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On the Origins of Speeches


Tower of Babel Русский: Вавилонская башня

Tower of Babel Русский: Вавилонская башня (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the Origins of Language Species
(or: “We don’t know what’s right, except that the Bible‘s account of language origins must be wrong!”)

Way back over eight years ago now, on 26th January 2004, I wrote this article in talk.origins, free.christians and alt.fan.uncle-davey which kicked off no little furore, and got me labelled by Aaron Clausen, a talk.origins regular, as a “science-fiction writer” and “the most dangerous and mischievous kind of Creationist“.  He called my account “nothing more than a piece of fiction. It’s like good science fiction, it weaves fact and fiction together in such a way as the improbable seems no more surprising than the probable.” He also wrote on 2nd February 2004 “To my mind, Davey, you are the most mischievous and dangerous kind of Creationist. … You even know the holes in the knowledge of the study of language, and you can use the terminology to great effect. People … seeing your essay, would likely fall for it hook, line and sinker. Because it mixes fact and myth so very well, you give it an air of plausibility.” That was in amongst admitting that he didn’t know any better answer to the origin of language families, and when I asked him what he would tell his kids on the subject if they asked him whether there was a polygenesis of language families or linguistic monogenesis, (this being the sort of thing they ask at the breakfast table in American skeptics’ households) he said he would tell them “we don’t know“.

It seems like even no explanation at all is better for these “knowledge-thirsty” evolutionists than the Bible’s one, if and whenever the Bible invokes supernatural intervention by God, as at Babel.  And their counter to the perfectly reasonable claim, (straight out of atheist Conan Doyle, by the way) that if you cannot disprove a theory it must be true, is that that’s the ‘goddidit’ argument, also known as the “God of the gaps” argument.  They think that by giving silly, mocking designations to the perfectly logical and consistent lines of thought that Christians have, they have somehow effectively dealt with them. Either that or they make out that the questions which we raise are invalid in some way. In all they do they are like lawyers who, having trouble with the evidence, use odd points of law to attack the procedure, so that justice and fairness and true rationale flee out of the window, pursued by the harrying hounds of unscrupulous rhetoric.

Obviously, I’m not out to deceive anybody or produce fiction or stir up mischief as Aaron Clausen claimed, but I really think that if someone knows the facts about where we are in the reconstruction of earlier languages, and doesn’t have a world view that excludes a priori the chance for God to work directly on the human mind, en masse, they will say that the explanation I gave, based on the Babel account of scripture, is just as valid an account of how we got to today’s languages as any other. Only prejudice against the possibility of such action by God is a reason not to acknowledge that I have offered a workable and valid theory, and one that reflects observable fact more clearly than such theories as would dovetail well with evolutionary views of the origin of man.

Anyway, the person who got me started is ‘Sloggoth’ and he/she is in the quotes.

Some of the following is quoted from the time, and some has been added since to improve the communication of the ideas.

Well, Uncle Davey, you’ve confused a lurker pretty well here. If you would be so kind as to clarify:
When you speak of linguistic evolution do you mean:
 1) The evolution of the *capacity for language* in humans? Biological evolution must indeed be able to explain this.
or
 2) What everyone else means, i.e. change in language, such as that which produced French and Spanish from Latin? There is no reason why a theory which deals with genetic change should address a purely cultural phenomenon, beyond explaining how it is biologically possible in the first place.
or even
 3) If one cannot trace linguistic evolution beyond the known families, (which probably arose at some time in the past that could very loosely fit the Babel account), then the Babel account is thereby not contradicted?

The way I see it is that what happened at Babel everyone received their own language. Even husbands and wives could not talk and little kids could not communicate with their parents. This meant that in order to have an established family language, families needed to isolate themselves, and then they would all learn the language of the mother of that family, as mothers are and always have been the main one to teach the little children language. The men therefore would also have needed to take their wive’s grammar and syntax, but the wife would in return take a lot of the lexicon from her husband, and in the process already the family language would become at once grammatically simpler but also lexically richer than the Babel exit languages each member spoke. We have the expression ‘mother tongue’ in almost every language but Welsh, which is like the exception that proves the rule, exactly from this time, which was only one generation in the history of man.

That’s right. There was only one generation from Babel in which individual languages became family languages. The majority of the languages that came out from Babel would have gone into disremembrance when that person dies. In some cases the vocabulary will have been loaned into the family language, and in most cases the phonetics will have influenced to some degree the family language. People who had no families and no successors therefore had their individual languages vanish probably without trace.

You see, this was the mechanism that would have driven people out of Babel into their own place, so that they could quietly re-  establish a common language with those who meant most to them, their family, without linguistic interference from all the others who would come babbling over the horizon, preventing their children from achieving any linguistic competence.

Within a further forty years, that one language per family (already maybe only one fifth of the number actually made at Babel) was similar conflating and merging into tribal languages. The basic model would then be the family language of the most dominant family in the tribe. This process took longer than the family language process, as the new languages were being learned as foreign languages by all in the tribe but the dominant family. These dominant families are the ancestors of the aristocratic families that grew up later in almost every culture.

The tribal languages would have taken over from the family languages so that by about four hundred years after Babel the single family language was as redundant and extinct as the single person language had been forty years after the Babel event. But each of these tribal languages would have been a selection of grammars, phonologies and lexical materials that came out of the Babel event. We are told in scripture that God confused the language, which may suggest that he took things which were already in the Adamic language and mixed them up. However, my personal belief is that none of the exit languages had all of the material that was in the Adamic language. When given directly to Adam by God, this language was a perfect thought vehicle for the man that He had made, and to be able to be taught and used by future generations. In Isaiah 65v20 as well as in the early Genesis chapters we see indications that the original plan for the length of human childhood was 100 years, setting up for a lifetime of up to 1000 years. Up to the Flood we see nobody doing any “begetting” until they are over one hundred, that’s for sure. The language given by God originally would have been a rich language taking the full measure of 100 years to acquire from parents and enabling thought and worship on a level unparalleled by people living today. Because there were relatively few of them and the Flood was such a huge cataclysm, we cannot see any indications of the achievements they had made with this linguistic tool, but they must have been amazing.

Once we arrive at post-Flood times and you see in scripture the lives of post-Flood generations going down to below what would have counted as infant mortality before the Flood, people maturing already in the second decade of their lives and then expected to have finished their educations (one of the reasons why there is this conundrum that we barely use a fraction of our brains’ synaptic capabilities – they are still the same size as those brains were which held Adamic, but now our childhoods are too short to learn it properly anyway) so the Adamic language was probably already deteriorating – probably people started to use a debased, pidgin version of the old language at Babel, although as a Community they may still have possessed the totality of it.

So the size of the confounded languages were probably much smaller – it’s reasonable to suggest about 20% of the complexity and richness of the original Adamic language. Each individual language probably held a unique mix and match combination of about 20% of what was in Adamic, but shifted and confused so that Adamic could not be put back together again.

And of such languages, getting back to the story, tribal languages emerge within up to 400 years and we come to the rise of the supertribal language.

Some of these early tribal languages exist until today. Basque is a good example. It isn’t visibly related to other languages around it, it has simply been there, carried in a small tribe in enveloped in the Pyrenees, for thousands of years.

Other tribes conflated again into the supertribe, and the supertribe is where we find the original languages at the heads of the family trees that we can easily recognise. The Aryan supertribe spoke a language whose name we don’t know, but we know it must have existed and we call it Proto-Indo-European. They themsleves could have called it Yaspriyakis, Blurbnurb or something like that, or just “Smith’s Tongue”, for all we know. It was a supertribe, and as with all supertribes, it fell apart, with people who spoke it leaving
and mingling with the languages of the substrate where they went, which were generally tribal, not supertribal peoples, and could not compete with them.

So we have a tendency for common grammatical elements to be seen, but a lot of different lexical stock from the borrowings. Even the supertribe itself had not been stable long when the emigrations started; some thought the word for ‘a hundred’ should be ‘kentum’ and others thought it should be ‘sati’. About all they could really agree on was the words for beech trees, snow, and about twenty other matters.

So the supertribal language was the turning point. From Babel to the supertribal period, maybe a hundred thousand languages got down to maybe ten thousand. After that time the supertribal languages started to have multiple descendents, and even some descendents had multiple descendents themselves, so that they replaced the exit languages being spoken by peoples like the
pre-Celtic cultures of Ireland, and then many of those languages, like Irish Celtic, themselves became forced into a minor role or often made extinct altogether, like Cornish, by more vigorous languages of their distant cousins, such as English.

In sum, if we have had six thousand years since Babel, one of those thousand has seen the rise of the linguistic supertribe, and the other five thousand has seen mainly supertribal languages disintegrating into the language families we know today (and others which have gone extinct with no trace). In some parts of the world smaller languages, even ones that have resulted from supertribal disintegration, have started to grow again into supertribal languages, so the whole ebb and flow described here is something which didn’t necessarily happen just once in that length of history.

Incidently, even broader groups than Nostratic have been proposed, including attempts to reconstruct words of Proto-World. Unfortunately the only one I recall at the moment is rather indelicate.

There’s every chance that we can guess at a word that was in the vocabulary of somebody who walked out of Babel, maybe in a sound-shifted or abbreviated form. After all, all the material in every tribal or supertribal language came from someone or other’s Babel exit language. It’s not common for languages to invent words, so even ‘shit’ has good cognates in Greek. If we say that ‘skata’ is closer to the Babel exit languages, because we can tell it didn’t go through the Germanic sound shifts which we know all about thanks to the Brothers Grimm, then we can assert with a good probability of truth that some rather powerful man or his wife, with a penchant for talking about his or her bodily functions, received the ancestor word for ‘skata/shit’ in his or her personal language at Babel. It is very interesting how reluctant mankind is to introduce linguistuc material out of nothing. Almost everything is a loanword or a calque or an  omatopoeia, or a contraction of other words.  Even on the internet existing language was massaged to create the terms we are now using worldwide over the  last 25 years. Very little by way of truly random words have been used. Even the search engine “Google”‘ links from “go ogle” and “Facebook” comes from two very basic monosyllablic English words.

Anyway, this account, which has no shortage of fantasy in it as I am more than aware, and make no apology for in the face of the fantasy required to make a dinosaur drawing complete with colours and habits from a couple of bones, this being the sort of trick on which most people’s understanding of evolution seems to base, is consistent nevertheless with both on the one hand the observable fact that we cannot get back any further than PIE or PFU, and find further common ancestors, obviates the absurd and counter-intuitive notion that language systems fairly equal in complexity could have evolved in the human race at different times and places, but without the organs of speech of the races then changing so that an infant could not acquire a perfect accent in a non related system, and where we do not see easier grammars compounding into harder grammars, but rather the reverse, and one the other hand it is consistent with what scripture says about language origins.

And so, in conclusion, evolutionary science is at odds with what is known of philology, and the Bible is not.

By the way, in the rest of the original talk.origins discussion,  it became apparent that the evolutionists have nothing to offer but rhetoric, and try to divert the uncomfortable topic onto archaeology, where they attempted to argue from negatives assuming that Babel hinges on the archaeological work of Babylon, when there is no reason at all to expect to find any traces of Babel and its tower. However large it was, it was doubtless less in terms of mass of fabric than the Berlin Wall was, and people recycled that in the space of a few months, let alone a few thousand years.  If anything has changed, and any evolutionist has something to offer which is new, please go ahead and make your comments.

I remind evolutionists reading this article of their right of immediate and public reply on the bulletin board of this site, which as I said earlier is not edited or moderated except for things that are illegal and for spam.

I hope Christians are encouraged by all this not to believe that science has all the answers, it doesn’t. But as we see evolutionists, especially those who are only using the evolutionary fallacy as their charter for atheism or apostasy, will fill in the gaps between real science and their world view and then try to convince us that this philosophical putty of theirs is good science too.

(DJJ, based on material added to the old site usenetposts.com 29/4/04, original debate from Jan-Feb 2004, now with 25% added material)

Usenet Fragmentia – 1st Dectave


Uncle Davey’s Fragmentia – 1st Dectave – More bright ideas from your favorite virtual uncle!  

The idea of Fragmentia is to make, over time, a digest of the best fragments of the posts I have made to Usenet, whether ideas, soundbites, jokes and witticisms, observations, coinages, or even some typical Usenet “flames”. The criterion for inclusion is that the extracts work without a lot of context setting, and also that either the use of language or the idea has some originality about it. All work is mine unless otherwise stated, and, with few exceptions, originally written for Usenet in the month given below each fragment. Where of interest, I have also given the person addressed. To see the original content, use Google’s Usenet archive searching on the most unusual phrase in the section and limiting it to the stated month. Some of these comments were answered – even on occasion very competently, and looking up the thread will show you what my opponents said.

The items are not especially sorted by topic, they are mixed together. There are up to ten fragments per page, and the rules of the game are that only spelling mistakes are corrected, no new thoughts are added.

As ever, with my productions, the right of reply exists in the comment section. The fragments are not sorted, so a certain amount of disjointedness is part of the fun, but as you sequentially peruse each “Dectave of Uncle Dave”, you’ll soon start to pick up the threads. They will be gathered into a “Fragmentia” section on this blog – they used to be a section on the previous site (now incorporated here) www.usenetposts.com. I’ll be adding to these from time to time, they go back basically to the end of 2003, although some things of mine are earlier, but in the main the earlier writings were reiterated and better written in the post 2003 writing.

First Dectave

1.

“I would like to know how these Creation-rejectors are so sure that so-called ‘pseudogenes’ don’t have a perfectly viable raison d’etre which they simply don’t know about.

They are so ready to say “science is in its infancy” when it suits them, but if they think they’ve found a trap for us, then they are oh so certain that certain genes are redundant, that they are mistakes, that they would have been created out. Well why didn’t they evolve out? What we don’t use gets lost, right?

So what about the fact that only a small percentage of the human brain gets used? Why did the rest evolve, if it doesn’t get used? Is the size of the human brain a pseudogene? Or is it a place to hang those parts of the soul that don’t get needed until the resurrection body?

Creation rejectors think they know a lot of things, but when it all boils down to it, there’s nothing they can say that proves the non-existence of God that they so long to achieve.”

(December 2003)

2.

“You’re making distinctions that don’t exist in the Hebrew. This is not dividing the Word, it’s multiplying it, subtracting it and adding to it, and taking it to the n’th power, where n = nonsense.”

(December 2003, addressed to Robert Sowle)

3.

“Bacteria aren’t the products of evolution, they’re the products of devolution.

Most of the bacteria that attack humans are human cells or organelles of human cells that have gone wrong.

There is in the talk origins FAQ somewhere a discussion about a bacterium that evolved under scientific conditions from some woman’s cells, and they rattle this out as proof of speciation sometimes. What it does prove is that human cells give rise to bacteria, which of course is devolution, the exact reverse of evolution. Hardly surprising not much of this is done and they don’t like to emphasise it.

So with bacteria it’s a bit like cancer only they move around with a life of their own. they can of course go on to speciate of their own accord, usually getting weaker, not stronger, and then the next devolution from a higher animal cell creates the next new disease, unknown before, as with the HIV retrovirus.

Probably this bacterium able to metabolise nylon, if it came from another bacterium not able to, was a devolution, or a falling away from, the other. It is probably a more basic organism than the parent organism. Weaker, not stronger.

These are devolved, not evolved, organisms. God never made them, as such, they were part of the human body, and other animal and plant bodies.

Same with viruses. They could not have been a part of the evolutionary chain as they need higher organism to survive on. They are rogue parts of DNA of higher organisms, that’s how they are able to control the DNA of higher organisms.

Nematodes didn’t evolve, they devolved from insects, that’s how they know how to control the consciousness of their host insect and make it seek water. Such a mechanism could never have evolved by trial and error. Had the host not gone to water, that would have been the end of the line for that attempt. If it didn’t need water, why make the host go there?

And all this devolving of life, which causes disease, decay and death, didn’t start until after the Fall of Man.”

(December 2003, addressed to H. R. Gr?mm)

4.

“Is there a coffee so strong it will wake you out of this slumber?”

(December 2003, addressed to Robert Sowle)

5.

“There are some 30,000 species. Had evolution been true, over 100 times that number could have evolved in the time they say is available.

The number of Biblical kinds involved here is probably closer to 3,000. They all started out as freshwater kinds and some became saltwater after the flood.”

(December 2003, addressed to David Jensen)

6.

“Mammals are a group of living creatures where there is body hair and the mother suckles the young with milk.

The building blocks God, as the prime Engineer, saw fit to use on them and on us are similar enough to allow a technical name in common, but the created purpose of mankind is one thing and of animals it is another.

Have you ever pondered the oddity that we alone are an intelligent species? I could not be having this conversation with an orang-utan or a sperm whale, however skilled the translator.

Why didn’t evolution manage that for any other species?”

(December 2003)

7.

“I thought your website and your work was great, but I have to say I disagree with you about subjecting Usenet to the same laws as the rest of society. These people need somewhere to go to let off steam. Better here than daub it on our fences.

Some people do have opinions which are not respectable and are antisocial, and most forums are not available to them. Nevertheless they want to give expression to their ideas, regardless of the quality, the same as anyone else does.

Sometimes the product of those expressions is quite disturbing, but that is the true face of your fellow man and neighbour on this planet. May as well be informed about it. You’re never gonna be able to regulate and control it out of existence.”

(December 2003, addressed to artist Amanda Angelika Berry)

8.

“You may well be a nicer person than we are, but have you been forgiven your sins because of the Blood Jesus shed for you on Calvary?

It’s not about being nice, it’s about being forgiven.

That’s how we see Christianity, anyway. See John 3.16″

(December 2003, addressed to self-confessed witch “Jason Harvestdancer”)

9.

“All I can tell you is that my wife keeps silent in Church, although she does sometimes laugh if there’s a joke in the sermon.

If I asked her to speak publicly in the Church she would consider that ‘spousal abuse’ and not the reverse.

But then, she is a well-balanced woman, not like some women, trying to be men.

I honestly pity the men they marry, few will be spared mental illness at some stage in their lives.

Does that make me an ultraconservative?”

(December 2003)

10.

“There was no time as we know it prior to Creation, and as Christ is an uncreated being, He also exists outside of constraints of time and space.”

(December 2003)

Is there life outside the mouth?


Geophagus hondae babies

As an adjunct to the earlier film on the fish with a mouthful, this shows the babies whenever they come out. They don’t need long to go back in again whenever danger threatens.

Quite a few animals use their mouths to protect their young, mouthbrooding is especially associated with fishes but also is practised by crocodiles.

It is quite surprising that it is not more broadly practiced throughout the animal kingdom, as it is a very interesting and practical survival trait. If evolution were true, surely there would be much more of this going on than in a few disparate families?

Evolutionists of course will quickly point out the downside pay-off – they will say that a fish with its mouth full of young itself becomes more tempting a morsel for predators and cannot escape so easily, or that it cannot fight, or that it can’t eat while it has a mouthful of young. Each of those defences are fairly facile, but typical of the sort of dreamt up nonsense that is trolled out regularly to support the theory of evolution.

The history and future of the world, and the meaning of life, in a few paragraphs


I was asked by Frank J, on talk.origins:

Assuming for the sake of argument, that “the world” was created, and life too, *how many years ago* do you think that the first life on Earth was created? And do you think our species was created in a “biological continuum” or did it require its own origin-of-life event? If the latter, how many years ago was it?

I personally think that human kind has been around for 70 generations before Christ and is now coming up to 70 generations after Christ, at which point it will end.

I think this is a version of events with about one adherent at the present time.

I think that in the Scripture it gives 14 generations from Christ to the captivity, 14 from the captivity back to David and 14 from David back to Abraham. This then stops, but shows the existience of a certain pattern which we can follow. It must be there for a reason. I discovered that working forwards from the beginning of Genesis there are 14 generations to Peleg, which name infers the division of the world, a reference I believe to the Babel event. The scripture does not hold, or claim to hold, a complete reference to all generations between Peleg and Abraham, and this is natural as there was no normal language at that time, so there are about 5 generations which have lost information – a very interesting period of earth’s history, by the way, about which there are probably more unanswered questions than any other – we have basically things like funnel beakers and cave paintings and that to go on.

Basically this means that Ussher probably assumed too literally that the generations between Peleg and Abraham were fully recorded in Genesis, but there simply isn’t enough time to get from a Babel scenario to the world as described in the time of Abraham in that space of tgime. In addition for this space of time there are divergent chronologoes in Chronicles and in Genesis, which for those who believe in inerrancy of Scripture ought to be a clue that the Bible is telling us that in that area it is not trying to give us a complete account.

14 generations between Adam and Peleg, 14 between Peleg and Abraham, 14 between Abraham and David, 14 between David and the captivity, and 14 between the Captivity and Christ. That’s seventy generations.

That’s a perfect number. And because Christ is the central figure of history, he comes in the middle of the generations.

The generation length, which I personally define as the age of a woman at the birth of her median surviving female child, can be placed at about 30 years. This means that 70 generations take around 2100 years. We live in the time where the 70th generation is being born, one of whom will be Antichrist, and maybe already is, and we also live in a time where the Gospel has been taken to every tribe, where the Jews have returned to Israel and where there is continual threat of war around Israel. We live in a time where we are being faced with monetary and political union and control to an unprecedented degree, and where the falling away from true religion has also been unprecedented. In short, almost all the prophecies that needed to be fulfilled before the Return of Christ in glory, and the garnering up and resurrection of those who accepted him in faith, be they alive or dead. The close of this creation and the unveiling of the new Creation outside of the restraints of the particular physical laws that have governed this one. We cannot die or suffer in it, we will know God and find bliss. We shall sing and fly like angels, dive like orcas and find wonder and beauty in every everlasting corner of it.

However the generations before Christ were not always 30 years. The chronologies show that before the Flood the aging process was much slower. It is possible that oxygen levels were lower and the free radicals responsible for aging less prominent – even now longevity is more seen in mountain populations as in the Caucuses, where oxygen is more scarce. The release of the waters and the process of their assuaging clearly changed the amount of oxygen available in the atmosphere. If you separate out hydrogen and oxygen as gases, instead of water vapour, then the hydrogen will wander off into space as it cannot be held by gravity. Hence during the assuaging of the Flood the amount of atmospheric oxygen increased strongly.

The first generations were therefore longer. The median child of a woman could have been hundreds of years. This means that we cannot say that these 70 generations lived only over 2100 years. They may have lived over 4900 years, which is the figure I get if I assume about 300 year generations until Noah’s generation (9th), and then that tapering down to Peleg’s. That gives 4900 BC and 2100 AD years for a total of 7000 years of creation.

So I think that life was created some 6900 years ago. Put in place looking mature and pre-existant, with Adam even having a navel, although he had no mother, and with radioactive isotopes in igneous rocks already partly decayed. This was no deception by God, as Adam knew perfectly well where he came from and always was able to hand down those facts through his generations, as did many people in the time when God communed more freely with man, but it was there to enable mankind in the latter generations (where overwhelmingly most of the human souls occur – especially in the last few generations in the modern era post Darwinism) to find an alternative to believe if they rejected God. It was made that way precisely so that we can believe whatever we choose. It was made that way precisely so that millions of human beings like you and me can have this debate, whether with each other or in the privacy of their own minds, and that some might be drawn to believe still in their creator and their redeemer, even when the world is dragging them to interpret the things God made in an atheist way, and that in the exercise of faith they may be separated ought, have their imperfections and iniquities forgiven and restored, and come to a knowledge of God in love and be enabled to join with him in a relationship of children to a father.

That’s what it’s all about.  Be part of it.  Believe, and be part of reality.

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