Language: Evidence for a Creator, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 1, 2018 0 comments


by Steve Risner

“Language – the uniquely human ability to build from a few sounds an infinite range of meaning so that the insight and imagination of each of us can be shared among all of us.” -Alan Alda on The Human Spark

“Right now I’m doing something pretty extraordinary. I’m breathing out slowly while at the same time moving my tongue, jaw, and lips in an incredibly fast ballet of movement. I can use this skill to take thoughts in my head and transfer it into yours.” -Professor Simon Kirby

After my delay in writing, I wanted to continue with the Table of Nations and Tower of Babel as a topic. When we think of the Tower of Babel, most often we immediately think of people being driven away from each other due to language barriers that God had created due to man's disobedience. I'd like to briefly look at language as a thing and then look at different languages from around the world. Both of these topics give strong credence to the historical accounts of both creation and the Flood followed by the Tower of Babel. Let's first look at language in general to see if it will give us anything that points to a Creator.

A huge division between man and all other forms of life on earth is language. This is a universal idea, whether we're talking about evolutionists or creationists or someone else for that matter. Mankind essentially owes all of his accomplishments—literally—to his ability to communicate. Birds chirp, whales sing, dogs bark, and bees buzz, but no organisms on earth that we are aware of can even remotely rival the communication skills of human beings. Dogs have no idea that man has landed on the moon and we can't tell them. They are ignorant of the fact that the Himalayas are the tallest mountains on earth. They wouldn't know how to bake a cake or how to play Euchre. All of these things require communication. I'm not just speaking of spoken language, of course, but of all forms of language man has employed over the centuries—written, spoken, artistic, coded, hand gestures, etc. But how did spoken language begin?

Undoubtedly, it was the original form of communication existing before written language and the like. So how did it start? The answer, from a scientific standpoint, is: we have no idea. The difficulty here lies in the fact that we can't dig up fossil evidence of prehistoric language, if such a thing existed. We can look at languages today and see how they've changed over time. We can look at ancient writings, but even these are not really that old in relation to how old secular thinking would place language and writing. All that can be done by scientists in this field is guess work, albeit educated guesses. I'm not suggesting there's no merit to looking into these things scientifically and there certainly are a great deal of theories out there on how man acquired language. There's also the fact that most scientists looking at these questions begin with an assumption that may very well be wrong (and likely is wrong). That assumption is that man is just an ape that's a little smarter than other apes and that language slowly evolved over time from grunts and the like to the complex systems we have today. We'll see in a moment why all of this is demonstrably false and is not supported at all by anything. But first we should look at what is going on physically for speech to take place. There's a lot to it.

There are both hardware and software requirements for speech. This is one of the issues with an evolutionist's musings on how language came to be. One without the other is useless, so which came first? In the brain there are at least 2 very distinct areas that do very different things but are essential for language. One of these areas turns our thoughts into words, and the other turns our words into thoughts. Without one, the other is useless. Let's look at the parts and processes required for speech to be a thing.

Language is a code. Specific sounds, which in and of themselves are meaningless, are assigned meanings. So a human being's thoughts need to be encoded into the agreed upon sound arrangements in the person's brain first. Broca's area, first discovered in 1850, is basically where our thoughts are put into words. I think it's helpful to realize that language is such a part of the human experience that we think in a language. Without that language, processing the most basic thoughts would be extremely difficult. Broca's area seems to be the planning area for speech. This area is activated prior to speaking. Then a very complex orchestration of muscular movements are coordinated in the jaw, throat, face/lips and tongue as well as the intercostal (between the ribs) muscles and diaphragm to produce the desired coded sounds. These sounds are vibrations that pulse through the air. They'll eventually bombard a listener's ear drums and the sounds will be transmitted from the ear to the brain for deciphering. This happens in Wernicke's area — the area responsible for interpreting language.

Wernicke's area actually filters out all other sounds, making it a remarkable bit of hardware. In fact, it's also powerful enough to hear and filter a distorted spoken utterance and ignore it, hear the same utterance intelligibly, and then make sense out of the distorted version upon hearing it again. This area works overtime if you're talking with a toddler or someone who's primary language is not what they're speaking. But, remarkably, it works so well that it's not very often you can't eventually make out what someone is saying even if they're not very clear in their speech.

We also use vision to understand and interpret language. Ever notice that you tend to look at a person's lips when they're speaking to you? There's also a great deal of other things that go into this type of communication. Voice inflection, tone, facial expression, and physical gestures all go into the mix, so a person must be able to decipher not only the sounds accurately and ascribe the correct meaning, but one also must interpret a variety of other things to figure out what thought is being transmitted. This is how a person can say, “Nice job” in such a way as to sound like a compliment or to be sarcastic—a jab at someone.

In short, human interaction via language is extremely complex. Does this make sense if evolution from a single common ancestor is true? Let's see about that next week. You all know I'm a Biblical creationist who believes the Bible and accepts the narrative found in it in Genesis concerning the origins of the universe and earth, life, and specifically man as well as the Flood and Tower of Babel. From there, so many questions about us as humans can be answered, but only if we're honest enough to accept the source. Science cannot tell us about origins. It's impossible. Whether it's the origins of the universe, the earth, mankind, life in general, love, faith, language, DNA, etc., science cannot tell us where these things came from. But God has told us. It's in His Word. Within His Word He has given us so many other things that are reliable and trustworthy, why not believe Him when He tells us about how He created the universe, life, man, language, etc.? God spoke with Adam. This would require both areas of the brain described above to be fully functional so he could understand God's statements and also respond to them with his own statements.

We'll take a look at the “evolution” of language next time and see if the stories told by secular linguists hold up to scrutiny or if they are actually contrary to what we know about language. Thanks for reading.

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