Friday, June 19, 2009

How knowledgeable were the ancients?


10 Is there anything of which it may be said,
“ See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
(Ecclesiastes 1:10)

In the period of time before the flood that came in the days of Noah, men lived up to just short of 1000 years. When I think about that, I wonder what things were developed and discovered by those men. Imagine, if I could embark upon a vocation for 750 - 800 years; what if, for instance, I was an architect for 800 years, what could I learn of architecture in that time? As I think of the possibilities, I no longer wonder at the great civilisations that appeared very soon after the flood waters were pushed back, and Noah stepped off the ark. I am convinced that Noah took with him, on to the ark, a library of books, that contained much of the knowledge that was in existence prior to the flood. From this library, the early descendants of Noah would have had access to the kind of knowledge that would have enabled them to build pyramids, and do all kinds of other amazing things that we no longer have the knowledge or technology to be able to do.

I think it is very presumptuous to think of our age as somehow superior to the ancients. In many aspects, we are only just catching up, and in many aspects we are so far behind it will be many generations before we rediscover the knowledge that has been lost. I think of the knowledge that has been lost through our neglect of getting to know our Indigenous friends, before their old people died and took their amazing breadth of knowledge with them, and I feel very sad. I have co-authored a paper on this issue, called: Ngurra-kurlu: a way of working with Warlpiri people.

The knowledge attrition rate is very high. Entertainment consumes so much time that we do not give ourselves to the task of acquiring knowledge that has been handed down to us from the past. It takes an enormous amount of dedication, will and discipline to accumulate knowledge through a lifetime, and then the task of passing that knowledge on to another generation is complicated by the resistance of youth to submit to their elders: Who has not heard the proverbial, "I know!" from a myopic teenager?

However, when all is said and done, knowledge without wisdom is dangerous. Wisdom comes from God, so God keeps us dependent upon Him by frustrating the passing on of the knowledge of the ancients.

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