The Age of Evil Imagining:
the Confusion and Scattering at
And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in His heart, 'I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.'
— Gen 9:20-21
History begins after the Flood. We have in the Bible the single accurate source of the events which transpired from Adam until Noah, but in terms of such corroborating sources as archeology or secular documents, it is only after the Flood that the voices of other witnesses can be heard. With a few obscure exceptions, no human artifact survived the Flood. No city, no structure, no writing, no stone tool or cave painting — in fact, no cave — nothing was preserved through that upheaval. The technical details which support this assertion may be found in The Pillars of Heaven. The necessary conclusion is that all the artifacts of archeology which are called paleo-, meso- or neo-lithic, were in fact produced by the descendants of Noah, at the same time that the civilizations of
Writing does not appear in the archeological record until some 400 years after the Flood, and the Confusion and scattering at
After the Flood, the human population grew for several generations, and then exploded. After wars, more boys are born than girls, evidently to maintain some sort of overall balance. We can take this as an ‛instinctive’ mechanism to ensure ideal population requirements. Evidently when this instinct was designed, menopause was not a concern. By analogy, we may assume that given a depleted human population, more females would be born, since they are the limiting factor.
If this was so, the annual birthrate of girls, to women who remained fertile for a century and more, would easily overpopulate an area in mere decades. For example, assuming that 2 girls were born to a couple every 3 years, and that these started bearing children at age 16 or so, the population would increase more than 12-fold every 18 years. Starting only with the survivors of the Flood, in just over 30 years more than 400 females would have been born, and in less than a hundred years, over a million would be alive. Obviously, the spread of humanity, like that of the animal kinds, was a foregone conclusion.
Rather than the slow migration out of Africa of Evolving populations, humans diffused from the locus of Ararat, landing place of the Ark of Noah. The Bible tells us that the
There are stories about Noah and his mythic counterparts which seek to explain the terse account of his drunkenness. Some mythologists assume that the castration of Uranus by his son mirrors the crime of Ham (Cronus). If this is so, then the Bible elects to remain silent. For my part, I find this explanation unlikely, although given the evil and perversion of Ham and the pre-Flood world, it is not too far-fetched that such a crime should be a rite. It is surely through Ham that paganism was re-introduced into the post-Flood world, as we may deduce from the apostasy of his descendants Cush and Nimrod. Along these same lines, it has also been noted that, just as Shem was identified as Melchizedek by the ancient rabbis, Ham has been identified as the contemporary Bela, king of
The district below the mountain of the
Hardwicke Knight, New Zealand archeologist, stated that the Jebal Djudi — the Deluge Mountains, near the Tigris River — held ‟the pass over which the migrating descendants of Noah must have crossed to come into the land where, according to recently unearthed Mari tablets, cities were founded by Noah's descendants by the names given in Genesis 11:10-26. It is possible therefore that the sons of Noah carried with them a portion of the Ark and that this served them as a holy meeting place of the elders, and that they eventually abandoned it at Jebal Djudi”, thus explaining the Moslem tradition that this was the site of the landing. One venerable scholar of mythology concluded that a ‟very large part of heathen mythology originated from the history of the deluge: and numerous were the rites of Paganism, which were instituted in commemoration of that awful event.” So it is expected that many cultures should claim for themselves the relics of the Flood patriarch.
Migration tends to follow rivers. The streams and underground rivers of the Ararat region form the headwaters of the mighty
It would be most unlikely if, during the more than two centuries between the landing of the Ark and the scattering at Babel, no band of hardy fellows went out to roam the distant mountains or follow the streams and coasts. Such pioneers would have left a few of the primal, virgin soil settlements which archeology sometimes uncovers. It is my considered opinion, however, that such earliest "Stone Age" bands would be represented only to an insignificant degree in the archeological record.
Although Noah was alive for 350 years after the Flood, it seems that he was not a constant presence in
I have dealt with the mythology of this era in The Serpent in Babel, but with regard to the apparent disappearance of Noah, we might find a clue in the myths of the Persians and the Indians. The Flood patriarch was called Yima by the Persians, and is remembered as an idolater who was sawn in two. In contrast to this, the Indian counterpart was the Yama of the Rig Veda — a hero and repulser of an incestuous sister.
Now, while neither of these can be a literal reference to Noah, we might rationalize these tales by supposing that after the upheaval at Babel, Noah emerged from his retreat — perhaps yet at the base of Ararat — and for one final time piloted some segment of his offspring to a new land. The newly-formed language group which we know as Indo-European is represented by the Persians and the Indians. If we take the myths of Yima/ Yama seriously, then Noah may have continued on with the Indians, further east than the Persians, into the land of the Dravidians, who would have emigrated immediately after the Confusion. As to why the Persians were split off, we might imagine some rebellion, political or religious.
Be that as it may, if Noah found the morals of his descendants too disgusting, and if he hoped to establish a godly community to the east, then his hope was sorely disappointed, given that of all lands, India is the most openly pagan, to this very day. But it is reasonable to expect those whom Noah guided to remember him favorably, while those he left might have a harsher opinions of him. For whatever reason, his being sawn in two may symbolize his division of the Aryan people. However, the division of the Aryans seems to have occurred much later, in which case Noah is not relevant. But again, it may be that the division was early, after which the migrants were static for nearly a millennium.
In Dragons in the Earth I explore the diffusion and diversification of the animal kingdom — specifically those on the
To pretend that we can identify each modern ‛race’ with one of the sons of Noah over-extends the evidence — if for no other reason, then because it ignores the wives. For example, some have said that Ham was dark-skinned, because the Cushites, the Ethiopians, were descended from him. While it is certainly possible that Noah could have had three sons each of a different racial type, I think a far easier explanation is that Ham had a dark-skinned wife, whose type arose during the millennium and a half between the Fall and the Flood. Thus, no existing race is likely to have been the "original" race — all represent innovation, a reshuffling of potentials and characteristics. These became manifest and established as a response to environmental conditions and inbreeding — prior to which, racial extremes would have appeared only rarely.
The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, and among the most evil, and surely the stupidest of such imaginings, are those of the racist. When racists seek to make a "religious" argument to support their evil imagining, we know with certainty that they are listening to their ignorant and corrupt hearts rather than to the word of God. And I have watched, amazed, the "Afro-centrists", who recite their creation myths of "the original man". Did we not meet on the field of battle a similar dogma, fulminated by Hitler? Have we not read of burnt churches, torched by similar racists, of the Klan? Everywhere, evil imaginings. And even if we give our differences more significance than they merit, those of us who know Jesus must be corrected, since (Gal -28) ‟you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female — for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Before the Flood there was no rigorous cultural isolation or environmental selectors. Neither rickets nor skin cancer would eliminate either dark or light skin, and the genetic range would have been distributed in a statistically predictable manner, with light and dark extremes, but with the majority clustered around the middle. Only after the events at
Racial types are not the product of random mutations as Evolutionism teaches, but rather they are the outworking of the vast potential of the genetic code. As the population expanded, every characteristic of every "race" could have been manifested. But for all the movement toward differentiation, there is always a tendency toward a regression to the mean — that is, no matter how extreme we may become, statistically we move toward the average. In other words, mutants make poor mates, and generally represent a dead-end.
In terms of environment, it seems most reasonable to suppose that Adam's — or Noah's — skin-color was middle-brown, something like a native American. Not only is middle-brown a happy compromise, but more relevant is the fact that the moist pre-Flood world is most analogous to our tropical rain forests, where we find mid-brown to be the most common skin color. Light or dark skin is selected by the environment, because of its relationship to, for example, sunlight. Bright sun selects dark skin, which is a protection against skin cancer. Less sunlight selects lighter skin, which is more efficient at synthesizing vitamin D. Thicker skin is a protection against sunlight, and gives Asian coloration its particular hue.
Understand, in terms of actual differences, the dissimilarity between the most unlike human "races" is less than that between, for example, any two given breeds of dog. We look at the shape of a nose or the texture of hair or the apparent amount of melanin in the skin, and think this is somehow genetically significant. But it is merely a matter of recessive genes. It is not a special gene that says have blue eyes. Rather, the relevant gene of dark-eyed people says put melanin in the retina, whereas that gene in blue-eyed people is simply silent on the matter. Skin color is controlled by more than just one gene, but to keep it simple, from AaBb parents, we can derive a full spectrum, of "black", dark and light brown, and "white" children.
In actuality, there is no race the norms of which are not found as the extremes of some other race. The darkest Caucasoid is the same color as the lightest Negroid. Many tribes of Australian Aborigines have blond children. Both Asian and European eyelids have lipose, but Asians have more. Most Asians have fairly short and broad noses, but some have not-so-short and not-so-broad noses; and while Caucasians tend to have long, narrow noses, some have not-so-long and not-so-narrow noses. These "not-so" noses represent the common ground between the "races".
The upshot of all this is that every race is a response to inbreeding and natural selection, which are not creative, but rather editorial processes: genes are selected from the vast menu of possibilities. The deep chests of natives of the
Mankind journeyed east from Ararat, and settled in
The building of this astrological tower was undertaken prior to Nimrod's conquests. Perhaps even before the Confusion, towns constructed raised platforms for their shrines. After the attempt at
Shem has given us very few details about the Tower, but I have used pagan sources to reconstruct many of the events associated with it. From the Bible, it is impossible to refine the date of the Confusion at
The Jews have a number of legends of their own, touching on the Tower. It may be that various rabbis were distraught at the lack of information, and sought to correct the shortcoming by inventing details — or it may be that genuine history was remembered by secular records. Be that as it may, we are told that 600,000 men were recruited in the building of the Tower; the Talmud says the building of it took 42 years, and the less reliable Creation Epic of Babylon states that it took two years.
According to Herodotus, the latter ziggurat of
We may deduce that the purpose of the judgement was not to end paganism entirely, but rather to prevent a universal false-religion. No mere scattering, no mere cataclysm, no mere miracle will ever be enough to redeem corrupt hearts. We are told exactly this in Lk 16:31, where, if Moses and the prophets were not enough, then neither would the rising of the dead be enough. Indeed, the coming to life of the dead was not enough to revive
There is a world-wide memory of the confounding of tongues. Although the details have often been shaped by local custom, the outline is clear. For example, the Toltecs recall how their ancestors had escaped the Flood in a closed chest, and later sought to avoid a similar disaster by building a tower to heaven, only to have their language confounded and their people scattered throughout the world. Seven pairs of Toltecs passed over great expanses of land, crossed seas, camped in caves. They arrived at their new meso-American homeland "520 years after the Flood", or 296 years after the
Similar to this, the Indians of Lake Tahoe claim that once they were rich and powerful, but enemies caused a great wave to flood the world; the few survivors were enslaved and forced to build a high temple, so that the taskmasters could survive any future flood. It seems that the Toltecs counted themselves masters in this construction, and the Tahoe Indians remembered themselves as slaves. Be that as it may, both groups note a detail which Josephus also records: one reason the Tower was erected was to offer a refuge in case of another flood — not of the Flood's magnitude, of course, but rather one of the many Ice Age floods which periodically devastated the lowlands.
The ‟Gherko Karens, who live in Burma, relate that they became separated from the Red Karens in the thirteenth generation after Adam, when the people decided to build a pagoda up to heaven but were frustrated in that design by the wrath of God who came down, confounded their tongue, and caused one group to separated from the rest.” The 13th generation after Adam is exactly that of Nimrod. Although "Adam" is most probably not the name used by the Karens, the idea of his being the first man identifies him. Again, the Mikirs of Assam (the mountains northeast of the mouth of the
The natives of the Polynesian
When the language of man had been confused (Gen 11:8), men ‟left off to build the city.” It is instructive to notice that the violent nature of the
The celestial nature of the cataclysm at
A final curiosity is that a particular sound — "yahoo" — seems associated in some myths with the physical upheaval which accompanied the confusion of tongues. For example, in a myth of the Snohmish Indians, the Creator began his work to the east, and gave each successive people their own language:
‟When he reached
‟. . .The sky was so low that the tall people bumped their heads against it. Sometimes people would do what was forbidden by climbing up high in the trees and, learning their own words, enter the Sky World. Finally the wise men of all the different tribes had a meeting to see what they could do about lifting the sky. They agreed that the people should get together and try to push it up higher.
‟. . .'When the time comes for us to push, when we have everything ready, let someone shout "Ya-hoh." That means "Lift together!" in all our languages.' . . .They kept on shouting 'Ya-hoh' and pushing until the sky was in the place where it is now.”
The story adds that the stars of the Big Dipper appeared at this time.
In this "Ya-hoh" tale we find the creation of languages, the attempt to invade the heavens (associated with the large-scale cooperation of all mankind), and the memory of some dramatic change in the appearance of the sky (via the shifting of Earth's axis, which moved the position of the Big Dipper) which fits a catastrophic version of the Tower of Babel event.
What is the significance of this "yahoo"? I do not know. But it may be that this sound, remembered throughout the world and associated with the catastrophic motions of the heavens, was produced by some natural phenomenon, and reproduced as the onomatope (by onomatopoeia) "yahoo". Or it may be that "yahoo" represents a primal word or name, the meaning of which has been lost, and only a tragic association recalled. But what seems clear is that the word was once common not only to the same time, but to the same place:
Aside from any physical upheaval, the primary effects of the judgment at
Whatever the method, it is beyond question but that God performed the miracle. And when we think about it, this miracle is comprehensible, and far simpler than, say, gravity, or time, or quarks, or some-such. The confounding of tongues boils down to a transformation of thought and conception, entailing a change in four aspects of language: pronunciation (tonality, phonemes, etc.), vocabulary, syntax (order and organization) and grammar. Is any of this beyond God's ability? Obviously not.
How many languages did God create? Unknowable. But Hebrew tradition maintains that humanity was divided into seventy nations, which may mean seventy languages. Such primal tongues would be root languages, from which, over the centuries and millennia, the various debased dialects evolved. For example, there is much speculation about the original Indo-European tongue — from which Sanskrit and Greek and Latin and Teutonic all supposedly derived. From Latin, in turn, we know the Romance languages developed: Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Rumanian. From the Teutonic parent, we have Norwegian, Danish, German and so on — even English, for the most part. Likewise, of the hundreds of American Indian tribes, it seems that fewer than 7 language stocks existed — perhaps as few as three; from these, all the purely American dialects grew.
But to conclude from such later examples that there was, say, a single Indo-European tongue, seems quite unwarranted — especially given a biblical paradigm. I think far more likely is that, as with the biological ‛kinds’, God created the languages with a ‛blueprint’, but with design features mixed and overlapping as it suited Him. Just as there are fish with lungs and mammals which lay eggs, so there are languages which have "anomalous" elements, which to the undiscerning scholar must seem to indicate a genetic relationship. Those features which identify "Indo-European" languages may not be diagnostic at all — any more than live-birth is diagnostic of mammals. In other words, Evolutionism describes the reality of linguistics no more than of biology.
I have wondered about the families of
But since all of mankind was a single "family", where did the Confusion occur — at what level? It appears that Noah's descendants were confounded from the second to the fourth generations (indeed, the Table of Nations only extends to the fourth generation, save for the "Hebrew" sons of Eber). The fifth generation — of Peleg, the patriarch in whose day the division occurred (Gen ) — was affected only through its fathers.
My analysis of the Table of Nations suggests that of the three sons of Noah, Shem was not affected by the Confusion, and Ham and Japheth probably were. I say this, first, on logical grounds: the innocent are not judged by selective curses, but only by general judgement. The Confounding befell mankind as an assurance against the instituting of a universal false religion, and if some family was not involved in the general apostasy, then it would not be subjected to such a specific curse.
As for the sons of Shem —
And what was the character of the ‛Adamic’ tongue? Without getting mystical, it is pleasing to suppose that just as genetic perfection was lost at the Fall in
There is an anomaly to be addressed, however. You will read in standard sources that "Canaanite" is "proto-Hebrew".
But even by my reconstruction, the Canaanites seem to have spoken a Semitic dialect from very early on — and the Amorites, descendants of
When Noah pronounced his curse on the offender's child, it was because Noah knew the corrupt nature of Ham, the boy's role model. It is not for nothing that the biblical proverbs stress so strongly the importance of raising children properly, and of providing guidance. Of course it was prophecy, calling up the judgement of 200 years hence in the shadows of
This is relevant, beyond its own inherent interest, in the fact that
Now let's discuss race and language a bit more specifically. This will not be an exhaustive survey, of course, for practical reasons of space and relevance, but we will get an idea of the complexity and ambiguity of the concept of race.
Caucasian / European:
—Alpine: brachycephalitic ("round-headed", viewed from top), moderate stature, brunette complexion.
—Teutonic: Tall, long head, oval face, blue eyes, blond, narrow prominent nose.
In terms of language, we have looked the Japhetic or European tongues already. As for the Semitic tongues, these are the least diversified of all the great linguistic families, and are divided as follows:
—Eastern: Akkadian, Assyrian, Chaldean;
—Northern: Amoritic, Eastern Aramaic (Babylonian, Syraic, Modern Aramaic), Western Aramaic (Palestinian, Samaritan, Palmyrene, Nabataean);
—Western: "Canaanitic", Phoenician (Punic), Hebrew;
—Southern: Arabic (Northern and Southern), Ethiopic (Abyssinian — also "Hamitic").
"Hamitic" (also Caucasian): tall stature, dark-olive, bronze or black skin, wavy hair, oval face, "well-formed" features, aquiline nose.
—North African: Libyan (Numidian, Mauritanian, Gaetulian, etc), known only in inscriptions; Berber (Kabyle, Shilha, Zenaga, Tamashek);
Hamitic is a description more of language than of race, and this family is inflectional, agglutative, with an affinity to Semitic.
—Negroid: relatively tall stature, extreme dolichocephaly, convex forehead, prognathous jaws, large teeth, flat broad nose, everted lips, "woolly" hair, very dark complexion; native to Africa between Congo and Sahara.
—Bantu: equatorial and southern
—Bushmen: short, yellowish complexion, flat triangular face.
—Pygmy: Negroid features, very short stature, no native language.
Coarse straight black hair; scant beard; broad, flat face; short, broad nose; prominent cheek bones; epicanthic fold; short stature, almost always brachycephalic (round). Languages: Indo-Chinese, Ural-Altic, Japanese and allies.
—Chinese: longer and higher cranium than other Mongolians, sometimes approaching dolichocephaly (long).
As for language, a discussion of the many Asian tongues is outside our focus. But, for example, Chinese is monosyllabic, compounding, isolating and tonal; no dialect has more than a 1000 syllables, and Pekingese has only 420.
As a result of the implanting of a new language into the brain, memory was affected — damaged — and writing eventually became a requirement. I hope not to over-extend the evidence in support of this idea, by pointing once more to a myth of the Maidu Indians, who say that once ‟when the people were having a burning, and everything was ready for the next day, suddenly in the night everybody began to speak in a different tongue . . .” A certain man was given the ability to understand all the new tongues, and he gathered the befuddled families together and ‟showed them how to cook and to hunt, gave them laws, and appointed the times for their dances and festivals.” Likewise, the Wa-Sania of
Why did these people not already know such basic cultural skills? Why were they called "mad"? We may assume that in many cases, people had been made as children. Some portion of mankind was not just altered at
This simple assumption goes a long way to explain how new cultures, seemingly unrelated to those of
Just as the Exodus occurred in the days of Moses, fifth from Israel, so the Confusion occurred in the days of Peleg (Gen ), fifth from Noah. But aside from symmetry, for what substantive reason does the Table of Nations stop at Peleg? — when Gen 11:10-32 reprises part of the genealogy in the previous chapter, and continues Shem's line to Abram. Well, Shem is telling specifically of the situation at
The word ‛divided’ has been much debated. It is a pun on Peleg's name, which means "split" or "divide". From this is derived ‛channel’ and ‛canal’, and some scholars have supposed that the event commemorated by this verse was the instituting of large-scale irrigation. This is not an unreasonable interpretation, given that a form of the word describes flowing, channeled waters or rivers (cf. Job 29:6, Ps 1:3, Is 32:2). The forming of political divisions has also been proposed. But it is context which must resolve controversy, and here the context is of the Tower.
Others, more imaginative, have found "continental drift" here. This, however, is to read too much into the passages, especially when we consider that something as literally earthshaking as the noticeable movement of continents could not have transpired effectively unnoticed in the pagan sources with which we could correlate this verse. The events which formed the mid-oceanic ridges can hardly be contained in this brief verse. In any case, the geological evidence does not allow such an interpretation. If we reject the uniformitarian dogma that "drift" occurred over millions of years — which we certainly must do, when we contemplate the matter — we are left with a rapid catastrophe. Indeed, as I demonstrate in The Pillars of Heaven, it was during the Flood of Noah that such tectonic movements occurred.
A passive form of the word "divide" is used in Dan 2:41, where the fourth great kingdom will be divided, as iron and as clay — representing political forms separated by time. The old
Now, just as the "earth" was destroyed by the Flood, the "earth" was divided in Peleg's day — "earth" in Hebrew is eres. We are reading not merely of the ground or planet, but of the land — the ground as it relates to people. In both cases, of Noah and of Peleg, the context is of the judgment of mankind, more than simply upon geology or politics. Again, Peleg's Gen 10:25 speaks of the earth being divided, and Babel's Gen 10:32-11:1 speaks of the nations divided on the earth after the Flood, the whole earth having been one (absolute unity) family, with one language and speech. These two sections, then, are different perspectives of the same event.
The division of the earth, by means of the Confusion and scattering at
So we conclude our look at the events at