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Vol. VI • 1983

Creation and Human Language*
Dennis Farrell

There is widespread evidence to substantiate the contention that language is a designed or created communicative faculty, with accompanying complexity. A designed communicative faculty in the biblical creation sense would be expected to "demonstrate a remarkable combination of extremely efficient and economical organization on the one hand, and incredible potential for functional flexibility on the other."1

Linguists uphold the design model, probably a natural inference based on existing evidence. Chomsky, a well-known linguist and an evolutionist, says that we are "specifically designed" to learn language.2 Wilson, a creationist, calls speech both "species specific and species universal" to human beings.3 Linguists use these quotes to describe a "mechanism" that is unseen, but their inferences are based on the observable. Hockett has identified unique "design features" of human language.4 Designed capability seems necessary to produce these variations, because communication of thought and meaning via symbols is so intricate.

If language is designed, it seems reasonable to propose that a natural linguistic complexity would result. The alternative would be an evolutionary development of simple animal sounds to complex human language. Chomsky claims that human language complexity is "remarkable."5 The child's acquisition of language abilities and our overall use of language support a designed complexity. Even primitive tribes speak complex languages which in most cases are more grammatically complicated than civilized languages.6 Thus the evidence of language complexity in human beings supports the language design model.  


There are universal similarities in human language reflecting the design features in operation. The evolutionist Emar Haugen calls language "the universal gift of tongues" and "the gift of language."7 Notice the word "gift" used by an evolutionist. Wilson states that language is innate because all languages are "similarly designed" and fall within an "extremely narrow range ot structural possibilities"8 Design, a word continually used in the literature by the linguists, is implied in the word "innate."

The following universal similarities explain Wilson's aforementioned narrow range of structure: all languages contain vowels; vowels always separate consonants; every language has "substitutionary" (pronouns) and "function" (in, or) words; all languages "borrow" from others and show a lack of distinction; nouns and verbs are universal.9 Structural similarity supports an underlying design original to all languages. The alternative hypothesis is that languages somehow (accidentally) became similar for some communicative reason The design model seems to be more credible.

Most intriguing from the biblical creation viewpoint is the concept of universal grammar (UG). Linguists in the 17th and lath centuries searched for rules in language that would show the universality of human thought.10 Both Boethius of Dacia and Thomas of Erfurt considered all languages basically similar. They claimed that..... all languages reflected certain immutable categories of the human mind and the world ..."~ Chomsky is the leading contemporary spokesman of the UG. He says that the mind contains "an autonomous system of formal grammar, determined in principle by the language faculty and its component UG."12

Exactly what is the UG, and how does it illustrate complexity? UG is a "system of principles" or "properties of human language" necessary for the acquisition of language. Although an evolutionist Chomsky presents a viable argument for design in his discussion of the UG emphasizing that these principles are not acquired by learning. The correct use of grammar rules when speaking is so complex that it seems to presuppose design.

Despite the present language diversity, there is historical evidence pointing to a common source of all languages. This evidence would not only bolster the design model, but also explain the universal similarities. This common "ancestry" was probably an original language, because languages, by comparison, contain similarities that go beyond accident, tradition, or "linguistic universals."13 If there was an original language, it is reasonable to infer an original design for mankind to utilize this language "gift;" however, later something occurred (i.e. Babel) to cause the present diversity of languages.  


One of the most complicated language capabilities, and therefore strong evidence for design, is the process of naming, another example of Chomsky's expert analysis of human language. The ability to form concepts underlies the naming process. Chomsky suggests an "internal structure" for conceptualization to occur. Our perception of reality leads to formulation of a concept, and subsequently to a category from which a name (symbol) appears.14 The process of naming is indeed complex, and the language design model would account for the seemingly simple task of assigning a word to an object.  


One of the most remarkable feats of the human being is the acquisition of language. A child can accomplish this complex task at an early age. This is good evidence for a designed capability, because children all over the world learn language in the same way. In fact, there are "striking uniformities" in other cultures that follow grammatical principles.15 Even deaL blind and mentally impaired children can learn language.16 These facts lead to an inference of "innate tendencies,"17 which indicates design.

Although we speak of language as learned, it is really acquired as something "natural," reducing the necessity of rewards.18 It is learned in the sense that the child learns the language of his nationality, with its peculiarities. The ability to speak requires no formal or systematic training. The child simply needs interaction with the environment (people) to release language's "inherent capacity."19

Another indication of the design feature in language acquisition is the child's rapid progress. In the firM four years comprehensibility increases from 26 to 99.6%. The child adds fifty new words per month between the ages of three and five resulting in a large vocabulary, while increasing parts of speech and grammatical complexity. Children utilize all parts of speech in adult sentence forms. Sentence length increases from four words at age two to eight words at age four. Articulation increases from 32% at age two to 100% at age eight. Biehler says these facts have eluded explanation so far.20 "Eluded" is right, because they suggest created intelligent design. Rapidity supports the design model.  


Both the evidence and expert opinion point to a design model for language and may cause problems for the evolution model. Morris recognizes a missing link between animal "chatterings" and human speech.21 Lenneberg states that "phylogenetic proximity to humans is missing," even in primates, a fact ignored by evolutionists.22 There is a gap because language communication is specific to man.

If language was a product of evolution, simpler languages must exist or have existed. Chomsky is quite specific in maintaining that there was no simpler language in the evolutionary past because grammar is not built up from "simpler elements,"23 A deficiency of "simpler elements" is certainly a gap and fits the design model. Morris quotes Simpson, an evolutionist, who states that the oldest language is.... modern, sophisticated, complete from an evolutionary point of view."24 It is strange that there is no evidence that a primitive language existed anywhere in man's past.  


How can we explain the universal language phenomena that favors the design rather than the evolutionary model? The Bible not only speaks of language as designed, but presents it as one of the basic realities and attributes of God (John 1:1). Man and woman were created with the gift of language. The famous creation scientist Henry Morris acknowledges language design and states that this "entity" could only be a "miracle of creation,"25 for the purpose of communication by God to man and man to man.26 God created man in His own image with speech as a notable part thereof.

The Bible cites the complexity of communication ability. Language includes not only speaking but also writing and reading. These conventional abilities were part of God's design because of His plan to communicate to man through the written as well as the spoken word. Genesis 5:1 is an example of this implication because books must be written to be read. 2 Tim. 3:16 reveals how God inspired man to write "for doctrine, reproof correction, instruction in righteousness." Rev. 1:3 blesses those who read and heed the written word. John is told to "write" what he has seen (Rev. 1:19).

Adam is that biblical example that illustrates naming. God brought the animals to him "to see what he would call (name) them." God apparently accepted and respected Adam's ability because whatever the name Adam gave each kind of animal,..... that was the name thereof" (Gen. 2:19).

The universality of language design is biblically well documented. The Bible also furnishes the reason for diversity rather than speculation about scattering and learning. Genesis 11 teaches that mankind once spoke one common language, just as the experts have detected. The confusion at Babel in Genesis 11 explains the global language diversity and simultaneously resolves the universal similarities within this diversity. The biblical record fits the evidence very well.

* This article is a condensed and simplified version of a two-part article which appeared in the CSSH Quarterly Vol. 1, Nos. 2 & 3 (Winter 1978, Spring 1979).
1 Paul D. Ackerman, "Considerations Regarding a Model for Experimental Psychology," Acts and Facts, Impact Series no. 50, 6, no. 8 (August 1977), II.
2 Noam Chomsky, Reflections On Language (New York: Pantheon Books, 1975), p. 4.
3 Clifford Wilson, "Some Aspects of Human Communication Compared and Contrasted with Animal Communication," Unpublished Personal Notes, p. 9. All of Dr. Wilson's articles were obtained through personal correspondence.
4 Clifford Wilson, "The Silent Ape," Extracts from forthcoming publication, pp. 2-3.
5 Chomsky, p. 4.
6 Henry Morris, Scientific Creationism (San Diego: Creation Life Publishers, 1974), pp. 184-85.
7 Emar Haugen, "The Curse of Babel," Daedalus, 102, (Summer 1973), 48.
8 Wilson, "Compiled Notes," Unpublished Personal Notes. 1975, p. 8.
9 Ibid. pp. 23-24.
10 Morton Bloomfield, "The Study of Language," Daedalus, 102 (Summer 1973), 9.
11 Ibid, p. 7.
12 Chomsky, p. 43.
13 Calvert Watkins, "Language and Its History," Daedalus. 102, (Summer 1973), 99.
14 Chomsky, p. 44.
15 Robert Biehler, Child Development An Introduction. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1976), p. 314.
16 Wilson, "Compiled Notes," p. 2.
17 Biehler, p. 434.
18 Wilson, "Attempts To Teach Language To Apes," p. 7.
19 Clifford Wilson, "Language: Is It Acquired or Learned? A Study Based on the Wilson Language Abilities Guide," Unpublished Personal Notes. p.l.
20 Biehler, p. 435.
21 Henry Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific & Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (San Diego: Creation Life Publishers, 1976), p. 267.
22 Wilson, "Some Aspects of Human Communication Compared and Contrasted with Animal Communication," p.10, citing Eric Lenneberg, in A. Sebeck, Animal Communication (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973), p. 596.
23 Chomsky, pp.43-44.
24 Morris, Scientific Creationism, p. 185, citing George Gaylord Simpson, "The Biological Nature of Man," Science, 152 (April 22, 1966), 476.
25 Morris, The Genesis Record. p. 277.
26 Ibid. p.74.

"Creation and Human Language"
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