Klinghoffer: The Divine Gift of Speech

The Discovery Institute thinks they have a winner in their war against evolution. It’s human speech, which has been the topic of a few of their posts lately. We wrote about one of them here: Discovery Institute Has a New Guru, in which we discussed Egnor’s infatuation with Thomas Wolfe and his claim that language “is a gift, a window into the human soul, something we are made with, and it did not evolve.”

Now their new theme is being promoted by David Klinghoffer, upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist). His new post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is Human Speech as a Stumbling Block for Darwinism — Distilled to Five Minutes. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Darwinian evolution accounts for adaptive features of organisms, or claims to do so. [Hee hee!] That is, it explains features that advance reproduction. With evolution, reproductive advantage is the name of the game. The theory chokes, however, on what is non-adaptive or “beyond-adaptive.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] The theory chokes! Then he says:

We are still savoring Tom Wolfe’s takedown of evolution as an explanation of speech. [Hee hee!] But what Wolfe does in 169 pages in [name of goofy book omitted], our documentary short [name of goofy video omitted] accomplishes even more succinctly. The video highlights the work and ideas of Discovery Institute biologist Michael Denton.

The glorious video is at the top of Klinghoffer’s post. If you care, click over there to look at it. After that he tells us:

Humans around the globe share the same capacity both for speech and for abstract thought, which are the chief distinguishing features that set humans apart from other animals.

Despite the differences among languages of the world, any human can potentially learn any language. There is no special “gene” for German, Navajo, or Swahili. Similarly while individuals obviously differ in intelligence and creativity, these gifts are shared by every race and ethnicity.

The “gifts” Klinghoffer refers to presumably refer to the use of language. Okay, now here is where he goes off the rails:

Thus it’s inescapable that by 80,000 years ago, humans had already developed these capacities. The potential for every human intellectual achievement was there in full.

Our well-developed balderdash detector is sending out an alarm. Where is Klinghoffer going? We’re about to find out:

The raw capacity for the highest expressions of language, as well as art, philosophy, religion, and science, were already baked in the cake at the time, waiting to come to fruition in diverse cultures long afterward. This is not “adaptive,” or “non-adaptive,” it’s “beyond-adaptive,” as we say in the film.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] The capacity for language was “baked in the cake” from the beginning. Klinghoffer continues:

Dr. Denton notes [in the video, presumably] that a hypothesis of intelligent design well accounts for such an observation. [Hee hee!] Design doesn’t pursue only the survival of the fittest. It can seed a gift in a population with a view to the future and what will come of it tens of thousands of years later.

Blessed be the designer! And now we come to the end:

But confronted with human speech, Darwinian explanations absolutely stumble and fall.

The Discoveroids don’t need peer-reviewed research. They can destroy the theory of evolution with a video.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Klinghoffer: The Divine Gift of Speech

  1. Dr. Denton notes [in the video, presumably] that a hypothesis of intelligent design well accounts for such an observation. [Hee hee!] Design doesn’t pursue only the survival of the fittest. It can seed a gift in a population with a view to the future and what will come of it tens of thousands of years later.

    What “tens of thousands of years”? Hard-core YEC’s think the universe is only 6,000 years old, and as Bible-believin’ Christians also believe it’s all going to be destroyed and replaced by “a new heaven and a new earth” Real Soon Now.

  2. Jeffrey Shallit

    Thomas Wolfe is a completely different writer than Tom Wolfe. Thomas Wolfe had talent, for one thing.

  3. So, lemme see: the development of speech vastly increased the ability of human groups to cooperate in hunting and all other activities, but somehow this doesn’t aid group survival? I’m having real difficulty comprehending Klinghoffer’s argument here.

    Hm. Survival of the glibbest, you might say, because them’s the ones most likely to reproduce . . .

  4. Communication between non-human animals has been going on for millions and millions of years. It facilitates their survival, it nurtures their well-being, and it allows them to be part of their group. Must it be of a verbal nature only, must it be rational or mathematical or religious? Not at all. Was it designed? Not at all. These other species have existed far longer than we, and the way it’s going, they’ll far out survive far us into the distant future.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    And the ability to change colors was ‘baked in’ to all chameleon species. The ability of bees to make honey, the owl to fly silently, etc etc. All these unique skills and traits handed out at some time and with some methodology unknown. But certainly not evolved as unique to gain an advantage for survival. Nope, couldn’t possibly be.

  6. I’m going to remain mostly silent about this book of Wolfe’s until my local library gets a copy.

    But my understanding is that Wolfe is an atheist.

  7. Pity that people who know their biology seem to reckon that Wolfe’s book is a waste of trees.

  8. This is classic Discoveroid modus operandi: curl in your bunker, with all your a priori assumptions, religious dogma, and teleological wet-dreaming to keep you warm while scavenging through other folks publications for little crumbs of comfort (but of course, that requires massive amount of filtering; their personal Morton Demons work overtime). Doesn’t matter if the source is a wacked-out Moonie or an aged novelist; if it matches the claims of the a prioris, it’s grist for the mill.

    In their 20 years of wedging away, when did the Discoveroids ever conduct or even propose any investigation into linguistics? Any linguists amongst their ‘fellows’? Savvy Sarah can speak a few phrases in Mandarin, but that doesn’t count.

    In fact, the study of natural languages gives no end of counter-indications to the ‘theory’ of ID. No body designed English, French, Japanese, or Tagalog, they all evolved in a process rather analogous to biological evolution (though I don’t favour arguments by analogy alone); Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian all ‘evolved’ out of Latin by undirected natural processes, not design. A designed ‘language’ like Esperanto actually demonstrates how design loses out to evolution.

    I could go on — but I’ve been overposting here recently and have been too boring on too many topics already

  9. Megalonyx says: “I could go on – but I’ve been overposting here recently and have been too boring on too many topics already”

    No, no, dear boy! Olivia finds your struggles and exertions to be endlessly entertaining.

  10. Our Curmudgeon acknowledges that

    Olivia finds your struggles and exertions to be endlessly entertaining.

    She’s been even more appreciative ever since Fungus Man granted me “the supernatural powers to breach the spiritual barriers that protect–…” No no, that’s TMI…

  11. Megalonyx protests, “No, no, that’s TMI.”

    TMI? Three Mile Island? What does the meltdown of a nuclear reactor in 1979 have to do with Fungus Man?

  12. Design doesn’t pursue only the survival of the fittest. It can seed a gift in a population with a view to the future and what will come of it tens of thousands of years later.

    Where have I seen this before? Oh, now I remember. The opening sequence of 2001.

    Denton is talking about the monolith.