Human language is much older than 5000 years old. For all we know, religion is about as old as old as human language. We can all agree that religion has had a very long time to influence the evolution of human language. I say it is about time non-religious humans take control over the evolution of the human language.

I will give you just one example of what religion has done to our human language:
Think about the definition of love. When I say the word love, what am I talking about? You need more don't you? If I say, I love that car, you have a better idea of which of the many different definitions of love I intended to use. Love of a child to its parents. The love of the parents to their child. The love of cheesecake. The love of the thrill. The love to hate. On and on and on.

Religion says God is love. I say, which one? The love to hate?

On BionicDance's Youtube video web page for her video: "Atheism": Label vs Enable (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D826_0o87EY), I left two comments. The gist of one of the comments was that we needed to come up with a new language, but I did not offer any suggestions. This blog is my first attempt to offer a suggestion.

Ideally, we would have a different word for each ambiguous definition of a word like love. We could start taking control of the evolution of the human language by using agreed upon phrases for those ambiguous definitions if we do not come up with a new word for it in the first place.

Take the phrase "child's love for its mother" (as opposed to child's love for its father). The word love for these two definitions is used very often even though that definition of love includes definitions of other words like trust and safe (as in "feeling safe"). The definitions for the word love in this setting ALSO depends on the treatment of the child by the mother and/or father. You know where this line of thought is headed. The point is that religion has done much damage to all the human languages of the world and it will be a huge and complicated task to get out of the hole religion has dug for us.

But we will not change the human language all in one swoop. It will take time and mostly a continuous effort. I know someone else has a better idea, but I will throw in my humble attempt to change the human language and thereby, as Bill Nye The Planetary Guy says:"Change the world!". If you missed my suggestion, read it in the 5th paragraph (the one that starts with the word Ideally).

I wonder if this blog will make a difference?

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Tags: answer, evolution, human, language, new, religion, the

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Comment by leveni on May 21, 2012 at 7:29am

Some interesting words that are highly ambiguous, that hold a lot of religious connotation are : sin, sinner, immoral, righteous.

The righteous crusaders saved Jerusalem. How did he save Jerusalem?

Comment by AtheistTech on May 14, 2012 at 6:58pm

Chickens and Napoleons aside, if not create a new language (or like Matt says, improve the language scientists currently use), then all I have to say is forever try to fix one or all of the current layman languages!!!!

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on May 14, 2012 at 6:14pm

New words evolve.

A new word is used, maybe reported in the Urban Dictionary and eventually makes it all the way to the Oxford dictionary.

The word 'Atheism' is slowly becoming a redundant word because of it's history and imprecise dictionary definition to include people who believe in a supernature.

I think 'Napoleonism' is a good new word meaning Napoleonic Atheism.

Comment by It's just Matt on May 14, 2012 at 5:05pm

I thought we already had a language of science? I've never heard someone mis-use the term fulcrum. 

Passing laws would be tricky since our sciences continue to evolve and refine.

Wouldn't it be more feasible to require all high school graduates to acquire and use debate skills?

Or just have everyone understand that if they don't summarize what you said with something like " Do you mean X?" that you automatically win the argument or at least some free chicken?

Everybody loves chicken, even Muslims! 

Comment by AtheistTech on May 13, 2012 at 3:32pm

Very interesting and nice, Matt. I would say that your wife is the league of people like the late Professor Richard Feynman. I am bilingual myself. I, though, have a disadvantage that I am Macedonian. The country, Macedonia, is and for most of its history has been very poor and undeveloped. My parents came from a small village with only knowledge of farming and only a taste of intermittent electricity and running water. I was born here in the US and learned the Macedonian language from my folks. They did not teach me words that describe microscopes, or telescopes, or space ships, or (I could go on and on). Because of that, and my lack of interest to further my Macedonian vocabulary on my own, I don't have words that I would like to have. Since the internet, email, facebook, etc, I have been exposed to a very small number of Macedonians educated in Macedonian Universities. I noticed that they and others in Macedonia, use words that my mother does not understand, but I do, because they borrowed them from English. 

The point of my story is that being multi-lingual many times means you are also multi-cultured. They are intertwined. It is the culture more than knowing multiple languages that forms their frames of reference.

I hope that incite helps you in your teaching career.

Science came from English, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, ... I think because you are English biased, you think more highly of the language that it has credit for. English, very much like the modern Macedonian, has borrowed words from many if not all the other languages. Latin, French, German, Italian, Greek, Arabic, ...

The point about science is that in most of the languages used to conduct science, scientists have created more precisely defined words within that language (Albeit, they borrow much from English to do that).

I could go on about my opinion of English like why it is so spread out within the world today, but I will focus on your idea of the "lack of shared experience" theory.

It is true that our culture is designed to "protect" (if that is the right word) us form other cultures as best it can. For example, many cities have areas called China Town. In Detroit, there is a Greek Town, Polish Town (Hamtramck), and Mexican Town. The fact that there are areas segregated from the rest of the populous means the cultures mix very infrequently and that leads to much misunderstanding and much less shared experiences even everywhere here in the US. The segregation has many causes, but the results are the same.

My overall point is this: Instead of fixing what religion has done to all the human languages, create a new language based on the precise definitions of science and pass laws to make it required learning in all the countries of the world. When we have a clear understanding of each other, we can then have shared experiences just by telling stories like your grandma, grandpa, uncle, and aunt shared with you and you share with your kids.

Have a great day!

Comment by It's just Matt on May 13, 2012 at 2:01pm

English is like the human race, some really amazing things come from it and some really idiotic things do as well. It almost makes you wish you weren't an English speaking human.

From what I have seen a large step to better understanding would be to learn other languages. For the resources America has, we sure do not expect as much as many European countries do.

I work at an elementary school and the exchange students analyze information from more angles than their mono-language counterparts. How could it be otherwise? To understand a language is to understand its people.

I don't know how many languages we could fit in our minds but it looks like a good starting point.

 

In regards to love, I totally have had conversations with my wife about not saying I love you enough or in the right way. Which she likely means to say her expectations of being loved aren't being fulfilled. Which probably means we need to communicate more often and on a deeper level...I'll have to work on that.

We almost always define words by using others words which can lead to irritating and sometimes humorous loops and re-loops. 

 

Another difficulty my mind seems to be telling me is the lack of shared experience.

As a mostly healthy American who has never feared for shortage of food, can I understand the hunger and fear of those who truly do not know when and where their next meal will be if at all?  To me, the gap in experience leads to the ambiguity of defining hunger and starving. That's one reason we have modifiers to define the degree of hunger. A little hungry, somewhat  hungry, really hungry, and so on.

And leave it to us overfed Americans to improperly use phrases like "I am so hungry I could eat a horse." " I am dying of thirst!" Many of us have used these phrases without a detailed understanding or experience of what they mean. 

 

My genius wife started to ask our daughter upon hearing her ailments of hunger, pain, exhaustion and so forth, "Have you felt worse before? Okay then you will make it through this time too." When she starts saying no, its time to get serious. 

Comment by Steph S. on May 2, 2012 at 6:27pm

Your blog will make a difference.

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