Is God the Author of Confusion? What About the Tower of Babel?

Are 1 Corinthians 14:33, Genesis 11:7-9 contradictory concerning whether God is the author of confusion? Learn the solution to this alleged contradiction.
Bible "contradictions"
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Quick answer

The two passages are completely different contexts. 1 Corinthians 14:33 is referring to God not being the author of confusion in terms of order within the church, and Genesis 11:7-9 is about God creating confusion as judgment for the people's pride and sin. The phrase "author of confusion" in 1 Corinthians 14:33 is restricted to a particular context that does not apply to Genesis 11:7-9.

The argument

Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether God is the author of confusion. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says that God is not the author of confusion, while Genesis 11:7-9 and the incident at the Tower of Babel seem to convey that God is the author of confusion. Here are the relevant passages:

God is not the author of confusion

1 Corinthians 14:33 - For God is not a God of confusion but of peace...

God creates confusion at the Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:7-9 - "Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

The answer

The contexts are completely different

There is no contradiction between these two passages because the contects of the two passages are completely different. 1 Corinthians 14:33 is speaking about order within the church, and Genesis 11:7-9 is speaking about how God punished people at the Tower of Babel for their pride and sin.

1 Corinthians 14:33 is speaking about church order

Let's take a look at the context of 1 Corinthians 14:33, verses 26-33:

26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:26-33)

As we can see, in this passage, Paul is addressing order within the church. People in the Corinthian church were speaking in tongues without an interpreter, which created confusion in the church service.

When Paul says that "God is not a God of confusion but of peace," he is saying that God did not intend for the church service to be a place of confusion and chaos, but rather that it should be a place of orderly worship.

Genesis 11:7-9 is speaking about God punishing sin

When God confuses the people's languages in Genesis 11:7-9, He is punishing the people for their pride and sin. This is a not a contradiction of 1 Corinthians 14:33 because God is not creating confusion within a church service here.

Conclusion

For this issue concerning whether God is an author of confusion or not, context is key. There is no contradiction because 1 Corinthians 14:33 and Genesis 11:7-9 speak about very different contexts that do not apply to the other.

"I don't buy that explanation"

Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:

I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.

Fact vs Opinion

The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.

However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.

When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.

Additional Resources

To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.

Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.

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