Tom and author Dr. Don Chittick, regarding history and primitive man, ask the question: "Was ancient man smarter than we are today?"
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for joining us. In today’s program, Tom welcomes Dr. Don Chittick. Don is an author and speaker on the topic of origins and earth history. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. My guest today is Dr. Don Chittick. Don’s doctorate is in physical chemistry. He’s an author and a speaker on the topic of origins and earth history. Don, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7!
Don: Thank you!
Tom: Now, I’m excited, Don, about the topic that we’re going to discuss, and I’m also happy for myself and perhaps some of our listeners that it won’t be about physical chemistry. Now, if that were the case, Don, you’d be doing a monologue, with me throwing in a clueless nod every once in a while, and they can’t see that, of course, on radio, so…. Anyway, my point here is science has never been my strong suit. Nevertheless, your degree in science gives me confidence that you have scrutinized the origins and earth history according to true science, checking out the evidence for creation in keeping with the scientific method.
Don: We need to remember that the definition of science has very important changes that have happened since science started. The scientists that brought us out of the Dark Ages into modern science such as Newton, Boyle, Faraday, and so forth, defined science as a systematic method for investigating the created universe. But [in] our culture today, we hear so often a totally different meaning to the word “science.” Often in our culture today, science means any explanation not involving creation. So I take it from - as a creationist - science is a systematic method for investigating the created universe.
Tom: And absolutely…well, those who have listened to Search the Scriptures 24/7 know that that’s the page that we’re on.
But, Don, the subject that I want to talk to you about today and, the Lord willing, next week, is based upon the book that you wrote titled The Puzzle of Ancient Man. Now, let’s start with the title of your book: what about ancient man, and why is he a puzzle?
Don: There are two views about where man came from: one is that man was created in the image of the Creator; the other is that man evolved up over a long period of time by a series of evolutionary changes up from an animal. That’s the view that I was taught all through my educational system: that man came up from an animal.
But it puzzled me, because if man came up from an animal, then the further we went into the historical past, the more primitive ought man to be. But what does science show us? Scientific investigation shows us that early in man’s history he’d had a very high level of science and technology. For example, thousands of years ago, they had electric batteries. We’ve dug those items up. They used copper and iron to make their batteries with, but any chemist will tell you that makes a good battery. We use carbon and zinc and so forth today, but…so way back then they had technology that amazes us.
And so what I was seeing, what we have learned about the past didn’t agree with the idea that man has come up from the animals. So this was a puzzle, so that’s why I called it The Puzzle of Ancient Man. How do we resolve this conflict between one view that man has come up from the animal versus the idea that he was created in the image of the Creator? That’s why I titled the book The Puzzle of Ancient Man.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, Don, we offer your book, as you know, through The Berean Call, and Gary’s going to tell our listeners how you can get your book, but, you know, the puzzle is an incredible puzzle! It’s an exciting puzzle! But as you start your book—now, this may be a side note, but I think it’s worth mentioning, because, you know, you just said that science has basically changed. There are a lot of things that…in our culture that are different from their beginnings.
For example, Don, you talk about language; you talk about grammar. In your introduction of your book, you say that you’re not going to give way to how grammar has changed, how our use of the language has changed. Could you fill us in on that?
Don: Yes, language has changed. We’re talking about two worldviews here: creationism and naturalism - or evolutionism, as it’s sometimes called. Language reflects a worldview, and when science got started early, and I do it in my book, I use the way that words were used. Man was created male and female, but that view is rejected; that biblical worldview is rejected in our culture. There has been a move towards unisex agenda, rejection of gender-specific terms such as “he” and “she,” and so I have, in my book, to aid in communication, I have used the standard rules for which English started out: using gender specific terms, as many languages still do. So, instead of confusing the issue, I have chosen to make in the book a specific comment about using the language not of unisex but of gender-specific terms.
Tom: So give us an example.
Don: An example would be instead of using gender-specific terms, if we’re talking, for example, about a basketball team, if we don’t know gender-specific there, just a team, we would use, if we use the traditional rules, we’d say, “A member of the team: he is about so tall,” and give his height. On the other hand, if we knew that it was a girls’ basketball team, we would say - asking about a specific player - because we know it’s a girls’ basketball team, we would say “she.” But if we don’t know, there’s no gender-specific reference, we would use the masculine terms for an individual. Instead, today our culture uses “they,” plural, even though we’re talking about a singular individual, and they’ll use “they” rather than using gender-specific terms to try to avoid the implications of creation.
Tom: Right. Now, Don, in a biblical context, we’re going to focus our discussion on some of the earlier - well, the early technological developments of mankind. But in reading through your book, you talk about pre-flood - those things that took place prior to the flood - and those things that took place after the worldwide flood. Now, why that distinction?
Don: Because we need to realize in the creation worldview, man was not primitive and an animal. He was highly intelligent and healthy and capable, and they developed a high level, soon, of high technology that was not a problem for them. And then came the flood and the flood destroyed all of that technology.
Yes, the technology was destroyed, but not the memory that it could be done. After the flood, they had to rebuild, but they didn’t have to reinvent, so that sheds light on how we explain those things from the past, just as the Bible gives us insights there.
Tom: Mm-hmm. So the implication is from the evidence that we find, little of it—if any, and you can address this—pre-flood, because of the destruction, the devastation, the cataclysmic events that took place, there’s hardly any evidence of the technology. But…
Don: That is correct. There may be a few pieces, but I’m not confident enough to say that they’re definitely pre-flood, that we’ve found something like that; so I don’t talk too much about that. But they’re starting to come to light, some ideas, or some evidence about pre-flood technology. But what we do find is that immediately after the flood, they tried to explore the whole earth again. They tried to explore the world after the flood to find the resources again to build up their technology that they had before the flood. So they explored the whole world to find the resources…
Don: …and they tried to rebuild their technology, and we have evidence of that in ancient maps.
Tom: Right. Now, Don, before we get into ancient maps, and that’s really an incredible point in your book, the implications of that, we just blow by - we don’t get it. But before you go there, for our listeners, set up the scenario there, starting with Babel, and starting with God changing languages and dispersing…you know, you said they traveled the world, and we’re going to give evidence of that. However, at first they didn’t do it willingly, did they?
Don: No! God’s command to man after the flood was given to us in Genesis:9:1. After the flood, God said to man, “Spread out all over the world and repopulate it.” The English translation uses “replenish.” Originally, that word “replenish” meant the same in English as it does in Hebrew: it means “to fill full.” But over the time since, our culture has put the “re” - to mean “again,” so it wasn’t a “refilling” the world, it was just to fill it full. So God’s command to man after the flood was to fill the world again with people. But under Nimrod at the Tower of Babel, he was in rebellion against the Creator, and so he refused. He wanted to be head honcho, and so he refused to go and spread out as God commanded, and as a consequence, God confounded their language so they could not understand one another’s speech. They had separate cultural groups.
Tom: Now, let’s get to maps. The stunning information that maybe—well, not maybe, we have missed—has to do with ancient maps.
Don: Yes, that’s exactly right. We have discovered ancient maps that very accurately describe the features of the earth such as, for example, Antarctica before the Ice Age was mapped very accurately with the topography of it very accurately listed. We have the Piri Reis map, as it’s called, and one of the books that describes in detail that is Hapgood’s book, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings. He shows how they went over the earth to find different things. For example, in the Middle East, we had the Bronze Age. Bronze, as you know, is an alloy of copper and tin, and in the Middle East we have copper mines, but where did they get their tin? We now know that they went over to the British Isles and into Bolivia in South America. So they had maps, and they knew how to do it, to navigate using those maps very accurately. They went to find the resources to again build up. Each people group did that, and so we have different cultures, cultural centers, where they mapped it out, went to it, and found the resources.
Tom: Now, Don, this creates an interesting thought here, and something that you’ve written about: if man is of the mentality that he has evolved and…early he was primitive, then that’s going to open the door to buying into all kinds of false history.
Tom: For example, you know, what do we say here in this country? “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” You know, obviously, in terms of exploration of the world, we are centuries and centuries late. Wouldn’t that be right?
Don: That’s exactly right, Tom. That’s exactly right! Columbus did not discover America. We have accurate maps that they had two-way commerce back and forth across the ocean thousands of years before Columbus. We find examples of that in their music; we find examples of that in their cultural traditions, and building of pyramids and monuments, very similar to what they did thousands of years ago. And so, Columbus was a latecomer – not something that people didn’t know about very early in man’s history.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And so much for the myth of the “flat-earth” society – that primitive man had that view.
Don: The “flat-earth” society was invented as an attack on Scripture, and I have documentation on it. There’s a whole book on that. Man never did believe in the flat earth. It was always thought to be round, and the early navigators used that. They had accurate estimates of the circumference of the earth, which they did in their navigation, so that myth – sometimes Scripture has been attacked in different ways. One of those is the idea that early man was thinking the earth was flat. That has never been true from the Scriptures or from history either.
Tom: Don, one of the things that was so encouraging in reading your book – now, as mentioned early on, science was never my forte, yet when I read your book, the thing that really speaks to my heart is [that] you’re not into speculation! You’re not into wild ideas and concepts that lack any kind of evidence. You certainly extrapolate – there’s nothing wrong with that. But you don’t speculate on this. So the evidence that you present, it’s out there, and it’s solid…
Tom: …and I’m really encouraged by that.
Don: It is solid, and that’s why in my speeches that I give on the topic of origins and earth history, I show we have to stick with reality. We don’t want to speculate. We have to stay with reality. So when we find these objects, that’s reality, and we don’t want to just speculate that they weren’t there. We have found these high-tech objects in the past.
Tom: Now, here’s another key, which really blew my mind – just opened my eyes – no pun intended here, but it has to do with lenses. Now, as you talked about these maps that are available, that people can check out, these early maps by ancient men - now, could that have happened? Could they have sailed the oceans around the world without something called a lens? And how does that fit into making a map?
Don: Oh, you’re absolutely right, Tom! To navigate accurately, they would have had to have observations – astronomical observations as well as other kinds of observations – and that requires lenses. And lenses, as you know, are of two types – they’re convex, and they make magnifying images; and they’re concave - thin in the middle, and you put those two together, you can have telescopes and observations like that. So, they had these lenses. We’ve found hundreds of these lenses – mostly convex, curved outward on both sides because the ones on the inside, thin in the middle, are more fragile and they perhaps were broken, but we still have them. We’ve had them in the British Museum and known about them.
But because it indicated that early man was advanced, they’ve been ignored – totally ignored – even though we have these lenses. And they were made out of – the lenses were made out of quartz, which is a very hard kind of rock, and they were highly polished quartzes, an excellent optical medium for making lenses. Their lenses not only were high quality, but they used the best material to make them with, and they were polished to a very high degree. And so, we’ve found these lenses.
Lately, though, the evidence is so strong, they can’t be ignored any more. So I pointed that out in my book and how they used them.
Tom: Now, here’s some examples, which, again, you know, you take one thing as simple as a lens and say, “Okay, so what’s the big deal?” Well, here’s the big deal: Not only lenses in terms of a telescope are used to see the stars – we’re not talking about astrology here, which we’ll get to later - this is astronomy. You can’t have astronomy without lenses.
Now, on the other hand, in terms of a microscope, lenses are also used to that end. Now, you give an example in the book of things created by artists that are so small that the letters, the graphic information, is so microscopic – just to use that term – that it can’t be seen, recognized, by the human eye! Now explain that!
Don: That’s exactly right, Tom! One of the things that fascinated me as I was doing my research, we have an example to illustrate that is an ivory knife handle. The ivory was used for the handle on the knife, and there was a little black dot on there. We just thought it was a black dot in the ivory, but after examining it very closely under a microscope, it had a scene! It was a complete carved scene - microscopically carved scene - showing pictures of people and the countryside, and so forth. And we have to, our moderns have to use a microscope to see that little dot, and that it is an actual scene. And yet – so they had to have lenses to be able to carve that thing, and that was a total surprise that early man had that kind of…not only optical technology but the ability to see it and to inscribe that small.
Tom: Incredible! It’s something that you can’t see, yet there must be a technology to, as you say, draw it, inscribe it, it’s just absolutely stunning.
Now, from the microscopic, with regard to lenses, let’s go to the…on this earth, let’s go to something that may be the greatest puzzlement in terms of man’s technology, what he’s able to do. And I’m talking about pyramids.
Don: You’re absolutely right! Yes, we can look at the small, but we look at the great pyramids. And the requirements for building the pyramids - number one, you have to have a perfectly flat base, because the pyramids are mathematically exact. So, you have to have a surveying technique to make the base totally flat so that the pyramids could be built and line up as they are. As you probably know, the pyramids are lined up astronomically, and to get that kind of accuracy with that kind of size, one would have to have surveying. And surveying requires lenses, so not only were the early lenses used for microscopic viewing, but they were also used for surveying and macroscopic objects like the pyramids. That is very interesting. Not only did they have the lenses for surveying, their method of surveying - slightly different from what we use today, but totally accurate. And they had the brainpower to use that technology to put it into use so…for practical things in large scale, like the pyramids.
Tom: I know some within Christianity have tried to say the gospel [is] in the pyramids, and the gospel [is] in the stars, and how, you know, these things were…I don’t know that there’s – well, there’s no biblical support for that, number one; but number two, it does show just in supporting your thesis, and it’s not just your thesis, that ancient man, you know, may have been brighter, may have had insights with regard to technology and science and so on that we can’t fathom.
But I want to go back to something very simple, just so maybe people out there like me who need to see the simplicity of this to show you what’s going on, when you say “the pyramids” – let’s take the Great Pyramid at Giza, all right? Now, you said it needed to be absolutely flat. Somebody might say, “Well, what’s the big deal here?”
Don, I don’t know how tall the great pyramid was, what the height of it was, but if you were off maybe even a small percentage in terms of how level the ground is on which this has to be built, how soon would that error show up?
Don: Well, it would show up fairly soon, actually, because the pyramid is – the Great Pyramid is what, 400-and-some feet tall, and the physical characteristics of stacking blocks, the pyramid would be destroyed under its own weight and the way the blocks are put together, if it weren’t totally flat. And they back then could figure that out – they knew it. I like to think...I studied science for over 60 years, and I’d like to think I know a little bit about science, but I’ve often wondered if - they were very good at observation, they lived long times – I’ve often wondered, with their good observational powers and keen health and mental capabilities, what would it be like if I could study science for 700 years or 800 years or 900 years? I might even learn a little bit about science!
Tom: (Chuckling) Right!
Don: So we put that together with what they were doing and studying and how they figured out that the pyramid, to keep itself from self-destruction, would have to have a totally flat base – mathematically we see that. That tells us that they were not only sharp, but they developed a technology to do it to match with their thinking.
Tom: And that’s only one – just one small aspect of the incredible mystery involved in what man was capable of doing.
Now, Don, we’re out of time for this session, but the Lord willing, we’re going to pick right up where we left off next week, so, Don Chittick – Dr. Don Chittick – his book is The Puzzle of Ancient Man, and we’re going to pick up on it next week.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638. Or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael, we’re glad you could tune in and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.