[b-hebrew] Proto-Semitic, was WAYYIQTOL

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Mar 15 04:07:53 EST 2004


If this is what Huxley really said, he was 
more ignorant than I thought. And not below 
making an ad homonym attack (even if the 
bishop asked for it).

I learned the definition of science in 
biology class where the textbook was 
written by Dr. George Gaylord Simpson, 
professor of biology and evolution at 
Harvard (when he retired, Stephen Jay Gould 
took his place). To distill his three page 
definition to a paragraph, science can deal 
only with phenomena which can be observed, 
observed repeatedly. Any phenomena which 
cannot be observed, or observed only once 
but the observation cannot be repeated, 
cannot be studied as a scientific study. In 
a series of observations, scientists look 
for patterns, which are stated as 
hypothesis and after more testing (by 
observations) can become theories. In 
researching the library in physics, 
chemistry and other biology texts, I found 
none that contradicted this definition.

Evolution, as defined by the same 
professor, is the theory that all life 
developed by natural means over long 
periods of time from simple, common 
ancestors. Again, no textbook that I have 
seen contradicts this definition.

Putting the two paragraphs together, we see 
that evolution, by definition, cannot be 
observed, therefore cannot be scientific. 
When one looks at the “evidences” for 
evolution, most, if not all, somewhere 
depend on a presupposition that cannot be 
observed, sometimes several, that 
invalidate them as scientific evidences for 

Admitting that evolution is not a 
scientific theory does not falsify it, it 
merely acknowledges that it is a 
metaphysical theory, which is a 50¢ word 
for religious theory.

As for historical linguistics, the fossils 
indicating the existence and development of 
those languages are the surviving documents 
written in those languages. Unfortunately, 
those documents are often just skeletons, 
even parts of skeletons, unable to flesh 
out the richness the languages originally 
had. Where is the skeleton of proto-
Semitic? By your own admission, it doesn’t 
exist. It is merely a conjecture, based on 
a theory. To use conjecture based on theory 
to have veto power over how one should 
interpret the observed skeleton of a 
historical language, sounds backwards to 
me. Especially as long as there is the 
possibility that the theory may be wrong.

My interpretation of the bones of Biblical 
Hebrew are that the 22 letters represented 
22 consonantal phonemes, each with one 
sound that existed from Moses to the Galut 
Babel. The consonantal sounds may have been 
different than as we interpret the signs 
left by the Masoretes. Just because a 
cognate language may have had more phonemes 
does not mean that Hebrew did. Absent 
documentary evidence, there is no way to 
prove, nor disprove, my interpretation.

Karl W. Randolph.

Ps: This is the last I hope to hear of 
evolution on this mailing list.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> On 14/03/2004 05:58, Brian Roberts wrote:
> >
> > As there is no conclusive proof of the origins of Phoenician, Hebrew, 
> > or Aramaic, I believe Karl's questions are not only valid, but should 
> > be supported. If proto-Semitic is becoming a sacred cow without good 
> > call, then it must be challenged.
> >
> > I believe that was Karl's point. He wasn't assuming Hebrew was the 
> > original language, he was suggesting it. There is a tremendous 
> > difference.
> >
> >
> Well put, Brian. Proto-Semitic is indeed a scholarly construct, and like 
> all scholarly constructs it needs to be reviewed carefully by scholars. 
> If Karl has done that kind of thorough review, based on a proper 
> understanding of comparative Semitic linguistics and of the evidence for 
> and against the generally accepted scholarly reconstruction, he is of 
> course entitled to put forward an alternative theory. I trust that he is 
> not assuming without good reason (even in the Bible taken very 
> literally, I should point out) that the traditional theory is wrong and 
> that the original language is Hebrew. If he is taking that position, 
> then (since Karl mentions evolution) Huxley's (alleged) words to Bishop 
> Wilberforce apply:
> "If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recording, it 
> would rather be a /man/... who... plunges into scientific questions with 
> which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by aimless 
> rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real points 
> at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious 
> prejudice."
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
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