Language, Sounds and Intelligent Design

Alejo

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Thanks Chu for the little transition video.

As I listened to the video there was something that occurred to me, that I posted there as a comment but then I felt like it could probably be placed here for further discussion:

Another thing that occurred to me is that the language we use to speak ourselves, or about ourselves, can determine our emotional and mental state.. and maybe eve our physical health.

Ant the other thing that occurred to me, that I haven't thought deeply about is, if the sounds of language are small particles of a longer sound, how does music or melody can have similar effects? Sometimes we can listen to a melody and we know it's sad, or happy.. maybe I am thinking the wrong way about it and it's more about rhythm and beat and things as such.. but I now find it curious.

As if, we took a language particle and extended it (or zoomed in on it), if that makes sense.
 

Chu

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Thank you for your comments and ideas, @Pat !

I often asked myself why learning languages had to be so complicated, complexed and long winding. I felt that although I learnt some of them, our capacity to learn is way more than what we think we can. I imagine myself being immerse for a while and computing and suddenly understanding.
IMO, Music and mathematics are involved in learning languages.

I would imagine so. I guess we can call it our "3D learning and experiencing interfase", in a way. And they all share traits. But what we see and understand of each of them (maths, music and language) are just the tip of the iceberg, or more depending on the person. And maybe that's why they can sometimes give us the feeling that we are accessing something deeper, even if only for a few seconds. A universal truth, beauty, etc. :-)
 

Chu

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Another thing that occurred to me is that the language we use to speak ourselves, or about ourselves, can determine our emotional and mental state.. and maybe eve our physical health.

Yes! Maybe that's why positive affirmations work well for so many people, as long as they aren't based in New Agey beliefs. And why NLP also works (for bad and for good). And why we have to be careful with our internal dialogs. If sounds have multiple layers of meaning, and so do words, then perhaps it's even more complex than that. One aspect is the "word meaning", and changing it can affect our emotional and mental state. And another one, the deeper meaning each word carries, and which we aren't aware of at all.

Too bad that Carme Huertas has taken this the wrong way. I saw in one of her interviews that apart from going a bit too far with 5G and other "conspiracies", she was promoting a piece of software which is supposed to help with all this. It gives you feedback based on your words and phrases, adjusts the sound, you hear it, and supposedly it makes you feel calmer, better, etc. BUT, when I searched for it, it only took me 5 minutes to see that the fabulous creator was... Dan Winter. So much for that! I can't remember the name of the software now, sorry.


Ant the other thing that occurred to me, that I haven't thought deeply about is, if the sounds of language are small particles of a longer sound, how does music or melody can have similar effects? Sometimes we can listen to a melody and we know it's sad, or happy.. maybe I am thinking the wrong way about it and it's more about rhythm and beat and things as such.. but I now find it curious.

As if, we took a language particle and extended it (or zoomed in on it), if that makes sense.

Interesting possibility. I would think it may have to do with harmonics in sound, but also everything else combined: pitch, rhythm, language sounds if there are any, the sound waves themselves, the specific combinations of notes, etc. etc. A mystery.:-)
 

Chu

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Oh, and I published the beginning of the next series. I'm not too happy with it so far, but I realized that maybe people needed first some basic concepts, so that they then can see how complexity and Intelligent Design and irreducible complexity are not only possible, but likely. I don't know if I'll succeed, but it's a start. I wanted to jump directly to Behe et.al., but for those who have never heard of any of their work, it may be a bit too vague.


Here is the transcript for those who read faster than they watch:

Hello, and welcome to language with Chu. This time around we're going to go a little bit into biology. I'm not an expert biologist by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're like me and you studied Linguistics, you probably never had to do any biology course, and that's a problem, and I'll tell you why in a minute.

The majority of us have a vague idea of Darwin's theory of evolution, and in Linguistics it's pretty much the most common belief (it IS a belief, believe me!) that things happened in evolution the way Darwin described them. So we need to question some of these things in order to understand language in its whole complexity. And I'll mention other theories with which we'll see how it applies to biology, and how it applies to language. So, let's have fun! I promise it's not going to be hard because I'm not an expert and I just want to give you a global idea, so that YOU think about language in these ways.

So let's get started:

Language complexity part 1 SLIDE1.jpg

You probably already know that Darwin's theory of evolution is based more or less on trees that look like this, which, by the way, looks very similar to language trees. The tree of evolution was based on what linguists were doing at the time with languages, with families of languages. So it's kind of...obviously it's very simplified in this drawing, just to refresh your mind about it. But basically, Darwin had five main ideas or principles to his theory of evolution:

First of all, evolution itself, meaning that species come and go through time and they change within their existence, within generations. Sometimes it could take many, many, many generations to change, but they change, and they multiply. And at some point they diversify into two species, and that has occurred over and over and over again since the Big Bang. So, it started from nothing, practically, a bunch of molecules/proteins got together and then everything came to be, right? That's the theory. The idea of common descent is that ultimately, every single living organism comes from a common ancestor, or sometimes several, depending on the how they mixed along the line of evolution.

Gradualism is one of the main characteristics of Darwin's theory, and that is that changes happen in very small incremental stages, one mutation, one random mutation at a time, and it's not possible according to Darwin for a species to kind of "sprout" out of nowhere. It has to be a very slow and gradual evolution.

And finally, natural selection is this invisible force some people call the "blind watchmaker" because... when you see a watch, you notice that it's complex and that it has a purpose and a mechanism, but somehow a blind watchmaker decides what each part is going to do, and how to put them all together. Well, according to Darwin, natural selection would be this force that selects the members of a certain species that are more apt to survive and to reproduce. That's basically Darwin's theory of evolution, and I hope to show you that it's not only not possible, but it's actually a fairy tale.

The main problem with this is that there are many, many missing links, one of the most important ones being the transition from primates to men. And it's still a dogma nowadays. He wrote in 1861 for the first time, The Origin of the Species and still today, he's quoted as the truth, basically. But in reality it's kind of a dogma, and we'll see why in a minute. So basically that's it, just to refresh your mind about Darwin.

But let's move on to language now, just for a minute. What did he say about language? In 1871, he wrote a second book, The Descent of Man, 10 years after his first theory. And supposedly, he was trying to kind of make it tie... to explain how human beings came to be. But it was a quite a stretch, and well, obviously, he said that we came from primates, right?

So, if you look at his theory of how language came to be, he had to say something because people were asking him at the time. What about language? How come? We're so different from apes that you have to explain how such a change could have occurred. Well, this is his idea:

Language complexity part 1 SLIDE2.jpg

First of all, there was some kind of "smart ape" that one day was born, and with a lot more intelligence and with more complex mental abilities. So, for example, maybe abstraction, or the capacity to hold thoughts in his mind for a while, etc. So this was this genius primate ancestor, let's say. That's the first stage.

The second stage was that primates, or the ancestor of the human being, started using sounds and singing for courting, for territoriality, to express some emotions... Basically it was to attract a mate, and natural selection made it so that the ones that were the most able to sing and attract a partner survived longer, and continued evolving.

And stage number three from that is that they started adding meaning to those songs that they were singing. That nonsensical (or maybe not nonsensical, but at least purely emotional, instinctive singing) started acquiring meaning. First it was by imitating sounds in nature and imitating sounds in animals, kind of like onomatopoeias, you know? Like "splash", which sounds kind of like what it does. That was the first stage, and then, little by little, people decided to separate that string of sounds into words and syntax and all the complex grammar that we have today.

That's basically Darwin's theory about language, and many, many linguists quote his theory as it being completely rational and plausible. Except that nobody has found.... we don't have any records of language as it was a hundred and fifty thousand years ago, so it's all pure guesses, right?

Well, there are some alternatives. For example, some linguists... I believe for example Corballis, he says that evolution would have been even more gradual. There wouldn't have been a sudden smart ape, but a gradual evolution in humanity that led to having complex thoughts, abstraction, etc. But we still have that missing link that nobody can explain, and nobody explains how it could have been so gradual. I'll get to that in a minute. Some things that you could theorize were gradual, happen to be necessary all at once. So you couldn't start with one single mutation or one single change if you want to achieve a specific result. But I'll get to that later.

Second, for the idea that it was actually selected.... There are other papers, other theories about how it could have been not so much for reproduction, but because human beings started needing to teach their young very early on. [Text on the screen: If it was sexually selected, explain why humans learn language from an early age!] [Kin communication] Human babies are actually not independent like other babies in nature. Animals become independent very quickly, while human babies need a lot of care and attention for the first years of their lives. So maybe people figured out that they needed to teach their young, and what better way to teach their young than through language? And then they started developing.

Another problem with selection for reproduction is that language.... if it was for mating [pair bonding], usually.... think of a peacock. You know, the male peacock has its tail, and the female and the male usually have different traits especially when it comes to singing or dancing and things like that in birds. But in our case, males and females have the same language capacity they speak just as well. So that destroys the idea, because it doesn't really add much. Many aspects of language don't add much to our reproductive interests, there's no reason for it to have evolved if it was just for reproduction or survival. We'll come to that we go into that in more detail later as well.

And then, finally, for the idea that from strings of words came meaning, there are also several other theories. One was by Otto Jespersen, I think. A famous linguist. He said that actually, it all started.... instead of first a word, a song and imitating the sound of an animal or something, it all started as the full song, and then people attributed meaning to the chunks of that string of sounds. So Darwin would say, no, first we started with grunts and small chunks, small songs, while other people would think it started as a whole song and then they attributed meaning.

But it still doesn't explain anything if you ask me, because why did the songs come about, and who decided to split them into meaning separately, nouns and verbs and all the complexity of grammars nowadays? And on top of that, the complexity of grammars, whether you're talking Darwin or any other theory, is so vast and so intricate that it's very difficult to imagine how it came to be if you follow this progression.

So that's it for what Darwin has to say about biology, and what Darwin has to say about language. The problem here is that, okay, we have to define some terms before we move on to more biology:

Language complexity part 1 SLIDE3.jpg

There's a confusion between “language evolution”, which is basically Historical Linguistics, and how each language evolved: French from old French, and Latin, English from old English from Germanic, blah blah blah. That's language evolution. But there's also “Evolution of Language”. Those terms are kind of interchangeable. I'll probably mess up too and say "language evolution", but it doesn't matter just as long as you know that you have to separate it because it's going to be a lot more complex on this second little bubble that I've got here. That's about the species ("philogenetic" so, the species).

And there are many questions that linguists ask (or don't, actually, many times). One is, Is it God or is it Darwin? And I don't mean... Well, some people would mean "god" as in the Christian god, or the Buddhist religion or whatever. But is there a supreme force that created language all in a package as it is today, or was it a gradual progression like Darwin said? That's question number one.

Question number two is, was there a monogenesis or polygenesis? Meaning, was there one language in the beginning (this mother tongue that every linguist is looking for, that would have been there at the beginning, and only that language), or did human beings speak many languages and create many languages even from the very beginning? That would give you different families of language and different reasons for why languages are in the end quite similar, even though they may have sprouted from different places. So that's another question that we'll explore.

Again, was it gradual or abrupt? This is more in terms of language per se. Did it start with musical sounds, with grunts, gestures, or was it created as we speak today, more or less, (obviously with minor differences)? But that's not all. There are also more questions.

There's the question of whether we have a "language organ" or not. That's a term used by Noam Chomsky, the most famous linguist nowadays. And for now sixty some years, they've been trying to look for something in the brain that would explain language. And supposedly, it's universal, and supposedly we all have it, and one day we'll discover it in the genes. Except that so far, they haven't, and the few genes they have discovered are problematic. I'll talk about that in the future. But anyway, that's a legitimate question, and it's a question that goes around in linguistic circles a lot.

Then, there's how language related to thought in terms of evolution. Did we start thinking first? Did we start by speaking and thinking? Did we have language only because we were able to have abstract thought or not? Etc, etc. There are lots of questions there.

In relationship to communication, is one of the main functions of language to communicate, or to think? How much the motivation to communicate made us have language? Again, lots of questions within that little point.

And then, is it nature or nurture? Meaning, are we born with all our language capacity like Chomsky would say, or is the cultural aspect, us learning when we're children, more important? There are two camps there, and I think it's quite a little bit of the one, and quite a little bit of the other one, actually. But we'll mention that later. And all of that ties up with how we acquire language as children. Is it important? For some linguists, it's not important. You basically have it, except for a period where if it's not stimulated, you'll never learn it. But basically that's it, otherwise. Culture and teaching and parents and all that, for them are not so important.

So, those are the main questions, and that just covers the ideas behind language evolution and the evolution of the language capacity. As you can see just from this diagram, Darwin kind of falls short, because there's no writing about, you know, many of these questions in Darwin. In fact, it was very vague at the time. So that's what we're going to explore, all these questions in the diagram, going from biology to linguistics back and forth, and see if we can come up with some possible responses. Thanks for watching! See you next time.
 

Alejo

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Too bad that Carme Huertas has taken this the wrong way. I saw in one of her interviews that apart from going a bit too far with 5G and other "conspiracies", she was promoting a piece of software which is supposed to help with all this. It gives you feedback based on your words and phrases, adjusts the sound, you hear it, and supposedly it makes you feel calmer, better, etc. BUT, when I searched for it, it only took me 5 minutes to see that the fabulous creator was... Dan Winter. So much for that! I can't remember the name of the software now, sorry.
Yes, I think she's got her own little (or big) blindspots, which only reminds me of the value of having a network of honest peers, that one can present things to and get feedback from, but I think we've seen this with a lot of admirable thinkers out there, so, much like language, we take the bit that is valuable from their work and tie it to another bit from elsewhere and little by little it'll create our elephant :D.. And I think this is the work you're doing Chu, so thanks a bunch!.

And I hadn't heard about that software, but in principle it sounds akin to neurofeedback? but rather Audio/phono feedback? And I am not sure about what it promises, because while I do think that we ought to become conscious about how we speak to ourselves and about ourselves, and our inner dialogue, I also think that, that very dialogue is subjective for a reason and it represents the limits that one must transcend consciously.

It's as if, when attempting to lift a set of weights, there was a software that came and lifted them for you, you'd accomplish the task of lifting the weights, but you'd fail at developing the strength necessary to accomplish the task. Does that make sense?
 

Chu

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Yes, I think she's got her own little (or big) blindspots, which only reminds me of the value of having a network of honest peers, that one can present things to and get feedback from, but I think we've seen this with a lot of admirable thinkers out there, so, much like language, we take the bit that is valuable from their work and tie it to another bit from elsewhere and little by little it'll create our elephant :D..

Indeed! She, like others, doesn't seem to have a network, and is going off into 5G paranoia and whatnot. It's a pity, because she's such a great linguist otherwise.

I remembered where the piece of software was mentioned. It's in Spanish. It starts at minute 2:03:28.

I was wrong. The system WAS created by Spanish researchers, but when you look a bit more, you see that it's greatly based on Dan Winter's "work" on sacred geometry and love and light nonsense. I haven't looked into it more thoroughly, but didn't think it was worth it either.


And I hadn't heard about that software, but in principle it sounds akin to neurofeedback? but rather Audio/phono feedback?

Yes. It analyses your voice, and associates each frequency to a mental/emotional state, as well as to an organ in your body (supposedly based on Chinese medicine). You play music on the "problematic" frequency, record your voice again, and supposedly it gets more harmonized. So, a bit like Neurofeedback, except that I think it may be based on New Age mumbo jumbo. I have to admit that the idea was appealing (if it was like NeurOptimal). but just looking at it for a few minute put me off. You explained the danger very well:

And I am not sure about what it promises, because while I do think that we ought to become conscious about how we speak to ourselves and about ourselves, and our inner dialogue, I also think that, that very dialogue is subjective for a reason and it represents the limits that one must transcend consciously.

It's as if, when attempting to lift a set of weights, there was a software that came and lifted them for you, you'd accomplish the task of lifting the weights, but you'd fail at developing the strength necessary to accomplish the task. Does that make sense?

Absolutely. And if she thinks that pieces of software like this are going to "raise your frequency" and make you less susceptible to control, I think she's lost the plot quite a bit. (She says that a few minutes earlier on the video I linked to above).
 

Alejo

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Absolutely. And if she thinks that pieces of software like this are going to "raise your frequency" and make you less susceptible to control, I think she's lost the plot quite a bit. (She says that a few minutes earlier on the video I linked to above).
Yes,

And I think that it also seems tied strongly to the idea of modern psychiatrist thinking, where the goal is to treat a symptom by eliminating it's manifestation in our lives without understanding the source of the same.

Me calling myself an idiot, for instance, should be addressed because it's probably not objectively true, but at the same time, I shouldn't simply convince myself to stop doing so without knowing where that underlying emotion, tied perhaps to my experience, comes from. Otherwise it's just a bandaid of sorts, that'll make me feel better yes, but that won't really accomplish much in terms of my inner dialogue.
 
Really fascinating Chu. Thank-you.

In my work I have learnt to speak a "pigeon" english because I interact with many Australian Aborigines. For many Aboriginal people in the top end of Australia, English can be the second, third or even fourth language they speak.

I find Pidgeon is a very basic and direct form of language with very little nuance. I do not know how nuanced their mother tongues are. When I speak Pidgeon too much I feel like my thoughts/thinking become very simple as well. I actually yearn to read some good SOTT articles to counteract that feeling.

Once again fascinating topic, thank-you.
I had same feeling, when I wisited Senegal and they speak french, but so simple version, even I, although never proper learned french, could understand and communicate with them, it gave me that feeling of thinking totaly simplified and kind of "primitive"
 

Chu

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I had same feeling, when I wisited Senegal and they speak french, but so simple version, even I, although never proper learned french, could understand and communicate with them, it gave me that feeling of thinking totaly simplified and kind of "primitive

Well, it is easy to assume simplicity when you hear some pigdins or creoles, or even ways in which some communities speak (say, the black New yorkers). However, I think very often, if you study them closer, you can see quite a lot of cleverness and structure. It looks simpler, but there is a grammar and most often complex thought in there.

As for Senegal, the only experience I had was with a classmate of mine years ago, and she spoke very good French. But she DID have to learn it as a second language. Although French is the official language, only something like 20% of the population speak and write it fluently. They everyday language is Wolof.

Put it this way: when you speak a foreign language, at the beginning people who hear you speak could assume that you are "primitive" if they thought that was your native tongue. :-P But if they heard you speak, and understood your native language, they would quickly understand that you master many complex structures!
 
Well, it is easy to assume simplicity when you hear some pigdins or creoles, or even ways in which some communities speak (say, the black New yorkers). However, I think very often, if you study them closer, you can see quite a lot of cleverness and structure. It looks simpler, but there is a grammar and most often complex thought in there.

As for Senegal, the only experience I had was with a classmate of mine years ago, and she spoke very good French. But she DID have to learn it as a second language. Although French is the official language, only something like 20% of the population speak and write it fluently. They everyday language is Wolof.

Put it this way: when you speak a foreign language, at the beginning people who hear you speak could assume that you are "primitive" if they thought that was your native tongue. :-P But if they heard you speak, and understood your native language, they would quickly understand that you master many complex structures!
I agree with your answer and didn't mean it as insulting for the people or tha way, they speak. Mine moto is: the answer to most complex things is always very simple, that is what I see as primitive . I simply love primitive, so I also stick to this moto, so I never propper learned non of foreign language, not even english or german. I'm just satisfied if I can communicate. The grammar or language broke down to mathematical formule isn't just mine, but I very much enyojed watching your videos about semantic and common origins of languages.
 
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I play Japanese video games, and listening to the language - which I don't understand - you hear the language itself, but as well - a emotional syntax.

So, pitch changes, syllables are elongated... you get a sense of the mood from which the corresponding message is attached.

Maybe since it is a language I don't understand, I hone in on the portion that I do by sensing the mood and inclination of the emote.

And, it is anime, so the dialog would be exaggerated.

So, there is language, combined with its expression, which is another layer.

Japanese who don't understand English would hone in on these emotional overtones as well, I assume.
 

Metrist

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I've been thinking more about this thread, and the expression of language with punctuation - that it attaches a emotional state to more accurately convey the message. So, a work friend came to mind that embellished her talking with gestures. She had a pleasant voice, and pronounced so that you could hear her and understand what she was saying. And she was helpful, so that lent to everyone hearing her when she was in the area. But she had a way of moving her hands while she talked.... it was subtle and natural that you wouldn't give it much thought - some people do that: gesture.

So it is not uncommon to be in a conversation where gestures are used in conversing. And it is accepted and not given much thought - it's taken as natural.

But as her speaking ability was refined, so too was her gestures. So it caught my attention and I studied her gestures - and we were on friendly terms - so that I could admire and study her art of gab. And so, she had 5 moves. Fingers together and fully extended... palm down, palm up, fingers pointing to chest, fingers pointing outward. Then it was palm down, circling around to palm up - which was like a period - in punctuation.

And she did this on the phone too, so it made me think it was a kind of syntax of her own to assist her in structuring her speech.

So having learned her moves, I jokingly began gesturing to her as she would me - we joked a lot - and she just looked at me, studying me with a gaze, then walked away. I still don't know how she took it, but we always got along.

Another case of gesturing comes from my mother... she is kindly and good spirited, but her expression is lacking. So her gestures are an attempt at clarification, but resulting in the opposite. Her arms flail about. And about specific details she'll use her pointy finger and do what looks to be scribbling on paper, where you'd think she was gesturing erasing what ever it was she is trying to convey - like that's really helpful, mom... what were you trying to tell me?

I wonder what I do - subconsciously - when I speak, and all I can come up with is I look towards the ceiling - where the ceiling meets the wall.

So, when it comes to language augments it is audio, with sounds, and visual with gestures.
 

Mililea

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I had an interesting experience today in relation to language.
It was my Croatian neighbour's birthday yesterday and I learned "Happy Birthday dear X" for him in Croatian. Since he wasn't at home, I sent it to him via voice message. In the evening I saw him after all and wanted to tell him the sentence again in person... the words had completely disappeared from my brain.
And here it comes... then I woke up this morning and the first thing my brain did was to recite the Croatian sentence. :lol:

Sometimes it's really crazy. Since then I know it ...
 

Pat

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I had an interesting experience today in relation to language.
It was my Croatian neighbour's birthday yesterday and I learned "Happy Birthday dear X" for him in Croatian. Since he wasn't at home, I sent it to him via voice message. In the evening I saw him after all and wanted to tell him the sentence again in person... the words had completely disappeared from my brain.
And here it comes... then I woke up this morning and the first thing my brain did was to recite the Croatian sentence. :lol:

Sometimes it's really crazy. Since then I know it ...
Hello Mililea,
I understand what you mean. It happened to me this morning with a name I heard yesterday. Now focusing my complete attention on the name I remember it and have no reason to forget it again.
Isn't this something to do with short term memory compartment we have? And more attention or repetitions will engrave the experience in long term memory?🤔
 

Chu

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Part 2. I messed the audio sync in some parts, but it should still be clear (and it's got the subtitles as usual). First introducing some of Behe...


Language Complexity - Part 2: Michael Behe, irreducible complexity and stating the obvious​

Can Language be the product of random mutations and gradual evolution? I don’t think so. And in order to help you see it from another perspective, in this video we talk about Michael Behe’s work on Intelligent Design and Irreducible Complexity. Some observable principles are completely ignored by official science. But without them, we cannot explain Life as a whole, much less the emergence of language. So, let’s go on a little excursion into biology to find out more!

References:
- (video) Amazing Flagellum : Michael Behe and the Revolution of Intelligent Design : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNR48...
- (video) Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xht_b...
- (book) Michael Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, 2001.
- (book) Douglas Axe, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed, HarperOne, 2016.
- (book) J. C. Sandford, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, Feed My Sheep Foundation, Inc., 2008.
- (book) Ruchard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene: 40th Anniversary edition, OUP Oxford, 2016

TRANSCRIPT & SLIDES:

Hello, and welcome to Language with Chu. I hope you watched the previous part, where we did a review of Darwin's theory of evolution and his theory about language, which leaves much to be desired. And we're going to see how and why.

So in this part, I want to go a little bit into biology to recommend a book that you may not have heard of, but that in my opinion changes your entire view about evolution and brings back the wonder that we can feel when we look at nature, when we look at living organisms, when we look at ourselves... and that is usually very often missed in the academia or whenever you hear or read anything about biology.

So this is a book by Michael Behe. There are many others (I'll put the bibliography at the bottom of this video), but this one is particularly good and easy to understand. Here we go:

SLIDE1.jpg

It's called Darwin's Black Box, and it's going to take you through a journey about evolution and about things that are very tiny, tiny, tiny in nature, but very complex. When we extrapolate that to language later, you'll see how ridiculous darwinian theories look in comparison. But let's start with something simple.


SLIDE2.jpg
He says (I'm basing myself on this book, but also in a talk that I'm going to link to at the bottom as well if you want to listen to it)... Basically for him and for many others evolution does not seem like something unguided, unplanned, random, that just happened by chance.

Why? Because... well, you can forgive Darwin because at the time he was writing, there was no genetics, they didn't know the content of the cell. In fact, that's what the "black box" that Behe mentions in the title is. Something unknown that does wonderful things, but we don't know where it comes from, how it works or anything. At the time of Darwin, the cell was considered a "blob", a "jello", and now we have diagrams like this one that you're seeing on the screen. And every single part of the cell is part of a giant factory, actually.

It's so complex that it's difficult to imagine why it would have arisen from random mutations with no purpose at all. Basically, that's the premise of the book. Okay, but let's see some of the arguments: The way you define, or he defines, design, is a purposeful (I can never pronounce that word) a purposeful arrangement of parts.

Basically, if it looks like it was done for a purpose, and when the parts are all organized, like in an engine, like a watch, etc., then there is a design. When we look at it, we say there is a design, right? Somebody or something designed it and we usually infer that whenever we see something that is made to accomplish a function... If you look at a car, you know that it was designed, that its parts are arranged for a reason in the way they are, and that they need to accomplish a function, i.e. driving the car.


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Okay so when you look at it in nature or anything else, you will see for example: if I show you this picture of these mountains, you could say, well how did they come to be? Maybe was a shift in tectonic plates and something happened in the Earth's atmosphere, and the mountains came to be, right? [A design is not so obvious from looking at them.]

Well, but what happens if I show you this picture now? Would you be able to give it any random mutation explanation? Or imagine that it came to exist without any designer without any builders forming the shapes? Obviously not.

Okay, so that's a funny example that he gives kind of to give you the idea that when you look at nature, many, many things... you're going to say, "Wait a minute, that ought to be designed! It's intricate, it has a purpose, it has a different definite traits that somebody would have thought about, or something. That's number one.


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Number two is that even the hardcore darwinists agree that certain aspects of biology appear to be designed. In fact, many of them (if you read Richard Dawkins, for example)... they'll say, "What we look at appears to be a designed, and we have to explain it. Our role is to explain it via random mutations, gradual evolution, etc.” So they're not saying that they don't see the design. What they're saying is, “We believe that it has to be the way Darwin explained it". So, when they look at wings, for example...

A wing is super, super complex. Each tiny component of a wing has a function and it all works together. But for them, for the darwinists, it all came about very gradually. Maybe one type of feather started existing because of a certain reason that allowed for better reproduction or survival. And then, the other parts started working. Except that, as we'll see later, that doesn't happen very often, in fact, hardly ever.

And in the same way, when you look at a plane, for example... I mean, we know it's designed, we know it's engineered. We know it took many, many human beings to produce it. But look at the simplicity of a plane compared to the wings of the tiniest bird in existence. So there's something there that doesn't really match, because if you can acknowledge that there's design in this plane, for example, why wouldn't you acknowledge it in a bird? That's just one example.

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Number three is that there are structural obstacles to darwinian evolution. Let me quote Darwin here first: He said, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down, but I can find no such case". Again, at the time of Darwin there was no serious work done in microbiology, but now there is. Now we don't have an excuse to continue believing in this. We'll see why.

One of the main principles that Behe brings up is the idea of irreducible complexity, which he defines as "a single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively stop functioning".

Well, he always gives the example in his talks and in his book of the mousetrap, because it's the simplest kind of machine that you can think of, where, if you remove any of the parts, it stops working it completely. It breaks down, or you can use it for something else, maybe, but it won't be a mousetrap anymore. If you remove the hammer, the spring, the board, etc.

So that to him is an example of an irreducibly complex organism (or machine in this case) and he shows little by little that many, many things in nature... Well, he doesn't want to say it. He only talks about microorganisms, so I'm saying this: everything in nature is irreducibly complex, or at least most of it.

So why is this important? Because if natural selection had waited for all these parts that worked together to fulfill a function to exist, then it wouldn't have been necessary anymore. The timing is off: if you need part A to make part B work, and vice versa, then they both have to have come about at the same time. Otherwise, there would be no purpose for part A to exist to begin with. If its only mission is to help part B, which came later, then why would it be selected by natural selection, see? So that's where the whole darwinian theory kind of breaks down if you really think about it.

And that's also where many "enemies", I would say, or deterrents of Michael Behe and other authors show that darwinism is not really science. It's an ideology, it's not biology, as Behe says. They're so fervent about opposing this simple principle that they say it's all about religion, and we shouldn't even look at it. There's always an explanation in gradual evolution. Except they can't really give it. It's just theories and explanations for why one thing happened or the other [with no detailed progressions or data]. So, keep this idea of irreducible complexity in mind, because we're going to use it also for language.

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One of the examples he gives in his book is the bacterial flagellum. Now, this is just the tiniest... the tail of a bacteria. And we're talking about super microscopic organisms. This little guy has like 40 components, 20 or so of which that are not in any other organisms, or wouldn't fulfill any other purpose than what they do in this particular movement. It makes the bacteria swim, and it all works exactly like a motor, like an engine in a boat. And each of the parts work together. If you lose one, the whole system breaks down, and if you don't have all of them, the whole system doesn't work. So, for it to have been [a darwinian] evolution is impossible.

Maybe you can say, "Well, all the parts evolved at the same time, by several random mutations. But [that would be too much of a coincidence!] And then you still have the same problem that there would have had to be something, or somebody, that decided what the purpose of the organism was going to be. Otherwise, what's the point in creating all those parts, right?

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So, ultimately it comes down to the fact that it's all fairy tales. When darwinians explain evolution in the way they do, it is not very unlike stories like Kipling's. You know, Just so Stories. If you are Anglosaxon, you probably know them. The idea is that, you know, how zebras got their stripes. They were hiding under a tree and the shade blocked part of their body, and then they realized that they camouflaged better, or something like that, as the story goes. But anyway, basically it's not science, because there's no evidence for how these random mutations would occur and why they would occur.

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And finally, Behe says that everywhere in nature there's a strong evidence for design, as I mentioned in the beginning, and we should use the "in-duck-tive" (obviously it's misspelled here), inductive reasoning, which means that, you know, if something looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it may be a duck, right? Well, if something looks designed, and acts like it's designed, then it's probably designed.

But darwinians will say, "No, that's all random mutations, natural selection, chance". And we come from apes... So that's it for Behe's theory of... not theory of evolution, but what he's trying to explain is that not everything in nature... Some of it may be explained in darwinian terms, but not everything in nature can be explained that way. And he sticks to microbiology, and he gives the example of the flagellum of the bacteria, or some cells in the immune system. He explains to you how it all works, and how it's impossible for it to have arisen little by little.

In my opinion, it's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to say that if you can find that in microorganisms, then it's way more likely that you'll find it in the whole in more complex organisms, in human beings, and in our language capacity. When we talk about each biological component, the brain, the vocal tract, etc., we'll see that it's extremely complex, and that for it to have arisen little by little is a fairy tale. Thanks for watching, see you next time!
 
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