Evolution: In the evolutionary model, human language is regarded as having evolved, although many hypotheses in this respect have been rejected in the light of new knowledge of the phenomenon of speech. According to Bernhard Rensch, the development of language reflects the uniqueness of man. He concedes [R1, p. 141, 142], “We do not know at what stage of human descent language originated,” nevertheless he postulates that “an increase of the number of cells in the frontal lobe of the brain resulted in the development of the motoric speech center on one side.” The existence of today’s profusion of languages is also explained in terms of evolution; for example Illies states [I2, p. 53], “The existence of many thousands of languages and dialects forces to deduce that . . . diversification from common roots had occurred, thus there was an evolution that must have had a point of origin.”
1. The morphological requirements for speech do not rely on the existence of a single organ, but depend on the simultaneous availability of a voice-producing mechanism, a suitable throat cavity (together with the tongue), and a highly complex control system (the brain). How is it possible that such a diverse and exactly matching set of components could have developed together, when—in the words of Konrad Lorenz—mutation and selection are the “driving forces” of evolution? It is totally unreasonable to believe that such a marvelous structure could have originated without purpose.
2. When a child is born, it has no command of language, but it is able to learn the language of its parents. The language “supply” is available, and must be “installed” in the baby’s brain. But the so-called primitive people, as postulated by evolution, did not have a language source. The situation can be compared to a computer with no software—it can accomplish nothing; no speech could have developed.
3. H. Gipper, a linguist of Münster, Germany, voiced his misgivings as follows [G1, p. 73]:
All assumptions that human speech developed gradually from animal grunts (the so-called woof-woof theories) or that gestures changed incrementally into audible language, cannot be sustained. Such erroneous hypotheses compare the specifics of human speech with the communication systems of animals. It can be stated emphatically that the essence of human speech is not communication. Communication exists everywhere in the animal kingdom. But human language is in the first place a knowledge medium; this encompasses an intellectual/spiritual access to the observable world. The essence of speech lies in the possibility of assigning specific meanings to articulated sounds, thereby making them mentally accessible.
4. Language has no selection value. Gipper states [G1, p. 73]: “In her dissertation on human speech and its biological prerequisites, Beate Marquardt assumes that language was not at all necessary for survival in the existence struggle. Speech is regarded as a luxury. . . . Furthermore, W. von Humboldt expressed the opinion that human beings did not require speech for mutual help, and referred in this respect to elephants which are extremely social animals without using any form of speech.”
5. In various experiments with chimpanzees, American researchers (e.g., the Gardner couple with Washoe; Pre-mack with Sarah) attempted to confirm an evolutionary development of speech. They rendered science a similarly good service as, in an earlier era, those who tried to discover perpetual motion. The impossibility of building a machine that can run without requiring a source of energy consistently reinforced the law of energy conservation. The ape experiments confirmed that real speech exists nowhere in the animal world; even the most diligent training never resulted in anything possessing the essential characteristics of human speech. Certain concepts could only be developed in cases where the primary survival instincts of the animals were involved.
6. Speech is a non-material phenomenon; that is why all evolutionary hypotheses for its origin fail. This aspect is discussed more fully in the relevant chapter in [G7, p. 115–135].
The Bible: Speech researcher Gipper came to the significant conclusion [G1, p. 65]: “Anybody who asks questions about the origin of speech . . . has already separated himself from the Bible.” Indeed, theories on the origin of speech, which have been increasing steadily since the “Enlightenment,” are all directed against biblical pronouncements. Only the German Johann Peter Süssmilch (1707–1767) affirmed, “If it is supposed that man himself was the inventor, then he should already, before the invention of speech, have made use of another kind of language. Man must have been clever and resourceful without possessing speech, and this is evidently impossible. Then only God’s intelligence remains.”
The Bible affirms that God spoke to Adam, who understood what he was told. This confirms that the first man, Adam, already possessed the God-given gift of speech in all its fullness. He was able to converse intelligently (Gen. 2:23; Gen. 3:2, 10, 12, 13) and even had the ability to create new words: “
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field” (Gen. 2:20).
Because of man’s pride when the Tower of Babel was built, God imposed the judgment of the confusion of man’s language. When trying to explain the present profusion of languages, one has to consider this event. It is possible to research the splitting off and the development of new languages since then, and it is significant that no increases in complexity have been found. On the contrary, there are many examples of simplification (e.g., Latin “insula,” English “isle,” French “île”). The previously mentioned assumption by Illies of the evolutionary origin of languages from simple roots is contradicted by reality. The grammar of the classical languages (Greek and Latin) is much more complex than that of present-day languages such as English.
Help keep these daily articles coming. Support AiG.
Discover how compromise starting in Genesis has filtered down from Christian seminaries and colleges to pastors—and finally to parents and their children. This erosive legacy is seen in generations of young people leaving the church—two-thirds of them. Get the facts, discover God’s truth, and help bring a new reformation to churches and families by helping to call them back to the authority of God’s Word.