A Tentative Outline for the “Language Argument for the Existence of God”

“Let the reader imagine for a moment that he is standing in the midst of a normal and familiar environment – houses, trees, grass, sky, etc. – when, suddenly, he is deprived by some supernatural stroke of every vestige of memory – and not only memory, but also of all those assimilated, forgotten experiences, which comprise his power of recognition.  He is asked to assume that, in spite of this, he still retains the full measure of his cognitive faculty as an adult.  It will appear, I think, that for the first few moments his consciousness – if it can bear that name – will be deprived not merely of all thought, but even of all perception, as we ordinarily understand the word – unless we choose to suppose a certain unimaginable minimum, a kind of panorama of various light, which he will confront with a vacant and uncomprehending stare.”
– Owen Barfield

“Language is the medium in which we are conscious.  The speechless beasts are aware, but they are not conscious.  To be conscious is to ‘know with’ something, and a language of some sort is the device with which we know.  More precisely, it is the device with which we can know.  We don’t have to.  We can, if we please, speak of general insight into the knowledge of a discipline and forgo knowing.”
– Richard Mitchell

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Definitions:

Thinking: the act of reasoning or reflecting upon; pondering; judging; calling to mind; the act of concentrating one’s attention; exercising the power of reason by conceiving ideas, drawing inferences, and using judgment; the consideration or weighing of an idea or thing

Feeling: the experience of sensation or emotion; sensitivity to physical or internal experience; intuitive awareness or aptitude

Meaning: sense or significance; intent; denotation, referent, or idea; that which exists as a settled aim or purpose; signification

Mind: intention, purpose, design, a reaching or inclining toward an object; the faculty of thinking, perceiving, feeling, remembering, or desiring; the intellectual or intelligent power; the understanding; the power that conceives, judges, or reasons; personal consciousness and memory; the phenomena of intelligence, cognition, rationality, or consciousness of a person or group

Language: communication through a system of signs, symbols and rules; the expression of ideas by words; the writing of signs or utterance of sounds which usage has made the representatives of ideas or objects; words duly arranged and ordered in sentences for the communication of thoughts about things and the relations between things

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Preliminary Qualifications:

A – Meaning precedes language.

B – Thinking can be distinguished from feeling.

C – Feeling can exist without thinking or language.

D – Feeling can be meaningful.

E – Feeling does not need language to be meaningful.

F – Language signifies meanings, both by means of thinking (with reasoning) and feeling (with poetry).

G – Mind perceives meaning by means of thinking, language, and feeling.

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Propositions:

1 – Meaning makes language possible.  Without meaning, language is impossible.

2 – Language makes thinking possible.  Without language, thinking is impossible.

3 – Thinking makes the act of creating possible.  Without thinking, the act of creating is impossible.

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4 – Language can only exist within, or be derived from, mind.

5 – Without mind, language is impossible.

6 – Mind is what engages in the act of thinking.

7 – Mind is what engages in the act of creating.

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8 – It would be impossible to create language without thinking.

9 – Without language, a mind could not do the thinking necessary in order to create language.

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10 – Language exists.

11 – The languages that currently exist have been created gradually and collectively over time by thinking minds.

12 – All modern languages that currently exist were derived from older languages.

13 – All older languages of which we possess a record were derived from other ancient languages.

14 – Regardless of whether it is true that all ancient languages were derived from one single oldest language, one ancient language must have been older in time than all the other ancient languages.

15 – At the very least, an oldest language existed.

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16 – The oldest language could not have been created.

17  – The oldest language could not have had a beginning.

18 – The oldest language must have necessarily existed.

19 – The oldest language must have been eternal.

20 – The oldest language is eternal.

20 – If the oldest language is eternal, it could only have existed within a mind that is eternal.

21 – Eternal mind must have existed.

22 – Eternal mind exists.

In Summary: Rational thought is impossible without the existence of language.  To invent language requires first the existence of rational thought.  The first language could not have been invented.  Language exists.  The first language existed.  The first language must have been eternal.  The first language could have existed eternally only in eternal mind.  Therefore, Eternal Mind/God/Logos exists.

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References:

– Barfield, Owen.  Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning.  1928.  pg. 56

– Mitchell, Richard. Less Than Words Can Say. 1979.  pg. 5