In this short video, you get to hear about what Michael Denton, author of “Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis”, has to say about the problems of language evolution as it is commonly understood. Questions such as these should inspire us to let go of the dogmas and beliefs that have taken hold of the Academia for decades. How likely are random mutations applied to language? How come all humans share the same capacity in spite of living in completely different environments? Sure, you can dismiss all the arguments in this video and say that Language started earlier, and THEN spread out, but then you are only pushing the same problem to an earlier date, and you haven’t explained a thing…
- (book) Michael Denton, Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis, Discovery Institute, 2016.
- (article) Joseph Warren Poushock, “Language-Wonder: Theory, Pedagogy, and Research”, 1998.
- (Book) J. C. Sandford, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, FMS Publications, 2015.
Hello, and welcome to language with Chu. This is part four, and it’s a little bit of a bonus to recommend to you another book. It’s by Michael Denton, “Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis”. Michael Denton is one of the researchers who inspired Michael Behe. And he has a chapter specifically on language.
You know? It’s very, very hard to find texts about intelligent design, or design in general and language in the way I’m talking about right now. There is one paper that I’ll link to at the bottom, which is very good. But it’s not even famous or anything. I just found it by looking and looking. So, it’s all new, and I hope that we discover more together. But I just want to give you the basic questions to be thinking about.
So let’s look at Michael Denton here for a second. One of the first questions he asks is, why did aspects of language develop if they weren’t advantageous? Remember Darwin and his idea that it has to be advantageous for survival, for reproduction, etc. Well, he gives this funny sentence. Would you imagine a caveman using what is called “complex clauses” or “subordination”: “Beware of the short beast whose front hoof Bob cracked when, having forgotten his own spear back at camp, he got in a glancing glow with the dull spear he borrowed from Jack.”
Obviously, what’s the purpose, what’s the advantage of that for reproduction or survival? You can just say, “Hey, watch out for the beast!”, or whatever. And there’s also the idea of recursion in Linguistics.
[Text on screen: Example of recursion (infinite embedding): “Mary said that Patrick said that John said that Robert thought that he had forgotten the spear he had borrowed from Jack.”] And mainly Chomsky was the one that said that recursion is a universal trait, that all languages have it, and that it’s the same as the language of our thoughts. Therefore, it must be true. And it’s somewhere biologically explainable, except we don’t have any explanation for it, and not all languages use recursion as he claims.
We’ll talk about that later. But anyway, that’s just a funny way of asking, why would we evolve sentences like that? Why would we want to speak like that when it’s not evolutionary advantageous?
Second is that all modern humans have an equal language capacity. If you take a child from, I don’t know, China, when he’s born, and he goes to live in Chile he’ll understand and learn perfect Spanish, and viceversa. There’s no genetic differences in the way we learn languages.
But given that that’s the case (you’re talking about the origin of language being 200,000 years ago, let’s say, give or take 50 000), it would be the most striking case of parallel evolution. Meaning that if they all left from Africa, as the theory goes, (which archaeology actually is demonstrating is not really the case, but anyway, that’s for another video)… then how come that people in different environments, with different living circumstances, basically develop the same capacity? Why don’t we have more differences amongst groups of people and different populations in our capacity for language, even in the structure of our languages?
So, it would be an amazing case of parallel evolution, meaning that one mutation that occurred here in Asia has to have occurred here in South America, for example. It’s crazy. And if it was gradual, then why is it that we’ve had the same capacity for hundreds of thousands of years, and it hasn’t changed, it hasn’t really evolved? Why aren’t we using, I don’t know, telepathy or something? So those are really good questions, I think.
And then the next one is that the unlikelihood of a good mutation happening, given that at the time…and Chomsky will repeat that, he’ll tell you, “Oh, but it was reduced populations, it was tiny tribes, and they reproduced… never mind inbreeding, never mind the complications with mutations…All that is contrary to a good recipe for language evolution. You need to have diversity, you need to have complexity, in order for the capacity to have evolved.
And there’s another really good book about entropy [Text on the screen:”Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome”, by J. C. Sandford], and how good mutations are soooo, so rare in nature… I’ll link to it at the bottom of this video, so you can see. Basically, it’s almost impossible to get a good mutation that lasts even if, by chance, you have one, it’s most likely, like 99.9 percent sure, that it won’t last, it won’t be transmitted from one generation to the other.
And finally, he says: “How could blind unintelligent cumulative selection the blind watch-maker have a symbolic device -the language organ-” that we mentioned before “of such complexity and sophistication that intelligent humans cannot intelligently simulate these unique abilities in a machine? I already mentioned that in the last part. If it’s so simple that a blind watch-maker- a blind force with the purpose of helping species survive and reproduce did it, why can’t we do it on a simple computer? Why can’t we use our intelligence to reproduce it? Think about it.
Okay, so that was just a short one to give you a bit of Michael Denton’s questions. And I hope you’re still interested. Thank you for watching, and see you next time.