Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Intelligence = Technology?

Hadza Tribe -

For many people, studying ancient man and his accomplishments can give rise to more questions than answers. For instance, ancient technology in architecture, art, transportation, agriculture, and even sanitation often baffles our modern minds. Such ancient technology clearly displays that ancient men were intelligent—just as we would expect from a biblical worldview. But other questions arise—maybe you as a reader have been asking them: Were there any ancient societies that did not possess advanced technology? If so, then were they still intelligent? And what about tribal people that live in remote areas of the earth? Are they intelligent? Is intelligence dependent upon technology?

To answer such questions we must keep in mind that the Bible, as the authoritative Word of God, is the ultimate source of truth—it may not answer the questions directly, but it does give us the basis with which we can come to a plausible conclusion about any question.

Ancient Societies

It can be safely said that not every ancient society or people group had advanced technology. Some may have not had a large enough work force, enough resources or perhaps even the desire to invent and manufacture things that would stand the test of time. Our information about the past is limited to insights from archaeological evidence and more importantly from historical accounts found in the absolute truth of the Word of God. We know the archaeological evidence that we do find must come from after the global flood of Noah’s day, which would have totally demolished all civilization that had developed since the creation of the world (Read Genesis 6-9).

Noah and his family exited the ark and needed to rebuild and expand all over again. They did not completely start from scratch though, as they presumably still had knowledge to build and manufacture the things that existed prior to the Flood.[1] The descendants of Noah would eventually build cities and form civilizations all over the world that we can still observe to this today. God’s intervention at the Tower of Babel was the primary driving force of the dispersion of people throughout the world (Genesis 11).[2]

Indeed, there certainly have been times throughout the history of man when some people did not have obvious, advanced technology. But this does not invalidate the biblical premise that man was created intelligent. Genesis 1:27 states: “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The first human beings, Adam and Eve, must have been created intelligent as God made them in His image and at the end of His creation He called it all “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Genesis also gives evidence of their intelligence: they could converse, name things, reason, work etc. (See The Genius of Ancient Man, pages 18-19, for more examples.)

However, when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden sin and death entered into the world (Romans 5:12, 8:22). The curse came into effect as the lifespan of man decreased steadily over the years, and along with that the ability to acquire and obtain knowledge and skills decreased as well. We are not nearly as intelligent as our ancestors, and evidence of such a Biblical truth can be observed in the inexplicable technology of ancient peoples.[3]

What about Tribal people?

Hadza Tribe -

This, however, does not mean that intelligence is dependent upon technology, as the evolutionary worldview would suggest. Taking that view to its final conclusion, tribal people in remote parts of the world would be considered less evolved and inferior to the rest of the world in their “primitive” state. Our postmodern world may look down upon this conclusion because it is considered “racist”, but that is the logical outworking of their own view that we evolved from apes. Elizabeth Mitchell writes:

“Evolutionary anthropologists generally consider the “hunter-gatherer” to represent the more “primitive” condition of evolving humanity. But this view is false. Biblical history describes Adam’s first “job” to be tending the garden that God provided, and Adam’s sons kept flocks and tilled the ground (Genesis 4:2–3). Genesis chapter 4 describes the establishment of a city, so we see that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was not the original condition of mankind. Following the global Flood, farming resumed as Noah planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20). We learn of a hunter named Nimrod (Genesis 10:9) about the time of the building of the Tower of Babel, and it is likely that once people dispersed from Babel the foraging/hunting lifestyle became a necessary expedient for many. But such a lifestyle was not a symptom of evolutionary or intellectual inferiority”[4] 

Hadza Tribe -

Tribal people, therefore, removed from much of the world, most certainly cannot be called dumb brutes nor less evolved. They are human beings like you and me, descendants of Adam and Eve of the same race, and equally in need of a Savior. In fact, many remote tribes have legends handed down by oral tradition that speak of Creation, a powerful Creator, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and even about the good news of salvation.[5] The fact that these oral traditions have remained over the years attests to the intelligence of these peoples as well as to the fact that these things did happen. Though they may not have “advanced” technology, tribal people are still intelligent human beings that are individually unique in personality and ability—in fact; they are more intelligent than most other people in some ways.

Technology and Intelligence

Consider this: Jesus was the Son of God and claimed to be “one” with the Father (John 10:30). As a man, Jesus still had to grow in “wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52), but the Father had given Him much knowledge. There are many occasions in the gospels in which Jesus is said to have known beforehand the hearts of people, the actions some would take, and the tasks that He had to accomplish on earth (Matthew 17:12; Mark 12:15; John 2:19, 4:17-18, John 6:64, John 16:19). Jesus was without sin, incredibly wise, and had immense knowledge, but said He had “no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). He wasn’t the stately King the Jews expected to overthrow the Roman Empire. Clearly, technology and living conditions are not always a sign of intelligence.

In fact, advancement in technology can hinder the intellect and growth of the mind. The last hundred years have been marked by massive increases in industry, medicine, and invention. Telephones, lights, motorized vehicles, airplanes, computers, televisions, and robotic machines were all manufactured to aid man in his endeavors in hopes of making life easier. In many cases technology can make one’s life more hectic and stressful, and with entertainment available at our fingertips there is the danger of laziness. When machines can do the work, the mind is not as challenged, thus hindering the growth of knowledge and diminishing ability. Francis Schaeffer points this out in regards to the Roman Empire of the 4th century: “Apathy was the chief mark of the late Empire. One of the ways the apathy showed itself was in the lack of creativity in the arts.” Schaeffer then continues by saying that as a result of apathy and immorality, the Roman economy plunged and eventually the empire dissolved.[6]

All of this flies in the face of the evolutionary concept that technological advancement is a product of man evolving from ancient ape-like species.


Hadza Tribe -

Each and every person (whether they live in a remote tribe or in a bustling city) is endowed by their Creator with unique abilities. We were all created to use those God-given abilities to serve and worship Him. Knowledge is a sign of intelligence, but it is useless if one has no knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 8:36, 1 Corinthians 8:1, 13:2). Furthermore, mere knowledge and the wisdom of man is very much different from the wisdom of God (James 3:13-18). Tribal people are intelligent, and it is Lord’s will that people from every ethnicity and people group would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior (Matthew 28:18-20). We are not superior or more evolved, nor are we necessarily more intelligent, but we are all made in the image of God and have a choice to obey Him and His Word, the Bible.

[1] See Chapter 5 in The Genius of Ancient Man for an explanation on pre-Flood man
[2] See pages 40-41 in The Genius of Ancient Man
[3] See Chapter 6 in The Genius of Ancient Man
[4] Mitchell, “War or Peace? The Evolutionary History of Human Nature
[5] See pages 74-77 in The Genius of Ancient Man as well as Richardson, Don, Eternity in the Their Hearts
[6] Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? 26-29

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