As the story goes in the Book of Mormon, the Brother of Jared and his people were spared when the God confounded the languages of the people at the Tower of Babel. The Jaredites were led to America and spawned a 1,700 year civilization that numbered in the millions. The last survivor of the Jaredites was Coriantumr, who was discovered by the people of Zarahemla. The record of the Jaredites was discovered by King Limhi’s people in the wilderness,1 translated by Mosiah,2 and abridged and inserted into the Book of Mormon by Moroni.3
The problem is this: The Tower of Babel is a myth. It isn’t real. There is no archaeological evidence that there was a real tower that people built to try to get to heaven. There is no linguistic evidence that languages evolved from one language like the Bible says. It is a mythical event. Many cultures have myths about the origin of language. The Tower of Babel is one such myth. A mythical event cannot spawn a real Jaredite people and real plates containing their records. It just can’t happen.
The story of the Tower of Babel doesn’t make sense anyway. Here is the entire account of the Tower of Babel from the Bible:4
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Which parts of this story make sense?
How could people actually believe they could build a tower to get to heaven?
With all of our modern technology, the tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa tower5 in Dubai which is 2,717 feet tall. That’s slightly more than a 1/2 mile tall. Primitive people looked up to the stars the same as we do today. Wherever primitive people thought heaven was, is it reasonable to think that people could actually believe they could build a tower to get to heaven? That makes no sense to me.
Even though that makes no sense, let’s pretend that a group of primitive people really did try to build a tower to get to heaven. In this scenario, why would God need to confuse their languages? Why didn’t God just let them fail and let them learn they were attempting the impossible? In verse 6, it says that God had to do something otherwise they would have succeeded. Does that make any sense? Of course not.
What makes the most sense is this: it’s just a story. A myth. Fiction. I have no problem with myths, as long as they aren’t confused with reality. Myths can be cool. I like the Tower of Babel myth. I think it’s a neat story about the evolution of language and man’s propensity for folly. But it’s a myth, not reality.
The Book of Mormon depends upon the Tower of Babel being actual history. If the Tower of Babel is not rooted in actual history, this means the Book of Mormon isn’t either.