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A Linguistic Argument For A Young Earth


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#1 disruptor

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 03:42 PM

Linguistic philosophers give primacy to human language as a basis for philosophy.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world" Wittgenstein, Tractatus, Proposition 5.6.

This notion can be used to support a Young Earth viewpoint in the following way.

Before the first humans, human concepts did not exist. Human concepts of time did not exist either. Geological time did not exist, since there were no geologists to think it. Nor did cosmological time exist before cosmologists existed.

By contrast, God thinks outside of human frameworks and doesn't need limited human notions like "geological time" to do His work. The existence of His cosmos does not depend on human notions of cosmology or of time.

Therefore, for humans, TIME itself dates from Adam; or, looked at scripturally, dates from Genesis 1:1: in the beginning..., the first words of the Bible. That's our starting-point. Our lineages start from there. Time has meaning for us from then on.

This makes human time YOUNG, especially compared to the "billions of years" assumed by cosmologists. The beginning of the ability to express in human language concepts such as PAST, NOW, FUTURE etc marks the beginning of real, meaningful, human time.

The concepts "old" or "young" have no real meaning when applied to periods before human language. We can talk about the Earth as "billions of years old" (and the concept may even be helpful in furthering our understanding of the Earth), but this has as little meaning as "the square root of minus 1" (which still has its uses in mathematics) or as "a unicorn's horn" (which has its mythological uses). The existence of a word for a thing - even for a useful thing - is no proof for the existence of that same thing.

The Earth therefore cannot be "older" than the age of human language in which the concept "old" first appeared. "Old" or "young" mean nothing without a human to express them. Nor do the words "God", "Earth" or any other word.

So phrases such as OLD or YOUNG EARTH only start to mean something when human speech first appears. The words that allow us to speak of the Earth and its age mark the beginning:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the WORD.

The Earth is therefore YOUNG, probably no older than the last Ice Age, since human speech began round about that time.

#2 chance

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 07:51 PM

Linguistic philosophers give primacy to human language as a basis for philosophy.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world" Wittgenstein, Tractatus, Proposition 5.6.


Do you think he meant that literally, i.e. the world does not exist if one cannot speak of it, or figuratively, i.e. My understanding cannot be expressed if I cannot speak of it?

Literal - As your 40, does that mean the world did not exist before 1966?

Figurative - As your 40, does that mean you have no personal experience before 1966? (but still can learn via books and video recordings).


So we have this proposition re linguistic philosophy http://people.bu.edu...hil_theme21.htm

from the link

Wittgenstein’s first book, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921), was a work at the junction of logical positivism and linguistic philosophy.

Logical positivism attributes its logical ax—its verification principle—to Wittgenstein.
Wittgenstein’s project in that most unusual of philosophical works was to analyze propositions, to determine what could be said, and what couldn’t; everything that could be said could be said clearly. The obvious consequence of this is that real intellectual activity could be judged by whether it fitted Wittgenstein’s idea of propositions. If it did fit, then we could talk about it, and do so with clarity and precision, but if it didn’t fit, then we should remain silent about it.
The basic point for our purposes here is that science fits the mold, but metaphysics and ethics and theology do not. We should remain silent about those things, as a result. Whereas some of the positivists sought to delete these aberrations from the mental history of humanity, Wittgenstein had a much richer view, simply believing that they could not be talked about sensibly.

my emphasis.

Note the implications of such a philosophy. there's much more on the website.

#3 willis

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 09:29 PM

This argument sounds like a play on words, much like what old earthers do to the days of the creation week.

Before the first humans, human concepts did not exist. Human concepts of time did not exist either. Geological time did not exist, since there were no geologists to think it. Nor did cosmological time exist before cosmologists existed.

Case in point, the argument relies on human conception and not the text or the scientific evidence. If there is no soild foundation it will fall apart really quickly.
I would leave this one alone as it doesn't seem very solid. :D

#4 disruptor

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 02:45 PM

It is interesting how some people insist on taking the Bible literally, yet this crucial and famous verse, John 1:1 (“In the beginning was the WORD”) is never taken literally.

Instead, most Christian scholars and pastors think it's some kind of “mystical” word that John is talking about – the LOGOS; often people use the Greek word, as if it meant something other than the plain ol' English “word”.

In the beginning of the Bible, of the Universe and of the human experience was the Word. And that word was GOD. John 1:1 means what it says – literally.

Thanks for your comment, Chance:

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world" Wittgenstein, Tractatus, Proposition 5.6.

Do you think he meant that literally, i.e. the world does not exist if one cannot speak of it, or figuratively, i.e. My understanding cannot be expressed if I cannot speak of it?

Literal - As your 40, does that mean the world did not exist before 1966?

Figurative - As your 40, does that mean you have no personal experience before 1966? (but still can learn via books and video recordings).


Wittgenstein should have said “the limits of human language are are the limits of the human world.” We have a collective human experience which involves transmission of knowledge, experience, wisdom and biblical truths (all in words) – so the world did exist before 1966 (but not for me). I am not the only human on this planet.

The question is: did the World exist before the creation of humans? And did it exist before language in which notions like “existence” could be discussed?

I would still say: no. And John 1:1 confirms this view.

#5 chance

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 02:12 PM

Wittgenstein should have said “the limits of human language are are the limits of the human world.” We have a collective human experience which involves transmission of knowledge, experience, wisdom and biblical truths (all in words) – so the world did exist before 1966 (but not for me). I am not the only human on this planet.

The question is: did the World exist before the creation of humans? And did it exist before language in which notions like “existence” could be discussed?

I would still say: no. And John 1:1 confirms this view.


The difficulty in this philosophy is in understanding what is meant by “the limits of human language are the limits of the human world.” (and more importantly is it a sound philosophy).

Does this equate to:

a. only things inside human experience/existence can be discussed, or does it also include,
b. things that human intellect can discover about the world, even if that did not include direct experience.

IMO if Wittgenstein infers ‘a’ then it is not a sound philosophy.

#6 lwj2op2

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 03:11 AM

It is interesting how some people insist on taking the Bible literally, yet this crucial and famous verse, John 1:1 (“In the beginning was the WORD”) is never taken literally.

Instead, most Christian scholars and pastors think it's some kind of “mystical” word that John is talking about – the LOGOS; often people use the Greek word, as if it meant something other than the plain ol' English “word”.

In the beginning of the Bible, of the Universe and of the human experience was the Word. And that word was GOD. John 1:1 means what it says – literally.

Thanks for your comment, Chance:
Wittgenstein should have said “the limits of human language are are the limits of the human world.” We have a collective human experience which involves transmission of knowledge, experience, wisdom and biblical truths (all in words) – so the world did exist before 1966 (but not for me). I am not the only human on this planet.

The question is: did the World exist before the creation of humans? And did it exist before language in which notions like “existence” could be discussed?

I would still say: no. And John 1:1 confirms this view.

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Shall I pray first that we not start a tornado with the force of circular your reasoning :) . Welcome, this should be invigerating.

Those who wish to prove the Bible should not be taken literally often do so, by cut and paste. John 1:1 is part of a whole. Read further:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Easy to understand within a literal Bible. The Word = Jesus. If the Word was both with God and and was God it must be something which is God's equal, and is also both the smae as God and yet a (separate) part of God. Only Jesus or the Holy spirit can fill this bill. When gender is added, it must be Jesus in His pre-icarnate form. I'm not sure but don't recall the Holy Spirit being refered to by gender.

#7 disruptor

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Posted 08 May 2006 - 08:24 AM

As it happens, this is the only circumstance in which “circular” arguments do in fact apply.

When one deals with the beginning and end of the universe, connecting the two inevitably results in “circularity” and therefore completeness. There's nothing wrong with this. The Bible agrees:

Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Rev 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last

Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.


#8 willis

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 04:24 PM

As it happens, this is the only circumstance in which “circular” arguments do in fact apply.

When one deals with the beginning and end of the universe, connecting the two inevitably results in “circularity” and therefore completeness. There's nothing wrong with this. The Bible agrees:

Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Rev 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last

Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

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How do any of those verses aid you in defending an old earth account in Genesis?




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