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Question 201

Father, how did people come to be divided into different races? 


Answer to Question 201


In chapter 11 of Genesis we are given the story of the Tower of Babel. The Bible tells us that the whole earth was of one language and of one mind. This seems logical as they all descended from one family, but then something happened and every tribe formed its own language. Phaleg, a descendant of Noah' son Shem, travelled south from Armenia where the ark came to rest, along the Tigris River and turning East came to a plain called Sennaar which was in Chaldean, south of Babylon where he built a city. Here the people had an idea to build a tower that would reach to heaven. Phaleg was born 524 years after the flood and lived for 130 years so the tower of Babel was built between 524-654 years after the flood. The bible story of the Tower of Babel is rather confusing because it doesn't give us enough details of why God found it necessary to confound their language and scatter them abroad. The people begin building a tower and when God sees the work being carried out he says: now nothing shall fail of them of all that they imagine to do. Come, and let Us go down and confound their language, that they may not understand each his neighbour’s voice." This suggests that with unity man can do many things if people put their minds to it and also suggests that maybe God doesn't want man to progress. It would seem that it was not the construction itself that offended God, but rather the thought behind the construction. The people wanted to build a tower reaching to heaven without God and without his approval. The thought behind the tower was the result of pride and a cause for man to boast of his achievements that through his own independence and greatness man could get to heaven without God's help. The tower was not to worship God, but to worship man, it was a form of idolatry. The story of the tower wants to stress that the cause behind the various languages was man's pride and religious inclinations without God. The confusion of the tongues probably did not happen in a day, but was a natural development resulting from man being scattered to various parts of the earth and developing new ethical and religious ideas. The story of the Tower of Babel simply speeds up the process that it happened with God's intervention.