I'm wondering: are people today smarter than those in the past just because modern society is more scientifically advanced? Are we intellectually superior to our great-great-grand parents just because we possess more knowledge? I've got my doubts. People living today can know more about certain things because more has been discovered, figured out and it's taught to us instead of us having to find it out ourselves. But that is not the same as our brains actually being better. Michael Crichton had a shrewd way of putting it: "Inherited knowledge is like inherited wealth. We can spend it without having to earn it" (paraphrase, not exact quote.) What Newton, Einstein and others found out in a lifetime can now be taught to students before they're 25 years old. All good! The human race now knows how to prevent diseases that used to kill millions, heal injuries that used to be fatal, and do things like set up the internet so that we can e-mail or blog and be read all over the planet. It beats snail mail hands down. Great! I love driving or flying in a few hours to a place that might take months to reach on foot, sail boat, horse-back or whatever other means existed before 1800.
Does that actually mean we've got better brains, though? Or just that we have the chance to inform them with more?
The reason I ask is this. So many people seem to think that they can trash the wisdom of ages. The attitude is, now that we're so clever we don't need to respect some of the things our ancestors regarded as warnings about life. In fact the classic attitude is to laugh at people who do. It's a case of "What century are you in? Ha, ha." And then having thought they knew better, they make blunders that they could have avoided.
Feriliser was invented, to make land artificially more productive. So people got to think they didn't need to take proper care of the land and respect nature, the way farmers and shepherds in the past did. Mistake! No-one needs to be told about damage to the land.
When penicillin was discovered, it was a remedy for certain S.T.Ds that were incurable before. So people no longer had to be careful to avoid certain infections. Or so they thought.
Throughout much of history, societies and people have been aware of the consequences of jealousy, and ways of preventing it from arising. Avoid breaking certain rules, such as the commandment about adultery, or envy.
Then came the 60s, and various social movements, and suddenly all that old stuff was supposed to belong in museums with the fossils. People were too clever to worry about that now.
Following that 'revolution', we have some shocking problems in the world, with too many people alienated, angry and hostile. Some of that grows from broken families, bad connection with others, and all else that follows when 'free thinking' and 'enlightened' individuals scorn the guidelines laid down by God. Or in some cases they were never taught them.
Did you ever notice how some things go around in circles? There is a wild 'liberated' age then a swing back to being conservative and controlled. It's as if once in a while people realize that the past wasn't all bad. And they want the good things back. What they need to see is, where the good things really came from.