Have you ever listened to someone talking and thought "I have no idea what language that is?" Perhaps you've commented, alongside Casca, that "it was Greek to me" when someone spoke. Maybe whilst doing your New Testament homework :) that thought arose.
Does that make you wonder why we all speak different languages? Even those of us that speak the same language speak different languages, don't we? (My Canadian, Australian, and English friends who speak derivatives of Southern American…oh, wait, that's not right.)
It's nowhere near ideal. In fact, one of the great ideals of science fiction literature is either a universal language (Galactic Basic in Star Wars) or universal translation ability (the TARDIS in Doctor Who or the aptly named Universal Translator in Star Trek). It's not logical that sheer geographic dispersion would cause so much difference: there's not enough similarity to link the main language groups back to one mother-tongue.
The solution in science fiction comes from, of all places, the radical atheist (his term) Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The characters in this group of stories (what else does one call a five-book trilogy?) get around the galaxy understanding one another thanks to a creature in their ears that helps them understand. It's called…
A Babel Fish.
A Babel Fish.
Not babble, like talking incessantly and making no sense. Nor its related term, blog, which is to type incessantly and make less sense.
Where did he get that idea? That name?
Genesis 11. (LINK)
Really. At this point in history, which fits somewhere during the descriptions of Genesis 10, people all speak the same language. Yet they are using that ability to attempt something that is not what God has commanded. They're building a tower.
Now, that does not sound so bad, but put this backwards to grasp the principle. God had told the people that came out of the ark to spread out and fill the earth. They are trying, now, to build a tower to keep themselves from spreading out. It's a problem of obedience.
Obedience is crucial. God sees and understands more than we do and so His commands are to be obeyed. Often, we can't quite put together why we should obey something, but it's there to be obeyed nonetheless. The commands are not as arbitrary as they look. Let's tear down this one:
What do you need for a massive building project?
Unified leadership. A centralized boss. A ruler to tell you how to build.
Who is the human race supposed to look towards?
God alone as their centralized ruler.
What is the conflict?
That a human ruler will invariably:
1. Pick different goals for the people than simple obedience to God.
2. Deny people the right to obey God fully, substituting himself for the final authority.
Babel was one outbreak of human dictatorship versus the freedom to obey God. God put a stop to it by confounding human language. Now, the question I have for you is this:
What will you do to stand for the individual human freedom to respond to God?