“The rebellion at Babel was not some impossible undertaking, such as attempting to reach heaven with a man made tower, as one might infer from the King James translation of Genesis 11:4.”
“The words ‘may reach’ are not in the original; the correct sense of the passage apparently connotes the erection of a great temple-tower dedicated to the worship of the ‘host of heaven,’ uniting all mankind in worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator (Rom.1:25) The most effective way of halting this blasphemy and of enforcing Godʼs command to fill the earth was that of confounding their languages.”
(The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Henry M. Morris, 1984, p.430)
Do you or Henry Morris wish to discuss the Bible?
The Tower of Babel section reads:
- 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, letʼs 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.
[Notice what “God” says here after “coming down” to “see the city and the tower.” “God” says, “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.” What does that mean? What is “God” afraid of here? Reminds me of Genesis, chapter 3: “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.” Notice the words, “He has become like one of us, knowing good and evil,” and, “he must not be allowed to take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever.” What is “God” afraid of there as well? These verses resemble other portraits of ancient Near Eastern deities jealousy guarding such things as “eternal life” and their abilities to do things that man finds “impossible.”
As for Morrisʼs explanation that God feared that man would “worship the host of heaven,” this merely provides another example of the pre-scientific cosmologies of the ancients, including the Hebrews. The mere fact that the Hebrews had to be warned, many times, not to worship what lay “above” them, i.e., “the sun, moon, and stars, all the host of heaven.” (Deut. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:5; 23:5; Jer. 7:18; 19:13; 44:17,19,25) implies that they never suspected that the earth was just as much a “heavenly object” as all the stars they “looked up to.” They never suspected that the earth was an integral part of them, sailing among the other “heavenly bodies.” If they had, then they would never have been tempted to “worship” objects that lay “above” their heads - because the earth lay equally “above” all those other heavenly objects depending on oneʼs perspective. Or as Nietzsche once put it, “So long as thou feelest the stars as an ‘above thee,’ thou lackest the eye of the discerning one.” (Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Sage as Astronomer,” Beyond Good and Evil) So, this provides further evidence of the flat earth views of the ancients.
The Tower of Babel story continues:
- 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.
Let me point out that the evolution of human language is not something that took place once and for all at “Babel.” Itʼs taking place today, and linguists can trace the continuing evolution of languages, sometimes over millenia. Just compare Old English, Middle English and Modern English. Or compare all the European languages that evolved from the Roman Empireʼs Latin. And lastly, let me point out that humanity has acheived things during the last two centuries that previously were thought to be “impossible,” like measuring the heights of clouds and stars, and coming far closer to “counting” the sand and the stars, things that were unthinkable to the ancient Hebrews. And letʼs not forget space flight (sailing above the clouds where angels with their bird-like wings once flew), computers, AI, vaccines (against Godʼs plagues), cracking the human genome, genetic engineering, etc., all with our languages being “confused!” And lastly, the number of languages spoken today keeps diminishing, itʼs kind of like a reversal of Babel. At last count, thousands of languages have become extinct, with more such extinctions on the horizon. The Bible says nothing about any of this, nothing about a reversal of Babel, nothing about modern scientific discoveries. Nothing about more than half the world, like North and South America and the Far East, or Austral-Asia, or even South Africa for that matter. The Bible is an archaic book of pre-scientific beliefs mixed with some common ethical wisdom (the latter of which hasnʼt changed much).
As for what people worship, apparently a massive flood, and confusing languages, and killing his own people, as well as commanding them to commit genocide on their neighbors, none of that has prevented people from worshipping lots of different things. Though I personally no longer honestly find the “Bible” worth worshipping as inerrant or infallible, nor Henry Morrisʼs interpretations of it. I have written elsewhere of some of his lame attempts for instance for try and prove that the Bible speaks of heliocentricity. My word, what mental hoops he jumps through, what unbelievable explanations he comes up with, as if he canʼt even read the plain words of the Bible itself:
The Story Of The Tower Of Babel
[with comments by former fundamentalist, Ed Babinski]
The tale of the tower of Babel is an explanatory myth, an early attempt to account for the diversity of language and the diffusion of humanity after the legendary flood of Noah. Genesis, chapter 11, tells the story: “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, let us build us a city and a tower.” Next thing you know, “God” “comes down” to “see the city and the tower” then complains that “nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do,” or, “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” So God “confuses their tongues.”
Godʼs alleged complaint would have made a lot more sense today than it did back then. Today we have accomplished many things deemed “impossible” by the ancients. We have “measured the heights of the stars,” “searched out the foundations of the earth,” laid claim to the moon, sent space probes beyond Pluto, diminished or halted plagues (via modern plumbing, sanitation, vaccines and antibiotics), avoided deadly lightning strikes (via the invention of the lightning rod), greatly increased the odds of infant survival, etc. In short, we have reduced the destructive potentials of acts of nature that were previously considered “acts of God.” Mankind is also unlocking the secrets of DNA, and probably will unlock secrets of artificial intelligence too. All this despite the language barriers that “God” allegedly set up at Babel. Surely it is absurd to think that the same God who allowed man to develop all of the above marvels once pulled a hissy fit over a bunch of brick-layers? (“And they said one to another, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, let us build us a city and a tower.”)
Furthermore, note “Godʼs” seemingly surprised and/or anxious reaction in Genesis (chapter 11) after he “comes down” and “looks” at what man has built: “Nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do.” So God takes immediate action to “confuse their tongues.” A similar pattern is found in Genesis (chapter 3) “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden.” Such stories resemble other portraits of ancient Near Eastern deities jealousy guarding such things as their “knowledge,” their secret of “eternal life,” or their divine abilities to accomplish amazing things.
Let me also point out that the evolution of human language is not something that took place once and for all at “Babel.” Linguists and etymologists agree that languages are continually evolving. Just compare Old English, Middle English and Modern English. Or compare the various European languages that evolved from the Latin tongue spoken by people of the Roman Empire.
Moreover, the number of languages spoken keeps diminishing; thousands of languages have become or are becoming extinct. The Bible says nothing about any of this, nothing about a “reversal of Babel,” nor anything about the modern scientific discoveries I mentioned above. But then, the Bible also says nothing about the existence of most of the rest of the world that lay beyond the Roman Empire. It would seem that the Bible is as deficient in its knowledge of geography as it is in its knowledge of linguistics and science.
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lordʼs: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
- Psalm 115:16
Notice that according to this ancient psalmist, man was given the earth, but the heavens are the Lordʼs. Yet no one today fears that men have left footprints and garbage in “the Lordʼs” heavens (on the moon). Nor do they tremble when we launch spacecraft named after pagan gods (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo) into “the Lordʼs” heavens even though Exodus 23:13 forbids mentioning even the “names” of “other gods.” Seems to me that the same Bible believers who picket abortion clinics need to awaken to the even more dire need to picket NASA before something bad happens like it did at, say, “the tower of Babel.” Space exploration must cease. Just to be safe letʼs also turn our telescopes away from the heavens. Itʼs an invasion of Godʼs privacy.
The Holy Heavens Of The Hebrews
The ancient Hebrews pictured the Lord and His “holy heavens” lying somewhat nearer to the earth than we imagine today:
He bowed the heavens and came down.
- 2nd Samuel 22:10
The Lord came down [from heaven].
- Genesis 11:5
Elijah was lifted up by a whirlwind to heaven.
- 2 Kings 2:11
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?
- Proverbs 30:4
Angels “ascended and descended” on a “ladder” reaching to “heaven.”
- Gen. 28:12
Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
- John 1:51
The ancient Babylonians, Assyrians and Hebrews, pictured angels (seraphim, etc.) with bird-like wings flying through the earthʼs atmosphere to a “heaven” flying directly above the earth rather than through light-years of space lacking an atmosphere and where bird-like appendages would prove useless.
“Manna,” the food supplied to the Hebrews in the wilderness, falls from heaven.
- Exodus 16, Numbers 11 & Deuteronomy 8
Angels who told of Jesusʼ birth “went away from [the shepherds] into heaven.”
- Luke 2:15
A “star [of heaven]…went on before the [wise men], until it came and stood over where the child [Jesus] was”
- Mat. 2:9
Such a “star” would have to be incredibly small to lead the wise men and then stand directly above the house where Jesus was born. Such a tale also helped reinforce belief in the holiness of the heavens, since those heavens were depicted as being able to direct people in a miraculous fashion.
The heavens were opened unto him [Jesus at his baptism], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven…
- Mathew 3:16-17
At “the Ascension,” “[the resurrected Jesus] was lifted up…and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9), whereupon Jesus took his seat “in the heavens…in the true tabernacle [tent], which the Lord pitched.”
- Heb. 8:1,2
And Jesus will return in the sky “seated at the right hand of Power” with the “clouds of heaven.”
- Mat. 26:64
The Lord will descend from heaven…and we shall be caught up…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17
Heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him [Peter], as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth.
- Acts 10:11
…a door standing open in heaven, and the…voice…said, Come up here.
- Revelation 4:1
And there was a great earthquake…and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the sky was split apart…and [men] hid themselves in caves…and said to the mountains…hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne.
- Revelation 6:12-16
I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
- Acts 7:56
The “heavenly city,” the “New Jerusalem” “comes down out of heaven” to earth.
- Revelation 3:12, 21:2
God is in heaven, and you are on the earth.
- Ecclesiastes 5:2
The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; But the earth He has given to the sons of men.
- Psalm 115:16
Further corroboration of the ancient view of the near proximity of God and heaven overhead, is not hard to find. The Babylonians built towers, called ziggurats, reaching toward heaven to attract the sky godsʼ attention. (Compare the Bibleʼs tale of the “tower of Babel” — Gen. 11:5) Mountains were like natureʼs ziggurats. Abraham ascended a mountain to sacrifice his son to the Lord. Moses spoke to the Lord after having ascended a mountain. (Ex. 19:20) Jerusalem was built on a holy hill nicknamed “Mt. Zion.” Jesus was transfigured on a mountaintop. And the resurrected Jesus was seen on a “mountain which Jesus had designated” in Galilee (Mat. 28:16), or is said to have ascended into heaven from a mountain near Jerusalem (Acts 1).
Based on the authority of many such Bible verses, the heavenly/spiritual realm was believed to lie “above” the earth and so near that climbing a mountain brought you relatively “nearer” to God. Of course, we know today that climbing a mountain only brings you infinitesimally “nearer” to the nearest star that still lays millions to billions of (conventional) miles away.
Moreover, the Hebrews had to be warned, many times, not to worship what lay “above” them, i.e., “the sun, moon, and stars, all the host of heaven.” (Deut. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:5; 23:5; Jer. 7:18; 19:13; 44:17,19,25) They never suspected that the earth was just as much a “heavenly object” as all the stars they “looked up to.” They never suspected that the earth was an integral part of them, sailing among the other “heavenly bodies.” If they had, then they would never have been tempted to “worship” objects that lay “above” their heads — because the earth lay equally “above” all those other heavenly objects depending on oneʼs perspective. Or as Nietzsche once put it, “So long as thou feelest the stars as an ‘above thee,’ thou lackest the eye of the discerning one.” (Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Sage as Astronomer,” Beyond Good and Evil)
For thousands of years (until the Protestant Reformation), pagans, Jews and Christians agreed that the stars lay “above” man and “nearer” to God, while Christians added that the earth was a “sink of impurity” with hell lying at the earthʼs center. Such a view was inspired by Biblical passages that spoke of the heavens above the earth as the holy abode of God and angels (Ps. 115:16; Eccles. 5:2; Gen. 11:5,7; 28:12; Isa. 40:22; Heb. 8:1,2; 2 Kings 2:11; 2 Sam. 22:10; Luke 2:15; Mat. 23:22; 26:64; Acts 1:9), with sheol, hades, the land of the dead, hell, lying beneath the earth (Job 11:8; Ps. 71:20; 88:3,6; 1 Sam. 28:8,13,15; Amos 9:2,3; Philip. 2:10; Rev. 5:13).
Today, of course, we know that the sun, planets and stars lying “above the earth” are not “nearer to God” nor “nearer to a heavenly/spiritual realm” than we are on the earthʼs surface. And some people even dare to believe that perhaps God has given man not just the “earth” but also the “heavens” too, to explore.
Ancient Hebrew psalmists drew a parallel between the height of the “clouds” and the wondrous height of their Lordʼs “truth”:
For Thy lovingkindness is great to the heavens, And Thy truth to the clouds.
- Psalm. 57:10
Comparing the heights of Godʼs truth to the heights of the clouds no longer impresses modern man. Today we look down upon the clouds from aircraft and measure “heights” in light-years.
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
- Psalm 103:12
The distance “from the east to the west” hardly seems like an impressive analogy to use to illustrate the separation of sins from a sinner, not today. Since we now know we live on a globe where traveling “east” eventually brings you back to where you began, unless of course, the author of this Psalm assumed the flatness of the earth.
[Can] the heavens above be measured?
- Jeremiah 31:37
The phrase, “cannot be measured,” refers in Hebrew to any great height, or number of finite things that no one would dream of measuring or counting one by one: “As the host of heaven cannot be counted, and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David.” (Jer. 33:22) Actually, the “descendants of David” total an incredibly smaller number than the number of known stars in the cosmos, but to the Hebrews both sets of numbers appeared equally “immeasurable.” Compare, Genesis 41:49, “Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.” Such things appeared “immeasurable” to the ancient Hebrews because they could not conceive of ways of measuring them. Two thousand years later we have developed ways of measuring the “height” of clouds, the moon, the sun, and other galaxies. So, today, “measuring the heavens” is somebodyʼs job.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou are mindful of him?
- Psalm 8:3-4
Does this verse demonstrate that the Psalmist was inspired by God to describe how small man appears when compared with the size of the modern cosmos? Hardly. No “inspiration” was necessary. The “heavens” referred to the clouds, and to the sun, moon and stars that the psalmist believed did not lie far above the clouds, along with the angelic heavenly realm lying not far above the sun, moon and stars. Any similarities between this ancient verse and modern day cosmic angst is merely relative. No doubt the cosmos must have felt intangibly huge to the ancients, regardless of their belief that the earth beneath their feet was the flat firm foundation of creation. In fact it may be that their cosmos felt more intangibly huge to them than our cosmos does to us because we can fly round the world, above the clouds, gaze at photos of outer space, and open a book on astronomy and read the distances to stars and galaxies set down for us in tangible numerical form.
Of course, knowing what he know today about the heights of the heavens, we are not likely to make the same poetic analogies as the ancients, like comparing the Lordʼs “truth” to the “height of the clouds,” which sounds less grand than it did to the ancients. Neither do we believe, along with the ancients (including the ancient Hebrews), that climbing a mountain or a tower brings us literally nearer to God.
The Bibleʼs Geocentrism
For most of recorded history people imagined that their feet were planted on firm ground, terra firma. The view presented in the Bible is no exception. The Bible depicts the earth as the firm, immovable, “foundation” of creation:
Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth.
- Hebrews 1:10
The sun, moon, and stars were created after the “foundation of the earth” was laid. (Gen. 1:9-18)
Who hath established all the ends of the earth?
- Proverbs 30:4
He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter, forever and ever.
- Psalm 104:5
The world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
- Psalm 93:1 & 1 Chronicles 16:30
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?…Who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof?
- Job 38:4-6
For the pillars of the earth are the Lordʼs, and he set the world on them.
- 1 Samuel 2:8
It is I who have firmly set its pillars.
- Psalm 75:3
Who stretched out the heavens…and established the world.
- Jeremiah 10:12
The only time the Bible depicts the earth as moving is during an earthquake:
The earth quaked, the foundations of heaven were trembling.
- 2 Samuel 22:8
The earth quakes, the heavens tremble.
- Joel 2:10
I shall make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place.
- Isaiah 13:13
There was a great earthquake…and the stars of the sky fell…as if shaken from a tree.
- Rev. 6:12,13
Though the Fathers of Protestantism (Luther and Calvin) agreed with the Catholic Church of their day that the earth was a sphere, neither Protestant nor Catholic theologians could see a way to avoid the Bibleʼs teaching that the earth does not move. The verses regarding that matter appeared crystal clear to major religious leaders. They also agreed that the Bible teaches that the sun and stars move round the earth.
For instance the Bible says, “He can command the sun not to rise” (Job 9:7), rather than, “He can command the earth to stop moving.” That God would direct His command at the sun rather than the earth, implied an unmistakably geocentric perspective. Likewise, Martin Luther pointed out that when the book of Joshua discussed the miracle of “Joshuaʼs long day,” that day was lengthened because “Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth.” (Joshua 10:12) Speaking of the sunʼs movement, the Bible also states: “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hastening to its place it rises there again.” (Eccles. 1:5, NASB)
Verses that spoke of the “rising” and “setting” of the sun might be disregarded as being due to oneʼs earth-bound perspective, but speaking of the sun “hastening to its place” so that it may “rise there again,” is not so easy to explain away. It means the author of Ecclesiastes believed that the sun moved daily around the earth. Compare Psalm 19:4-6, “In [the heavens] He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices like a strong man to run its course, its rising from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them.”
As for the stars, the Bible teaches that they too move across the sky: “From their courses they fought against Sisera.” (Judges 5:20, NASB) “The One who leads forth their host by number…Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one [star] is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26, NASB) Even whole constellations of stars are “led forth” in their season: “Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, And guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, Or fix their rule over the earth?” (Job 38:31-33, NASB)
Compare such descriptions with modern astronomy, which teaches that the sun and stars only appear to move daily and seasonally around the earth. The appearance of movement is due to the earthʼs daily rotation and yearly revolutions round the sun. So, modern astronomy teaches that it is erroneous to speak of the sun “hastening to its place,” or, “running its course;” erroneous to speak of God “commanding” the sun “not to rise;” erroneous for Joshua to “command” the sun to “stand still;” and erroneous to speak of stars being “led forth,” or constellations being “guided” and “led forth” “in their season,” or having “ordinances” that “fix their rule over the earth.” Because it is the earth that “hastens to” spin each day and that “courses” round the sun; it is the earth that God must “command” not to move and which Joshua should have commanded to “stand still,” and, it is the earth that God would have had to “lead forth,” and “guide” in “its season;” and it is the earthʼs “ordinances” not those of the constellations above it, that must be “fixed” in order for the constellations to appear to move as they do across the earthʼs sky.
Some Christians still side with the Bible over modern astronomy, like Dr. Gerardus Bouw, who rejects that the earth goes round the sun. He believes the reverse is true, based first and foremost on what the Bible teaches. In fact, heʼs the president of the “Society of Biblical Astronomy” and he wonders how any Christians who say they believe the Bible “cover to cover” can ignore the Bibleʼs view of the earthʼs immobility and the daily (and seasonal) movement of the sun, stars and constellations, especially when the Bible adds that God is doing the moving (and able to halt the motion) of the sun and stars. Is God a liar? Does the Bible depict God “commanding” and “leading forth” things that donʼt really move? Dr. Bouw believes the Bible means what it says. Besides, when God is depicted as moving the sun and stars (daily and seasonally), or stopping the sun (miraculously), or shaking an immovable earth (creating an earthquake), such actions are demonstrations of Godʼs “might.” They are either that, or “mighty deceptive” language for God to have “inspired.” Like telling people who start their cars and step on the gas that, “God leads forth the trees which speed by on the roadside…Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one is missing!” (cf. Isaiah 40:26). Therefore Bouw remains a geocentrist, just as the Good Book says he should.
Neither does Dr Bouw (who holds a degree in astronomy from Case-Western) have the slightest doubt that the “scientific evidence” supports his stationary-earth view rather than modern astronomy. Though I should think that a perusal of the Bible itself should help him realize how unscientific and naïve the Bibleʼs view of the cosmos was. The Bible does not list the number of planets in our solar system, nor does it reveal that the earth is just one more “wandering star.” And according to Genesis 1:16 only “two” great lamps (the Hebrew term translated as “great lights” in Genesis, means literally, “great lamps”) were created, the “Sun” and the “moon” — with no recognition of the fact that the stars are also “great lamps.” Rather, the Bible depicts “stars” as relatively small objects, created after the earth and “set” in the firmament above it, which shall “fall” to earth at its end.
Astronomers, not theologians, discovered that we live on one planet out of many, circling one star out of many, that lies on the periphery of one arm of one spiral-shaped galaxy out of many. Furthermore, a gargantuan ring of matter circles our solar system beyond Pluto, i.e., the Kuiper belt (visually confirmed in the late 1990s), and our Kuiper belt resembles similar rings of matter that have been observed circling nearby stars. So it is assumed that our star looks from a distance pretty much like other nearby stars. Most recently, over 60 large planets have been detected circling nearby stars. And as astronomers continue to develop more powerful telescopes they may eventually focus on smaller planets orbiting nearby stars, planets the size of earth. As far as such astronomical discoveries are concerned, the Bible remains as ignorant as any “flat earth” book possibly could.
(I ought to add that well meaning “creationist” Christians are always attempting to stick their thumbs in the Bible and pluck out modern scientific plums — “proof” texts which they claim demonstrate modern astronomical concepts such as the earthʼs “sphericity” and “daily rotation.” The Bible is a big book to be sure, and one can find many things in it if one looks hard enough. Alas “modern science” is not one of those things. For those interested in such texts and why they do not “prove” the Bibleʼs “inspiration,” I refer them to articles in Cretinism or Evilution, available at this website.)