The Creation Explanation
|Man in His World|
The Origin of Civilization
Language and "Primitive" Cultures
Many of our ideas about ancient man have been based on tribes of people found in North America, South America, Africa and other parts of the world. Early anthropologists called these peoples "primitive" because they used crude stone tools, lacked writing, and lacked a state form of government like ours. These "stone age" cultures were offered as models sof what early man must have been like. There is considerable evidence, however, that some of these tribes are actually the degenerate posterity of ancient nations which formerly enjoyed high levels of culture and civilization.
Such is the case with tribes in Yucatan and in Peru whose ancestors were the proud Mayas and Incas.s So while it is true that tribes living in any era with backward technology might well be expected to develop cultures having certain characteristics related to their technology, it is not necessarily safe to draw conclusions about the culture of ancient peoples based upon today's "primitive" cultures.
The scientific study of language, called linguistics, now demonstrates that tribal peoples whom we consider to be rather uncivilized use languages with rules of grammar as strict and complex as ours. For example, English has only one verb for "to be," together with many tenses. The Dakota Indiana child soon learns that if he is to be understood, he must use the correct one of eight different words meaning "to be." One of these means "to be" in a specific place when a certain thing happened. Another form is used only with living things. Still another means being temporarily in a place, another being permanently in a place. The sex of the speaker also forms a part of the Dakota Grammar.
Scientific studies of the languages of many tribal peoples reveal form as highly developed and structured as our own. This suggests that while language has obviously changed with time, it has not necessarily been evolving upward from primitive simple language. The creationist view is that man has had complex language from the beginning of the race. The facts suggest that there is a tendency for language with time to lose complexity rather than to become more complex. If this is the case, how can an evolutionary theory of the origin of language succeed? Who would believe that a newly evolved language could come into existence in its state of highest complexity?
Linguistics is the science of language, its origins, history and rules and its relationship to psychology and brain structure and function. Authorities in this discipline have long past concluded that there is no evidence that precludes the concept of a single original source of all human languages. The leading linguist of the twentieth century, Noam Chomsky, has set the course of this discipline for some decades. Prof. Neil Smith in a review of The Linguistics Wars7 describes Chomsky's central ideas:
Although behaviourists eschewed any appeal to the mental as being irremediably unscientific, contemporary psychology--of which linguistics forms a part--is based firmly on the causal efficacy of beliefs and desires. Moreover, what underpins this mentalism is a verson of Cartesian rationalism that ascribes massive innate cognitive structure to the neonate. ...Chomsky has reinstated an epistemology that had seemed extinct, and in doing so he has produced explanatory theories that are making possible an understanding of the nature of language and, most importantly, how language is acquired.
One core idea of this current work, known as 'principles and parameters theory', is that humans are innately endowed with a set of universal principles that constrain the development of language. That is, the putative hypothesis space of the infant language-learner includes so few possibilities that the task of language acquisition is dramatically simplified.8
The Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve and His relations with the first pair in Eden accords perfectly with these recent advances in linguistics. Adam was created with a complex language, so his brain structure must have been designed with built-in language capability. We all know how naturally infants gain control of their mother tongue. It is not surprising that linguistic scientists such as Noam Chonsky have concluded that fundamental principles of language are built into each infant's brain. John M. Locke in his 1993 book, The Child's Path to Spoken Language, suggests a synthesis of two competing views.9 He proposes that a newborn has a "specialization in social cognition" (SSC). This allows the newborn infant, through his observations of social interactions and spoken language, to begin making "certain nonlinguistic analyses of verbal and non-verbal interactions."10 This, in Locke's view, precedes the full-scale operation of the infant's "Grammatical Analysis Module" (GAM) at around 24 to 28 months. GAM enables the infant rapidly to develop control of the arbitrary rules of his native language. Thus there must be a universal set of fundamental rules of language for which the human brain is preconditioned, in accord with Chomsky's "principles and parameters theory" mentioned above. The unity of human language at the time of the Tower of Babel and the subsequent confounding of languages reported in Genesis also fits these new findings. In fact it has been said that the characteristics of all known languages gives no basis for rejecting the view that all languages derive from a common source language.
It can be asked whether this system of inherited interdependent language learning modules in the human brain could be produced by natural selection as Darwinians believe. The SSC brain network is designed to function in an environment of family relationships, social interactions and spoken language. Its operation necessarily precedes the functioning of the GAM that actually enables the infant to gain command of grammar, syntax, etc. But how could SSC evolve before spoken language? And how could GAM evolve until SSC had evolved. And if GAM did not evolve, language would never evolve. In other words, it appears that until spoken language had evolved, the brain structures that scientists believe enable infants to learn their native tongue could not have evolved. Consequently, no satisfactory theory yet exists for the evolution of spoken language.
Recent research has revealed innate human mental ability in another field of knowledge, mathematics. Cleverly designed clinical studies with infants in their first year shows conclusively that even at three months, infants are able to add and subtract.11 It is clear that this innate competence is built into the human brain just as are universal fundamental rules of grammar.
The Model For The Evolution Of Civilization12
Since in the evolutionary view man is portrayed as having evolved or developed from ape-like animals, some way must be found to explain how man developed his way of life and finally became civilized. By civilization is meant a way of living that includes such things as writing, a central government as in a democracy or a kingdom, metal tools, agriculture, and domesticated animals.
For many years the standard evolutionary scenario for human pre-history pictured man for about one million years living very much like our plains Indians, hunting and gathering, and using tools such as hammers and arrow points made of stone. Then, perhaps by accident, he found that the seeds from some of the wild plants could be collected and sowed. In this way, man became a farmer and began to live in one place instead of foraging about and migrating in search of food. Farming gave him an increased amount of food, and he greatly augmented his numbers.
In this standard scenario man then moved from the Zagros Mountains down into the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley, where his food production increased still more. Men began to use the river to help raise even more food to sustain the enlarging population. The use of the river for irrigation led to construction of great canal networks and made necessary many more rules and regulations, primarily to lguarantee equity of food supplies and other goods to all the people. As the story goes, early religious leaders, called shamans, then became political leaders. Writing had to be invented to keep records, and thus civilization supposedly evolved in this valley.
We see then that the cultural evolution model for the origin of civilization envisages successive stages of human cultural development: (1) advanced animal, (2) paleolithic, stone age, or hunting and gathering being, (3) agricultural village dwellers, and (4) city-state civilization. Three majuor transitions supposedly occurred, 1-2, 2-3, and 3-4.
Cultural Evolution The Facts
This evolutionary picture of the development of civilization seems quite logical, but is it based upon factual evidence? Do the data of paleontology and archaeology support this theory? Documentation for the first alleged transition--from animal to stone-age man--will be considered in the next section of this chapter, but let us review at this point the supposed transition from the hunting and gathering stage to the agricultural village stage by quoting two evolutionary archaeologists.
Leslie White states in his book, The Evolution of Culture, "We have no adequate records of how, when and where this new type of adjustment became necessary and took place."13 Henri Frankfort says, "We do not know [how] the change from old to new, from Old Stone Age to New Stone Age came about, for nowhere has a series of continuous remains covering the transition been recognized."14 In other words, the factual evidence for the evolutionary transition has not been discovered. That it took place is, therefore, a matter of faith, not historical evidence.
Is there, then, factual evidence for the third alleged cultural transition, that from agricultural villages to city-state civilizations? Archaeologist Robert Adams proposes that rather than large-scale irrigation creating the need for more complex social organization and thus producing cities, "...the beginnings of large-scale canal networks seem clearly later than the advent of fully established cities."15 In fact, the evidence indicates that irrigation came 1000 years after the appearance of civilization. Adams further indicates that economic factors did not cause shamans to evolve into priests and governors, but that "the first clear-cut trend in the archaeological record is the rise of temples" and that perhaps the religious influence brought people together in more complex social structures.
Adams also reports that in southern Mesopotamia, "the major quantitative expansion of metallurgy and of the specialized crafts in general came only after dynastic city-states were well advanced," that technology was "less a cause than a consequence of city growth."16 The actual evidence, therefore, does not support the view that agriculture village cultures slowly evolved into city-states.
What, then, was the source of civilization? Thorkild Jacobsen reports that in the Mesopotamian River Valley, a long succession of similar partriarchal familly village cultures came to a close suddenly with the advent of the Protoliterate Period. "Overnight, as it were, Mesopotamian civilization crystallizes. The fundamental pattern, the controlling framework within which Mesopotamia is to live its life, formulate its deepest questions, evaluate itself and evaluate the universe for ages to come flashes into being complete in all its main features."17
A similar pattern is evident also in the case of the civilizations in the Indus Valley and in the Nile Valley. Civilization appeared suddenly in each of these three ancient centers, brought in by newcomers. C. Leonard Wooley says, "It is safest for the time being to regard the two civilizations (Indus and Mesopotamian) as offshoots from a common source which presumably lies somewhere between the Indus and Euphrates Valleys, though whether the center from which this culture radiates so far afield is to be found in the hills of Baluchistan or where, we have no means of knowing yet.18
The evidence points to the ancient Sumerian people as those who brought civilization to the Mesopotamian River Valley. They brought with them metallurgy, art, and the potter's wheel, as well as writing, all in a highly developed state indicating, in Wooley's opinion, at least a thousand years of cultural development before they appeared on the plains of Babylonia. These facts are not in accord with the evolutionary view of the origin of culture. Are there any ancient records which correlate with Wooley's conclusions? Yes, dating from about 1400 years B.C., the writings of the ancient Hebrew leader, Moses, report culture, technology, and government as being in existence thousands of years earlier.
Moreover, the names of persons in the genealogies indicating thousands of years of previous history, as well as the names of ancient cities reported by Moses, such as Shinar (Sumer), Erech, Kish, Ur, and Lagish, are also found in the clay tablets dug from city ruins by archaeologists all over the Middle East. And all of this evidence suggests a long history of culture and civilization in that part of the world.
It may be reasonably concluded, therefore, that the factual data of archaeology and of ancient historical writings relative to the origins of human culture and civilization are at critical points, not in agreement with the concept of slow, gradual evolutionary development of human culture and civilization from a sub-human society. In fact, there is no historical or archaeological evidence to support the idea that human nature and the human intellect were ever essentially different from or inferior to modern man's.19
7. Harris, Randy Allen, The Linguistics Wars (Oxford University Press, 1993).
8. Smith, Neil, Nature, Vol. 367, 10 Feb. 1994, p. 521.
9. Locke, John L., The Child's Path to Spoken Language (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1993).
10. Ratner, Nan Bernstein, "Learning to Speak," a review of Locke's book in Science, Vol. 262, 8 Oct. 1993, p. 260.
11. Wynn, Karen, Nature, Vol. 358, 27 Aug. 1992, pp. 749-750.
12. The material on the origin of civilization is adapted from McCone, R. Clyde, in Symposium on Creation IV (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1959), pp. 123-133.
13. White, Leslie, The Development of Civilization to the Fall of Rome (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1959), p. 284.
14. Frankfort, Henri, The Birth of Civilization in the Near East (Doubleday, Garden City, NJ), p. 1.
15. Adams, Robert M., Scientific American, Vol. 203, Sept. 1960, pp. 154ff.
16. Ibid., pp. 165, 166.
17. Frankfort, Henri, et al., Before Philosophy (Penguin Books, Baltimore, MD, p. 140.
18. Wooley, C. Leonard, The Sumerians (W.W. Norton, New York, 1965), p. 9.
19. Levi-Strauss, Claude, quoted in Time Magazine, 30 June 1967, p. 34.