OT: language origin and creationism

Bill Palmer w_a_palmer at BELLSOUTH.NET
Thu Apr 1 12:19:44 UTC 2010

Seen on an early morning religious TV show, while channel surfing: a
prominently displayed graphic reading "Logic is the enemy of faith"

Bill Palmer

----- Original Message -----
From: "Herb Stahlke" <hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 10:12 PM
Subject: Re: OT: language origin and creationism

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
> header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: OT: language origin and creationism
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Much of the discussion in this thread assumes that a fundamentalist
> shares with us basic assumptions about evidence and truth.  The claims
> in the article and the claims the student would like to make are based
> on faith.  In this frame of reference (I slipped and typed <v> for
> <f>), the details of Genesis 1 are fact.  Anything that disagrees with
> them is folly.  Any methodology that leads anywhere but to the
> historical and scientific truth of Genesis 1 is not based on faith and
> therefore is misguided.  At this stage there generally isn't much
> common ground to build on.  Some students do end up rejecting the
> fundamentalism they've grown up with, but it usually comes as a result
> of questions raised by a lot of courses and a lot of bull sessions.
> I've told such students that I don't require that they believe what
> they learn and read in my class, but I hold them responsible for it on
> tests.
> Herb
> On Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 5:32 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu>
> wrote:
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>> header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at MST.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: OT: language origin and creationism
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> I believe students were created to keep professors on their toes with =
>> ever new challenges. I see one has come through again. :)
>> =20
>> If this were my student I would first focus on the concept of "best =
>> source."  Have the creationist ideas in the article of the three authors
>> =
>> been evaluated in any reputable scholarly linguistic journal?  If all =
>> linguists in reputable linguistic programs regard creationism in =
>> language as belonging to religious belief rather than scholarship, how =
>> can the article be advanced as "the best source"? =20
>> =20
>> I would then ask the student as to whether the English language she uses
>> =
>> is the product of creationism or evolution? Isn't modern English =
>> different from the English of Beowulf or Shakespeare?  Have not changes =
>> occurrred?  Have not changes occurred in other languages?  I.e., is not =
>> change an integral part of the nature of language?
>> =20
>> Btw, what fields do the three authors have their doctorates in? =20
>> =20
>> Gerald Cohen
>> P.S. If the student is insistent on presenting her ideas in class, I =
>> would permit her to do so and then engage in a discussion as to why =
>> they're not convincing.  I assume she considers that the language of =
>> Adam and Eve was Hebrew, and she'd be hard pressed to find any =
>> historical linguists agreeing with her. =20
>> =20
>> =20
>> *    *    *   *
>> =20
>> =20
>> Original message from Amy West, Wed 3/31/2010 2:54 PM
>> I have to say that I was utterly gobsmacked/stunned by this one. I'm
>> used to dealing with students coming up with white supremacist
>> sources in my Vikings class now. But we're using "language" as our
>> theme in my Academic Writing class, so I wasn't expecting creationist
>> material to be showing up.
>> As a preliminary step to their research papers, I have students
>> presenting their "best" source in class. One student -- and I didn't
>> catch this problem soon enough because she didn't submit a proposal
>> -- wants to write about the origin of language in her 5-7 page paper,
>> and wants to present this as her "best source":
>> The True.Origin Archive
>> Exposing the Myth of Evolution
>> http://www.trueorigin.org/language01.asp
>>  From the abstract:
>> "The following paper examines the true origin of speech and language,
>> and the anatomical and physiological requirements.  The evidence
>> conclusively implies that humans were created with the unique ability
>> to employ speech for communication."
>> I was just stunned. This thing has the "look" of scholarship: 3
>> authors with PhDs, has an abstract, notes and sources, etc. But it
>> wasn't published in a scholarly journal or by a scholarly press.
>> She wrote about this source in her annotated bibliography and all she
>> said was that it quotes from the Bible a lot. Nothing, nothing about
>> the obvious bias and agenda. She said "it has valid biological
>> information." (The annotated bib. was just turned in Monday; she just
>> sent me this link yesterday.)
>> I'd like to hear from more experienced teachers either off-list (or
>> on if it's deemed relevant) how you'd handle this. Tell her "no"
>> because it's not scholarly/not appropriate for the topic? Let her
>> present it and discuss the problems in front of the class?
>> ---Amy West
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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