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With Becket Cook, David Berlinski Discusses Speech as a Problem for Darwin, and More

Image: Tower of Babel, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, via Wikimedia Commons.

In his new book, Science After Babel, David Berlinski concludes an essay (“Ovid in His Exile”) with the observation, “Seventeenth-century Jesuits wondered why dogs do not talk. Their conclusion bears repeating. They have nothing to say.” In an interesting conversation with Becket Cook on YouTube, Berlinkski explains that this wasn’t a joke. Certain Jesuits did speculate along those lines, but perhaps that’s because they didn’t keep pets. Dog owners know that to look into your dog’s eyes is very often to perceive that the dog has something he wishes to say but, like all animals other than man, he lacks the “machinery for externalization” that we have. 

That’s a problem for Darwinian thinking, says Berlinski. What Darwinism should expect is continuity — “incremental improvements should be smeared across the palette of animal life.” That humans possess the machinery of speech where animals don’t represents a “radical discontinuity.” And the fact that we can speak to each other, Dr. Berlinski reminds us, is the necessary condition for all the summits of human achievement, including science. In the Biblical story about the Tower of Babel, it was the confusion of speech, the disruption of their communication, that stopped the builders of the tower in their tracks. Every time we open our mouths to exchange thoughts, it is a refutation of Darwin. In that sense, the wide-ranging conversation between Becket Cook and David Berlinski is accurately titled, “The Death of Darwin.” Watch and enjoy:

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



animal lifeanimalsBecket CookBiblecommunicationDarwinismDavid BerlinskidiscontinuityDogsexternalizationhuman exceptionalismhumansJesuitsOvidpetsScience After Babel