If you go back to the beginnings of recorded human history, which we cannot reliable extend further then about 2000 BC (I would place Noah’s flood in the 3000 to 5000 BC range, certainly no further back then 8000BC +/-), you will find a world much like the world that would exist for thousands of years afterwards. Let’s take Hammurabi’s Babylon, circa 1800 BC, or thereabouts. In Hammurabi’s Babylon, people heat their homes, cook their meals, and light their nights with fire. They walk and ride horses to get around. Cargo is moved by wagon or by ship. And the ships are moved by the wind or by muscles. War is fought face-to-face, with weapons of bronze.
Fast forward almost 2000 years, to 334 BC when Alexander the Great overthrows the mighty Persian Empire. Other than a few language issues, a man from Hammurabi’s Babylon would pretty much be right at home in the world of Alexander’s Macedonian Empire. People still heat their homes, cook their meals, and light their nights with fire. They walk and ride horses to get around. Cargo is moved by wagon or by ship. And the ships are moved by the wind or by muscles. “Hey,” our fictitious Babylonian time-traveler might say, “your iron is a bit better then my bronze, where can I get some?”
Continue our fast forward journey through time, and we see that, through the Roman times, the Dark Ages, the High Middle Ages, even into the Renaissance, technology remains pretty much the same. Let’s have out time traveling Babylonian land in Colonial Williamsburg in the 1750s, almost 4000 years from when he began. What does he find? People still heat their homes, cook their meals, and light their nights with fire. They walk and ride horses to get around. Cargo is moved by wagon or by ship. And the ships are moved by the wind or by muscles. And, “Hey, those muskets are kind of neat! Where can I get one?” (I’m not saying that gunpowder had not already changed warfare, but the sword was still a viable weapon on the battlefield. And, let’s face it; a musket in the 1750’s was mostly just a one-shot spear…)
But now look at the 260 years since 1750. Steam engines provided power to ships, trains, and vast factories. The automobile, the airplane, even spaceships. We’ve gone from muskets to B-2 Bombers armed with nuclear bombs that can wipe out entire cities in one pop. Our Babylonian time traveler stayed in a mostly recognizable world for 4000 years, but a guy born just 100 years ago would be lost today. He’d have seen automobiles and airplanes by 1910, but you set him down on the south side of LAX by the freeway and his brain would flip out!
I’m old enough to remember life when there were only 3 television channels. Now, I’m not so old as to remember life before television, that is my parents’ generation, but I’ve been around for a while. Who knows how many channels are in existence, now. More than any of us want to watch, I’d wager.
The first computer I ever worked on had 8 kilobytes of RAM. The year was 1980, and I was able to take computer science in high school. And our school had four computers! Wow! I remember telling my Dad that one day computers would be like televisions & most every house would have one & that they’d all be hooked together. He scoffed and said that he’d never own one; yet, within 3 years, he had bought one for Mom to use keeping the books for his construction company. (It was an IBM AT, and had a 1 megabyte hard drive. I told Mom that hard drive was so big that she’d never fill it up…)
What’s the point in all this? Am I leading up to some deep theological zinger? No, not really. Just taking a little time to be amazed at the world we live in & wondering what new & wondrous things tomorrow will be bringing. (Me? I still want my flying car!)