Thursday, April 23, 2015

A toppled tower

I'm not sure how long I believed in the literal existence of the Tower of Babel and all its linguistic consequences. I'm pretty sure I believed in it as a little kid, probably didn't believe in it as teen (because who's stupid enough to try to find God living in the sky when we all know he's near Kolob?), tried really hard to regain belief in it as a missionary, and gave up entirely after taking a few linguistics courses and an Old Testament one at BYU post-mission.

The story of the Tower is problematic for a number of reasons. First of all, it must have been quite an undertaking to intimidate God enough that he felt he had to stop construction (but not destroy the tower), and yet there is no solid archeological evidence for it. Secondly, it seems this story has more to do with Mesopotamian myth designed to explain where languages come from and teach us not to challenge God. And most importantly, we know damn well that the languages of the world definitely did not all spring into existence circa 2300 BC. The very idea is simply ludicrous.

Even without knowing the first thing about historical linguistics you can see that the oldest texts we've found include more than one language pre-2300 BC.

This is all very bad fucking news for Mormons. Why? Because The Book of Mormon requires a literal belief in the Tower of Babel, that's why. Read for yourself...

the Title Page

 the Introduction

and the story in Ether.

"Dear Heavenly Father, I know this story isn't true, 
but please tell me it's True. Thanks. Amen."

Predictably - because The Book of Mormon must be understood as a literal history - the LDS Church still insists on a literal understanding of the Tower of Babel story. It's totally moronic, but somehow we find a way to doubt. There has to be an explanation. Heavenly Father will explain everything after we've proven ourselves. We'd better keep doubting this doubt.

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