Saturday, 2 August 2014

"20 scientific facts seldom taught to students" critically reviewed #20

Collyer's twentieth 'scientific fact' is his assertion that language could not evolve: "[l]anguage studies have revealed that ancient languages were far more complex than modern languages in their form, syntax, cases, genders and tenses. Of the thirty-six known cases of feral children, reared without human contact, it is evident that language is not inherent but is learned from other humans. Language did not evolve but was an endowment from creation."

Once again, Collyer invokes the standard special creationist fallacies of the argument from personal incredulity, and the 'God of the gaps' argument. Furthermore, he errs with his 'feral child' scenario by ignoring the fact that language would have evolved over time in a group, so his 'feral child' analogy is a straw man argument.

Languages tend to become simpler over time as grammar is streamlined, as one can see in the differences between ancient and modern languages such as English and Greek. In fact, language provides an excellent analogy to evolution in that we see descent with modification, and gradual change over time. No one would hardly argue that God has been specially creating human languages over thousands of years

The evolution of language is still an area of active research, with many unsolved questions. This is freely admitted and is not something that linguists hide from students. What special creationists need to do is avoid the sterile 'God of the Gaps' apologetic approach. Each time an alleged 'unsolved problem' falls to science, the creation evangelist finds that the roles he assigns to God become smaller and smaller. For those whose faith is predicated on creation evangelism, the implications of this downsizing of God to an irrelevancy can’t be overestimated.