What, exactly, is the Tower of Babel?
To theologians and students of mythology, its story explains explain how different languages came to be, rooted in biblical testimony. For many religious individuals, the Tower of Babel has come to represent the folly and arrogance of humankind.
To others, the Tower of Babel is not a symbol from an ancient story, but a prolific modern-day ideology with growing popularity around the world: globalism.
Drawing parallels between the Tower of Babel and this contemporary school of thought sheds insight on how such thinkers might prove skeptical in the face of recent political developments, as they see a brand new Tower of Babel being built right before their eyes.
The Tower of Babel as a Building
In looking at the origins story of the Tower of Babel, we are led to the Bible — specifically to the book of Genesis, which describes how the tower came to be.
As the story reads, the people who remained (and all spoke the same language) after the Great Flood constructed the tall tower in efforts to reach heaven and God himself. Displeased by this project, God is said to have confounded their speech so that they could not understand one another and then scattered them all over the world.
Christian scholars and authors attest that the Tower of Babel was an affront to God, with humanity coming together in trust of one another rather than in God — a challenge to his power.
Some draw parallels with this tower mentioned in the Bible and modern day edifices that seek similar international goals of human unity, such at the European Union’s Parliament Building in Strasbourg, France.
The Tower of Babel Today: An Ideology
The purported reasons for the erection of the Tower of Babel closely mirror those of globalism, or a group of ideologies that advocate policies such as “increases in immigration, free trade, lowering tariffs, interventionism and global governance.” The prevalence of English as a global language is a key example of evidence of globalism. Between the global expansion of business and the internet, we’re now more unified than ever.
Globalism is generally viewed as the opposite of nationalism, which is the identification and fervent support with one’s own nation.
Skeptics of globalism cite the propensity for global domination by a few powerful players as reason for doubting its apparent goal of unifying the people of the world.
This notion of a New World Order, wherein an authoritarian world government would replace sovereign nation states, seems to some as a reemergence of the same story told in the Bible of the Tower of Babel, only with new players. Some posit this possibility has been foretold in religious texts and so should be avoided.
For this reason, some, especially those rooted in the Christian faith, are distrustful of governing bodies such as the United Nations, which they claim “worship the false gods of man, all in the name of unity and security,” and see such bodies as denials of divine power.
Commentary on the Connection
Thinkers from many different schools of thought have weighed in on the impact of globalism and its connection to the Tower of Babel.
Pope Benedict XVI, in a Pentecost homily, said, “But what is Babel? It is … a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away. They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God’s place … We don’t realize we are reliving the same experience as Babel.”
In this instance, the Pope admonishes humankind for being foolish enough to think that God is unnecessary in the quest to achieve unity.
Similarly, Melissa Tittl, the creator of Gaia’s Ancient Civilizations series, writes, “Maybe what the Tower of Babel represents is our combined efforts to reach the heavens through technology and law, and we are missing the point of how to really connected to the gods and to ourselves … history keeps repeating itself until we figure out how to create cosmic consciousness through the use of our own connection to the divine.”
Again, in this case, Tittl takes to task the notion that humans believe earthly problems can be solved with human effort.
Modern-Day and Futuristic Views on Globalism
In evaluating present-day changes, many people look to the past. When it comes to analyzing globalism, those from various paradigms see the movement as an echo of a past transgression made by humanity.
However, analysis from futurists such as Alvin Toffler offers a different perspective. While many already recognize the globalization of the world in terms of commodities and goods, expanding everywhere, the growing marketplace of knowledge-based goods, largely intangible products bought and sold through cyberspace, effectively exist nowhere. This space has been referred to as “the new continent,” wherein entrepreneurs are making fortunes without tying them to physical locations.
If then, it is said the builders of the Tower of Babel were trying to reach the heavens, perhaps mankind’s future attempts will prove to have much the same goal in mind.
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