RE: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Fri Mar 16 2007 - 11:23:10 EDT

Had a wonderful dinner with Dick Fischer last night. This is for Jack, Bill
Hamilton, George Murphy

Jack wrote:

> Quick response here.
> I used the term bicameral in reference to Burgy's post
> referencing the book
> with the name in the title.
Julian Jaynes book was influentical, but highly flawed. No one pays much
attention to it today in anthropological circles.

 How could anyone get by, in talking
or thinking, if there was no distinctive label for the
talker or thinker? Yet in a book still taken surprisingly
seriously in many quarters, Jaynes claimed (mainly on the
basis of an uneasy liaison between split-brain theories and
conventions in classical literature) that human self-
consciousness as we know it developed less than four
thousand years ago. However, in several languages we
actually know what the morphophonemic form for the first
person singular was at that and still earlier peirods, while
in many more languages, first-person-singular forms can be
reliably reconstructed for periods earlier still. One can
only wonder who or what Jaynes thinks our ancestors of five
thousand years ago thought they were referring to when they
used their equivalents of 'I'." Derek Bickerton, Language
and Human Behavior, (Seattle: University of Washington
Press, 1995), p. 136-137

And it is obserationally falsifieed by Helen Keller's experience.

"This sensory reductionism is unsatisfactory to another school of
Hardliners, who hold to
a representational approach that, in its own way, is just as uncompromising.
This school
believes that language is the sole legitimate basis of consciousness.
Instead of Bishop
Berkeley's esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived), they might
substitute esse est loqui or
perhaps esse est verbum feci (to be is to be spoken, or made a word).
Consciousness is linked
to symbolic thought, entirely dependent on language, and unique to humans.
Adherents to this
approach do not accept that simple sensory awareness is ever sufficient
evidence for true
consciousness. For them, language alone is the key to consciousness. Some
have taken this
idea to extremes. Julian Jaynes once proposed that consciousness, in the
sense of self-
consciousness, was strictly a cultural invention, and a very recent one at
that. Thus he
restricted consciousness not only to those with language but to those with
certain ideas and
thought habits that are to be found only at specific times and places in
human history."
"Jayne's position is often seen as idiosyncratic, indeed eccentric, and not
representative, yet it is not that far from many mainstream theories, such
as Dennett's.
For most of those who adopt such a viewpoint, only people who can capture
their mental
contents in language could be described as truly conscious. Presumably
children, or the
nonsigning deaf, or a variety of other people with disabilities could not
become fully conscious
unless they acquired sufficient proficiency in language. Some people have
actually claimed
this in writing. This includes Richard Rorty, who wrote in his book
Contingency, Irony, and
Solidarity: "We have no prelinguistic consciousness to which language needs
to be adequate."
This confirms the experience of Helen Keller, who, in her autobiography,
testified that before
having language, she was not fully conscious. However, as we shall see, this
was a naive
claim on her part. When we look at her own testimony about her life before
she had language,
we are led to believe that she was also conscious at that time. More about
this later. We are
obviously introducing quite a different meaning of the term "consciousness"
when we identify it
with language and symbolic representation." Merlin Donald, A Mind So Rare:
The Evolution of
Human Consciousness, (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001), p. 35

> As far as language, I am not committed to written language as
> the image of
> God, I chose that because it is certainly a late development.
> I would
> suspect however that most of this development ocurred during
> the neolithic
> even though there is not evidence for it until later.

Language goes much much further back. Joanna Mountain and colleagues have
studied the click languages. The click languages consist of clicks made by
the tongue added to other vowels and consonental sounds to form the full
word. Two peoples, the Hadzabe and Jul'hoansi both speak click languages,
sharing the identical clicks, but radically different vowel/consonantal
arrangements for their words. The odds of the same clicks arising
independently are quite small. So, the researchers believe that the clicks
are due to common descent. Today the two peoples are 1600 km apart so they
can't have borrowed the clicks from each other and these two peoples are as
genetically separated as any two peoples on the face of the earth--in
otherwords, one must go back 100kyr before their genes would allow for a
common ancestor. Therefore, if the genetics says they are two branches of
an ancient lineage and part of their language is also via common descent,
then the conclusion is that language existed 100 kyr ago, so any assertion
that language arose in the neolithic is observationally false. See my paper
in the PSCF

The initial report is at Alec Knight et al, "African Y chromosome and mtDNA
divergence provides insight into the
history of click languages," Current Biology, 13(2003):6:pp. 464-473

> Nevertheless, it might be something more subtle, such as the
> ability to have
> an abstract language, with grammer, and figurative speech,
> that is what was
> unique to the Adamites, and it spread from there.

See above. This criterion means that Adam lived before the common ancestor
of the Hadzabe and Jul'hoansi 100 kyr ago. The problem I see in apologetics
is that very few actually dig deeply enough to know what set of facts need
to be accounted for.

 This says
> nothing about
> "illiterate" peoples because it is just having the ability that is
> important. And after I read your last sentence here, I know
> you know what I
> am getting at, even though I am not able to be more specific,
> I am talking
> about human language that is beyond what any animal can do.
> I wonder if it
> is also beyond what any homo sapiens prior to the neolithic could do.

Fact is that not a single anthropologist believes that language arose in the
Neolithic. The most conservative say 50 kyr ago and the vast majority say
some sort of language existed back 2 million years ago and a few brave souls
say that australopithecines had language.

Dean Falk argues for at least 2 million years of language based upon the
first occurrence of biological brain structures which today are used for the
production of language.

"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.

Terrence Deacon argues that language arose even earlier!

        "The remarkable expansion of the brain that took place in human
evolution, and indirectly produced prefrontal expansion, was not the cause
of symbolic language but a consequence of it. As experiments with
chimpanzees demonstrate, under optimal training conditions they are capable
of learning to use a simple symbol system. So, it is not inconceivable that
the first step across the symbolic threshold was made by an
australopithecine with roughly the cognitive capabilities of a modern
chimpanzee, and that this initiated a complicated history of back-and-forth
escalations in which symbol use selected for greater prefrontalization, more
efficient articulatory and auditory capacities, and probably a suite of
other ancillary capacities and predispositions which eased the acquisition
and use of this new tool of communication and thought."Terrence W. Deacon,
The Symbolic Species, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 340

> And this idea is related to history. Whatever the change was
> what allowed
> stories to be told, is the same ability that I think is
> unique to humans,
> and could be the image of God. Prior to this point there was
> no history,
> history started long before it was written down.

Fine, if we accept your definition, Adam can't be more recently than 100 kyr
ago, which moves him entirely out of the Neolithic. And if we accept that
the existence of biological structures used for language are evidence that
the skull's owner had language, then language existed for 2 million years AT

One question, in general to all. If we don't believe that the Bible tells us
anything scientific or historical, why do we believe we HAVE an image of
God, which comes from that same ahistorical passage?

Do we have the perverse methodology in which anything which can be verified
is rejected and anything which can't be verified is ACCEPTED? That seems to
be what I see.
Bill Hamilton wrote:

>I agree that if God inserts something into humans that makes no difference
in behavior, then what is the benefit?
>However, you are asking a different question: You are looking for
differences in behavior that are detectable in the
>archaeological record. I grant that art and burial of the dead with
ceremony are indications of a developing spirituality,
>but are they indicators that the image of God has been instilled? Or should
we be looking for another, or possibly a
>combination of factors? Or perhaps what we're looking for is undetectable
in the archaeological record. Fro example in
>Gen 4:26 it says "at that time men began to call on the name of God." If
you were looking for that as an indication of the
>image of God, you wouldn't necessarily find it.

Think of Indiana Jones, and some of the temples he ran into when you read
about this 425,000 year old site in Germany. It is called Bilzingleben.

"But Mania's most intriguing find lies under a protective
shed. As he opens the door sunlight illuminates a cluster of
smooth stones and pieces of bone that he believes were arranged
by humans to pave a 27-foot-wide circle.
"'They intentionally paved this area for cultural
activities,' says Mania. 'We found here a large anvil of
quartzite set between the horns of a huge bison, near it were
fractured human skulls.'" ~ Rick Gore, "The First Europeans,"
National Geographic, July, 1997, p. 110

If you walked into a village and saw that, you would know that people are
calling upon the name of SOME God. So, if calling upon god is the definition
of the image of God, then Adam must be at least 425,000 years old. The
alternative to this is to ignore the data. By the way, modern druids (well,
modern by comparison) paved the Loanshead of Daviott (a druidic stone circle
about 25 miles NW of Aberdeen Scotland, in precisely the same fashion. It
looks like a rubble of rocks, but the rubble is in a circle and is about the
same diameter. I have pictures if anyone is interested.


George M wrote:

[GLM No, I meant what I said. I introduced Wells as 1 example of a
scientists whose claims for a recent origin of humanity doesn't appear to be

motivated by religious concerns. The extent to which I'm qualified to
debate the issue is irrelevant. Your license to practice distance
psychoanalysis is suspended.]

Aw shucks, shrinks make such good money. But, I can analyze your statement
above. Wells DOESN'T claim a recent origin of humanity. You are doing what
you said YECs do. You are making Christians look ill-informed by missing
what Wells is saying. I tried to point out your error, but you are now
persisting in saying what Wells isn't saying. The age of the Y chromosome
is not the age of humanity, no matter how much you or I might wish it to be
so. It just represents the age of the lucky guy whose chromosome was the
most widespread. Go back 10,000 years and there would have been some humans
who didn't have that guy's y-chromsome but there probably would have been
some other guy dated 80 or 90,000 years ago, from whome all y chromosomes
were descended at that time. The y-chromosome Adam is a moving target. 5000
years hence, it will be a guy who lived 55,000 years ago or so.

If you don't understand this, then you are out of your depth here.

[GLM You make wild claims & then pass by in silence the demonstrations
that they're false. What I refuted here was the claim that people are
arguing that the creation accounts are poetic and therefore CANNOT (not do
not or may not) convey truth about the natural world - i.e., that the very
nature of poetry precludes the possibility of conveying such truth.]

George, I want to laugh here. I cited Jan de Konig who argued that it was
poetic, and you didn't respond to that, effectively ignoring it, and then
charge me with ignoring facts that falsify your claims.

If you believe that the Genesis accounts are telling us something true
historically, then it should be easy for you to answer the question, what,
exactly is it telling us about history. I asked that simple question but
got the diversion above about me not answering your comments. If you
believe it is historical, then what is historical. If you can't tell us
that, then I doubt your assertion above is nothing but a red herring.

When you wrote:
[GLM Again you ignore the refutation of your 1st extravagant claim & go on
to a 2d. Your claim was that theologians never want to think anything new &

I pointed out that that's nonsense.]

I went back and looked for some kind of refutation. I simply don't know what
the heck you are referring to. What did you refute. What 1st extravagant
claim are you referring to?

As the the second, I see theologians only thinking along lines of, it tells
us YEC history or it tells us nothing that we can claim to be
observationally verifiable. If you can point me to theologians who believe
that the Bible is telling us something observationally verifiable while at
the same time accepting the facts of modern science, I would be interested.
Even the framework theory in my opinion doesn't fall out side of the 'it
ain't history' school of thought. But your claims that there are new ways
of thinking are easy to make, but harder to document especially if you see
the world with the division I do.

[GLM I.e., if I don't believe your resurrected stillborn ape-like mutant
story then I don't believe God had a miraculous hand in creating mankind!]

Oh, George, have some nuanced thinking for a change. It isn't my theory to
which I refer. It is to the Bible, which you seem incapable of believing
If you don't' believe the Bible where it says :

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

I don't care if you reject my theory, but if you decide that God didn't
actually perform the activities in the above statement, then you simply have
to admit that you don't' beleve there is a single shred of historical
reality contained in Genesis 2:7. And if God didn't do that, then what
miracle DID God do when mankind was formed?

See, this is the problem. I at least present something that is close to
Genesis 2:7. You simply believe it didn't happen but then turn around and
try to tell everyone what a wonderful book the Bible is and that it teaches
true theology. How would we know it teaches true theology if everything it
says is false? Do you believe Genesis 2:7?

[GLM I judge your claims by the standards you want them to satisfy & find
them wanting. OTOH I want my arguments to be judged by appropriate
theological standards - which include agreement with well-confirmed science
but are hardly limited to that.]

George, you speak so abstractly that there is not much one can say to this.
What standards? Who set up these theological standards? George Murphy? And
if you want to be in agreement with well-confirmed science, then why do you
ignore genetics which clearly says that there has been no common human
ancestral pair for at least 5 million years? I can't change that. I wish it
weren't true. I wish every genetic system and every gene showed the same 100
kyr age because only in that manner can we have a REAL Adam and Eve who are
parents of all humanity, but the fact is that they don't. We have two
choices, George, ignore it, or incorporate it into our theology. You want to
ignore it. I don't.

Do you even understand why all genes should show the very same age if we are
all descended from a recent pair of ur-parents?

[GLM Of course I am not saying that the God who raised Jesus _couldn't_
raise a dead ape. What I'm saying is that there's no evidence that he did
raise a dead ape, no realistic possibility of getting such evidence even if
it did happen, & no reason to read such an event into Genesis. OTOH the NT
clearly does speak of the resurrection of Jesus & one can give good
historical arguments (Pannenberg, O'Collins, Wright e.g.) to support the
claim - though not conclusive proof.]

Well, George, one can say that about the talking snake, the floating ax
head, and indeed, the resurrection itself. What real evidence do we have
today concerning the resurrection? We have some claims that people saw the
risen Lord, but in fact, there is not one shred of physical evidence
remaining. So, if physical evidence becomes your standard, then by
definition, there can't be evidence for the resurrection--the body is gone!

Is there any real evidence that David slew Goliath? Is there any real
evidence that Samuel was consecrated by his parents? All we have is the
word of the Bible, but we also have the word that "God formed man of the
dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and
man became a living soul." But, there is no real evidence for that either.
By your standard, you reduce the Bible to an evidentiaryless set of

When I demanded that our solutions fit the details of what it is we are
studying George wrote:

[GLM Not enough for you but that's your problem. & again, the claim that
your ape scenario agrees with Gen.2 in "details" is a vast overstatement.]

So, is this an argument for sloppy research and ignoring data we don't like?
It seems that if one doesn't want to deal with the details of an area of
science, then one is saying it is ok to be sloppy and haphazard. Yes, that
is my problem, George, I won't settle for slop. I did that when I was a YEC
and I won't accept it anymore because it is self-deception.

[GLM Again I am not holding a "double standard of judgement." I am
judging your cliams as you want them to be judging but I have not said that
those criteria are the appropriate ones for theology. But OK, here's a
prediction that comes naturally from my approach: If we encounter
intelligent ETs we will find them to be sinful - or "fallen" if you will.
(This is a slight adaptation of an argument of Bob Russell's.)]

We probably have about as much chance at verifying this as we do at
verifying my ape. Do you have one that is more likely to be verified? I
would say that this illustrates that you don't apply the same standard to
you as you do to me.

[GLM You want not just "verification" - which I have - but theological
prediction of novel scientific facts. I don't accept that as a criterion for

theology but see my comment above.]

You can claim verification but until you lay it out specifically in detail
(which means dealing with the details sometheing you above eschewed), then I
deny that you have verification.

They're Here: The Pathway Papers
Foundation, Fall, and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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Received on Fri Mar 16 11:23:37 2007

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