Ancient Skyscrapers: Language, Cooperation, and Rebellion



Humanity has an innate desire to build. To construct a world and society in its own image. We long to come together united and make a name for ourselves.

This is an ancient desire.

One can look at the massive constructions built throughout the world and clearly see humanity’s desire to create. From the awe-inspiring Pyramids of Egypt to the massive Great Wall of China, the earth is littered with ancient attempts at creating their own world.

We today are not unfamiliar with this trend. Landscapes of pure nature are long forgotten, now only existing in “parks”— not the local manufactured images of nature, but natural preserves like Yosemite. Of course one could leave the West and find nature, but little of it exists in America.

We are building a new world. One filled with buildings and streets.

This world has been created and will continue to develop through human learning and cooperation. It is through these that the impossible will be achieved.

At no time in human history has the world known so much. Nothing has ever existed in comparison to the vast libraries of current human understanding in physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and social sciences.

This has been made possible by one means—the transcending of language.

We are able to speak to one another regardless of our native language and are able to unite and work together.

Yes, humans have always been able to learn other languages and communicate through translation. But not to the scale that exists today.

We have computers which translate any language and scores of people who translate professionally. Moreover, a few languages have come to dominate the world, not the least of which is English. Nearly all people and nations in the world learn English or want to do so. In fact, the dominance of a few languages globally has led to the death of countless dialects. According to some estimates, two languages die each month.

But perhaps the greatest source of humanity’s unity and ability to communicate is the Internet. People across the globe can communicate instantly and seamlessly. More can be achieved now than ever before. All of humanity can unite together and build a new future in its own image. This is humanity’s ancient desire.

But unity and global cooperation is something God does not want.

This seems shocking since our current culture holds unity and global cooperation as one of the greatest goals for the future of humanity.

A similar sentiment was held by a people now long forgotten save a short passage in the narrative of Genesis. It is the story of the tower of Babylon.

“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-9)

Why was God so concerned?

God states that if humanity is united, in one language and as one people, “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Nothing? Humanity may be able to destroy themselves. Destroy the earth. Destroy each other. Or, what is most likely in this passage, to become their own gods. To overthrow their creator and his creation and refashion the world in their own image. To build a new world and a new creation.

Ages ago, God scattered humanity for this very reason—He did not want them to unite. He did not want them to cooperate on a global scale. Humanity is rebellious. And if humanity is united, their rebellion is compounded. Human unity results in one outcome—unity against God.

In an age now where humanity is uniting, both in language and cooperation, God no doubt has this same sentiment. Once again, we are building the tower of Babylon. We want to reach the sky, the place of God’s dwelling. We are now storming his dwelling place and taking what is His.

It is no wonder that we now live in an age where we are capable of altering the very fabric of our existence—the genetic existence of both animals and men. The hybridization and combination of genes from different species is a reality. We are on the cusp of literally creating a new world. We have become our own gods and seek to refashion the world as we see fit.

The question is, how long until God intervenes once again…


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  • You are quite right of course. Unity in of itself is not a sin. Overwhich we are united is, however. Unity in God and the Gospel is perfect and what God intends and you are quite right about the disolution of the language barrier at pentacost.

    Well said. I did not put that together.

    That being said, man can unite againt God and does.

    In this case, they were uniting in disobedience. He disolved their unity to scatter them.

    We need to remeber the long term sitiuation. Man will unite once again, as one. One language. One religion. One system of governement. Upon this day, God will come down and scatter us once again.

    While unity itself is not the culprit, it is an agent in rebellion.

  • But unity and global cooperation is something God does not want.

    I fundamentally disagree with this statement. Unity and cooperation is a necessary requirement in the process of evangelism. We are called to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). How can you claim that God opposes global cooperation in light of the great commission?

    God even goes to the extent of taking an active role in this process of unity and cross-cultural cooperation on the day of Pentecost. God removes the language barrier between nations in order to further the spread of the Gospel.

    The sin of those who were constructing the tower of Babel was one of disobedience, not of unity. God’s command to these people was to “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1). They were in direct disobedience to this command when they set out to build the tower of Babel: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Gen 11:4). Because the people didn’t follow God’s command, he caused them to become confused and speak in different languages. God’s action in this story is no different from Jonah. He is ensuring that the people follow His direction, even when they rebel against His command.

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