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Ancient Man Versus Modern Man 

Has man evolved intellectually?

Genesis 11.6

By Don Ruhl

We are so smart, especially in 21st century America, aren’t we? Whereas, ancient man lived in a cave and was not even literate! We have advanced, because we have evolved since caveman days, right? No, from the first humans to our present age in all parts of the world, Thomas Jefferson was right, we have all been created equal! Think about an ancestor we all have in common, Noah.

Have you thought on how Noah built the ark?

How do you envision the ark? We see toy Arks and do not really think of the complexity of it. The ark, with minimum dimensions of 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, and three decks, had the capacity to hold thousands of animals safely through the most massive flood ever, and it had places for all the animals.

Think of two huge jobs that had to be taken care of daily by only eight people: First, they had to feed the animals every day, and second, they had to remove the manure every day! We are talking around 16,000 animals! How do eight people handle such chores? This does not include any other jobs, such as tending to sick animals, or tending to their own needs.

When I proposed the problem of the manure removal to one preacher, he got this smart-aleck look on his face, and pretended he had a shovel in his hands, acted like he was scooping up manure, and then threw it overboard. How do you throw it out the window from the lower decks? When would you have the time and strength to feed the animals?

They had to do all these things for 371 days!

Noah and his family had to have designed and built automation. How did they know how to build such things? Where did they learn to do it?

The ancient world may have been as complex as our world, because it was about 1,656 years after the creation that the Flood happened, and you add to that equation how many years those people lived, it would not be hard to imagine the great knowledge of the average person.

How much have you learned in your life, although you will only live one-tenth as long as they did? Now, imagine if you could not only be learning from others, but you could build on your own knowledge after 500 years, which was Noah’s age when he began the ark, “And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Gen 5.32).

Then the narrative shows God calling Noah, but it was one hundred years when the Flood finally came.

The ark was a technological and engineering wonder! Why do we not speak of the Eight Wonders of the Ancient World, because without the Ark the Seven Wonders never would have been?

Unfortunately evolutionary presuppositions taint our view of ancient man and the ancient world.

Yes, even Christians have adopted some views of evolution without realizing it. We believe that we are more advanced than ancient man, but that is not true. If you read the biblical account of early man, and see what ancient man did in the world, you will be amazed and wonder how you missed all that evidence. We may have done somethings that they did not do, at least as far as we know, but they did somethings that we have not done, and that we cannot figure out how they did it! If we have done wonderful things, it is only because we have built upon their work. Therefore, as far as mental capacity is concerned, we are the same.

I want to show you from the Bible and history in a series of messages, that ancient man was far more advanced that what most of us acknowledge.

Ancient Man vs Modern Man: Made in the Image of God

Genesis 1 says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen 1.26–28).

What does that include or mean? We are like God in some way or ways. For example, even as God has dominion over creation, so we have dominion over creation! What does that involve? It requires intelligence, research, observation, engineering, technology, automation, et al. Even the haters of God show that with all the work they do on the Earth, with the Earth, and for the Earth that this narration in Genesis reports the facts. Man exercises dominion over the Earth, whether for good or bad.

Being made in the image of God would also mean that man has intelligence like God, and that man has a nature like God. Therefore, we should be able to find evidence of these things, not only in today’s world with modern man, but in the distant past, going back to a time after the Flood, and perhaps before the Flood, although that will be difficult since the world was destroyed. Not only does the Ark of Noah demonstrate man’s intelligence, but what the biblical record shows in the first five chapters displays intelligence, and what man was able to do shortly after the Flood shows that he carried that knowledge with him and tried building projects such as the Tower of Babel. God’s own testimony in Genesis 11, which we will see demonstrated in this series, shows man’s great ability, “And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them’” (Gen 11.6). From that time until now, history demonstrates the truth of God’s observation.

Another demonstration of ancient man’s intelligence is the quick emergence of Egypt after the Flood, and the amazing things they did. Egypt explodes on the scene of world history without a progress, or evolution, of mighty kingdoms.

Look at the instructions God gave Adam, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Gen 2.15–17).

What did Adam have to know to tend and keep the Garden of Eden, and the rest of the planet, since God wanted Adam and his descendants to fill the Earth? Today people get degrees in forest management, farming, et al. Adam had to understand the consequence of disobedience. He had to be able to follow instructions. He had to understand death, although he had never seen it before. He had to be able to survive without any training or instruction. God put into Adam his initial knowledge without having learned those things.

When God created Adam, he was a full-grown man, not only in body, but in mind. When he was one-hour old, he looked like a full-grown man. When he was one-hour old he acted and knew as a full-grown man.

Next we discover that Adam had to understand his own emotional nature, “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’” (Gen 2.18). God said this in Adam’s presence. God said it, because He knew Adam could understand the meaning, and He knew that Adam would feel the need for a helper.

He had to understand what he saw in the animals, then name them according to their nature, like he named Eve woman, explaining that she was taken out of man, as you can see in English, but the names are similar in Hebrew also, “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him” (Gen 2.19, 20).

Now observe his understanding of human nature, literary devices, and rhetorical speech,

And Adam said:

“This is now
bone of my bones and
flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman, because
she was taken out of Man.”
(Gen 2.23).

At this point, Adam had not had any life experiences or teaching to add to what he already knew. Remember, All men are created equal, so that Adam’s mental capacity and ability to do things equaled ours, and ours equals his.

Genesis 4 offers a wealth of insight into the ancient world before the Flood.

Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground (Gen 4.2).

And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch (Gen 4.17).

And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock (Gen 4.20).

His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute (Gen 4.21).

And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah (Gen 4,22).

Keeping animals successfully, tilling the ground so that you can survive, building cities, playing musical instruments, and instructing others in craftsmanship in metal-working, all require intelligence and skill. We did not just read about apemen barely surviving, but we read of a flourishing world before the Flood.

If you think carefully on the incident at Babel in Genesis 11, you will see that the Bible presents ancient man with great intelligence. Think on what they proposed to do, “Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth’” (Gen 11.3, 4).

I will confess that I have always focused on the tower, and have completely missed the city and the brick-making! You have to have an infrastructure to support projects such as this.

For example, if you see the world picture ancient man with metal, such as swords, etc., have you thought how they did it? They had to have mining operations. They had to be able to melt what they had mined. Do you know all that is involved in such an operation? They had to know how to make a weapon that could not easily break, but could do the job. How do you make metal long, thin, and narrow, yet, with a sharp edge and end that will not break when used violently?

Their main project was the tower. We have some ideas of what this tower may have been like. Interestingly, most ancient cultures have tried to build something similar, things that we call pyramids. People generally think of the pyramids of Egypt, but pyramids in one form or another appear all over the globe.

When we learn about an ancient culture that appears to be primitive, that does not establish that the entire world was primitive. For example, if four thousand years from now archaeologists discover evidence that a tribe of people lived in the Amazon jungle, but that they only had stone instruments, and other crude implements, and concluded that they lived around the year 2012, and that therefore, the entire world was like that, you know they would be wrong. Yet, such tribes do exist today.

What if those archaeologists said these people (all cultures in 2012), had no self-propelled vehicles, had no means of communication across great distances, had no electricity, and said that not only was that tribe that way, but so was all the world in 2012? They could picture that tribe perfectly, but they would not be picturing the entire world accurately.

God created Adam in the image of God, and the Bible affirms that we also have the image of God.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man (1Co 11.7).

With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God (Jam 3.9).

Ancient Man vs Modern Man: Technology

In January, I will show you technological advances of ancient man, but in the meantime think on these things.

Are we advanced technologically? If so, how did we get there? Could we have advanced as we have without the prior work of the ancients?

If the ancients did not do what we have done, does that mean they were not technologically advanced? What does it say about them and us if we have not been able to duplicate things that they did? How much of our technology will still be around, if America ceased today, and archaeologists dig up our cities four thousand years from now? Would they be able to discover any signs of our electronic advances, such as computers? How will they know what we did in outer space? What of our space program will be preserved? Everything in space technology will have deteriorated. I already have files on my computer that are so old (10 years!) my current software will not open them.

Whether we think ancient man or modern man was better, does not matter when each of us stands before our Creator, who will judge us according to the way we have lived.

He will want to know whether we used our intelligence to improve ourselves and others, or did we use our intelligence to harm people? He will see whether we became new creatures or remained as the old one.

How would you like to spend eternity with someone who knows everything, but is not a know-it-all? He is generous with His knowledge. He wants to show us the amazing things He has done and can do. We talk about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but think about Him who made the people who could build the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World! How do the Pyramid builders of Egypt compare with the One who made the Earth upon which the Pyramids sit?

Rather than priding ourselves on our advancements, let us humble ourselves before Him who gave us incalculable ability to do whatever we want, as Paul says, “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1Co 4.7).

  1. Who makes us differ from one another? God.
  2. What do we have that we did not receive? Nothing.
  3. If we did receive it, why boast as if we did it ourselves? We should not.

Therefore, if everything about us comes from God, we should live to His glory. If we congratulate ourselves, we leave no room for Him to do it,

Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
(Pro 27.2)

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt you.