A common remark I get when I talk to people about the Bible is related to the intelligence of the authors. It usually goes something like this, “Why would I believe something written by stupid desert people?” And they usually talk about the earth being flat, belief in Gods, and other things that obviously only stupid people would account for. It seems logical at first. After all, who wants to read a book about the most important subject of all time, if the authors were imbeciles?
How do we know they were stupid?
This is the first question we have to ask ourselves. How do we know they were stupid? Because they believed the earth was flat? That is actually a widely over used misconception. Nothing in the Bible says anything about the earth being flat. In fact, the Bible actually indicates the earth is a “circle” and “sphere,” (Job 26:10 & Isaiah 40:21-22). For more info on where the flat earth theory comes from I recommend reading another article I posted, https://matthew2262.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/anti-religion-funny-comics-and-demotivational-posters/. The ancient people of the Bible did not believe the earth was flat.
One reason we think that the ancient people were stupid is based on a presupposition of evolution which maintains that humans are constantly evolving and improving. If we therefore go backwards in time we’ll stumble across less and less developed humans which are less and less mentally superior. But is this really the case? Instead of speculating on what we think we know, let us look at the actual facts.
Just how dumb were the authors of the Bible?
Well, not dumb at all actually. In fact, many of the authors were in fact very bright for the time and age they lived in. Moses was raised in the finest schools for Egyptian royalty. David was educated byBabylon’s highest ranking educators. Luke was a physician. Solomon, the author of Proverbs was given the Wisdom of God. Paul was highly educated as well.
In general, people were not “stupid” in the ancient world but incredibly inventive and clever, developing all the tools, languages and mathematics that our modern society and sciences rest upon. The Egyptian pyramids to this day baffle engineers and historians as to how such an ancient society could develop such a complex and massive building feat. Ancients knew how to create steel and combine metals to create alloys. They developed critical systems like the ramp, screw, pully, lever, ect. They could navigate using the stars, and plan remarkably precise building projects using the stars. They knew how to irrigate and farm. They knew how to artificially select livestock for stronger off spring. These are not achievements of “stupid” people. This is not to say that were not any less intelligent people in ancient times. Every population has a variety of people with intellectual capability. But this same variety exists to this day.
From a theological view point, the Biblical authors were inspired by the divine wisdom of God anyways. In such a case it wouldn’t matter to the IQ of the author, if he is being inspired by the all superior intelligence of God.
We’re not all that smart today…
We falsely assume we’re more intelligent because we can fly in airplanes, look up anything online, go to the moon, send robots to Mars, cure deadly disease that once wiped out thousands of people, ect. But ask yourself this; could we have achieved these things without the basic foundations laid down by our more “primitive”predecessors? You can’t design a jet engine if the basic chemistry for refining fuel had not been developed. You can’t travel through space if the fundamental laws of physics had not been known. What good is a car without the wheel? It is easy to boast about how intelligent you are when you are standing on the shoulders of the men and women of the past who did all the grunt work to discover the knowledge you so assertively take credit for.
Here is another question. Does access to more information really make you more intelligent? We can today access just about anything online. A real manifestation of education of the masses! But are there costs to today’s technology? There are sadly many. Most profoundly of which is memory. With information so accessible and devices like lab tops, phones, and even a pen and paper, our memories are seldom utilized. Ask yourself how many phone numbers of friends and family you know off the top of your head without resorting to your phone or a phone book. However, in the ancient world where such technology was not available, even writing utensils a rarity, people required strong memorization skills to retain information to pass down to later generations. Such memorization skills are demonstrated in the ancient use of oral tradition, which has been proven to be incredibly accurate. So accurate that it has been suggested that any average ancient lay person could easily memorize and retain MORE information than the average person today. Unfortunately such a scenario is only hypothetical.
A Relative Standard
The problem is that we think that because we know more today than people in the past, we are therefore smart and they stupid. But let’s put this into perspective: We today consider ourselves smart. Now hypothetically two hundred years from now humans will obviously know a great deal more of information than we do today. They’ll know so much in fact that surely they will overturn many of the theories and facts we hold to be true today. They will know so much that they will look back at people in the early 21st century and consider us… stupid. But wait… I thought we were smart? I thought that we today are advanced and intelligent?
You see, by comparing the wealth of information available today to the lesser amount of information in the past you are in essence creating an illogical standard by which to gauge intelligence. If such is the case then we are stupid because there is so much more we don’t know in today’s world that will be discovered in the future. Clearly there is a flaw is such reasoning because one could argue both ways that we are stupid or smart. The only way to properly rationalize the intelligence of people in my opinion is within the context of the age they live in. And thus, considering that many of the Bible’s authors were highly educated during the periods in which they existed, one cannot claim that the Bible was written by stupid desert people.
…many of them didn’t even live in the desert anyways.