Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a headline-generating speech at the first Facebook Community Summit on June 22.
Here is a representative sampling of the headlines:
“Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook can fill the role played by churches” (Fox News)
“Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook can play a role that churches and Little League once filled” (CNBC)
“Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is ‘the new church’” (New York Post)
“Facebook a replacement for church involvement?” (WND)
Weeks later, due to my Christian faith, Zuckerberg’s controversial remarks remain in my thoughts along with parallels to the Tower of Babel, an Old Testament Bible story.
Written in the book of Genesis (11:1-9) with only nine short verses, the story is forever referenced by the English word “babel,” meaning a confused mixture of voices or sounds.
To summarize, the Tower of Babel is about the people of the known world who at the time spoke only one language. As verse 4 specifies, empowered by their unity of language, they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
The Lord was not pleased when he saw the people building a city with a tower that glorified only them.
In verse 6, the Lord says, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”
The verse 6 footnote in my NIV Study Bible further explains why the Lord disapproved of the project, “The kingdom of man would displace and exclude the kingdom of God.”
Verse 7 reveals the Lord’s plan to punish and exert His control over these rebellious people when He says, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
Finally, in verses 8-9 are the consequences of prideful, self-centered actions:
“So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Again, the NIV Study Bible footnote perfectly summarizes the meaning of the story:
“God dispersed the people because of their rebellious pride. Even the greatest of human powers cannot defy God and long survive.”
Now let’s circle back to the words of Mark Zuckerberg. While presenting Facebook’s new mission statement at the first Facebook Community Summit, he said:
Our full mission statement is: give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. That reflects that we can’t do this ourselves, but only by empowering people to build communities and bring people together.
Facebook’s current global reach of 2 billion users signifies a powerful growing force that is now officially being harnessed to “bring the world closer together.” But Zuckerberg lamented that because only 100 million Facebook users have joined “meaningful communities” within Facebook, his new goal is “1 billion.” (Of course, “meaningful” is whatever issue, concern, event, or thing that is meaningful to you and your group.)
Changing a corporate mission statement is no small matter for a public company. Therefore, re-engineering Facebook so users will be “empowered” to build meaningful communities took much thought and planning.
However, Zuckerberg might have ventured into Tower of Babel territory when he said:
We all get meaning from our communities. Whether they’re churches, sports teams, or neighborhood groups, they give us the strength to expand our horizons and care about broader issues. Studies have proven the more connected we are, the happier we feel and the healthier we are. People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity – not just because they’re religious, but because they’re part of a community.
That’s why it’s so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That’s a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.
This is our challenge. We have to build a world where everyone has a sense of purpose and community. That’s how we’ll bring the world closer together.
Memo to Mark Zuckerberg:
Read the Tower of Babel story now. Surely, you will recognize Facebook as the “tower” in your new mission statement to “bring the world closer.” How about building the tower “so that we may make a name for ourselves,” as stated in verse 4? Does that sound any alarms? If not, consider your statement: “We have to build a world where everyone has a sense of purpose and community.” Doesn’t that negate mankind’s ultimate purpose – to love God and to love and serve one another? Moreover, achieving a lasting “sense of purpose” requires believing in something far greater than Facebook connections. It requires belief in the most powerful force in the universe – God the Creator – the source of all love and life. Fortunately, no Facebook app is needed to communicate with Him!
Mark, after reading about the Tower of Babel, you might want to consult God about Facebook’s new mission. Have you thought about God’s role in “bringing the world closer”? Seeking answers could be a continuation of your evolving religious beliefs prompting the Washington Post headline:
“Mark Zuckerberg says he’s no longer an atheist, believes ‘religion is very important.’”
The piece reported what happened on Dec. 25, 2016, after you posted:
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me,” he wrote, naming his wife, daughter and dog. When a Facebook commenter asked him: ‘Aren’t you an atheist?’” Zuckerberg replied: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.
Mark, only you know how important religion is to you – and God knows, too. But most importantly, only God will judge whether Facebook is your Tower of Babel.
If it is, Facebook, like the Tower of Babel, will not reach its intended height because the builders failed to recognize that a far greater power was ultimately in charge of the “project.”
Myra Adams is a media producer and writer who served on the McCain Ad Council during the 2008 McCain campaign and on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team. Her writing credits include National Review, WND, Washington Examiner, and more. Contact her at [email protected] Twitter @MyraKAdams.