OK. Here you go @AllenWitmerMiller and @swamidass as promised. See what you think of my arguments, and I’d welcome conversation from anyone.
It’s long, but I hope an enjoyable read. Forgive my style; I was having fun giving it gravitas.
Please consider the following child psychology research of mine: the hypothesis is that every child’s first verbalized scientific observation is that of geometry, namely observation of 3-dimensional circles (hereafter referred to as 3D-circles). This writer will define more clearly what 3D-circles are when concluding the description of the research. This research consisted of two 1-year-old child participants. Alas, this writer has not had access to more child participants on a daily basis to further inform this research. However, this writer will provide other anecdotes so that the reader may judge more clearly whether this hypothesis has any merit. Hopefully scientists may also consider whether it has merit and pursue the hypothesis with more research.
The reader may rightly be asking at this juncture: what does this research have to do with the point at hand, namely that the ancients were aware of a global world? Thus: that God instilled such natural affection between parent and child, that the child would be in awe of any 3D-circles in his or her world and continue to uncover them in his or her world as a lifelong pursuit. This awe would continue unless or until the devil instilled gross idolatry of the heavens or idle culture would dull the natural curiosity of humans to understand their world.
The reader may here be rightly confused, but allow this writer some time to illuminate her point by describing the research.
Child Participant #1 was an extremely verbal one-year-old. He could repeat any word I or others gave him, almost as if he were a trained monkey, or rather, a trained parrot. However, he was particularly fond of one word “buck-a-ba” or what we would know as “basketball.” He was so fond of this word at first, his mother (this writer) thought it was merely gibberish he loved to repeat. Over time, he began to prove that this “buck-a-bu” was not gibberish, as he would point to a ball or a clock or any other round object and say “buck-a-ba.” His mother even vaguely recalls him needing to look behind a clock to see what was there. Of course, only a wall, but how was he to know? This writer determined that for research participant #1 any circular or spherical object, would be called “buck-a-ba.” Thus, the idea of 3D-circles was born.
This research was almost forgotten until child research participant #2 came along. This child was no trained monkey and not a very verbal one-year-old until very recently. He preferred figuring out what made things work, rather than how to make them work, which is still the preference of participant #1. Although not very verbal, this child also had a favorite word: “dada.” Because his “dada’ drives a truck, he also called trucks “dada,” and as he had few words I thought little of this naming of things. However, one day about a month ago when he was around 18 months, he clearly pointed at a bicycle, and said “dada” and later that day had climbed a ladder, pointed to the circular divot at the top for a small paint can and said “dada.” With amazement, I realized this child also was observing 3D-circles but seeing the whole for its circular part. To celebrate my joy in my children’s intelligence and affection for geometry and circles and in the God who made them, I made a post on Facebook about my research with a NASA video, realizing this 3D-circle recognition was instilled by God, but not really understanding how. It was not until the next morning when I put in my contact lenses, that I realized idle culture and/or idolatry had robbed me of my own sense! For in my eyes were circles. Child participants #1 and #2 had looked at those circles and saw that there was dimension behind them, namely me, since the day of their birth. Natural affection for their parents had instilled this interest in geometry. Even my own first word was also recorded as “ball.”
To illustrate that my children are not unique, here are a few anecdotes. In this first article, the child described is much like my research participant #2. The child sees 3D-circles as parts of the whole and names all the objects that have circles with the same word. The parents have also lost their sense about the world. It isn’t until the child utters a more 2-dimensionally acceptable, 3D-circle word “wheel” do his parents understand his meaning. And yet they still don’t understand his earlier utterances! And the author wrote a book about language learning!
“About eight years ago, I eagerly tracked my infant son through his structured babbling, naively expecting a crisp adult-like English word to one day flutter forth. What emerged, at about 11 months, was “ka,” which came along with a pointing gesture. This was not the arrival of his personhood that I’d anticipated, but what ka lacked in profundity it made up in perplexity. Maybe it’s car , my wife surmised, because he said it while pointing at trucks in a book. But then he aimed ka at a bicycle. Backtracking, we wondered whether it might be a label, not for a specific thing, but for a category of vehicles. After all, he used ka with a wheelchair, a barbecue grill, and a shopping cart. That hypothesis died when a Ganesha statue on a shelf prompted a ka as well …. The truth is that by the time he said his first adult-sounding word, “wheel” (pronounced “whee-oh”), we had already communicated so much with each other via smiles, eye gaze, waving, and pointing that words felt superfluous.
A few more anecdotes:
“Ball” and “Car” feature prominently in first words Babies Learning Language: Exploring first words across children
In the United States, “ball” is a top 20 word. In Hong Kong, “ball” and “car” are top 20 words, and in Beijing, “egg” is a top 20 word. https://web.stanford.edu/group/langlearninglab/cgi-bin/publications/Tardifetal2008.pdf
So hopefully dear reader, I have begun to convince you that the human race has a natural affection for 3D-circles. Then, we should expect that those with a large amount of curiosity, or little idolatry, could overcome their culture’s indifference about geometry, and correctly discern the nature of the planet or world they inhabit.
Here are two examples:
Esatosthenes of Cyrene determined the nature of the globe in the 3rd century B.C. Ask Ethan: How Do We Know The Earth Isn't Flat?
He could have easily only been the first recorded in world history, but there were others earlier as all it takes is simple experiments, or observing ships approaching from a distance in two directions: https://www.popsci.com/10-waysmund-you-can-prove-earth-is-round/
Perhaps “Ancients” to the reader, means well before the 3rd century B.C? Consider then what Solomon writes in Proverbs 8:27: “When he established the heavens I was there: when he drew a circle on the face of the deep.”
Before I continue, I must pause. Dear Christian reader, if now your fingertips are hovering over your keyboard, ready with a retort such as that Solomon meant the horizon as one see it in all directions from a high hill, please consider the weight of such an argument: that this man Solomon given wisdom and discernment by God such that distinguished him above anyone before him or after him (1 Kings 3:12) and referring to the Wisdom of God in His creative work was inspired to write such a mundane observation. Would not such an argument more properly come from the devil’s keyboard than yours? If you have considered such a weight, and have judged it not to be so, then by all means, set fingers to keyboard.
Besides calculating the shape of the world, there is also the more obvious way to determine the nature of the globe, and that is to circumnavigate it. So this writer will move next to this argument. Especially if one were to circumnavigate the globe between the time of Noah and Moses, that would lend weight to the argument that the flood story passed down to Moses was obviously that of a worldwide, global flood.
Circumnavigation may take some means to undertake that would require wealth and political stability (or perhaps not, but let’s consider it to be difficult). History records the first known empire in the world as the Akkadian empire. Bible believers may also be interested in the identification of a first world empire. Genesis 10: 9-14 describes a man Nimrod as the first on earth to be a mighty man. He began a kingdom and built cities. If Sargon of Akkad and Nimrod are the same person, perhaps this empire would give men the means to circumnavigate the globe and it would place such travel in between Noah and Moses. So let’s consider that briefly first.
Genesis 10:10 lists Babel/Babylon, Erech/Uruk, and Accad prominently. Any reader could look up Sargon of Akkad and see that Erech/Uruk and Accad/Akkad/Agade feature prominently in accounts of him as well. So what about that of Babel/Babylon? Consider this account from the Chronicle of Early Kings: “He (Sargon) dug up the dirt of the pit of Babylon and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Agade”
Having briefly considered that 3 of the cities in the Genesis account feature in Sargon accounts, let me move on to consider whether any Sargon accounts describe circumnavigation. Indeed Sargon’s birth legend does:
“15.With copper pickaxes, I did cut my way through the (most) difficult mountains 16.I did ascend all the high mountains 17.I did traverse all the foothills 18.The sealands, I did sail around three times 19.Dilmun did submit to me (?) . . . 20.The Great Wall of Heaven and Earth(?), I did ascend. 21.[(Its very s]tones(?) , I did remove [ . . .]” … 22. Whatever king will arise after me, 23. [Let him exercise kingship for x years]! 24. Let him rule the black-headed people! 25. Let him cut his way through the (most) difficult mountains with copper pickaxes! 26. Let him ascend all the high mountains! 27. [Let him traverse all the foothills]! 28. Let him circumnavigate the sealands three times! 29. [Let Dilmun submit to him (?)]! 30. [Let him ascend to the Great Wall of Heaven and Earth (?)]! 31. [Let him remove (its) stones . . .]!
So we can see Sargon claimed to be a mountain climber and to circumnavigate the sealands.
Perhaps you think this is merely a reference to him sailing around his known world. I haven’t done very extensive research into Sargon, but it’s easily evident that his empire extended from Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, and that it also traded with India. His known world, even at a glance of the historical record, encompassed a large part of the globe.
But if he had circumnavigated the globe, wouldn’t he have left a map? That’s where I think the Babylonian World Map comes in handy. Thanks to @swamidass for mentioning it in an interview. I had been researching Sargon but I wasn’t aware of its existence until after I’d finished researching Sargon to my own curiousity. The world map is described also in the link above. It’s dated to the 6th century B.C. However, it is in Akkadian, which at that point was a dead language, so it’s not unreasonable to think it could have been a copy of the original.
Some notes regarding the Babylonian World Map from the link above:
- “A ring formed by two concentric circles marked Ocean.”
- “Triangular projections extending outwards from the outer circle of Ocean labelled ‘region,’ for Akkadian nagû, which has the more specific meaning in Babylonian tradition of a region associated with the sea such as islands, peninsulas, or other land areas reached by crossing the sea as is the case with the nagû on our map.”
- “On the obverse we find 11 lines of text that preserve references to distant places and early times. For example, exotic animals from outside the Mesopotamian homeland including the monkey; …. and the ancient heroes Utnapištim, the hero of the Babylonian flood story, who Gilgamesh visits at the ends of the earth in The Gilgamesh Epic, and Sargon (of Akkade), whose empire, tradition taught, reached from his capital city Akkade to the ends of the world”
- “On the reverse we find descriptions of 8 regions, nagû, the same term used for the triangular projections beyond the Ocean on the map on the obverse. These are described as regions of wonder, filled with great trees measuring hundreds of cubits, a place of fast running horned animals, and a region of sunrise where, ‘. . . dawns at its entrance.’
- "In all eight “regions” of the four shores (kibrati) of the ea[rth …], their interior no-one knows “. The “four shores” (corresponding to the four quarters of the compass) is a regular Mesopotamian expression for the entire inhabited world.” https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1882-0714-509
I also find that the correlation between the “Great Wall of Heaven and Earth” in the Sargon legend and in the Babylonian Map of the World give the map some weight to be considered as Sargon’s legacy. Also I find it interesting the Great Wall seems to extend into the ocean, and Sargon somehow ascended it. My husband has summited a few mountains. It’s a bit of hiking, rock climbing, and ice climbing at various points. Perhaps he used some of those skills to ascend this wall in the northern hemisphere that extended from land to ocean.