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Ancient Knowledge vs. Modern Knowledge

Why are people convinced that ancient people knew some great secret to the universe that all our modern knowledge just can’t figure out today? This is not just an issue with religion, but with supernatural mysteries also.

I’m not saying that we know everything. That would be stupid. But I am saying that we know more today than we knew yesterday. That’s called learning and it generally doesn’t go backwards. We don’t generally lose knowledge and yet most people seem to be convinced that ancient people who had far less knowledge then we do today knew some great secret that we have missed.

Whether it is the secrets of Atlantis or the secret knowledge written in holy books that only the faithful can decipher, the belief is the same. Ancient people who didn’t even come close to the level of knowledge we have today knew an amazing thing that we don’t know today.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some pretty smart people in the past who had some really great ideas that modern science much later confirmed. Religious people always jump on this by taking obscure Bible verses and taking them to mean things that were only confirmed by modern science within the last few hundred years.

But I think of Democritus who thought up the idea of atomic particles 2500 years ago. The thing is that while Democritus thought up the idea, he had no way to test it or to confirm it as a fact. It was just an idea and Democritus had a million of them. Some were really good and we remember them, but most probably weren’t. Besides, there is a difference between coming up with an idea and actually proving that the idea is a reality.

The fact is that today we know more about the world around us then we ever have known and we are still learning. While we can learn new things from the past, it is extremely unlikely that people in the distant past who knew far, far, less about the world then we do today knew some ancient secret for profound significance that we just can’t figure out with our modern science. It is such a counter-intuitive idea that I am genuinely surprised so many people buy into it.

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  • Steve-n-SA

    I’ve asked the same thing. It’s like the old commercial where the asian laundry guy claims about his ability to get clothes so clean that it is an “Ancient Chinese secret”. “Ancient Chinese secret” my hairy white ***; it was modern (at the time) Calgon. The ancient Chinese had no special knowledge about cleaning, herbalism, or anything special. Neither did the ancient Greeks or Romans or Israelites have any special knowledge of “Gods”.

    What they did have though were superstitions, and a lack of knowledge that they tried to fill with whatever they could make up. Now, today, people claim those made up stories were “ancient knowledge” and make up ways for it to be true, despite current knowledge making those stories superfluous. It’s really ridiculous that people still believe in that stuff.

  • http://1minionsopinion.wordpress.com 1minion

    I agree with most of this, but didn’t the West lose the early Greek philosophers and later find them again via Muslim expansion or something? I seem to recall reading something about that at one point.

    But yeah, it’s far more likely that there is no hidden secret or power or mystery that ancients discovered at some point that will remain hidden until some luckky bugger should “find” it.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    Yes, the writings of any Greek Philosophers were rediscovered, but none of them to my knowledge contained scientific, medical, or technical knowledge that we didn’t have in our modern world. The point here is that we know more than ancient people knew on pretty much EVERYTHING!

  • http://www.politicalopinionarticles.blogspot.com david

    The only way they could have had any knowledge greater than what we have today is if it was given to them by more advanced beings. That being the case, they certainly didn’t leave enough information for anybody here on this planet to know that to be true. We therefore should proceed with that than be clarified. Hypothesis are a product of dreams, and should be pursued, not idolized, or portrayed as a fact to style our lives from.