By the Waters of Babylon Questions and Answers
by Stephen Vincent Benét

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"Eating Knowledge Too Fast"? From "The Waters of Babylon," what does John mean by "perhaps the olden days ate knowledge too fast"?  And in your own opinion does our society eat knowledge too fast? explain. thnx

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

"Eating knowledge too fast" is an excellent metaphorical description of the failings of mankind in the dystopian world of this short story. It brings to mind a picture of someone absolutely glutting themselves on food, so that they make themselves ill or worse, and fits in with the point of view of the speaker. As ms-mcregor states, the central message of the story is all about the danger of technology that is untried, untested, or beyond our ability to handle. There are a number of extremely topical issues that this could be relevant too, not least genetic modification and our discovery of how the human genome works. Messing with nature, some scientists fear, may have drastic consequences, which cannot be predicted, which is why this story is so relevant to us in our day and age.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write1,918 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

John observes that the Place of the Gods was destroyed by some kind of super weapon. His remark that the inhabitants "ate knowledge too fast" is his excellent comment that they didn't think about the consequences their knowledge might bring before they used it. Even though this story was written in the 1930's, it parallels some of the moral questions of today's society. We have the knowledge to destroy ourselves, the knowledge of how DNA works, the knowledge to clone animals and,possibly ourselves. Perhaps, our society is also "eating knowledge too fast". Our knowledge is increasing faster than our ability to figure out how to use that knowledge wisely.

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puzzle | Student

As Kennedy said '' Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. ''