6 – Writing and Technology: Did Mankind have to Start from Scratch?
1 – Introduction
2 – To Use or not to Use the Strict Chronology Version
3 – How Genesis Genealogies were Abridged
4 – Thread of History not Lost in the Post-Flood World
5 – Examination of the Genesis Chronology
6 – Writing and Technology: Did Mankind have to Start from Scratch?
7 – The Ice Age
8 – Conclusion
The fact that writing was well known to Noah and his sons marks a significant aspect of life in those early years of discovery and exploration in the new world on which they set forth. However, modern academia, in line with its assumption of evolutionary development, has proposed that it took mankind, starting from some kind of primitive state, a great length of time to learn writing and other aspects of technology.
But this does not provide us with a very helpful or accurate understanding of this period in human history. The first settlers after the Flood were well educated in writing and possessed a good deal of skill in technology. For example, Noah certainly did not have to invent the wheel; he surely made use of it in his monumental work of constructing the ark.
Now it is true that, as smaller tribes split off from the main branches of civilization, they would have lost some of the skills that belonged to their original groups. Probably it is the archeological remains of these more “primitive” descendants (not ancestors) that have led scientists to believe that mankind in those early days had to learn writing from scratch. But in reality, such evidence only shows that smaller tribes, which branched out and migrated away from an established community, in the process lost some of the knowledge and skills that were kept intact in their former more settled or civilized areas.
And many of these same tribes still exist in many nations of today’s world; highly advanced sectors of a population may dwell alongside other groups of people who exist in what might be considered a primitive culture – only because long ago they had lost many of the skills and technology of the parent groups from which they had branched away.
So, is it necessary to think that there had to be a vast age of time to allow mankind the space he needed to learn enough about technology before he could get to the point of establishing civilizations? And enough about writing so that recorded history could begin? This hardly seems to be the case. Noah and his sons already possessed these skills. And since their lifetimes were quite long, they had plenty of time to educate their offspring in those skills as well.
Mankind did not need to learn from scratch skills of language, writing, or technology – which means the Genesis chronologies do not need to be stretched unreasonably to accommodate a theorized gigantic learning curve from a primitive state to a non-primitive one. We only need to allow some time for the the rise of civilization that took place before Abraham made his journeys through the Mid East.
But it is easy to think otherwise. If one thought that before civilization began there was no written recorded history, he or she would naturally think that a good deal of time was required to learn the skills and technology necessary for civilization to begin. And that is why scientists and historians who don’t understand/appreciate the sacred accounts about the Flood and the survival of Noah and his sons, have theorized a long age of time prior to the rise of civilization.
The same goes for the lack of understanding or acceptance of the creation of humankind. If one thought humans had to evolve or develop from ape to primitive state, then of course, any such theory would have to propose a long stretch of time to learn language, writing, and technical skills. But the science behind the claim that primitive ape-men existed is easily discredited. (Refer to posts 4D and 4E in Retrieving Mankind’s Lost Heritage.)
In the pre-Flood age those skills of language, writing, and technology were learned, of course, from scratch. The people then may have had help from angelic beings to help them get started. Whatever the case was, there is no real way to know exactly how mankind picked up these skills during that pre-Flood age. But since Adam and Eve were created as fully developed and intelligent beings, it probably did not take a long time for them to learn.
Regarding the early knowledge of writing, in Genesis 5:1 we read “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” The word “book” means “written account,” and it is quite possible that Adam wrote down the account of Creation as revealed to him by God; he also could have kept a written record of what happened afterwards until Genesis 5:5 when Adam died. After that, Adam’s “book” would have been passed on with the writings of the other patriarchs (Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), and eventually to Moses who compiled it all together in the Book of Genesis.
This may be speculative, but it would seem consistent with God’s nature that He would make sure to get the human race off to a good start by teaching Adam and Eve certain basic skills necessary for their survival and for preserving their cultural heritage (for which learning to write and keep records would have been essential). If this was the case, then human history, the recording of it that is, got off to a good start.
The genealogy in Genesis 5 of the pre-Flood patriarchs would have been accurate, and there is little reason to think that there were any major discrepancies in it. But in a more hostile post-Flood environment, when the struggle for survival became more intense, when people led shorter lives, then it may have become more difficult to keep up with the record-keeping. And here is where there may have been some discrepancies.
Upon considering all factors involved, it would be scholastically irresponsible to relegate the Genesis records into the realm of mythology. They are genuine historical documents, written by those who actually experienced the events recorded in them. They are original documents, from which several oral versions arose.
Perhaps the earliest non-Biblical account of the Flood was the Gilgamesh epic, written during the era of the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia, probably the first civilization to arise after the Flood. In it the hero, Gilgamesh (who also happened to be one of the Sumerian kings), meets one of the survivors of the Flood. (Such epic tales were commonly leveraged by ancient kings in a way that would confer divine status on themselves; and as a result distortions in the epic accounts appeared fairly quickly.)
Now if it is true that Gilgamesh met Noah or one of his sons, then the date of the Flood cannot be shoved back too far into the past – not more than 500 years before the meeting of Gilgamesh (or one of his ancestors) with one of the survivors of the Flood. (Noah lived 350 years after the Flood and Shem 502 years according to Genesis 9:28, 11:10-11.)
But looking at this from the other direction, it doesn’t seem that Abraham’s journeys could have started too soon after the Flood. Some time would need to have passed for the Sumerian civilization to get established, in particular its main city Ur, Abraham’s birth place. Plus, the Egyptian civilization had to get established, following closely after, and even alongside, the rise of Sumerian civilization.