Tower of Babel and Racism

But since he [man] attained the rank of manhood, he has diverged into distinct races, or, as they may be more appropriately called, subspecies.-Darwin, The Descent of Man

A powerful explanatory framework for “racism” emerges from one of the oldest stories in the Bible. It is found in the Old Testament. At the Tower of Babel, a new movement emerges which attempts to unite all peoples in a massive building project that would aspire to reach up to the heavens. In the Old Testament narrative in Genesis 11, the people are scattered through an initial separation of their languages. The peoples had made the mistake of taking for granted that they would always be speaking the same tongue and would be able to communicate with one another in this joint effort. “No more!” declares Yahweh, as he disperses their clans by making their speech patterns mutually unintelligible. The “scattering” of their one tongue into multiple tongues results in their physical scattering or dispersion and the settling of people groups into different geographic areas.


So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth (Gen. 11:8-9; ESV).


The story is provocative in a number of ways. The idea of reaching God in the heavens through a coalition of people who are tired of living on the earth and want to become “god-like” is surprisingly one that we can relate to today. How often have people striven to become immortal through some new invention? Remember the scientists who tried to “create” living material from non-living primordial “soup” in a laboratory?


But one of the more interesting facets of the story is how it may explain the prevalence of racism in societies. The difference in our language patterns, frustrating as it is to human kind, becomes projected, as it were, upon the skin color of people groups. When the “Other” has not only a different vocabulary and speech pattern, but a different complexion and customs, it seems so natural to label that difference and make it permanent. It’s only a “hop, skip, and a jump” to go from that point to think of one’s own races as somehow genetically “superior.” Voila racism.


Creation scientists like Ken Ham believe that the biblical story is predictive of how variations among humans occur and how these variations might be thought of to be more significant than they really are. The Babel account in Genesis may also explain the extreme variety of languages spoken by humans versus other animal species since anthropologists and linguists struggle with adequate evolutionary rationales  for this fact.


Scientists, like Sir Francis Galton, who decided to uphold the nastier implications of perceived racial differences within Darwinian evolution, wound up pioneering work in eugenics whereby those deemed “unfit” were not encouraged to (and sometimes legally forced not to!) reproduce.  Like Yahweh, these scientists had made their own declaration once upon a time. Only their version of history was that “races” had evolved naturally and, ergo, certain “races” were more evolved or progressed than ours. You can guess which “races” were the ones with more advanced traits in this world-view![1]


How much folly of bogus scientific “research” into so-called “races” could have been avoided had this story been take a bit more at face value? Would Ota Benga been able to avoid the cage of racism into which the Darwinists had placed him? Would Carrie Buck have been able to avoid sterilization and to lead a normal love-life despite whatever score she earned on the State’s IQ tests? It may be too difficult and perhaps emotionally painful for us to surmise, but a little biblical wisdom would have gone a long way in dispelling racism and sexism in these instances.

Written by Adam Zens

Audiobook Nook


Most recently, Locust & Honey has teamed up with the Director of Athanatos Ministries, Anthony Horvath, in the audio production of his book, Warden Watch. What an exciting tale involving a young protagonist who discovers realities beyond his own space-time world! Initially reluctant, Casey becomes more and more curious about the role he will play in his new calling, as he learns that ancient stories from the Bible have truth, power, and impact in his own life.




[1] Even Darwin’s reference to “subspecies” may be hinting at the notion that it might be better for civilized humans to not have to deal with those who are less advanced in the evolutionary scale.


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One thought on “Tower of Babel and Racism

  1. Humans have a strong “us and them” mentality that forms the foundation of a lot of these things.

    Put someone on the blue team and they’ll think less of those on the red team. Even if the team was arbitrarily formed just that second. This extends to rather bizarre levels. For example, we’ll think “blue team” computers and more accurate and reliable even if they’re identical to those on the opposite team.

    Liked by 1 person

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