shedding new light on stories of old

The Joy of Cynicism and the Death of Beauty - Excerpt 7

How does the story of the building of the Tower of Babel illustrate the joy of cynicism for us?

A Recipe for Cynicism

Because You Fall Victim to Your Own Expectations When You Set Your Goals Too High

Long before Western progressivism took hold and long before westerners succumbed to modern cynicism, another form of presumption crept into the world. It was said that God gave Adam and his descendants dominion and authority over all creation, of those things on the Earth and above the Earth. Quite a lofty commission to live up to, to be sure, but commit to the task they did. The great irony in such a commission, though, was that Adam and his descendants conveniently neglected the fact that when God originally ordained them to be lords and masters of creation, Adam had yet to fall from grace and was still functioning under the lordship of the Master of creation.

Could this all-important fact of Adam’s altered constitution be why our lofty potential for world domination has been repeatedly frustrated throughout the long ages of history? As usual, one needs to be careful to avoid setting goals too far above one’s genuine capabilities. Expect too much, assume too much, and you inevitably find yourself a victim of your own expectations and assumptions. And that, as we’re presently discovering, is the perfect recipe for cynicism.

Case in point: Let’s revisit that classic scenario in which a mob of ambitious upstarts convinced themselves they could actually build a tower high enough to reach Heaven. No doubt, Noah and his family still remembered the bittersweet experience of being the only family in all the Earth to survive the Great Flood. No longer were the Nephilim terrorizing and feasting upon every living thing on the planet; no longer were the children of Cain exerting their ungodly influence upon the world scene. Theirs was a new world just waiting to be recreated in a way that could avoid all the ancient errors that had beset the previous world. If ever there was a generation with high hopes, this was it. A brand-new generation—the sons of Noah and their families—this eager bunch looked around and saw before them nothing but the potential for fulfilling the original command given to Adam and Eve, to fill the whole Earth and subdue it in the name of the Almighty.

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To hear Kent and Zen Garcia talk about correcting biblical misconceptions, from September 9th, 2021, CLICK BELOW.
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But before long, a powerful one among the sons of Ham, his grandson by the name of Nimrod, soon turned that dream of carving out a new world on behalf of the Lord God into something altogether different. Instead of continuing to follow in the footsteps of Noah, Nimrod short-circuited the divine impulse in mankind to worship the Creator and led the people in a unifying effort to defy God in rebellion.

One can just imagine, based on what we now know about cynicism, what Nimrod might have said about the futility of following Noah in his so-called “divine unction” to repopulate Earth for the sake of the Lord God. “Noah doesn’t care about you,” Nimrod would have told the people. “He only cares about being your lord and master. He talks as if he speaks for God, but why would God need Noah? Let God speak for Himself! Of course if you ask me, I say God has given up on all of us. From now on, I’m all you need! The mighty hunter before the Lord! Listen to me!”

Naturally, anyone familiar with The Bible already knows about the Tower of Babel, but what most have never considered is how it fits into what we’re interested in here. That is to say: How does this story illustrate the joy of cynicism for us? And what does it say about how the cynical mind can’t resist reinterpreting the truth of our experience so that it changes something beautiful into something ugly?

The traditional view of this scenario has usually been that the rebellion of Nimrod was just another case of sinful pride, with a dash of idol worship thrown in for good measure. But in chalking up the culprit of this whodunit to pride and idols, we’re no closer to ensuring that humanity will ever avoid repeating this same mistake again and again. However, if we take the time to put the dynamics of this scene in the context of our recipe for cynicism, we’re much better able to counteract its impact. Let me explain.

To begin with, take a moment to recall some of the ingredients that contribute to a hardcore case of cynicism, as opposed to a healthy form of suspicion. First, there’s that easy kind of skepticism that remains unchecked even in the face of evidence to the contrary. And second, there’s an attitude that focuses more on God’s presumed apathy and callousness and less on one’s own shortcomings and failures. Then add to the mix, recall the importance of maintaining a proper sense of proportion when confronting any situation that seems too good to be true.

That said, try to imagine how you might have acted had you been among those who grew up hearing stories from your grandparents of what it was like surviving the Great Flood and being considered worthy of the awesome task of repopulating the Earth. Imagine how you might have reacted to stories in which you were being told about all that you’d one day accomplish with the help of the God of Noah. Only when we put flesh-and-blood on this scene can we ever begin to see what could have motivated the builders of that tower.

So ends this Excerpt from THE JOY OF CYNICISM AND THE DEATH OF BEAUTY. To read more, please click on one of the following links:

Read a Preview to learn that the presumed evils of scientific progress aren’t by-products of the Industrial Revolution but of hope disappointed.

Read the Next Excerpt to learn why Scripture makes a clear distinction between revelation via the written word and via the creation.

Read the Next Preview to see that, in response to humanity’s apathy and disregard for Him, God never entirely removes His revelation.

Read the Previous Excerpt to ask: if sin was so deserving of such cataclysmic judgment, then why didn’t Jesus respond similarly in the presence of prostitutes?

Read the Previous Preview to see that we’re never on shakier ground when we presume to examine the past through the lens of our own perspective.

Read the First Excerpt to find out why God is blamed for crimes He never committed, while the real culprits are seen as victims.

To get a copy of The Joy of Cynicism and the Death of Beauty, CLICK HERE.