The account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 presents an amazing story. I have often wondered how the confounding of the languages, i.e. generating a multitude of languages could possibly figure in to a divine plan which ultimately required men to instruct the entire planet in righteousness. Nothing could make that more difficult and less likely to work than creating foreign tongues and thereby causing the scattering of people all over the globe. But that is exactly what the Genesis 11 story relates.
Perhaps even more amazing is the reason given by God for splintering humanity into partisan groups. That reason was to prevent a united humanity from doing whatever they could imagine. The subtle implication in all this is that a cooperative human effort could accomplish anything. It reminds me a bit of what Jesus told his disciples- With a little faith you will do greater works than me. That being true, human potential exceeds the works of God as demonstrated during the ministry of Christ, at least. How’s that for a mind blowing thought.
As I have suggested before, the actual problem with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was not that it offended God but rather because it contributed to human disunity and conflict, leading to the age old, deeply engrained idea that good people must separate from and oppose bad people. This misplaced belief that we are at war with one another over the concept of good and evil is a great deterrent to the cooperative human effort attempted in Genesis 11. God may have prevented that cooperation, but in the process He revealed the human potential which was sidetracked by the earlier incident in the Garden.
Both of these stories plague the institutional church to this very day. The church struggles with language all over the place- in interpreting and understanding the Bible, in teaching its doctrines, and in attempting to evangelize. In addition, the war between good and evil engendered by the Fall is a major aspect of church teaching and activity, especially in its political machinations. All this emphasis on conflict and disunity diverts its message from anything remotely resembling good news.
The proposal that these early Genesis stories lead seamlessly through a 2000 page narrative to a conclusion that involves disseminating a divinely ordained universal message by word of mouth seems preposterous to me. That is especially true if we adhere to the concept of literal interpretation of the Bible.
Anyone should question how the church is supposed to simultaneously condemn and oppose the same people they are also trying to persuade, and transform for righteousness. If they could actually do that they would need the God like potential suggested in Genesis 11, but without the requisite unity.