This story of the tower of Babel does not really explain why God was concerned that the people were building a city. Some say it’s because they were trying to reach God with their city and God wanted to prevent them from succeeding. I’m not so sure. In light of the world we live in today, I think maybe God was concerned because they had stumbled upon the capability to create a towering building before they had the wisdom to harness the power of their discoveries responsibly.
Today we have so much technology it is mind-blowing. The things we are capable of doing, and the things we do simply because we can – it makes me wonder if anyone stops to think whether or not we should? The ethical ramifications of many of the things we are able to do now are staggering. Technologically we are incredibly advanced. As a species, I’m not so sure humanity has evolved as quickly as our technology. I’m not so sure we always harness the power responsibly (Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Deep Water Horizon). Now I’m not saying we should go back to a darker age. I am saying we must continue to have conversations of ethics with every new discovery and invention. God didn’t destroy the people building Babel’s tower – God simply slowed them down a bit. We might do well to take a breath once in a while and look around us to see just what we have created and how our actions impact the earth.
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.