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Technology is "the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area". [1]

Technology often results in the development of 'tools'. Note that 'tool' can be a very general concept: "thing used to help achieve something or perform a job".[2] In this sense a hammer is a tool for hitting nails (or thumbs), a car is a tool for transportation, a dictionary is a tool to help learn a language, and a computer is a tool for manipulating symbols (the symbols could be numbers for calculation or text for word-processing).

Much early technology was developed by trial and error. The Renaissance (14th-16th century) saw a much greater link between science and technology, so that some definitions of technology read: "the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. It is the branch of knowledge concerned with applied sciences."[2]



Early developments

Mankind developed technology almost from the time of creation. This is to be expected, given that mankind was made in the Image of God[3], without fault or flaw,[4] As such, he was created with great intelligence and ability to study and learn. Further, he had a mandate to "rule over" God's creation.[5]

Two of Adam and Eve's sons are recorded as engaged in agriculture (Cain "worked the soil"[6]), animal farming (Abel "kept flocks"[6]), they possibly both used fire (they both brought offerings to God,[7] a practice that involved fire later, at least), and Cain built a city,[8] which would have needed tools for a number of technological skills.

Just a few generations later, Jubal played stringed instruments and pipes[9] and his half-brother Tubal-Cain made bronze and iron tools.[10] Making metal tools would also have required the use of fire.

Using basic plans provided by God, Noah, nearly 1700 years after creation, built a 140 metre459.318 feet
153.105 yards
306.212 cubits
6.959 chains
-long boat with three decks, capable of keeping his family and pairs of each kind of land animal alive for a year.[11] This would require woodworking technology, as well as an understanding of engineering principles.

With people living hundreds of years and almost no deterioration in intellectual ability due to long-term accumulation of mutations,[12] mankind could have easily developed technology equal to if not exceeding that of modern times. However, much of mankind's technology has been developed in biblically-based stable societies, whereas the pre-flood world was destroyed because it was so evil and violent. This could well mean that technology did not advance as much as it could have.

Early post-flood development

For more information, see Biblical anthropology.

Whatever technology and technological knowledge existed before the flood would have been lost with the flood, except for whatever Noah and his family retained. Therefore, much technology (including smelting) would need to be redeveloped after the flood. Within a century, mankind was again building a city with a tower, and making bricks to use in construction.[13] This again would have required the use of fire and engineering skills.

However, this construction activity was in direct contravention[14] of God's instructions to spread out and "fill the earth",[15] so God replaced their one common language with multiple languages, so that they could not understand each other.[16] This resulted in them scattering over the whole earth.[17].

As people migrated away from the city (Babel), their first priorities would have been food and shelter. Because technology, such as smelting metals, requires stable, settled, civilisation with time to develop the processes, these processes would need to have been developed all over again. Also, the further that people travelled before settling, the longer it would have taken, and the greater the likelihood that they would completely forget about such technologies. We see evidence of that in archaeological evidence of early technology being concentrated around the Middle East, with little to no advanced technology among people who travelled much further, such as the Australian aborigines.

Wind, wheel, and other developments

Metal refining occurred by at least 2000 B.C., as Abram was wealthy "in silver and gold."[18]

It is not known when the wheel was invented, but by around 1700 B.C. chariots were in use.[19]

By about 1400 B.C., bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) was being used for farm implements and weapons.[20] The use of iron apparently came soon after, with production of iron being an everyday process for farm implements and weapons by 1200 B.C.[20]

By 1000 B.C., wind power was being used for sailing,[21] and there is evidence that a watermill was in use by 400 BC, in the form of a Greek poem about a watermill.[22]

A tomb in China dating to 118 AD has a mural of a man pushing a wheelbarrow.[23]

Christian-era developments

Most subsequent technological development occurred in Christian Europe (and later the Christian "West"), although some of these were improvements on inventions from elsewhere. This came about through a number of factors, including the individual freedoms that people in some societies had, allowing them to innovate, the associated rise of capitalism that provided a motive to do better than competitors, the stability and the peace that predominated in Christian societies, the increase in education that was predicated on Christian aspirations to read the Bible and to study God's creation, the Christian work ethic, and the rise of science that was itself an outcome of these circumstances.[24]

Roman and Saracen cavalry rode without stirrups and often bareback, but the Europeans invented the stirrup and pommelled saddle which, combined with a very long lance and full body armour, proved an irresistible force in battle. Further technical progress in harnessing and iron horseshoes led not only to greater prowess in battle but also to a doubling of plowing effort in the fields.[25]

When the windmill was developed is also unknown. It is widely believed that it was developed in China 2000 years ago, although there is no actual evidence of this, the earliest evidence being from 1219 A.D.[21] The earliest known design is from Persia in the second half of the first century.[21] Both of these were "vertical axis" windmills, where the vanes rotate around a vertical pole, which requires that the vanes on one side have to be shielded from the wind, limiting efficiency.[21]

Horizontal-axis windmills appeared in Europe, perhaps based on water wheels which had a horizontal axis. The earliest illustration of windmills dates from 1270 A.D.[21]

The Chinese invented what became known as "gunpowder", but for a long time only used it for fireworks. Who developed the first gun is disputed. The Chinese did have bamboo "fire lances", which some consider to be a precursor to a gun. But it was the Europeans who either invented the gun or improved it considerably, including breech-loading, flint locks, and percussion caps. Cannons were common in Europe by the early 14th century.[25]

Eye glasses were invented in Italy at the end of the 13th century, and the microsope and telescope were invented in Europe about 300 years later.[26]

Printing seems to have been developed by Buddhists in Korea around 750 A.D., but most printing involved manually pressing sheets of paper against wood carvings, although China did experiment unsuccessfully with moveable type made from clay.[27] The technology arrived in Europe around 1400. Around 50 years later, the German Johannes Gutenberg developed both the printing press, allowing rapid production of copies, and metal moveable type.[28] This revolutionised communication of ideas.

Selected later developments

1712, Newcomen's first commercial steam engine for pumping water.[29]

1781, Watt patented a steam engine producing rotary motion.[29]

1800, Volta developed the first useful battery.[30]

1800's, development of the internal combustion engine, especially Diamler in 1885.[31]

1800's, development of electric motors.[32]

1873, first commercially successful typewriter, with QWERTY keyboard.[33]

1876, Alexandrer Graham Bell patented the telephone.[34]

1882 onwards, development of electric power grids.[35]

1947, first transistor (about half an inch high).[36]

1948, First stored-program electronic computer (University of Manchester: Small-scale experimental machine).[37]

1958, Kilby first demonstrated a practical integrated circuit.[38] He was later awarded a Nobel prize for this.[39]

1969 First computer-computer communication using packet switching on the Arpanet (forerunner of Internet).[40]

1991 Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web - making the Internet a web of information.[41]

Effect on society


Branches of technology

There are many branches of technology, some of which are outlined briefly below.

  • communication
Means of passing information from one place/person/computer to another.
  • computing
Use of computers for calculation and symbol manipulation.
  • electronics
Concerned with controlling electrical energy.
  • energy
Capacity for doing work, available in many forms from many sources.
  • engineering
Concerned with applying science and mathematics to practical technical problems.[42] Originally concerned with the design and building of engines, machines, and structures.[2]
  • materials
Need suitable substances to use when implementing technology.
  • navigation
Finding one's way from one place to another.
  • optics
Properties of light, and instruments which use and detect it.
  • space
Investigating things away from the earth.
  • timekeeping
Keeping track of elapsed time.
  • transportation
The practical problems of moving people, animals, and goods, from one place to another.
  • weapons
A means of gaining an advantage or attacking someone or something.[2]


  1. Merriam-webster online dictionary
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Compact Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, 2008
  3. Genesis 1:27
  4. Genesis 1:31
  5. Genesis 1:28, 2:15
  6. 6.0 6.1 Genesis 4:2
  7. Genesis 4:3,4
  8. Genesis 4:17
  9. Genesis 4:21
  10. Genesis 4:22
  11. Genesis 6:14,15
  12. Sarfati, Jonathan, Computers on the Ark?, Tue. 23rd November, 2010Tue. November 23rd, 2010.
  13. Genesis 11:3
  14. Genesis 11:4
  15. Genesis 9:1
  16. Genesis 11:7
  17. Genesis 11:9
  18. Genesis 13:2
  19. Genesis 41:43
  20. 20.0 20.1 A short history of metals
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 Wind Power's Beginnings
  22. History of the water wheel
  23. Who invented the wheelbarrow
  24. Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, Random House, 2006, ISBN 0-8129-7233-3.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Alex Williams, The biblical origins of science, Journal of Creation, 18(2):49–52 August 2004.
  26. History of the Light Microscope.
  27. Inventions and Discoveries.
  28. History of Printing.
  29. 29.0 29.1 History of steam engines
  30. History timeline of battery
  31. Internal combustion engine
  32. Invention story of electric motor
  33. A brief history of typewriters
  34. History of the telephone
  35. The electricity grid: a history
  36. Invention of the first transistor
  37. The Manchester Baby, the world's first computer
  38. History of the integrated circuit
  39. Nobel prize for integrated circuit
  40. Brief history of the Internet
  41. World Wide Web
  42. "Science Desk Reference" - New York Public Library
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