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Creation Factsheet No. 32: Did Human Language Evolve?

Factsheet No. 32

DID HUMAN LANGUAGE EVOLVE?

THERE are many things which set human beings apart from animals, but none more so than language. We know that animals have their own methods of communication, but no animal can talk in the human sense of the word and no animal has ever been known to communicate in writing. Evolutionists believe that human language has evolved, but there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. Linguist L. H. Gray has written: 'The beginning of language is beyond our ken... For the present, at least, the whole question of the origin of language must be ruled out of the sphere of scientific consideration for lack of evidence.'1

NO 'PRIMITIVE' LANGUAGES

The first fact which conflicts with the evolutionary view is that there is no such thing as a 'primitive' language. If language had evolved from animal noises, or the primitive grunts of 'ape-men', we would expect to find that the oldest languages were the most simple; the opposite is true! Evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson admitted: 'The oldest language that can reasonably be reconstructed is already modern, sophisticated, complete from an evolutionary point of view.'2 The most ancient languages for which we have written texts, such as Sumerian and Sanskrit, often have far more intricate and grammatical forms that many modern languages. In Sanskrit still spoken in parts of India each verb has about 500 parts (most English verbs have only 5 parts, e.g. do, does, did, done, doing). In fact, Sanskrit is 'considered one of the most perfect systems of writing ever devised.'3 Anthropologists Ralph Linton wrote: 'The so-called primitive languages can throw no light on language origins since most of them are actually more complicated in grammar than the tongues spoken by civilised people'.4

Picture Showing Some Sanskrit Writing

Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages, is much more complex than modern languages.

The vocabulary in general use among savages may run to 20,000 words, of which 2,000 is the normal vocabulary used in every-day — conversation greater than the vocabulary of many Europeans.

THE BRAIN

Picture Showing the Human Brain

The ability of human beings to speak is not just a matter of the use of the mouth and local cords. It has much more to do with the design of our brain. One specialist has written: 'The human brain is genetically programmed for language development'.5 Young children learn to talk by hearing others speak, and children have been known to master several languages simply by being exposed to them. This is made possible by the speech centre in our brain (also known as 'Broca's Centre' after the neurologist who discovered it in the late 19th century.)

Picture Showing a Chimpanzee

Efforts to teach chimpanzees to talk have ended in failure.

But it is not only the speech centre that we need; we also need the special muscles in our throat and mouth to enable us to form words. This is one of the reasons why chimpanzees cannot be taught to speak like us. When the part of the brain containing the speech centre is damaged — which often happens with strokes — the victim's ability to speak is seriously impaired.

NO NATURAL EXPLANATION

There is not a shred of evidence that human language has evolved, or even that it could. Therefore, as there is no naturalistic explanation for the phenomenon of language, the only logical alternative is that language is God-given. When God created man, Adam was able to communicate with speech instantly, and must have been created with the speech centre in his brain. Dr. Henry Morris writes: 'Man was created in God's image, and this requires that there had to be a means of communication between God and man, and between man and man.'6 We have no way of knowing what the original language was, but certainly Adam did not have to learn it and the first Person he talked to was God! This means that when we talk to God in prayer, we are simply doing what we were created to do. It seems that Adam could also write, and that he kept family records (i.e. Genesis 5). The oldest written records only go back 4000-5000 years.

Picture Showing the Tower of Babel

Before God supernaturally confused the tongues of Babel to create the separate language groups found on earth today, the human race spoke one common language (see Genesis 11). This is why, although many languages are related, it is impossible to trace them all to a common origin. So we can conclude that language is not a product of evolution, but a gift from God, for which we should be extremely grateful.


REFERENCES:

  1. Everyman's Encyclopedia, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1978, p. 340.
  2. 'The Biological Nature of Man,' Science 152, April 22nd, 1966, p. 476.
  3. Kenneth Katzne, The Languages of the World, Routedge & Kegan Paul, London, 1977, p. viii.
  4. The Tree of Culture, Arnold A. Knopt, New York, 1955, pp. 8-9.
  5. Jack Fincher, The Brain: Mystery of Mind and Matter, 1981, p. 59.
  6. The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Baker Book House, 1984, pp. 426-427.

Factsheets published regularly by: Creation Resources Trust, P.O. Box 3237, Yeovil, BA22 7WD.

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