Science & Faith
3/6/12 at 11:00 PM 1 Comments

Human Uniqueness vs. Modern Dethronement Ideology: Part 3 (Human Speech and Reason)

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Noam Chomsky: Defender of Human Uniqueness

Today I conclude my series of thoughts about Tom Bethell's Washington Times essay Why Humans are Unique. Bethell writes:

Efforts to get chimpanzees to talk have produced nothing but disappointment. Talking logically is something that small children suddenly do and animals never learn. Our mastery of complex language may be the pre-eminent demonstration that humans are exceptional.

The leading supporter of our linguistic uniqueness is Noam Chomsky of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Children have an innate knowledge of a basic grammatical structure common to all human languages, Mr. Chomsky said. It allows them to produce an infinite number of sentences, including ones that no one ever previously uttered. They learn language so quickly that only an innate capacity can explain it.

To speak so as to tell a coherent story that includes cause and effect relationships and other logical connections is something that distinguishes us from mere animals. Chimps have been taught some of the rudiments of language, but they are incapable of reasoning from premises to a conclusion. Such skills are part of our cognitive equipment as persons made in the image of God. Humans are also capable of making moral choices and engaging in moral reasoning. Animals only do what instinct and environmental conditions make possible. An animal that is a predator is not guilty of murder.

Bethell terminates his essay with some summary observations about human dethronement ideology and its attack on the alleged arrogance of the Judeo-Christian worldview.

Meanwhile denigration of the human race has become fashionable, constant and, in the academy, almost obligatory. Sagan derided "our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe." Evolution theorist Stephen Jay Gould made similar comments.

It's as though we go around sounding like Mohammed Ali: "We're the greatest!" But who say such things? Sagan and Gould never identified them. In most cases, I think, the real target is not human boasting but faith in God. Often, the complaints are made by those who have lost their own faith. What really upsets the Darwinians is not that we think we are so great, but that we still think God is greater.

Human dethronement still eludes the Darwinians, whose search has stalled. Perhaps that is because our possession of the faculty of reason really is unique.

Human uniqueness relative to other creatures explains why we do science and they can't. The biblical twin truth of both our tiny stature on the cosmic scale, and yet our greatness in God's plan, is worth repeating:

Psalm 8:3-6
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet.

We are valuable stewards of God's creation, but not masters of our own destiny. Humility and great worth are both concealed within the human frame.

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