Creation and the Evolution of Language

- Creationism and Evolution seem to crop up as a controversial debate in society. It almost seems a struggle between science and religion, because how religion views the origin of life is being questioned. Many would perhaps argue that science isn’t something to fear, because it has been with us for many years putting explanations behind things we do not understand, helping develop society, technology and health in many ways. Evolution is a theory supported by the scientific process, which proves right about many things. Creationism, bases itself around the word of religion and tends to offer a biblical perspective, however, if you take creation scientists like Kent Hovind, you will see that not only is it scientific but there are misconceptions about the argument from evolution. Are science and creationism compatible? It would appear not.

However, it would be interesting to look at the argument in a different light. Because it seems the argument of science and religion here seems to be so focused on the origin of life, that perhaps a different angle might need be considered.

A creationist, on the Christian side of the argument is perhaps somebody who believes that the book of Genesis is correct on the origin of life, and that the Bible is to be read in a literal way. It is by this standard this article is based. In the Bible, there exists another story and that is that of the Tower of Babel, if belief in reading the Bible in a literal way is consistent, then this story too would be believed as being true. From it, there is the following quotation:

   “So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

            Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there
            confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord
            scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

Genesis 11: 8-9 from the King James Version of the Bible

 

"The Tower of Babel"; By Pieter Brueghel the Elder, year 1563

So in the story God creates multiple languages in order to confuse the builders and also: the languages were scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. We could look at language too in another light, Adam and Eve could speak with God and thus required an established and working language to begin with, though this would be leading down another path.

The problem with arguing that God, at the time of the Tower of Babel created the alternative languages is that we can trace language very far back and know an awful lot about its history, how it changes, how it’s formed and how it evolved. If language didn’t evolve studies like Etymology wouldn’t exist. The knowledge of the evolution of language has a lot more under its belt that the evolution of species currently does.

 We can look at the evolution of written language, for example, cuneiform in Ancient Mesopotamia:

 

Full Evolution can be found here

 

You can see the changes, no doubt first in tools and then style over time. From the pictographic form, it grows into the ideographic, take the first one, you have head, then the second, you have bread, combine them (the third) and you’ve got ‘to eat’, which is an ideogram. This is only an early development of the written language. By the time you get to Akkadian cuneiform, the system is very much capable of recording great epics, including the most famous one in their culture, The Epic of Gilgamesh.

We also know from scripts that also, the alphabet evolved, for example the letter ‘A’ is the word ‘Aleph’, which means ‘bull’ and derives from the ‘bull’ pictograph. The word ‘aleph’ undergoes its own linguistic change into ‘alpha’ – so we have alpha, beta, gamma, delta – the Greek alphabet, which are all derived from pictograms.

The Gilgamesh Epic; an example of Akkadian cuneiform.

The language we have today has changed a lot. Heck, English is a mix of several languages, it existed as a child of Norman and Old English, but many other words have entered our language from various backgrounds, have a look at the word ‘kiosk’, it’s borrowed from Turkish. We can look at other word origins – ‘democracy’ comes from δημοκράτια, or in our alphabet, dēmokratia. It travelled from Latin before entering our language as ‘democratia’, only a small change and in Middle French, “democratie”. Word origins stretch across other counter-parts, some of our language comes from Anglo-Saxon and Norse, these languages are perhaps the reason English is referred to as a Germanic language. Some of the old words still exist in our dialogue, for example, have you ever wondered why a Scotsman says, ‘oot‘ as opposed to ‘out‘?

To only speculate, it could have existed in their dialect, possibly from the days of Norse speaking Vikings, because ‘out’ in Norse is út, which would likely have been pronounced exactly the same.

On another front, scholars are looking into the languages of Indo-Europe and looking for what language connects all Indo-European languages, because there are so many linguistic similarities across languages in the continent– some words in Sanskrit are very similar to English and German, despite both developing in two different parts of the world. The language labelled by scholars is ‘Proto-Indo European’ or ‘PIE‘ for short, there are no discoveries of artifacts containing this language, but the languages do take root in an ancient Indo-European language. Language development can be traced as far as the earliest civilizations, such as the Sumerians who pre-date the creation of the Earth in biblical terms.

 - The evidence to support language evolution are undoubted and languages can be traced as far back as thousands of years. But how would the Tower of Babel weigh against it? Did God create the different languages or did they evolve? Can the evolution and creation debate be reconsidered on understanding the relationship of evidence and knowledge?

- Authored By: Bryn Price

1/23/10

  • Confusion_of_Tongues
  • tower-of-babel
  • epic-of-gilgamesh2
About the Author

I am a 3rd year Creative Writing Student looking for a career in writing. Not only do I consider myself a fiction writer but also a person hugely interested in the writing of essays, articles and even engaging in journalism. My Independent Study itself is a piece of journalism and I have learned much about acquiring information from different primary and secondary sources. My intention is to make use of those skills here. I find myself quite widely interested by the debate between theism and atheism, as well as creation and evolution and even religion and society. But there are other topics I find myself taking an interest in, such as the politics of the UK, the games industry, literature, history and language. My contributions to iNewp will be mostly surrounding those topics, though I may wish to expand my areas. For those who read my articles about Religion maybe interested on hearing my religious stance. I am an agnostic atheist Buddhist, a mouthful but what it means is that I am a Buddhist who disbelieves in the existence of any deities (I don't deify Buddha or take on Hindu deities) yet will accept that we cannot know for sure if any exist (or do not exist). I am Buddhist because I see a lot of value in what it teaches, however, I do not accept any of its supernatural elements - so I don't believe there's an afterlife and I don't think there's a mystical force called 'karma'. I consider myself tolerant of other religious points of views, however, I have a critical eye but it's not one to be offended by. I realize that is it difficult to make statements about a single religion, because many of them are so diverse. So my articles are researched based on witnessed sects and religious discussion. Thank you.

  • AnonymouslyYours

    Really interesting! Though I thought the Scots said oot because their skirts were too tight.

  • BrynP

    That is a funny one. I’ll test that hypothesis by having my kilt tightened.
    Thank you.

  • Indigneous

    They’re STILL debating on creationism v.s evolution?
    What a waste.

  • http://www.hope4dwn.com/ BernieR

    Greatings, ЎUf, me gustу! Tan clara y positiva.
    Gracias

    BernieR

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