It may surprise Patrick Boyle (We need religious faith, Letters, August 28) to know that I agree with him. Since Darwin, human beings have been conflated with animals and the special and exceptional nature of human identity has been devalued. In particular, the nature of human language has been seen as an extension of animal calls and merely as a tool of socialisation. Neither of these is true. Human language is primarily a tool of thought; it is mediated by a very different part of the brain from the part that mediates the calls of animals. Indeed, human language is located in the part of the brain that, millions of years ago, began to mediate tool-making ability and the emergence of a dominant hand - something that is not found in apes. It is the proof that volitional, goal-oriented, hominid behaviour and the invention of volitional, thoughtful language are linked. When Darwin conflated human language with animal instinct, he unwittingly set the scene for those secular utopians who desired to divide their fellow man into the acceptable and the dispensable - all justified for the ‘greater good’. For these monsters, the Ten Commandments and their precursor laws that go back to Hammurabi, designed to protect trading individuals and their property, had to give way to plans for the perfect society!

READ MORE: We need religious faith

Throughout history, humans have passed language down, generation to generation, as a tool of thought and introspection, not as an extension of the grunts and calls of animals. They have chosen to do this through the memorisation of ritual, epic and religious oration, through nursery rhymes, jingles and most of all, through stories. Since the false idea of ‘language as an instinct’ and ‘means of socialisation’ took hold, western society has embraced subjectivism: the elevation of feelings over thought. Patrick is right to identify “objective and reflective thinking” as the foundation of everything we hold dear; that includes what he terms “religious and spiritual factors” and “the answers to our origins”. So confused are our present law-makers that they have introduced statutes to limit free-speech in the mistaken belief that we are unable to speak and think at the same time. And yet, nations that culpably politicised their language into what could and could not be said, as did German intellectuals before that country went to war, are ignored by those who are making the same dangerous mistake, right now in our own time.

It appals me when I hear atheists (of which I am one) trash the very means - a religious education - by which they achieved their own facility with language. They are knowingly guilty of that old saw, ‘Pull the ladder up Jack - I’m alright’!

Prof. Christine Wheeler McNulty