had that experience in Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade, Bethlehem, and Baghdad. In each case I can say absolutely, and can give my reasons, why I would feel immediately threatened if I thought that the group of men approaching me in the dusk were coming from a religious observance.

  • Lacie Well

    Hello Ebonmuse,

    I’m a long-time lurker and just wanted to say thank you for what you are doing. It means a lot. I don’t say much, because agreement is dull.:-)

    @Joseph Kim (who I doubt will have the courage or honesty to reply, like most evangelists):

    I am a lesbian. I have one friend who was beaten and hospitalized by a gang of Christian youths, and one friend who was driven to suicide by her Christian family.

    If I saw a group of burly men coming out of a Bible study group, I would run like hell.

    Any comments?

  • Becky

    If the believers would just back up to the previous chapter, Genesis 10 and read it carefully they will see that different tongues already existed! Why would the bible writer use the term ‘in their own tongue’ if there weren’t more than one!?

    10:5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

    10:20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.

    10:31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.

    10:32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

    This is before the Babel tale.

  • Teleprompter InChief

    No mystery here. Like any economically advanced nation with booming construction, they had to eventually import cheap laborers with whom they couldn’t effectively communicate with!


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