The second divine intervention must still be analyzed – which, for the purpose of my argument, is also the most important: the infusion of the soul, which resulted (among other things) in the genesis of human language.
Now, the question is: when did this event occur? It’s a complicated issue, also for the fact that at that time there were no recorders. Therefore, we can have only an indirect evidence – questionable, and different depending on the author we are considering.
E. g., Ian Tattersall (and Chomsky with him) dates the genesis of language back to about 70.000 years ago, when the rupestrian paintings appeared which, to him, show the emergence of the symbolic thought. Tattersall, who opposes the innatist theory, claims it was an “explosion”, an “abrupt and sudden” event happened much later the appearance of Homo Sapiens (about 200.000 years ago). This would prove that language is a cultural adaptation (if it was due to biology, it would have emerged with the appearance of the new species, not after a long period of latency). Tattersall links this argument with Gould and Vrba’s exaptation theory, just to confirm that the new function wouldn’t be a biological adaptation.
It’s ironic that this thesis was also embraced by Chomsky – a supporter of biolinguistics: evidently, the American linguist’s cynicism prevails throughout, who, in order to save the idea of an innate Universal Grammar (not interpretable as the product of biological evolution, but “exploded”) seems to be inclined even to come to terms with the devil.
A reply to Tattersall comes from Francesco d’Errico, who asserts there are some evidence (pigments used for “aesthetic”, not strictly functional, reasons) in support of a symbolic thought in Homo Sapiens, signs which would date back almost to the origin of our species. Tattersall counter-replies that, to him, only “the use of symbols as symbols” is properly symbolic – but he refers only to the linguistic symbols. Being personal interpretations, it’s likely that neither of them will move from his rock-like position.
However, an alternative is offered by Corballis. As mentioned above, in his hypothesis, developed in the book From hand to mouth, vocal language has a gestural origin: although a form of protolanguage was present (as a result of the emergence of bipedalism) in those whom he calls “hominins”, grammar language arose only with the appearance of the genus Homo (when the process of encephalization began, maybe thanks to the inclusion of meat in the diet, too). Only with the appearance of Homo Sapiens, however, language became vocally independent of gesture, after having lived with it (at first in a subordinate role) for thousands of years (moreover, Slawomir Wacewicz extends the role of pioneer of verbal language to the oro-facial gestures).
Corballis dates the genesis of vocal language back to about 50.000 years ago (from the point of view of the evolutionary scale, you can safely assert that his chronology coincides with Tattersall and Chomsky’s one), basing himself on the explosion of art and technology occurred in Europe about 40.000 years ago – an event following, in his opinion, the appearance of an autonomous vocal language which, freeing hands from communicative tasks, allowed our ancestors to use them for “manual activities”.
However, he believes that the anatomical adaptations indispensable to verbal language were already available since the appearance of Homo Sapiens, but that wide transformations were also necessary, of the vocal tract, brain structures and respiration, which weren’t complete but in a late period. The explanation of the phase of latency would therefore be purely biological – which, at least, provides an alternative to the thesis of the explosion.
This hypothesis was made plain by Michael Arbib in seven stages which, starting from the action of grasping and passing through the emergence of the mirror neuron system (discovered for the first time by Giacomo Rizzolatti in the brain of macaques, in a region corresponding to the Broca’s area in humans), lead to the human language through a series of intermediate filters (including protosign and protolanguage).
The vice, at this point, is always the same: how to explain through natural selection the appearance of a system ex nihilo (in this case, mirror neurons)?
In my opinion, the explanation is absent of the spark which lit the cognitive fire which, from then on, never stopped burning, leading to what Tomasello called “cumulative culture” of the community – a steady progress. This spark is represented, according to me, by the infusion of soul in our ancestors. The second divine intervention in History.