Yes, you read that title correctly—human intelligence has been on the decline (since the Fall of Genesis 3), and now a leading geneticist agrees. Dr. Gerald Crabtree recently stated in an article that he believes genetic mutations are adversely affecting human intelligence.
In his article in the journal Trends in Genetics, Crabtree claimed, “I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues.”
Well, I’ve made a similar sort of point for many years. That is, many Christians (mostly unwittingly) have adopted an evolutionary view of man’s abilities and intelligence over the millennia and tend to think we are more advanced today than our ancestors in the past—but actually, the opposite is true!
We live in such a technologically advanced world, with smart phones, jet planes, and spacecraft, that we often want to think we are so much more intelligent today than our ancestors who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. In fact, most of us tend to think that people of past societies were somewhat “primitive.”
But if people of past societies were so primitive, then we certainly would not expect that Noah was able to build an Ark, would we? Actually, Noah was a brilliant man, as were many of his relatives. (Here is a similar article on our Ark Encounter website.)
For instance, though Genesis 4 doesn’t give us many details, it does tells us that these people—only a few generations removed from Adam—had a high degree of sophistication in a certain technology:
And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. (Genesis 4:21–22)Noah had to be an incredibly smart man to build the Ark and incorporate the technology needed to make living on it sustainable, even though we don’t know for sure what kinds of technology Noah and his family may have had. Humans have been highly intelligent from the beginning and could quickly gain knowledge to create sophisticated technology. The Bible, the true history of the universe, has revealed that truth to us in Genesis. Can you imagine what Adam and Eve's abilities must have been like in a perfect world?
Since we know that with the Fall came sin and death, we can expect that the universe is wearing down over time. Sin has corrupted God’s “very good” creation (Romans 8:20–22). So we can expect to see a gradual decline in human intelligence from Adam and Eve until now. But even today, humans accumulate information and are amazingly inventive. We need to understand that the technology we have today does not mean people are more intelligent than the past—but that there has been a considerable accumulation of knowledge, which has led to the development of technology.
As we think on the great achievements of man in the past, such as the Egyptian pyramids, I also want to encourage you to remember the vital message of the Cross. As we see nations remain on the path of wicked rebellion against the One who created all things and who owns us, we should be reminded that God has provided a way of salvation from our sin and a rescue from eternal separation from God. And we can certainly use the technology of our day to spread the gospel. Sadly many people see our advancements in technology as a part of man’s evolution—instead of the incredible intellectual capacity (even if somewhat marred by sin) we have endowed with by our Creator.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
I thank Steve Golden for his assistance in writing this blog post.