The Begining and Rebuilding the Tower of Babel

Not sure why I've wandered back to Blogger. I used to host my own, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that. But here I am.

Do I really need to declare my intentions here? Must I follow a trite cliché?

Too bad, I'm not doing it. We'll figure it out as we go along.

I want you to imagine a place for me.

This place is a great and mighty city-state. A place so great that it acts as a draw for people from all over, an engine of commerce. In this place, you can find anything you may need. There are so many different peoples in this place, and they've all begun to speak a common tongue. Knowledge is being gathered and built upon; engineering skill is growing, almost nothing is beyond the skills of the men and women gathered there.

Sound like a great place? When I first heard of it, I thought, "Wow, this seems like a good place to live."

Well, apparently not. This particular place, or idea of a place, has been imagined time and time again in the Ancient Near-East. In the story known to most of the folks that may read this, the place is Babilu, or Babel, but it has gone by other names.

In the narrative, the language of the people is scrambled and the people become scattered. The greatness of the place is diminished. The city-state falls.

Now, I'm sure there is some actual historical kernel of truth buried in this ancient story. Perhaps something catastrophically bad happened to the people, I don't know. If there are any archaeologists or historians out there that have harder facts, I welcome elucidation on the matter.

Beyond the story, or whatever true event happened (or didn't happen) there a few thousand years ago is the moral of the story: human hubris can be a bad thing. On the face of it, warnings against hubris aren't all that bad; one should be careful in their advancements, lest they over-reach and fail.

But somewhere in there, something got twisted, and the way that I learned it, the hubris is not over architecture, but rather on the idea of getting together, of gathering knowledge, of learning of your fellow man. And I see this idea repeated disturbingly often in other contexts. Somewhere along the lines, it became evil to know. Knowledge is the crime, the sin, the affront to the deity of your choice*.

And therein lies a problem; a real, genuine, progress thwarting problem. This equating of knowledge with evil seems to lead people to fear knowledge. It is a fear of new knowledge that might invalidate cherished ideas; a new knowledge that the group of people you don't like has most of the same wants and desires that you do (this works in the reverse as well); a new knowledge that we maybe, just maybe, have the capability to accomplish whatever we set our minds to, provided we give it sufficient effort.

I'll say it right now, up front and center in my first post**, I have no time for those that fear knowledge, or would seek to curtail our knowledge to a mish-mashed series of religious texts or over-glorified traditions.

I'm an entity that seeks new knowledge. I seek understanding. I seek to raise the whole of humanity to the infinite heights it seems capable of, provided it can get beyond its old hang ups. I seek to dismantle these ancient ideas that are our chains holding us down.

These ancient ideas have always rankled me. I've always been bothered by the idea that I shouldn't trust anything unless some authority told me to do so. If I've genuinely learned something — and I have nothing against learning from those that have acquired empirically verified knowledge — I'm going to trust that knowledge as the best working model I have for the world.

I say, let's keep building that tight-knit world; let's break the barriers that time and space and people have erected. Build that tower, not because it is an affront — what's there to affront? — but because it is a symbol of what humanity can do when not shackled to the ground.

*This idea that knowledge is evil seems to crop up in more than just your Abrahamic religions. It seems to show up time and again all over the Mediterranean.

**(HA! Frist PSOT!)

There's my first entry here. Hope you enjoyed. It is left as an exercise to the reader to get the drift of what this blog may be about, at least in some small way. My interests and views are wide and varied; I just decided to jump into this end of my mental pool — there are even deeper ends; conversely, there are much shallower ends too.



No comments: