4. Idea For A Universal History


The Tower of Babel 


Section 4.3.3

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon






4. Idea For A Universal History  
    4.1 A Short History of The World  
       4.1.1 The Modern Turn: Looking Backward          
    4.2 Big Histories, Universal Histories  
       4.2.1 In Search of The Big Bang 
       4.2.2 From Life's Origin to The Dawn of Human Culture  
    4.3 Neolithic Beginnings  
       4.3.1 Fields of Diffusion  
       4.3.2 Genesis of the Great Religions 
       4.3.3 The Tower of Babel           
   4.4 Egypt, Sumer and The 'Rise of Civilization'  
      4.4.1 Sumer and The Cuneiform Civilization
      4.4.2 Egypt: A Synchronous 'Axial' Effect
   4.5 From Akkad to The Assyrians...and Israel...  
      4.5.1 The Indo-European Migrations   
      4.5.2 The Curse of Mideonic Empire 

 5. Symphony of Emergence


    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

     4.3.3 The Tower of Babel


The key to human evolution, especially at this final stage, lies in the enigma of the evolution of language. The attempt to reduce the one to the other, however, can be ‘clutching at straws’ in the desperate hope to find the lucky genetic mutation as triggering mechanism for the remarkably swift metamorphosis of modern man. That passage was to an altogether integrated and comprehensive new stage of Mind, in which language is but one component. Nonetheless, language, if not the full key, is surely the central pivot of the neurological and other changes that bring on the stage of human culture. It is significant that we actually have specific evidence, the FoxP2 gene, for some genetic component to this passage to the new stage of linguistic humanity. We should note however that these hopes for a simple explanation via some genetic miracle do not square with the facts as we know, or suspect them in the eonic effect.

Recall that as we examined the core eonic effect, especially the Axial Age, that we can see a long-range evolutionary driver is at work, able to micromanage art, philosophy and religion, in short three century bursts, hopscotching across the surface of a planet. This leaves us skeptical of standard Darwinian accounts of the emergence of language. In fact, the man emerging from Africa is already the possessor of language as we know it. And the outstanding click languages of the San peoples surviving to this day in the southern part of the African continent might give us some hint as to the nature of this earliest linguistic phase of humans. We should note that the language of the !Kung or San, with their highly complex click sounds, and well over a hundred basic phonemic units, seem to represent a stage of linguistic complexity from which all subsequent languages appear to have declined!

The Origin of Languages The spread and differentiation of language has been studied by the linguist Joseph Greenberg who has tried to reconstruct some aspects of this original language, in the process showing how many of the already known languages families, such as the Indo-European, can seen as members of larger units. This inconclusive data suggests nonetheless a primordial common language, undoubtedly related to the outstanding languages of the descendants of the first modern humans.[i]

Here we must offer a caveat to the usual view of linguistic ‘evolution’, or rather diversification, to point out that there is a difference between the two. The same two-level evolution, macro and micro, must be suspected in the emergence of language. The formation of the capacity for language must be quite different from the linguistic transformations of already existing languages. The diversity of language that we see springs from a prior unity, no doubt, and that unity is the result of a different process, one at a bare minimum encompassing a full spectrum of cultural and genetic changes.

Thus the standard example given to buttress Darwinian explanation of linguistic diversification as an analog to Darwinian microevolution is surely misleading, at best. In the throes of the Darwin debate  and beset with the Creationist design arguments, Robert Pennock in The Tower of Babel, attempts to compare the ‘evolution’ of language with Darwinian evolution. But we must already wonder if this differentiation of languages does not rather correspond to a type of ‘microevolution’, leaving the real ‘macroevolution’ as obscure as before. The various theories of an original superfamily of human languages, perhaps taking us back to the Great Explosion, are highly suggestive here.[ii]

The eonic effect puts an ace up our sleeve: we see distinct eonic sequences of linguistic phenomena at the level of poetic art. Examine the eonic sequence in terms of Axial Greek epic and lyric poetry, Homer to Archilochus onward, and its precise eonic timing. Everything falls into place, down to the poetic meters. This clear relative transformation (given the unknown but clearly indicated stream entry phenomenon of bards and their sagas) shows us that ‘macroevolution’ in short bursts definitely exists in the most exotic form as the advanced linguistic-poetic behavior of the man, whatever that tells us about early linguistic evolution. Nearby, a similar phenomenon is occurring in the emergence of the Old Testament literature.

The collation of history with the invention of writing is misleading, perhaps, in so far as even in historical times traditions of oral literature remain outstanding. Homer is notable because he put an oral tradition into writing, one that he did not invent. The oral traditions of Indian yoga should remind us that millennia of religion in the Neolithic or before could have maintained continuity before the onset of written documents. Lao Tse, in fact, often seems to be protesting the misleading character of written documents, as if these were a decline from a deeper form of transmission. Buddhists often indicated just such an issue, and spoke of the direct transmission of teachings, forever grumbling at the limits of written sutras. The Old Testament is thoroughly modern in this regard, the first of the great literary religions armed with the new ‘hi-tech’ technology of democratized alphabetic writing. These hotshots are pointing to the future of ‘religion by the book’.     



   Web:  chap4_3_3.htm


[i] Wade, op. cit., ‘The Greenberg Synthesis’, p. 218.

[ii] Robert Pennock, The Tower Of Babel (Cambridge: The MIT press, 1999).





Last modified: 09/23/2010