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Posts Tagged ‘Creation’

Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

“Words cannot express how I feel.”  Many of us have probably said this or something like it.  I know I have. 

But as common as it is to hear people say that words cannot express this or that, this is a mistake.  Words are entirely adequate to express all thoughts. 

One lesson in the adequacy of language is found right in Genesis 1, where we see God speak the heavens the earth and all that is in them into existence.  If words are adequate to bring about the creation of the universe, by implication words are certainly capable of expressing whatever occurs within the universe.  This seems like an obvious point, yet for those of us who live in the irrational and emotional 21st century, it’s a point that must be emphasized. 

And God said, Let there be light….

It was mentioned earlier in this series that the Westminster Shorter Catechism provides a brilliant definition of the work of creation.  Question 9 asks, “What is the work of creation?,” the answer being, “The work of creation is, God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.” 

It was by the “word of his power” that God spoke the world into existence in Genesis.  That same expression “the word of his power” occurs in the New Testament, where the Author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is, at this very moment, “upholding all things by the word of his power.”  The term “the word of his power” sounds a bit unusual in English.  In his commentary on Hebrews, John Owen makes the point that one can change the order of the words from “the word of his power” to “the power of his word” with no difference in meaning.  Owen notes that one can even express the same idea by saying “his powerful word.”  Regardless of how one states the idea, in her Trinity ReviewLinguistics and the Bible,” Marla Perkins Bevin noted that one implication of Genesis 1:1-3 is, “that what God says happens.”

Language, Neither Evolved nor Created

Most of us are familiar with the Darwinian explanation of the origin of the various forms of life we see.  Sometimes called “molecules to man” evolution, Darwinism posits that all life has evolved over billions of years through a process called natural selection.

But while Darwinism’s influence in biology is well known, less well known is its influence in other fields of study.  Modern linguistics – linguistics is the analysis of language – use Darwinist assumptions when discussing the origin of language.       

In Wikipedia’s entry “Origin of Language,” we read that famed linguist Noam Chomsky holds that language arose from a single chance mutation in one individual about 100,000 years ago, and that the language faculty was installed in perfect or near-perfect form.  It’s almost as if Chomsky is saying that the ability to use language was installed into a specific individual as one would install a program onto a computer.  In this respect, Chomsky is closer to the truth than some of his linguist colleagues who hold that language developed slowly over time from animal grunts and squeals. 

According to Bevin,

Language was not created and did not evolve from animal grunts or mews. God eternally has language as part of His rationality. Human beings have language because it is part of the image of God. Thus, God’s use of language is an exemplar for human use of language, and it can be used to provide information about human language (“Linguistics and the Bible”).

Language is eternally part of God’s rationality, and men use language because by virtue of their rationality they are the image of God. Language is neither the result of evolution nor creation but precedes creation itself.  “When God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light, the word (and therefore the idea) chronologically and logically preceded the visible light. God’s idea of light and God’s language about light preceded visible light.”

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