Re: Hominid speech

From: Bert Massie (
Date: Wed Nov 01 2000 - 12:00:03 EST

  • Next message: Bert Massie: "Re: Adam never met Eve"

    The SJMN has a habit of always taking data to support a materialist view. They
    also recently had an article on the concept of a single eve and adam. I
    monitor it regularly to see what is new from this viewpoint. Bert M.

    glenn morton wrote:

    > The San Jose Mercury News has an article on speech in the ancient hominids
    > and how speech was evolved. While I don't agree with much in the article, I
    > think that Christians need to pay attention to what is being said here. Even
    > if one accepts what the article is saying (which is a very conservative
    > view), it has tremendous theological implications for who and what H.
    > erectus and Neanderthal were. Basically, the article says that every hominid
    > from H. erectus on, had some form of speech. If so, the question becomes,
    > how much speech is required before they are human?
    > today we have people who have speech impediments, or who are mentally
    > retarded and can't speak very well, but we consider them to be human and
    > made in the image of God. But when it comes to the hominids, we seem to
    > chicken out and claim that unless the hominids were absolutely identical to
    > us (those of us who are no handicapped), they can't be spiritual beings.
    > The facts are as follows.
    > 1. H. rudolfensis had the imprints of Broca's area on the inside of their
    > skulls. Broca's area is part of the speech circuitry of modern brains. Falk
    > writes:
    > "The oldest evidence for Broca's area to date is from KNM-ER 1470, a H.
    > habilis specimen from Kenya, dated at approximately two million years ago.
    > >From that date forward, brain size 'took off,' i.e., increased
    > autocatalytically so that it nearly doubled in the genus Homo, reaching its
    > maximum in Neanderthals. If hominids weren't using and refining language I
    > would like to know what they were doing with their autocatalytically
    > increasing brains (getting ready to draw pictures somehow doesn't seem like
    > enough)." ~ Dean Falk, Comments, Current Anthropology, 30:2, April, 1989, p.
    > 141-142.
    > 2. By 300,000 years ago, the enervation for speech as we know it was clearly
    > evident in the skeletons of archaic Homo sapiens:
    > “Earlier this year, anthropologists at Duke University
    > reinforced that notion with a comparative analysis of the
    > hole that carries motor nerves to the tongue, called the
    > hypoglossal canal, in several hominid skulls. Chimp-sized in
    > the 2-million-year-old australopithecines, the canal is
    > significantly larger, falling in the modern human range, in
    > both Neandertals and an earlier 300,000-year-old skull.
    > This suggests that ‘the vocal capabilities of Neandertals
    > were the same as those of humans today,’ Richard Kay and
    > colleagues wrote in the 28 April Proceedings of the National
    > Academy of Sciences.” Constance Holden, “How Much Like Us
    > Were the Neandertals?” Science, 282(1998):1456
    > **
    > “Empathy, intuitive reasoning, and future planning are
    > possible without language,’ he says. So are impressive tools
    > such as the aerodynamically crafted 400,000-year-old wooden
    > spears reported last year to have been found in a German
    > coal mine. But ‘it’s difficult to conceive of art in the
    > absence of language,’ says Tattersall. ‘Language and art
    > reflect each other.’ Both involve symbols that are not just
    > idiosyncratic but have ‘some kind of socially shared
    > meaning,’ adds Randall White of New York University.”
    > Constance Holden, “No Last Word on Language Origins,”
    > Science, 282(1998):1455-1458, p. 1457
    > **
    > “Klein, for example, posits a ‘fortuitous mutation’ some
    > 50,000 years ago among modern humans in East Africa that
    > ‘promoted the modern capacity’ for rapid, flexible, and
    > highly structured speech—along with the range of adaptive
    > behavioral potential we think of as uniquely human.”
    > Constance Holden, “No Last Word on Language Origins,”
    > Science, 282(1998):1455-1458, p. 1457
    > And for Neanderthal:
    > "Perhaps we should slow down and consider a more
    > parsimonious explanation for why Neandertals seem so human-
    > like in brain size and anatomy, the speech-related details
    > of the hypoglossal canal, hyoid bone anatomy, burial
    > behavior, hunting prowess, and invention of a true Upper
    > Paleolithic industry in Europe. If it looks like a duck and
    > quacks like a duck..." Milford H. Wolpoff, "Neandertals: Not
    > so Fast," Science 282(1998):1991
    > And even if Lieberman is correct that Neanderthals had a speech impediment
    > that made it difficult for them to pronounce certain vowels, i and e, then
    > their speech would have been similar to modern victims of Apert's syndrome.
    > Here is what some researchers said about t that:
    > "Apert and Crouzon syndromes is reflected in aberrancy of both the acoustic
    > and perceptual structures of their vowels. Nevertheless, our investigations
    > have shown that their vowels, and their speech in general, is fairly
    > intelligible. Our research to date has provided some insight into ways in
    > which the speech production system (taking into account the speech
    > perceptual system) is plastic in the face of abnormalities to vocal tract
    > structure." Karen L. Landahl and Herbert Jay gould, "congenital Malformation
    > of the Speech Tract in Humans and Its developmental Consequences," in Robert
    > J. Ruben, et al, editors, The biology of Change in Otolaryngology, (New
    > York: Excerpta Medica, 1986), pp 131-149, p. 148
    > Humans have had at the very least, some speech for the past 2 million years.
    > It is time that apologists accept the data of modern science and deal with
    > speech and humanness going back at least that far.
    > The Mercury News article can be found at:
    > glenn
    > see
    > for lots of creation/evolution information

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