IT has often been noticed that the splintering of ancient languages into the thousands now in existence can be diagrammed in the form of a branching tree — a dendrogram — visually similar to the results of the Tree of Life Web Project. In fact, linguistic experts are constructing MultiTree, a graphical representation of language relationships.
This “evolution” and “speciation” of language has not escaped the keen notice of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. They discuss it — in their own way — in this article at their website: Babel Explains Distinct Language Families. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
About 6,912 distinct languages exist in the world today. The Bible says God confounded the language at Babel to separate the people and stop their advance into the heavens.
Smart move. That tower they were building might have gone all the way to the moon. Let’s read on:
Standard theories argue that languages change when people are separated, but the Bible teaches that people were separated at Babel because God miraculously changed the common language. So which story fits the facts? The miracle of Babel or gradual change? How did we get all these languages?
These are the things that occupy the thoughts of creation scientists. We continue:
Actually, separation does tend to produce differences. When people with a common language were separated by, say, an ocean for about 1,000 years, they ended up not being able to understand each other. The Scandinavians in Iceland cannot understand those who stayed in Europe.
By comparing existing languages with the help of written records, we know that French and Spanish (also, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian) come from Latin. Based on similarities as simple as the numbers un–uno, deux–dos, and trois–tres, we can see evidence of a common source language.
The analogy to biological evolution is all too obvious, but what they’re describing is only micro-change. But when it comes to macro-change … well, you’ll see:
Because languages naturally do change over time, linguists generally suppose that all of today’s languages were produced by changes that we see going on around us now. However, that explanation hits the wall, and fails, at the Tower of Babel.
One might think of this problem as the linguistic Cambrian explosion. Moving along:
The problem is best illustrated by the most widely studied languages of the world, the roughly 449 distinct languages that fall into the Indo-European language family. Approximately 45 percent of the people in the world today speak one of the languages in this group. …
The next most widely spoken language family is the Sino-Tibetan group, which includes Chinese. It is estimated to have about 403 distinct languages and accounts for about 22 percent of the world’s population. … Neither of these distinct source languages, however, can reasonably be dated earlier than the miracle at Babel.
No one has shown how language families as different as Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Sino-Tibetan could derive from a common source. The same holds for the other 92 families insofar as they have been studied.
It’s not terribly surprising that the origins of distinct language families are murky. Our long-ago ancestors probably shared only a rudimentary language, and when small groups occasionally split off to go their separate ways, it’s not as if each migrating band took with it a copy of the Iliad, which would have preserved their linguistic traditions. Each scattered group was starting with almost nothing. Wildly divergent languages could easily result from such a primitive origin, without the necessity of a miracle to explain it. Another excerpt:
Because God does all things well, nothing half-heartedly or without complete effectiveness, the languages created at Babel will almost certainly turn out to be radically distinct from each other. That is what the current evidence already suggests.
The rate of change of known subgroups — notably those based on Latin, Sanskrit, Greek, and the Germanic and Slavic languages — shows that the whole number of languages in the world today could easily have been produced within a space of 4,000 years.
This is sounding strangely like the rapid evolution that supposedly occurred after Noah’s Ark, starting with specially created kinds. On with the article:
Is this a problem for secular linguists who supposed that all the languages evolved from a single source language? You bet. Probably future study will enable linguists to reduce the 94 language families currently under study to a smaller number. However — setting aside baseless attempts to arbitrarily force distinct languages and whole families together — the biblical account of Babel is the only explanation that fits the data.
Just as six-day creation and Noah’s Ark is the only explanation that fits the biological data. But you saw that all along, didn’t you?
This is a long article, so we’ll give you only one more excerpt:
Also, we can make a testable prediction: the number of families will be reduced in the future to no fewer than the groups named in Genesis 10 where the Table of Nations appears. That list is by far the best one in existence; and the facts, as far as we know them, are consistent with the Bible.
Well, there you are. Once again, the creation scientists at AIG have come through for us. Now you know that the Tower of Babel is true history. Don’t you feel foolish for having doubted it?
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