jottings from tertius
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"If there was no God, there would be no atheists." G.K. Chesterton
SITES OF NOTE
Tektonics Apologetics Ministry
The Adarwinist reader
Bede's Library: the Alliance of Faith and Reason
A Christian Thinktank
Doxa:Christian theology and apologetics
Mike Gene Teleologic
Errant Skeptics Research Institute
Stephen Jones' CreationEvolutionDesign
Touchstone: a journal of mere Christianity: mere comments
The Secularist Critique: Deconstructing secularism
Ex-atheist.com: I Wasn't Born Again Yesterday
imago veritatis by Alan Myatt
Solid Rock Ministries
The Internet Monk: a webjournal by Michael Spencer
The Sydney Line: the website of Keith Windschuttle
Miranda Devine's writings in the Sydney Morning Herald
David Horowitz frontpage magazine
Thoughts of a 21st century Christian Philosopher
Steven Lovell's philosophical themes from C.S.Lewis
Peter S. Williams Christian philosophy and apologetics
Shandon L. Guthrie
Clayton Cramer's Blog
Andrew Bolt columns
Ann Coulter columns
"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton
"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton
"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis
"I blog, therefore I am." Anon
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Human language is an embarassment for evolutionary theory
Human language is an embarrassment for evolutionary theory because it is vastly more powerful than one can account for in terms of selective fitness.
David Premack, “Gavagi!,” Cognition, Vol. 19, 1985
All human societies have language. As far as we know they always did; language was not invented by some groups and spread to others like agriculture or the alphabet. . . . The grammars of industrial societies are no more complex than the grammars of hunter-gatherers. . . . Within societies, individual humans are proficient language users regardless of intelligence, social status, or level of education. Children are fluent speakers of complex grammatical sentences by the age of three, without benefit of formal instruction. They are capable of inventing languages that are more systematic than those they hear, showing resemblances to languages that they have never heard, and obey grammatical principles for which there is no evidence in their environments.
"Human language is an embarrassment for evolutionary theory" because as Chomsky (1972) pointed out in language we have a faculty without clear precursors in primate evolution, and as Bickerton (1995) has argued, that appeared suddenly and recently. Such an innovation is incompatible with the revailing "biological species concept" that species transitions occur along genetic gradients that are generated in geographically separated environments. The origin of language appears to be an instance of "saltational" evolution consistent with the concepts of Goldschmidt (1940) or of punctuated equilibria of Eldredge & Gould (1972) that have lacked followers or a specified mechanism. One suggested mechanism – chromosomal re-arrangement (White, 1973; King, 1993) – has been generally disregarded on the grounds that such changes may occur without phenotypic effects, and have inconsistent relationships with species boundaries.
The argument for intelligent design from language focuses on a very intriguing “narrow range of data” from linguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive science. The argument has the following schematic structure.
1. All human societies have language.
2. They always have.
3. Language was not invented, and did not spread.
4. Contemporary grammars are no more complex than those of hunter gatherers.
5. Humans are proficient language users regardless of intelligence, social status, or level of education.
6. Children are fluent speakers of complex grammatical sentences by the age of three, without benefit of formal instruction.
7. Children are capable of inventing languages that are more systematic than those they hear, showing resemblances to languages that they have never heard, and obey grammatical principles for which there is no evidence in their environments.
An Intelligent designer exists and endowed humans with an innate ability to acquire and use language.
... inference to the best explanation asks us to reflectively seek the simplest, most complete, least ad hoc account of the relevant data. The innateness hypothesis is now almost universally accepted. Something must account for a universal, biologically hardwired, disposition for humans to acquire and use natural language, as well as to think in some quasi-linguist manner. Natural selection faces huge explanatory hurdles, while the theistic account is remarkably robust. Language may well provide surprisingly good evidence for the existence of God.
Human speech is a secret; it is a divine gift, a miracle.