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Sunday

"...and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." - Genesis 11:6

"Where are the flying cars?" - IBM television commercial ca. 2000


Some of you may know the context of the Genesis quote. It is from the story of the Tower of Babel. The Bible is chock full of stories of God punishing man for the sin of Advancement, but this one seems particularly egregious (at least in my limited knowledge of the Bible).


You can read the whole story here (it's short, and after 11:10, it just gets into a lot of begattin' ). Basically, some men got together, and in a grand fit of Advancement, taught themselves how to fire brick, and how to use it to build cities, and finally, how to use it to build a tower to heaven, so that they could learn for themselves what might be up there.


Prior to this, the story goes, all of Earth spoke one single language. God, in his infinite jealousy, decided that these guys were just getting too uppity, and so had to be punished. Instead of the usual smiting, and stoning, and turning to pillars of salt and the like - bad enough, but they only affected those directly involved - God decided this time to really prove a point, in a way only He could. He "confounded the language of the Earth" and "scattered them abroad".


Think about what this means. God didn't just punish one man, or a group of men, bad as that would be. He punished the very nature of man. God targeted the thing that makes us all human - intelligence, reason, communication - and "confounded" it. He tried to take away the one thing that made man man. He undermined, apparently with great deliberateness, the very basis of Advancement - concept formation, reason, and the means for sharing knowledge.


The Bible was written by men. And it is men that sought to teach this lesson by creating such a story. It is to those men, and their intellectual heirs throughout history and into the present, that I say - NO MORE! Now nothing will be restrained from us, that we imagine to do. Now we begin to do this. Now we begin to advance without fear, without guilt, without the pain that you try to use to yoke us to the past, to our humble and primitive forebears.


We will be like gods, but without the smiting and condemnation. We will be as gods with our intelligence, with our technology, with our multitude of languages, and with our markets.


We will build flying cars, and fly them to heaven. Or to wherever else we decide to go.

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