ICR Explains The Tower of Babel

The last time we discussed the Tower of Babel was here, Answers in Genesis — The Ice Age. We learned from AIG’s creation scientists that the events at the Tower of Babel occurred during the fourth generation after Noah. Our calculations showed that when the great dispersal occurred there were then only 81 human families in existence, all of whom were descended from Noah’s three sons.

Today our learning adventure continues — this time at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. Their article is The Dispersal at Babel. It’s by John D. Morris, Ph.D., a son of ICR’s founder. He is currently the President of ICR, and that’s your guarantee of intellectual quality. With bold font added by us, he begins with a bit of historical background:

According to Genesis, Noah and his family disembarked from the Ark and offered a sacrifice to God in thankfulness for their great deliverance. God responded by giving them the rainbow as the sign of His promise to never again judge the earth with a similar flood. The promise came with the command to fill the earth, certainly through worldwide migration.

We have a quibble with that. In Genesis 9:1 it says: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Pretty much the same thing is said in Genesis 9:7. We see no mention of migration — or any migratory command. But we’ll let that go for the moment. ICR’s essay continues:

However, God’s holy nature was not altered — He still demands judgment for sin. It wasn’t long before mankind was again in full rebellion against Him.

We’ve always had a quibble about that. God had just wiped out almost all life on Earth because his perfect creation got out of whack in the Garden of Eden. Sterilizing the planet seems like a slight over-reaction, but it’s not up to us to judge such things. Nevertheless, a punishment that severe should have discharged any debt that was owed for the disobedience of Adam & Eve. Noah and his family were going to be a fresh start with a clean slate. But there we are at Babel, only a few generations later, and the whole thing was falling apart again. It must have been very disappointing. Let’s read on:

Under the leadership of wicked Nimrod, they built an astrological observation tower at Babel from which to worship the creation rather than the Creator.

Aaaargh!! We have another quibble. According to Genesis 11: 1-7:

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, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

We don’t see any mention of astrological observations. ICR continues:

At that time, all people spoke the same language, and working together, the rebellion-minded members built the tower in open disobedience to God’s migration command, boldly defying Him with the assertion “lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth”. Most of the family groups had probably remained together while rapidly multiplying. God could not leave this dual-pronged rebellion unpunished. He confused their language, halted the cooperative rebellious building project, and enforced migration.

We don’t pretend to have bible expertise, but we can read, and we have no idea where Morris is getting his information about a “dual-pronged rebellion.” Anyway, after that the ICR essay starts to get so goofy that it’s difficult to select any representative excerpts. Morris is trying to fit all of the world’s populations and history into the dispersal from Babel. Here’s what he says happened to those 81 families in the fourth generation after Noah:

The strongest, most prominent groups, including the forerunners of the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Akkadians, and the Assyrians, probably remained where they were, forcing the others to leave. They retained technology that they had previously acquired and founded advanced city states, while other powerful groups claimed the fertile territory nearby—areas with desirable natural resources such as the Nile River basin. The remaining clans migrated where they could, with stronger ones continually displacing the weaker. Some moved south to the African continent, and others moved east to Asia. The Ice Age was spreading across Europe, and groups who moved there were forced to adjust their lifestyles.

How could a tiny handful of families create “advanced city states”? And observe the inherent bias in suggesting that it was the least powerful and capable people who migrated farthest away to places like Asia and Africa. Ah well, moving along:

All groups took with them the knowledge of God, the Flood, and proper worship, as well as the false worship practiced at Babel. Many new civilizations constructed similar towers or pyramids and began worshiping the stars, using the same imaginary star pictures in the Zodiac.

None of that makes any sense. The Chinese zodiac, for example, is quite different from the Babylonian. As for the dispersed people preserving their knowledge of the Flood, all flood legends around the world are wildly different (except for obvious essentials like boats and water), as would be expected of tales that have totally separate origins. We discussed all of that here: ICR: Even More Proof of the Flood.

There’s also the strange case of global amnesia regarding our universal ancestor who heroically survived a relatively recent flood — the greatest and most catastrophic event in world history. How is it possible that no one in the world ever heard the name of Noah, except in cultures influenced by the bible? According to the Ussher chronology, the Flood was in 2,348 BC, about 4,300 years ago. Is that too long ago for the world to remember Noah’s name? We remember Julius Caesar, who lived a little longer than 2,000 years ago. Three thousand years ago, roughly 1,000 BC, it gets a bit fuzzier — yet we remember Homer, who wrote of the Trojan War, and we remember the names of several Chinese emperors. Going further back, we remember the names of Pharaohs who reigned a thousand years earlier. So of all the world’s people with flood tales (and there are many that don’t have such a legend), why does only one remember the name of Noah — or their origin at Babel?

We’re ending the lesson here because ICR’s final paragraph is too nonsensical for us, but go ahead and read it if you like. Okay, class, now we ask you — what did you learn today? Come on, you must have learned something!

You learned that the Tower of Babel makes just as much sense as Noah’s Ark, yet it’s just as important to creationists. They believe it, and they probably want it to be part of every history class in school. After all, it’s The Truth.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “ICR Explains The Tower of Babel

  1. I find it fascinating how they feel so free to make stuff up. You mention astrology. Yes – and where does the Bible say that Nimrod was responsible for the Tower of Babel?
    But anyway, why hasn’t there been any divine wrath about building astronomical observatories on mountains, and sending telescopes into space?
    And sending people to the Moon!

  2. The link to the bible verse quoted in the story, http://www.icr.org/bible/Genesis/11/4/ , takes you to yet more invented history, spinning wildly away from the actual biblical account, including speculation on the original invention of the zodiac (by which the ICR probably means the Roman version). Perhaps the ICR has in it’s possession the secret appendixes to the original bible, containing all the footnotes and supplemental material not known to the rest of us.

    Also, the banner picture at the top of the ICR’s article is amazing. The original is here http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/85/Joos_De_Momper_-_La_tour_de_Babel.JPG in all it’s glory, with medieval europeans, a fleet of ships, etc.

  3. “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

    Just who is “us,” god and his henchmen? All the gods in the Bible’s polytheistic world?

    Imagine, too, if people in this story had never “migrated” from their origins. The Middle East would be a cesspool of humanity so dense, surrounded likewise by ‘burbs’ with stripmalls. Six billion people plus crammed into one biblical ghetto.

  4. I guess the neanderthals were a family that didn’t happen to have many technically savvy members. They were probably useful in hauling bricks, though, at Babel.

    Also, neither AiG or ICR mentions dinosaurs. Only four generations after Noah, and the dino’s have disappeared? That’s hard to believe. There should be some remaining dino’s around, a few pterodactyls flying overhead, some mammal-like reptiles or reptile-like mammals, forests of giant fern trees, etc. It’s odd that in the post-flood stories, the creationist seem to forget all the now-extinct animals that Noah had on the ark. The ark beaches on a mountain, a rainbow appears, then – poof – modern history begins, with no memory of all the strange exotic animals that AiG insists were on the ark.

    I seem to recall that Jack Chick mentioned them in a cartoon once, being hunted by early humans, but that’s all I can remember.

  5. Pete Moulton

    “I seem to recall that Jack Chick mentioned them in a cartoon once, being hunted by early humans, but that’s all I can remember.”

    I can see you’ve been trying to blot Jack Chick out of your mind, Ed. A worthy endeavor if there ever was one, IMO.

  6. That leads to the joke of the day: What are they smoking at the ICR? Why ziggurats of course!

  7. The Egyptians must have missed the memo because they don’t have a flood myth. This is most likely because the Nile floods so frequently that it isn’t a god worthy event. However they do have a myth about the Nile running red with blood. How did ICR miss that one?

  8. You are correct that the Bible does not say that Nimrod built the Tower of Babel; it also does not say that the Tower was any kind of Temple, nor an observatory, nor that it had strange astrological signs.

    John D. Morris’ dad, Henry Morris, insisted for many years that Satan had invented the Theory of Evolution and atop the Tower of Babel, adorned with astrological signs, Satan gave a Power Point Presentation to the evil humans led by Nimrod on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Really, that’s what Henry Morris taught.

    The fixation with Evil Nimrod goes back to nineteenth century racists and anti-Catholic conspiracists. Nimrod was descended from Ham, so racists demonized Nimrod as the black man who invented all Satanic, pagan, false religions. Henry Morris modified that just very slightly: Nimrod is still a Hamite, but all pagan religions are evolutionary.

    In addition, a very important influence on Morris, Jack Chick, and other fundamentalists was an anti-Catholic nineteenth century book called The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop. Hislop argued that Catholicism was a pagan Satanic religion that went back to Nimrod and the Tower of Babel. Nimrod allegedly had a “consort” (whore), the witch Semiramis (not in the Bible.) Hislop then proves conclusively that all male (and some female) gods in pagan religions are really Nimrod, and all the other female gods are Semiramis. So Nimrod/Semiramis are the basis of all pagan religions; and Semiramis is the whore of Babylon.

    But wait, Catholics think they’re venerating the Virgin Mary when in fact they’re really worshipping the witch-whore Semiramis disguised as the Virgin Mary. They don’t know what they’re worshipping.

    As many of you know, comic book creationist Jack Chick copied Hislop’s anti-Catholic theory directly into his anti-Catholic conspiracist comic books, including the whole bit about Virgin Mary = Semiramis. Chick hates, hates, hates Catholics at least as much as he hates scientists.

    As for Henry Morris, he does in fact cite Hislop as an expert on Nimrod and Babel– I believe Morris cites Hislop in either Many Infallible Proofs or The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth. If you care I’ll look it up. But Morris, unlike Chick, makes one small modification: Darwin’s theory of evolution is the basis of all the false religions, and Darwin’s theory is taught to Nimrod by Satan atop the Tower of Babel. So Henry Morris replaced “Catholic pagan millenia-spanning conspiracy” with “Darwinist pagan millenia-spanning conspiracy”. The influence of Hislop on Morris is obvious.

    I have read dozens of creationist books, and Hislop’s is the one I couldn’t get through. I’ve read some very insane stuff, so when I say it’s too insane for me, that’s REALLY insane. It’s like the manifesto of a suicidal lone gunman. You can find it online somewhere. Morris treated Hislop as the genius of the centuries.

  9. I should also add that Henry Morris stated clearly the the leaders of the rebellion were Hamites. So uppity, “rebellious” black people are to blame for us speaking different languages. The focus on the Tower of Babel as a “rebellion” is based on the the terror of race-mixing and the belief that black people like Nimrod are uppity, rebellious, and thus dangerous.

    For many decades racist creationists used Babel as an example of how race-mixing was “rebellion” against God. Today’s racist creationists, like the Kinists, called anti-racists “Babelists.”

  10. Retired Prof

    I’ve mentioned the Wrathful Dispersion Theory before, but in case you missed it, check it out here: http://q-pheevr.livejournal.com/33337.html

  11. Retired Prof mentions “the Wrathful Dispersion Theory”

    Makes sense to me!

  12. You somehow managed to miss old Utnapishtim, who appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which could conceivably have some cultural contact with the primeval Hebrews. Old Ut was the last survivor of a great flood, which he had escaped on a big boat along with craftsmen and pairs of animals. Gilgamesh went to him to ask the old sage where to find the herb that gives immortality.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utnapishtim

    Sounds a lot to me like a small valley full of Hebrews got flooded out a long time ago, and one family escaped with their livestock. Utnapishtim, or Noah, for short, settled down on some dryer ground while other people built drainage & irrigation.

  13. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    I forget where I first came across reference to it, but all (internet) roads lead back to this article in The Guardian concerning what may be an older precursor to even Gilgamesh.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/01/noahs-ark-was-circular

    Here’s another page where the Guardian article is mentioned and it appears some folks who are knowledgeable in the area are discussing it in the comments.

    http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/4364

    Unfortunately the original article is sparse on detail and sadder still is that there are no photos of the tablet. The curator who translated the tablet, Dr. Irving Finkel, is still employed at the British Museum according to their website.

    http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/departments/staff/middle_east/irving_finkel.aspx

    I always wanted to contact him and ask for some further detail or some photos of the tablet. I guess, seeing as I’m not really a studied or trained anything, I felt a little too intimidated to follow through. I do find it fascinating though.

    HA, I just stumbled across a video on the British Museum’s YouTube Channel that features none other than Dr. Finkel himself discussing The Tower of Babel. It links back to the museum’s website where you can catch another short video or two. How about that? Full circle back and we’re relevant to Curmy’s OP.

    YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUotrPxq2pU

    BM’s Videos – http://www.britishmuseum.org/video/exhibitions/babylon_-_video_archive/towers_of_babel_video.aspx

    Another clip, 1:23 min. of audio this time, featuring Dr. Finkel speaking a few phrases in Babylonian(?) the words of King Cyrus and a few lines from Gilgamesh. Quoted from the page …

    “A dictionary of the extinct language of ancient Mesopotamia has been completed after 90 years of work. The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is 21 volumes long, with many volumes dedicated to a single letter. It was put together by studying texts written on clay tablets discovered in the region, which is mostly modern-day Iraq. It has not been spoken for around 2000 years, and no one can say for sure exactly what it sounded like, but Dr Irving Finkel gave BBC World Service his best shot.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13733615

    *Sigh* I love this stuff.

    Off topic, but If you want something longer and heavier here’s a lecture “Games of the Ancient World” given (in part) by Dr. Finkel as part of the Charles K. Wilkinson Lecture Series held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


    2 hours 15 mins. Dr. Finkel starts at 9 mins. after the intro.

  14. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    Sorry, that video embed was unintentional. It’s not even an embed URL.

  15. Wrathful Dispersion! I’m a new convert – love it!

  16. And they call evolution a “just so story”?