Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 18, 2019, 19:06 (39 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: "Really functional language" and "true function" are meant to describe our speech ability starting 50,000 years ago.

dhw: I wish you would make up your mind. According to you and apparently McCrone, all the necessary anatomical changes (i.e. the ability to speak) were already in place, even in our immediate predecessors, but by some mysterious means, he happens to know that they only spoke five or six words a minute. Apparently this did not enable them to use language functionally.

mcCrone's description of their speaking ability is based on his knowledge of their anatomy and their presumed ability to produce bursts of air to be formed into intelligible sounds by tongue, lips and a lower larynx. Nothing mysterious. I cannot reproduce all the intelligence in the book for you, but as he presents it, it is very believable. Obviously they did have a simple language, not the sophisticated one like ours from 50,000 years ago. In an example of early language think of the evidence from the Old Testament: 2-3,000 word bases and with punctuation marks, suffixes and prefixes resulting in about 10,000 meaningful words. One can presume the spoken language was somewhat larger, and is much larger now that the Israelis have added many words from others. Last estimate I saw was 60-70,000.

dhw: Also by some mysterious means he happens to know that they started gabbling away 50,000 years ago. If this is true, there must have been a leap forward in the requirements for an expanded range of vocabulary.

Not mysterious, but based on current linguist estimates. What you fail to notice (or to stubbornly) accept is they were given the physical ability to gabble 250,000 years prior to the gabble. Form before function is the simple historical claim


DAVID: After your quibbling, the rest of your statement recognizes the progression of language after being give the anatomic mechanisms by phenotypic evolution. You cannot deny that, much as you would like to.

dhw: I am not denying it at all. My proposal all along has been that the changes in the anatomic mechanisms (= phenotypic evolution),and hence in the ability to produce new sounds, were the RESULT of cells restructuring themselves IN RESPONSE to the need for a wider range of communication (just as pre-whale legs became flippers IN RESPONSE to a change in their environment). Not your God performing various operations on various individuals at various times. And of course language progressed once this evolutionary process had produced the new mechanisms. Where on earth have you found me denying that?

God did it, not your cells, which cannot design increasing complexity. Thanks for finally accepting my timeline.


DAVID: You are twisting interpretations as usual. You know full well, I view God as much more serious than you do. Of course I've said, God is capable of inventing an autonomous mechanism. My objection to your proposal again returns to our individual concepts of who God is and what He controls from His desires.

dhw: Why is a “pure” purpose without any substance more “serious” than a defined purpose? You are trying to present us with a God who has no feelings, no interests, no recognizably human traits. He might as well be a robot. He follows his own single command: “Thou shalt create H. Sapiens”, but for unknown reasons chooses to create H. sapiens by first creating a billion non-sapiens life forms, lifestyles and natural wonders.

Same silly mantra: what is so hard in understanding God chose to evolve His creations? He may have 'human traits', but are unknown to us. Why guess at humanizing Him? Just follow His works!


DAVID: And just why can't it be proposed that He designed everything, while in charge of evolution?

dhw: Of course it can be proposed. It simply doesn’t make sense that he should specially design the whale’s flipper and the weaverbird’s nest when the only thing he wanted to design was H. sapiens.

DAVID: Again a huge hole in your reasoning. Accepting that God is in charge of design within the process of evolution, what you say He should not do, is exactly what He had to do to eventually create humans by evolving them from previous forms.

dhw: We agree that humans evolved from previous forms. But as usual you prefer to ignore the fact that (a) according to you, every stage of evolution was specially designed, and (b) he specially designed every other non-human life form extant and extinct, although the only thing he wanted to specially design was H. sapiens. And you have “no idea” why he “chose” that way to produce the only thing he wanted to produce.

Same wildly illogical mantra. I accept that God chose to evolve everything to reach the goal of humans, rather than a direct Biblical form of creation. You want me to return to accepting the Genesis version for some really strange reasoning, which cannot be followed.


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