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The relation between divinity and spoken language

 Remarkably, the religions originated from Abraham, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, have a mythological story explaining the origin of human lang...

 Remarkably, the religions originated from Abraham, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, have a mythological story explaining the origin of human languages. The story is known as the Tower of Babel.

According to the story, there was a time when only one language existed for mankind. At this time, people began to build a tower that would reach to the heavens, where God dwells, to make a name for themselves. However, God prevented society completing the tower by confusing the language of the people, and making society multilingual. As a result, people could no longer cooperate with each other and cannot build the structure that could be raised up to God.

The mythological story seems to explain an existing but inexplicable condition, multilingualism with traditional religious interpretation, by tracing the cause back to a divine order. However, even if the story has doubtful foundation, it also seems to have a hidden, non-obvious, yet profound and important message for humanity. It offers a glimpse into the future of humanity through how many languages are used by society.

The ancient city of Babel existed in reality, as did the tower, which in those days must have been truly remarkable, and which was destroyed by conquests and by time itself. Human nature, seeking reasons and explanations, seeking to understand the world, has linked a monumental building with the cause of multilingualism, and, lacking the necessary knowledge, has chosen God as the explanation.

Today, however, we know considerably more about the evolution of languages than our ancestors could have known in earlier times. The development of human communication as language is a natural process. The concrete language is created, maintained and transmitted to its new members by the community of people. Language is a natural and inevitable product of communities of people cooperating together, by utilizing the human skills that human beings evolutionarily have.

The story of the Tower of Babel correctly describes that a cooperating community uses the same language, and the language used by groups of people separated will be different. However, the story certainly gets the causal relation wrong. The emergence of new languages is a natural consequence of separation, not the appearance of different languages causing the separation.

The mythological story is nonetheless interesting and remarkable because it sees human society using a common language as it is capable of challenging divinity, and links monolingualism with the possible attainment of the divine. And because the progress towards monolingualism is actually an ongoing process of human society.

It is not impossible that our ancestors communicated in a common language in the early, still small and technologically primitive period of the history of the intelligent human species. However, the search for resources by the growing communities inevitably led to the separation of groups based on close kinship, led to the spread of the human species, and, at the same time, led to the natural development of linguistic differences, without any divine intervention. 

Spatial separation and lack of lasting contact among groups during the spread have led to the evolution of countless different languages. It takes practically only a few generations for a new language to emerge.

While early humanity was a cluster of groups living in kinship communities, the main relationships of the migratory groups that occasionally interacted with each other were rivalry, competition for resources, and the need to overcome each other.

However, as separate groups grew into organized societies, became extinct or merged by rivalry, a form of advantageous cooperation became necessary beyond the level of kinship. 

This process has allowed the mixing of different languages and the emergence of families of languages based on geological territory. This process has accompanied the history of mankind, and the interrelated evolution of languages continues today.

The unification of languages also takes place at the atomic level of society, within families. The common language of parents who speak different languages is usually the language of the society in which they live, and the language used by their offspring will certainly be the language used by that society.

The less dominant languages are gradually disappearing as people are moving and mixing, only in the ever-forming language of larger and growing societies capable of surviving. Today there are only about twenty major languages among the six thousand or so that still exist, or among the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of different languages that ever existed.

Today, the progress of human cooperation has reached a global level. The languages of smaller, separated societies are disappearing, while the languages of larger, interconnected societies are constantly shaping each other. As the complexity of human societies increases, the language in use necessarily becomes globalized, while the languages that still exist become more unified.

This process, the disappearance and unification of languages, may seem a loss for humanity. Every language is a cultural heritage and value, a unique creation of humanity. But language is first and foremost a tool, a means of communication and cooperation. The heritage of the different languages is a value to be preserved for humanity, but the development level of humanity as a community is measured by the number of languages actually in use.

Human society can cooperate more effectively if it can communicate more effectively. The fewer languages humanity uses, the more evolved it can be as a society. The future of developing humanity is the usage of the same language.

The mythological history of the Tower of Babel shows us a monolingual period, too. But the demonstration of the Tower of Babel essentially is not about the emergence of languages. The story of the Tower of Babel is about linking language to social cooperation, and stating, when humanity is cooperating using a single language, it is potentially capable of achieving divine levels of ability.

The essential message of the mythological story of the Tower of Babel is that the usage of the same communication format, the achievement of monolingualism, is a prerequisite and a necessary consequence of a human society aspiring to the highest level of its capabilities.

The story of the Tower of Babel is a prophecy for the fate of humanity also. The story suggests that the common language can enable humanity to reach a level where it can be given a name, and as such, can become a recognized entity.

The number of languages used by humanity is an objective measure of the level of development of human society. What capabilities can a monolingual human society achieve and what level can it reach? What could it mean to rise to a divine level? And who could give a name to human society?

The existence of a God who created the universe cannot be consistently excluded or justified. Yet, it is logical to assume that other intelligent species can exist in the universe. The existence of a first-order God is not - at present - a scientific issue, but the existence of a second-order god is. 

We are, most likely, not alone. In the case if we are not alone, for humanity to be able to join the emerging global universe of intelligent species, a level of maturity of human society must surely need to be reached. One possible measure of this level of maturity is the degree to which humanity uses language to enable effective cooperation.

A human society using a single language, through a unified form of communication is able to cooperate efficiently, is able to function as a unified organization, as a complex system, and is capable of operating effectively

And a unified complex system composed of intelligent and self-aware components is certainly a special structure. Such a system may have a number of emergent properties.

Human society is emergently organized into cities, countries, communicating in languages, creating culture, governed by political organizations, using money. However, the emergence of these properties, even if not foreseeable in advance, can be well understood and explained in hindsight, hence they are considered weak emergent properties of complex human society. Additionally, a self-aware, problem-solving, intelligent and integrated population may have unpredictable and therefore strong emergent properties, too. 

Life is a strong emergent property of a complex system of chemical reactions based on carbon compounds. A strong emergent property of the complex cooperation of living cells is the biological organism. The strong emergent property of the cooperation of sufficiently enough interconnected brain neurons is self-awareness.

What are the strong emergent properties of human society as a single united system? Perhaps it could be capable of what we now imagine to be the divine level, and perhaps what we need to achieve in order to be granted a Name.

But the Tower of Babel story also has a further message, a warning. According to the mythology, God prevented humanity from rising to the level of the divine when they were speaking in a single language. Why?

Using the same language is certainly necessary, but probably not a sufficient condition for reaching an emergent divinity level. In order to rise to the divine level of humanity, to have a given name, to reach the stage to be connected in a recognized way, there are other conditions that certainly must be met

Reaching the divine level could mean reaching the possibility of contact with our peers in the universe. But why does religion have a role in guiding us to do this?

If we are not the most advanced lifeform, contact will certainly come when human society becomes suited to it, not when humanity becomes capable of it. It is not the technological development that makes us capable of contact, but social maturity, i.e. the behavior of society that makes us suitable for contact.

The behavior of society is determined by the subjective values of the community, by the laws, the written and unwritten rules we follow, namely. the religion we believe in. The practical importance of religion is not the kind of worldview it represents, but the value system it provides, which could ultimately elevate humanity to the divine level, and of which the realization of monolingualism is a necessary means.

This might be the relationship between divinity and spoken language.

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