Friday, August 31, 2007

Does God Fear Human Greatness?



The story of the Tower of Babel is quite revealing; not so much as a historical document, but for its insight into God's perspective. Here's a summary of the story from Genesis 11:1-9:

The people of the earth were establishing a city and proposed using new technology (bricks and tar) to build a skyscraper to unite them and make a name for themselves. This is similar motivation for today's skycrapers, although brick and tar won't make a very tall tower. But then God came down to earth to take a look and 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." And so God used a nasty trick of confusing their communication to scuttle their plans.

But why, if God is so great, should he be worried about a tower that is a hundredth of the height of modern skycrapers? Clearly it is not just the tower, but the whole idea of human cooperation and progress that he doesn't like. But what is wrong with cooperation and progress? Surely those aren't bad. So it has got to be the greatness humans achieve through cooperation and progress that has God worried. Human progress and greatness threaten God, and so God knocks us off the ladder.

Perhaps it is like this. One child with an infinite number of Lego sets sees another child with just one lego set starting to build himself a tower. The first feels threatened and knocks down the second child's tower.