In the last ten years a growing number of scholars have wrestled with the theo - logical and ethical challenges of Auschwitz and Hiroshima—historical events that have come to symbolize the modern danger of valuing efficiency and accomplishment over human dignity and rights. Elucidating for readers ways in which a wide variety of theologians, ethicists, political theorists, and social critiques have responded to these challenges, Darrell Fasching focuses his work on the problem and the solution, as he understands them. To do so, he draws upon the biblical story of Babel and the contemporary lessons that it offers.
Once, the story tells us, everyone on earth spoke the same language (Gen. 11: 1 ff.). Living close to one another, talking and working with each other, human beings came to recognize the ability and power they possessed. Consequently, ‘to make a name for [themselves]’, they began to build a city, and within it a tower which, when completed, would reach up to the heavens. Yet, unhappy with these efforts, God confused their tongues. Lacking a common language, they could not now complete the tower and were scattered by the Almighty throughout the world. Fasching convincingly suggests that this tale is, in fact, a meaningful parable for our times. Imagining the inhabitants of Babel as modern men and women, attempting to create a perfect city through their technological prowess and ex - pertise, he insists that God did not see their efforts as sinful but as misguided. The point of the story, Fasching tells us, ‘is that utopian transcendence is to be found not in a “finished world” of technological and ideological conformity but in an “unfinished world” of diversity’ (p. 2).
The picture of the future that Fasching presents is frightening, yet clear. Cultural visions that emphasize technology's promises but not its dangers have led us, he warns, on a path from Auschwitz to Hiroshima to the brink of ‘MADness’ (i.e. mutually assured destruction). We have created a secularized myth of human progress without a counter-myth of human responsibility.