The passage in Genesis which describes the building of the Tower of Babel seems to suggest that man, by this time, had made significant progress in terms of civilization and had thus gotten to the point where they thought themselves capable building a tower to heaven (or “the sky”?, perhaps even suggesting merely a very tall tower?). For instance, men were said to have been using better material to build such things than they had previously used.
If God differentiated the languages of those people for building the Tower, then does God actually frown upon human progress? As I understand it, the Church has interpreted this passage as God punishing men for building it. Was He punishing them for increasing in knowledge to this point? Many have said that the punishment was for their pride, but, did not their pride result from the progress they had already made, making them rely less and less on God?
If human progress (particularly that in terms of knowledge/technology) leads to less and less a reliance on God, again, does God frown on such progress? Even if He doesn’t frown on it per se, does He set any kind of limit on it so that our pride will not increase to such an extent that we either rely to little on Him or not at all? I suppose one could answer this by saying that, if we were to increase to some prohibited limit, God would do the same kind of thing He did at Babel to (as I’ve always seen it) create a “stop-gap” measure so that we would not have the capability to increase to that point? Indeed, I’ve always thought that the language differentiation was perhaps less a punishment and more a preventative for keeping our pride down by decreasing our ability to make progress as a species because of the diversity of the languages and, thus, the lack of every person to communicate with every other. One might also argue that, since the gates of Hell will never prevail against God’s Church, our pride will never increase to such a degree as completely to separate us from a need for God.
I guess, in sum: Is human progress permissible in God’s eyes? If so, why? Is there any limit to this progress? If so, why and what is the limit?