Language Families and Babel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 15, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

The last two weeks we have looked at the origin of language (here and here). It seemed to me to be fairly conclusive—language did not come about through the means that evolutionists must believe it did. There is no evidence for their theories, and in fact the evidence stands, for the most part, in contrast to their preconceived ideas. This, I think, is strong evidence for the Divine origin of language in general.

Language is an amazing thing that truly is a major divider between God's image bearer—man—and the animals. Dr. Noam Chomsky, arguably one of the world's leading linguists and a staunch evolutionist, said about language: “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world… There is no reason to suppose that the ‘gaps’ are bridgeable. There is no more of a basis for assuming an evolutionary development of ‘higher’ from ‘lower’ stages in this case, than there is for assuming an evolutionary development from breathing to walking.” Language is such a part of being human that there has never been a people group found that did not have a very complex form of language. Another formidable linguist, Derek Bickerton, in his work Babel's Cornerstone, in regards to Terence Deacon's work on language says, “Time after time, in sorting through the countless proposals put forward by language evolutionists, Deacon makes the right choices. Could language have come directly out of some pre-human trait? No. Does it resemble forms of animal communication? No… no ape, despite intensive training, has yet acquired even the rudiments of syntax, and many language acquisitionists insist that syntax is there even at infants’ one-word stage… Deacon does not begin to grapple with the really difficult problems—how words emerged, how syntax emerged. But these problems lie at the heart of language evolution.” These men are strong supporters of evolution, but they are openly admitting that evolution has no real answers at all for the origin of languages.

But what about language families? That is, what about the fact that there are several (dozens really) different language types that seemingly have absolutely no relation to each other whatsoever? This, again, seems to confirm what the Bible says about the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. It equally makes it more difficult for evolutionists to explain. It's similar to convergent evolution—the outlandish idea that two or often several completely different and unrelated organisms developed nearly identical anatomy or physiology. This is what needs to happen for language as there is no evidence for a single language in all the world. There are multiple (how many we can't say... 20s to 70s or even 100) language families that have diversified into about 6000 languages across the globe. Let's look into that in more detail.

There are inherent problems with looking back in time at language. The fact that there are a number of different languages in and of itself creates a problem for Darwinists. There is literally no evidence that would suggest there was one proto-language or one original language. There are a large number of language types. How many language families there are/were is never going to be known. As languages devolve from their primary source, they can do so rapidly. In fact, some estimates suggest the rate of words being replaced over time is so fast, you couldn't recognize a language by a single word within 10,000 years of its genesis. This is according to Terry Crowley's book An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. So over time, it becomes increasingly more difficult to compare two languages to see if they're related or not.

This brings up a good question: why would man create/develop a form of communication that would actually prevent him from talking to other members of his own species? Many animals can be uprooted and taken to thousands of miles away to others of their species and still be able to interact. Often times man cannot do this because of language barriers. What would be the advantage to having a large number of languages? There is none, really. In fact, according to the Bible, it's the exact opposite. It's because of its hindrance that language barriers were created. This in and of itself helps to confirm the Biblical account and should help us to reject the evolutionist's claims.

We know from our previous posts that language, as I alluded to above, actually becomes simpler over time; it devolves. This is clearly seen in many examples like Latin and Greek/Sanskrit and is the opposite of evolution (simple to more complex). These languages are so complex and consistent it's inconceivable that random chance caused these highly sophisticated communication systems to come into being. How did they amass such a large number of adherents? The Indo-European group is another that, according to some experts, seems to have originated about 3000 years ago or more. That's nice for the Bible believer, since that neatly coincides with the Biblical timeline for the Tower of Babel (give or take a little time). The Indo-European language group is very large—covering nearly all of Europe and parts of Asia and the Middle East. English is from this group, as well as Hindi, Iranian, German, Russian, Spanish and a great deal of others. It's the largest group, with just short of half the world's population having an Indo-European language as their primary language. There are dozens of other language groups. Some of them are a single language while many are larger groups.

We know from the above that languages can actually replace themselves in a matter of 100 centuries or so. From this, we can determine that the secularist's timeline for the migration of Asians to North America (Native Americans) must have been much more recent than is believed. The time frame they give is some 11,000 to 25,000 years ago. This couldn't be. There are connections between languages spoken by Amerindians and by Eastern Siberian people. If they splintered off that long ago, there should be no detectable similarities, yet the connection is fairly strong.

How is this relating to the Tower of Babel? Let me tell you: Genesis 11 begins with “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.” Everyone spoke the same language, which meant it was easy for everyone to work together to do whatever they saw fit. They hunkered down and stayed in one place, building a city with a great tower to “make a name for ourselves, otherwise, we'll be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” So, according to verses 6-7, God confused their languages. It's possible each family group received its own separate language family. Over time, these 70 or so language groups would differentiate into the thousands of languages we have today. Five thousand years is plenty of time for this to happen. After God confused their languages, the people scattered—some as far away as North and South America. I covered many of the different people groups earlier in this series. This separation would further distinguish one dialect from another. This can easily account for the miracle of language in general as well as explain the origins of the multiple families of languages we see today. The Word of God answers those questions that evolutionists and atheists have literally no answer to at all.

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