AIG: The Miracle of Facial Expressions

Today we’re presented with even more evidence for divine creation. It comes to us from Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. Their new post is Facial Expressions — The Universal Language.

It was written by Dr. David Menton. At the end of his post it says he “holds his PhD in cell biology from Brown University and is a well-respected author and teacher. He is professor emeritus at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Even before they can say a word, newborn babies can “talk” with their faces. In fact, every human being has the ability to communicate in this language, with a range of expressions no other creature can match. … Facial muscles wrinkle our nose, furrow our brow, wiggle our ears, make us grimace, and even put a dimple in our chin. We might well wonder whether these muscles are really necessary. Some are indeed very important to our life, while others might fall into the category of nice but not necessary.

Okay, but where’s the creationism? It’s coming now. Menton says:

God specially designed human faces with over 40 voluntary muscles that create a wide range of facial expressions. No animals, including apes and monkeys, can communicate such a wide range and nuance of emotion. By moving different muscles, we can show about 20 expressions, from smiles to anger and surprise.

Verily, it’s a miracle! Let’s read on:

In 1872 Charles Darwin published a book titled The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals in which he declared that humans evolved facial and emotional expression from animal ancestors. Darwin believed not only that facial expressions are similar between man and beast, but also that they convey similar emotions. Yet while animals in general are capable of some basic expressions, such as fear and aggression, none (including apes and monkeys) show anything comparable to the range and nuance of human facial expression.

Menton ain’t no kin to no monkey! He continues:

Did the Lord’s confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel affect this “skin language”?

Wow — great question! Mention provides the answer:

Researcher Paul Ekman studied people from different cultures all over the world to learn if people of different cultures have the same facial expressions or if they are learned behaviors unique to each culture. He found that all humans, even from the most isolated tribes and cultures, share at least seven primary facial expressions with identical meanings: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, surprise, and contempt. Quite simply a smile indicates pleasure and a frown indicates displeasure everywhere in the world.

How can that be? Was the divine judgment at Babel defective? We’re not told. Here’s more:

The Bible often uses the word countenance for facial expressions that indicate mood, emotion, or character. So if believers could see God’s facial expression, what would we see?

Another great question! The answer is in scripture. Mention tells us:

God instructed Moses to relay His countenance to the children of Israel and indeed to all believers:

[Scripture quote:]The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Oh — so that’s what it looks like. Anyway, that’s the end of Menton’s post. Did you find it instructive, dear reader? [*Curmudgeon looks around at his readers’ facial expressions*] Well, the problem is yours, not AIG’s.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “AIG: The Miracle of Facial Expressions

  1. I don’t suppose it occurred to Menton to think about how many different facial expressions a chimp might be able to distinguish in other chimps, expressions that we might have difficulty in distinguishing. And it’s not just chimps. The faces of cats might seem pretty expressionless, yet with a bit of experience we can distinguish a few expressions; it’s very clear (we have six of the critters [don’t ask why], so cat-watching’s somewhat of a fact of life) that cats themselves can distinguish plenty of nuances that we don’t notice.

    I’m sure much the same is true among other mammals. Also, of course, animals of all kinds have visual means of communication that don’t involve the face.

  2. Face expressions are BS! Cuz when I smile at your stoopidty there will be no friendly humor there! I never trust expressions, I always look where their hands are and what they are holding!

  3. How much about smells do dogs distinguish that mean nothing to us!

  4. It’s clear that Menton never saw the nuanced expressions of my family’s German Shepherds.

    We had cats, too, and I agree with realthog.

    I wonder if Menton realizes how closely our dogs and cats watch our faces? We learned to tell our dogs a number of things w/o speaking.

  5. Actually his “research” appears to be more evidence for evolution than any form of woo.

  6. Cyano de Bacteregerac

    I recall the Bible saying God showed Moses something other than the face upon request.

  7. Christine Janis

    All mammals have facial muscles, derived from the sphincter colli (neck constrictor) of other amniotes, innervated by cranial nerve VII (unlike the muscles of mastication, which are innervated by cranial never V).

    All mammals can make facial expressions — they’re just more extensive in humans (but not a lot more than in other primates). Expressions are also homologous across mammals — that’s why we can read the faces of dogs and horses, and they can read ours.

    Pity that Menton didn’t take a course in Comparative Anatomy when he was at Brown, — he might have learned something about non-human animals.

  8. Most here will be well familiar with the tale, but just in case: When Darwin Met Another Ape

  9. What does God’s “countenance” prove about anything? As for the rest, suppose it’s true that humans have more facial expressions than other creatures (debatable, but just suppose). Again, what does that have to do with anything?

    And realthog is right to point out that chimps may be able to distinguish more facial expressions in other chimps than we can. presumably, the same is true for other species.

  10. Exodus 33:20
    But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”

    Doesn’t this, taken literally, tell us of a material god?

  11. Yet another creationist loon who can’t grasp the fact that we are apes.

  12. What an utter failure to understand that other critters might just be a bit different from us.

  13. What does an ant perceive in an other ant?

  14. What does an ant perceive in an other ant?

    Perfume! I watch ants all the time. They prefer Chanel No. 5 but I’ve seen some colonies adopt Old Spice.

  15. I want to be able to change my color to indicate my mood like an octopus or cuttlefish.

    While not a “facial expression” I am reminded of the head nodding scene in “The Gods Must be Crazy”