Linguistic Creationism and the Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563), via Wikipedia

This from Uncyclopedia by way of my friend John Zande’s Superstitious Naked Ape.  To the arguments used there, I would add the following:

Linguistic evolutionists cannot explain the origins of language. Therefore the theory of language evolution fails its very first test

If English is derived from German, why are there still Germans?

No one has ever observed one language change into another. Were you there?

The real reason why people deny that the different languages were created by God, is so that they can use bad language. After all, if language is not God-given, there are no objective standards and anything goes.

And when I first came across the arguments below, I thought that no one could really be using them to defend the Tower of Babel story. I was wrong. See e.g. Creation and Human Language (Creation Social Science Quarterly) and The Origin of Language (Creation Magazine); h/t John Zande. Links to creationist sites are nofollow.

The following is taken directly fromUncyclopedia.

fingerprint-dm Linguistic Creationism is a theory stating that all of the natural languages could not have developed naturally, so they must have been intelligently designed by God when he destroyed the Tower of Babel.

ARGUMENTS FOR LINGUISTIC CREATIONISM

Irreducible Complexity: If you remove letters from the word “book” you get “ook”, “bok” and “boo”, all of which are nonsensical and hence not sustainable by usage for subsequent evolution into meaningful words. It is thus impossible that the word “book” developed from any other word, it must have been created by God so in order to be used.

Improbability of spontaneous linguistic genesis: It is highly improbable that even the simplest English sentences were formed from alphabet letters spontaneously, since the odds of monkeys banging away on hypothetical typewriters and in so doing generating a readable and semantically meaningful text is vanishingly small. Hence the English language…

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About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on July 24, 2015, in Creationism, Evolution and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. One area of language that might be interesting to look at is the development of languages for the deaf and the blind. Did god design BSL ?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The linguistic creationist argument for language is puerile . However, I’m not pursuaded that one language cannot morph into another. Eg yiddish, backslang including the tendency for corruption by use of rhyming slang that cocknies have used for generations. Needless to say one does not need to resort to Creationism to explain such evolutionary changes!

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    • Indeed, one might compare yiddish with its grafting of Hebrew words onto a High Germanic base, or indeed English with its grafting of Norman/French and Latin roots onto old Low German, with horizontal gene transfer or even endosymbiosis in biology.

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  3. A couple of serious points.

    English did not derive from German. I suppose that you meant this to be a parallel to “man evolved from monkey”, for humans are not descended from any modern species of monkey, but I can’t resist pointing this out, anyway.

    There are people who seriously argue that we have to apply intelligent design to stop language from deteriorating. But even the ideal languages, like Cicero’s Latin, were the result of “mistakes” (mutations) reproducing. There is a close resemblance between historical linguistics and evolutionary biology. So much so that computer programs which have been developed for studying evolution have been used in linguistics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course. English is derived from Old Friesian, a Low German dialect that no longer exists, although other descendants do. And the last common ancestor of humans and modern monkeys was some 25 million years ago, and has a range of descendants ranging from colobus monkeys to you and me. So the parallel is fairly exact; humans:apes:monkeys::English:Flemish(?) group:German language family. Regarding language evolution in general, yes you are quite right; Darwin and Lyell both wrote about this analogy, which had been around for quite a while by then.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If English is derived from German, why are there still Germans?

    LOL!!! That made me spit my afternoon coffee over my keyboard 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I suppose there must be people who really believe what this article spoofs; the literal creation of all the world’s languages at one place in the Middle East some 5,000 years ago. Can you give a reference?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, I found these two, the first google links:

    http://www.creationism.org/csshs/v06n1p25.htm

    http://creation.com/origin-of-language

    These people boggle the mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks. It seems that the Uncyclopedia spoof is not so far from what the creationists are saying in all seriousness.

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  8. Exactly, and that’s worrying.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Linguistic Creationism | Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin

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