Tower of Babel
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The Tower of Babel (Hebrew: מִגְדַּל בָּבֶל) is a story in the Book of Genesis, which is in the Bible, meant to explain why mankind speaks different languages. According to the story, mankind had merged in the days following the Great Traffic Jam and finally took the exit for the "Road to Shambala" (Hebrew: שנער). There they agreed to build a tall tower. God saw that, confounded their speech so that they could no longer understand each other, and scattered them around the world, a situation that persists to this day.
The Tower of Babel may have referred to the Great Ziggurat of Babylon. It was 91 metres (300 ft) tall, though wise men did not take the elevators all the way up, as the slaves pulling the ropes all had an attitude, and God help you if their palms got sweaty. Alexander the Great tore it down in 331 BCE and was going to rebuild it but died first, resulting in a situation comparable to Urban Renewal in Flint, Michigan.
The story of Babel is in Genesis 11. The entire human race spoke the same language, probably Valley-Girl English, like, rilly. They came together at Babel and decided to make hella bricks and build a tower "with its top in the sky" so the race would not be scattered all over the world, a Biblical equivalent of Walt Disney World.
God came down for a look and remarked that, as a united race, nothing would be out of their reach: decisive action on climate change, declaring affordable health care a human right, equal pay for male car dealers who wear dresses to work, and an end to bullying by school-children. Now, the God of Moses is a just God, a wise God, and a kindly God, but that day He must have had a hair across His divine arse, because He scattered all the blocks, not to mention all the people, and changed their language so that they would no longer understand each other. He even made Google Translate produce crappy output.
Scholars take the story of Babel together with the story of the serpent's apple to suggest that old "YHWH," although wanting Man to have "dominion over...the earth" (Gen. 1:28), did not want him to be terribly efficient at it.
Those who take the Bible as the literal word of God have to paper over the fact that the previous chapter of Genesis says mankind was already scattered over the earth and speaking different languages. The most reliable state that the writing had four separate sources. The Bible was like a wiki, a "literal word of God that anyone can edit."
If the four sources were each divinely inspired, then it means that God has four separate moods (at least), and one of them is Supreme Prankster.
edit Latter Day
A more troubling notion is that God is still pranking mankind. In a situation where the King's subjects are all speaking the same language, suddenly the colonials are talking about potato "chips" and cars with "hoods" and taking trips to the "outback," probably to visit the outhouse. Even in a single locale, carnival hands and then African Americans start talking so that no one else can understand them.
In New York City, the Biblical "sky scraper" is now a reality (insh'Allah), but there are more languages being spoken than ever before, especially if you should hail a taxi and try to explain to the driver what the word "airport" means, or "hurry." Urban planners are obeying the Biblical plan by standing in the way of efficiency when they require two dozen forms and a six-month wait to open a lunch truck (although the forms are available in fifty languages). Urban planners, of course, must not cite the Bible, and even bringing one to the office may constitute a "threatening work environment" for their Muslim co-workers, requiring that the offender attend a workshop.
Congress tries to rectify the situation but winds up writing 2600-page bills where "we have to pass it, so that you can find out what's in it," and even when we do, you can't, because you can't figure out what it is saying.
The inescapable conclusion is that the Lord God is still visiting Earth from time to time, and rubbing our faces in it. You can hardly blame Him; if you had an ant farm on the windowsill, you might enjoy the ants digging colonies and burying eggs, but would not want to see them doing actual planning and coordination, and one day escaping, trying to get the remote control away from you, and demanding their share of the crisps.
edit Other Towers of Babel
- Main article: Tower of Babel (Doom)
Apart from the fact that visiting the actual Tower of Babel requires passports and air tickets and such, also that it is no longer there, thanks to Alexander the Great (see above) and the tourist would have to settle for a cheap tourist trap like the Tower of Pisa, a handy alternative is the Tower of Babel from the video game Doom. The tourist simply proceeds to Map E2M8, easily done by starting at the E2 (M) and progressing through M1, M2, and so on. If flying Air Game Boy, the tourist should be careful not to board for MAP16: Hell Gate, even if the LED signage says "Tower of Babel."
Cyberdemon will provide refreshments on the short flight, but the traveler is well-advised to decline his beverage tray. With luck, the flight will be piloted by the ace Red Baron of Hell. Flights in that western suburb of Detroit did not have to struggle against hilly terrain, only the tendency of residents to shoot their guns into the air on Devil's Night, also the total absence of an airport.