Tom Wolfe takes on Darwinism and its failure to explain language

Tom Wolfe is among our best contemporary writers.  The founder of the New Journalism, which uses novelistic techniques for the purpose of non-fiction, and a novelist who employs real-world research like a journalist, Wolfe is also an iconoclast of contemporary culture.  (See, for example, his send-up of wealthy leftists in Radical Chic, and his mockery of the trendy art world in The Painted Word.)

Now Wolfe takes on the biggest icon of modern thought, the one thinker who must not be questioned and the one  sacrosanct idea:  Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Wolfe’s book, The Kingdom of Speech, is a lively history of Darwin’s theory and its continually demonstrated inability to account for human language.  It also gives us a portrait of Charles Darwin and his nemesis Alfred Russel Wallace, who beat him to the theory of natural selection.  Wolfe also takes on Noam Chomsky, the leading linguist of our day and a leftwing activist, and his nemesis, Dan Everett, a former missionary who disproves his theory on the innateness of language.

Though Wolfe is neither, from what I can tell, a creationist nor an Intelligent Design advocate, he shows how science is made–by human beings, with ambition, politics, and social pressures all playing their part.  The book is informative, funny, and stimulating.  And it is ultimately a tribute to the transcendent Word that underlies all things. [Read more…]

Supreme Court can’t tell what “legislature” means

Lost in the tumultuous week of Supreme Court rulings over Obamacare and gay marriage was another odd ruling.  To combat gerrymandering, the people of Arizona passed a referendum that would take away the state legislature’s power to draw electoral boundaries and give it instead to a non-partisan commission.  That sounds like a good outcome, since gerrymandering–drawing districts to protect the incumbents–is a plague on democracy.  The problem is, the Constitution explicitly, in so many words, gives that power to the “legislature.”

But not wanting the Constitution to get in the way of their favored policies, the court ruled in favor of the commission.  George Will tells the tale and recounts Chief Justice Robert’s vigorous–if surprising, given his Obamacare ruling–dissent on the necessity of attending to the language of the Constitution. [Read more…]

Language as “Darwin’s problem”

Noam Chomsky is not a conservative Christian but is rather a leftwing radical.  But in his day job, he is a pioneering linguist, having shown how all languages depend on “deep structures”–complex grammatical processes that are built into the human mind–that all languages have in common and that children can master almost without effort.

He has teamed with a famous anthropologist, Ian Tattersall, and other scholars (Johan J. Bolhuis and Robert C. Berwick) to pose the question How Could Language Have Evolved? They certainly believe in evolution and they try to find a minimalistic feature that might have evolved, but the article shows that language, with its irreducible complexity (the intelligence design term, not theirs), is very difficult  to explain in terms of random selection over time, to the point that the authors describe language as “Darwin’s problem.” [Read more…]

How God uses the imagination

More from my interview with Mathew Block, who asks how God uses our human imaginations to reach us. [Read more…]

Gender diversity and language

You thought it was complicated using “non-sexist” pronouns, avoiding the generic “he” for “he or she” or using “they” as a non-gendered singular?  Consider the travails of a binary language in a world of 58 genders. [Read more…]

DNA encodes two languages, not just one

Scientists have discovered that DNA contains not just one but two languages, superimposed over each other.  They knew about the one that determines how proteins are made, but the other embedded language “instructs the cell on how genes are controlled.”

We sure are lucky that random processes led to the evolution of these two languages!  But don’t you need reproduction in order to have evolution?  And don’t you need both of these functions of the DNA to be already in place before there can be any reproduction?  I’m curious how Darwinists explain this.

The news story about this, quoted after the jump, uses terms like “language,” “writing,” “reading,” “meaning,” “information system,” and “instructs.”  So underlying all of life is language; that is, what the Greeks called a logos, the cosmic organizing Word. As in John 1:1-3.

[Read more…]