Imaging Communion: An Argument For God’s Existence Based On Speech -- By: Pierce Taylor Hibbs

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 77:1 (Spring 2015)
Article: Imaging Communion: An Argument For God’s Existence Based On Speech
Author: Pierce Taylor Hibbs

Imaging Communion: An Argument For
God’s Existence Based On Speech

Pierce Taylor Hibbs

Pierce Hibbs currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Center for Theological Writing at Westminster Theological Seminary.

I. Introduction

No one can deny that speech plays an integral role in allowing one person to commune with another. Epictetus said that silence is safer than speech,1 but if that is the case, we do not want safety; we prefer the hazards of relationships to the seclusion of silence, and evidence of this is all around us. In the morning, we emerge from the world of disheveled dreams seeking another person to help us find some solace in the confusion. Throughout the day we dialogue with co-workers and use words to forge new relationships with strangers, and when we arrive at home, we stream the day’s events to our family with the subtle hope that they will know where and how we have been. In the evening, we lie down and utter a final few words to our spouse before drifting into sleep again. We are always looking to join minds, and that is where speech comes into play. Speech fosters communion: it joins one mind to another, and this seems the most natural thing in the world to us.

But where does this longing for communion come from, and why does speech seem to be the perfect medium for achieving it? Is speech just a product of our ongoing communicative evolution? Are we content to say that speech is simply a unique human faculty, regardless of where it came from and why it functions coherently? I do not think so. To say, with Noam Chomsky, that “when we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the ‘human essence,’” is not so helpful.2 Even if language is part of what it means to be human, that still does not explain our longing for communion, nor does it suggest anything of why speech functions coherently, of why it is effective in fostering communion. In fact, it leads us to the door of metaphysics: why do we exist this way? Evolution is not an answer to this question; it glibly skirts the issue by providing a string of how’s, which brings us, eventually, back to where we started.

In the following pages, I will argue that speech, one of the most basic human behaviors, serves as evidence for God’s existence. But, in contrast to other proofs for God’s existence that reason inductively from creation to the Creator, I do the opposite, relying on God’s revelation of himself in Scripture. Such an approach, to some, may be unhelpful. Once one plays the “Scripture card,” the logical game goes foul. But does i...

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