5 Ridiculous Ancient Beliefs That Turned Out to Be True

We've worked pretty hard here at Cracked to establish the fact that people from the past were batshit insane. They believed some of the most ridiculous things imaginable, though you can't blame them considering that instead of scientists, they had crazy people claiming to be oracles.

Yet... some of the outlandish myths wound up suspiciously close to the mark. How? We have no idea.

#5. Noah's Ark

The Myth:

Even if you've never been in the same room as a Bible, we're guessing you know the story of Noah's Ark.

Or have at least seen the ethnic, gay, television drama version of it.

God decides mankind is so utterly corrupt that it's time to hit the reset switch and just flood the planet. Similar stories come up in folklore all over the world, from the ancient Greeks to the Babylonians, always with a huge flood that kills almost everyone, and often with mankind having to recover its population. For instance, in China, it's a goddess named Nuwa who stops the flood and creates humans out of clay.

Some are more clay-like than others.

In the Bible's version, God tells Noah that he is less of a dick than everyone else on Earth, and instructs Noah to build a really big boat. Really, really big. So big that it could hold at least two of every single animal on the entire planet. It rained for 40 days, flooding the world and killing off all life except that which was on Noah's boat. When the flood ended, all of the animals got off the boat and immediately started boning for their lives, because two individuals needed to repopulate their entire species.

At some point a duck wandered into the wrong tent and POW: Platypuses.

The Science:

A worldwide natural disaster that kills everyone but a huddled few, who then have to repopulate the world? It happens all the time. When biologists analyze the past of a species they often run into what they call genetic bottlenecks, indicating evolutionary events where virtually all of a species were killed or otherwise prevented from reproducing.

For instance, cheetahs had one of these not too long ago. You know how if a human gets a skin graft or kidney transplant, we have to find a relative who's a close enough match and take immunosuppressants so our body doesn't reject the donor organ? A cheetah wouldn't have to do any of that. They had such an extreme genetic bottleneck recently (that is, so few remained) that all the Cheetahs we have now are essentially close relatives.

"Cheetahs are the inbred rednecks of the African savannah." - Jack Hanna

And humans? We've previously talked about the Toba Event, some unknown disaster 75,000 years ago that may have reduced the population of humanity to just 5,000 freaking people.

More than were supposedly on Noah's Ark, sure, but few enough you could have fit everyone left on Earth on board the Titanic.

And while we're on the Bible...

#4. The Tower of Babel and the Birth of Languages

The Myth:

So there you are: A descendant of the aforementioned Noah. You think you are so great just because you happen to be a direct descendant of the only righteous man of his time. So, you, along with your brothers and cousins, decide that you will build a huge-ass tower to reach the heavens so that you will be famous and what not. If you know the Old Testament you know that at this point God gets all pissed because... well, we actually don't know. The story doesn't really make it clear. If God just hates huge, pointless engineering projects then you'd think Dubai would have been hit by a meteor by now.

Seriously, that sailboat/hotel/island resort thing is about as retarded as it gets.

Anyway, God decides to punish mankind and derail the project by making all of the people at the construction site spontaneously start speaking in different languages. The confused builders abandoned the tower and went their separate ways. That is the Bible's explanation for why people around the world speak different languages. And to think that was all in nine verses.

The Science:

If you're into linguistics or have taken a class on the subject, you will recognize how uncannily similar this is to the Theory of Monogenesis. This is one of the major theories out there about the evolution of languages, and it states that all of the world's languages evolved from one language, in one place, at one time.

The original language? Oddly enough, Pig Latin.

It's a pretty straightforward idea, albeit controversial.

Alfred Trombetti theorized that this single human language came about right around the same time the first humans came about (though it could also be traced back to the aforementioned near-extinction event, where everyone but the speakers of a single language were killed off).

Either way, the theory is that a single human language arose among a single group of humans in a single region, where it then spread it to the rest of the globe.

Then, there's Hollywood's theory that all languages have a British accent.

Then each region and race developed the several thousand languages we have in the world today. Just like in the Tower of Babel story, only without the big-ass tower. It's impossible to know it if it was also due to mankind doing something to piss off God, so we're going to guess "yes."

#3. The Creation of the Universe

The Myth:

The Bible has no monopoly on this one. Every culture has a creation myth, which makes sense because from the beginning of time kids have been asking their parents where the world came from and you have to tell them something.

Eventually, jingling keys doesn't cut it for them.

You can't just sit there like a dumbass, even if you're living in an era when science has given you zero information on the subject. We're humans, we don't just go around admitting we don't know.

So, the ancient Egyptians told their kids, "A lotus flower arose from the sea by way of an explosive interaction as a bud. Then the lotus flower opens and Khepri emerges." (Khepri being a deity who gives birth to creation.) Meanwhile, thousands of miles way, some Chinese parent was telling his kid that, "A cosmic egg appeared in the chaos by way of 18,000 years of the chaos coalescing. Then the cosmic egg cracks and P'an-Ku emerges." Again, P'an-Ku is a being who creates the universe.

Here, the Chinese creation story is recreated by the WWE.

And of course, we have the Genesis account of the universe being formless and empty, then God speaking a word that brings forth light and matter and life.

What's remarkable is how similar these universal creation myths are, be they Chinese, Egyptian, Hindu, Finnish or otherwise. And, whether it is a golden womb, a cosmic egg or a flower blossom, it's all generally the same idea, you just plug in the words:

In the beginning, there was nothing but chaos, often depicted by a vast sea. Then, suddenly, a (noun) (arose from/appeared in) the (sea/chaos/nothingness) by way of (some event or lack thereof). Then the (same noun) (erupts/cracks/opens) and (a deity/creation) emerges.

Garnish with warfare and hilarious laws for flavor.

The Science:

You've already guessed it. As fantastic as the mythical versions are, the mechanics of the modern Big Bang theory are remarkably similar. In the beginning of the universe, there was nothing. Not even empty space - merely nothing.


Then, suddenly, a primeval atom forms and explodes, creating the universe.

You can fit it exactly into the framework proposed above: In the beginning, there was nothing. Then, suddenly, an atom appeared in the nothingness. Then the primeval atom erupts and the universe emerges.

Whether or not you practice any of the aforementioned religions, you've got to admit that's an impressive guess for people who would have burned you as a witch if you'd shown them a telescope.

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