AuthorTopic: Tower of Babel: Fact or Fiction?  (Read 7592 times)

Online Ashvin

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Re: TOWER OF BABEL: fact or fiction? by Stucky
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2013, 04:24:26 AM »
Still despite the disagreements about the meanings behind the Tower the point still stands that God had intervened directly and he did alter the minds of men. In some shape or form God made it so man could no longer understand or communicate with one another in the universal 'language' that man had used prior to this event. We can debate what the language was or the reasoning behind why God performed the actions he did. We can even debate what the Tower was supposed to represent but the point remains; this story runs contrary to the message that man has free will on planet Earth to govern as he desires.

Both the Bible and ancient history make clear that this sin of Babel continued on after the people were scattered (arguably to this day). So humans clearly retained that freedom to worship God or reject/degrade him through various civil arrangements.

Obviously, there is a BIG philosophical issue of whether God using humanity towards his predetermined ends in the Bible can be consistent with our "libertarian freedom", but I'm not sure how anyone can use the Babel narrative as a springboard for that particular debate.

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Now I am not against divine intervention with God actively changing things by suspending the laws of nature; this is okay but if an argument is made about the merits of free will or intervention then you need to be consistent. It is inconsistency to selectively punish people yet let others go that generates problems. If God is to intervene and punish people, even if done harshly, at least punishment should be enforced consistently. Why is it the folks of Babel (or perhaps Babylon?) had to suffer while the modern pigman is allowed to flourish? This is the question people will ask and it is a legitimate question to raise for God is applying selective judgement. He is not being consistent.

You are basically saying that, in order for God's judgment to be "consistent", our existence should conform to that envisioned by the "Prosperity Bible". Those who do good will be materially rewarded while those who do bad will be materially punished in this lifetime (and, therefore, we can assume the poor, downtrodden and suffering have been more sinful than the wealthy and "successful").

That, of course, is not how the REAL Bible envisions God and his judgments. It is much more about achieving predetermined ends, containing rampant evil and demonstrating his reliability (prophesied judgments), his glory and his general interest in and care for humanity than about individual reward/punishment in this lifetime.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2013, 04:30:00 AM by Ashvin »

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Re: Collapse of an Economic Tower of Babel: Classic RE October 2008 on Peak Oil
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2013, 04:40:25 AM »
Reviewing as I have been Ancient History for parallels with what we see going on today, one Ancient Civilization collapse I always had trouble understanding and believing now is coming more clear to me as a parable. That would be the Fall Of Babylon and the destruction of the Tower of Babel.

I have given my opinion on your analysis before, but suffice to say it is the quintessential example of projecting our modern experience and current news headlines back onto ancient literature. Why would the authors be writing parables for people living in the 21st century?

It's quite possible that the narrative had some political and economic significance, but, then again, all religious claims back then had such significance. If the narrative is referring to a "tower" such as a Ziggurat, then it likely served religious, political and economic functions.

Offline monsta666

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Re: TOWER OF BABEL: fact or fiction? by Stucky
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2013, 05:16:31 PM »
Both the Bible and ancient history make clear that this sin of Babel continued on after the people were scattered (arguably to this day). So humans clearly retained that freedom to worship God or reject/degrade him through various civil arrangements.

I am not saying that man has continually been denied free will. Nearly everything after this episode shows man had free will. He does and we clearly see this in later stories such as the story of Sodom & Gomorrah or Moses against the Pharaoh. In those cases God, through the actions of agents, gave people an opportunity to avoid their punishment so there was free will. However in this instance by striking down on the Tower, God punished men with confusion which is a denial of free will. He has altered the nature of man by altering his very mind which is an act that goes against free will. Moreover he did not even give man an opportunity to avoid this fate. God could have easily sent a prophet (as he often did in other times) who could have made the offer that the Tower must be destroyed. If people were unwilling to do so then then God could enforce whatever punishment he deemed fit. If that happened you could argue that God offered man a choice and thus free will. But this is not what happened so I can't see how any free will was observed. It was divine intervention and people had no say or recourse to avoid this eventuality. 

You are basically saying that, in order for God's judgment to be "consistent", our existence should conform to that envisioned by the "Prosperity Bible". Those who do good will be materially rewarded while those who do bad will be materially punished in this lifetime (and, therefore, we can assume the poor, downtrodden and suffering have been more sinful than the wealthy and "successful").

That, of course, is not how the REAL Bible envisions God and his judgments. It is much more about achieving predetermined ends, containing rampant evil and demonstrating his reliability (prophesied judgments), his glory and his general interest in and care for humanity than about individual reward/punishment in this lifetime.

Let me be clear: I am not against any action one way of the other. If God takes no action and only makes a judgement in the afterlife where justice will be paid that is fine. If he chooses to take a more active role by containing rampant evil in this lifetime then that is also acceptable. What is less acceptable however is a more haphazard approach were God repeatedly punishes evil in the past but then decides to take a 2000 year hiatus which maybe nothing when compared to eternity but is more than enough time for evil to run wild. If the objective of the Bible was to contain the worst evils with periodic rewards/punishments then the Bible has failed in this regard.

Why is it that people in the Tower were punished but in all likelihood the bankers of today will go unpunished? Similar crimes different outcomes. I will only consider that God has taken action if there is divine intervention i.e. punishment is delivered by suspending the laws of nature in some manner (as happened in Babel, Noah's ark etc.). If the pigmen suffer due to the issues of bankruptcies, environmental destruction or social upheaval I do not consider that to be divine punishments as those outcomes came either from the actions of men or the consequences of the foolish actions taken by men i.e. self-inflicted punishments. If that happens then the pigmen's suffering is no different than what happened to the French aristocrats; it will merely be different because the scale will be far grander and perhaps the guillotines will be a little more sophisticated or exotic.   
« Last Edit: September 23, 2013, 06:53:33 PM by monsta666 »

Online Ashvin

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Re: TOWER OF BABEL: fact or fiction? by Stucky
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2013, 06:52:06 PM »
However in this instance by striking down on the Tower, God punished men with confusion which is a denial of free will. He has altered the nature of man by altering his very mind which is an act that goes against free will. Moreover he did not even give man an opportunity to avoid this fate.

How do you know God altered their minds? We have to step back and look at the larger point being made by the author, i.e. that some sort of ungodly urbanization/centralization was taking place but then it was at least temporarily slowed down or stopped, and the author attributes this to God's intervention.

The narrative seems to indicate that this outcome was partly due to a linguistic split and/or difficulty to communicate and cooperate, but there's nothing that dictates we must take this as God literally eliminating their ability to recognize each other's words. It's very possible the author is attributing the "natural" linguistic delineations, conflicts and migratory patterns in this region over time to God's will.

Here's what we know based on the narrative alone:

-We have no idea how long of a time period it is referencing (but any urbanization project back then would have taken a long time).

-We have no idea how many people it is referencing (but, based on the context, it could be referencing a large group of Semites i.e. descendants of Shem)

- We do know there was some sort of urbanization project underway, perhaps with certain religious "tower"(s) as the core public buildings.

- We have a general idea of where this took place 

Quote
God could have easily sent a prophet (as he often did in other times) who could have made the offer that the Tower must be destroyed. If people were unwilling to do so then then God could enforce whatever punishment he deemed fit. If that happened you could argue that God offered man a choice and thus free will. But this is not what happened so I can't see how any free will was observed. It was divine intervention and people had no say or recourse to avoid this eventuality.

Genesis 9:1 says that God tells Noah and his sons to "be fruitful, increase in # and fill the earth". It also makes clear that the rest of the narrative will begin to focus on Shem and his descendants, specifically Abraham. Although there was no specific prophet here, it is safe to assume that the Semites were well aware of God's will but many of them lost sight of it over time and eventually decided to ignore it completely, culminating in the events of Babel.

But, as far as OT "judgments" go, this one was mild to say the least.

You are basically saying that,
Let me be clear: I am not against any action one way of the other. If God takes no action and only makes a judgement in the afterlife where justice will be paid that is fine. If he chooses to take a more active role by containing rampant evil in this lifetime then that is also acceptable. What is less acceptable however is a more haphazard approach were God repeatedly punishes evil in the past but then decides to take a 2000 year hiatus which maybe nothing when compared to eternity but is more than enough time for evil to run wild. If the objective of the Bible was to contain the worst evils with periodic rewards/punishments then the Bible has failed in this regard.

Right, so either God should never intervene or he should always intervene when evil occurs? The former is deism, and the latter would truly be a threat to humanity's free agency.

I'm not sure why people assume that God was constantly intervening and passing judgment on humanity 24/7 in the OT. The OT texts arguably covers at least 10,000 years of history from the time of the Flood, and then only focuses on a limited region and group of nations. It's only after we make these flawed assumptions that it seems like God has been on "hiatus" for 2000 years. That hiatus perspective also requires that we ignore the entirety of the NT and the Gospel message centered in the person of Jesus, from whom stems the mission of the Church.

Quote
Why is that people in the Tower were punished but in all likelihood the bankers of today will go unpunished? Similar crimes different outcomes. I will only consider that God has taken action if there is divine intervention i.e. punishment is delivered by suspending the laws of nature in some manner (has happened in Babel, Noah's ark etc.). If the pigmen suffer due to the issues of bankruptcies, environmental destruction or social upheaval I do not consider that to be divine punishments as those outcomes came either from the actions of men or the consequences of the foolish actions taken by men i.e. self-inflicted punishments. If that happens then the pigmen's suffering is no different than what happened to the French aristocrats; it will merely be different because the scale will be far grander and perhaps the guillotines will be a little more sophisticated.

Most of God's judgments in the OT and NT are carried out through human instruments and involve only a few miracles if any. Beyond that, not all miracles must involve suspending the laws of nature, but rather could involve miracles of timing or rare probabilities. The judgments that involve God's direct intervention via suspension of natural laws are few and far between.

 

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