The Origin of Laughter
by Frank Sherwin, M.A.
Since the Scriptures teach that "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (Proverbs 17:22), consider: Five out of four people have trouble with fractions. The thing about retired gardeners is they just don't get around mulch anymore. Grapes don't say anything when stepped on — they just let out a little whine. The trouble with most political jokes is — they usually get elected. Clones are people two. If you didn't at least smile at some of the above — please contact your nearest health care provider.
Secular attempts to devise a broad evolutionary explanation of laughter have failed. Nevertheless, evolutionary psychology (a combination of evolution and cognitive psychology) continues in its attempt to corrupt what God has given us by putting a secular spin on laughter's origin. Evolutionists have tried to shoe-horn laughter into our alleged primate ancestry saying it comes "from deep within our biologic being — grunts and cackles from our animal unconscious."1 Oh, please! Two other researchers — Owren and Bachorowski — suggest that:
... human laughter evolved as a way to form alliances. First came the smile, which communicated a positive disposition to other individuals. Over time, however, smiles became increasingly easy to fake, so a more complex signal was needed. That is where laughter came in.2
Breathy, panting laughter is probably the primal form that dates back to the common ancestor of all great apes and people. Human beings evolved their characteristic laughter after branching from an ancestor in common with chimpanzees ... 3
"Like typical primate calls, for example, laughter is evidently a species-wide 'hard-wired' behavior."4 Instead, creation scientists see this "hard-wired behavior" as simply the work of the all-wise Creator, blessing us with the ability to laugh. In another report on laughter's origin, evolutionary researchers described infant humans and bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees) displaying similar facial gestures and sounds known as a relaxed open-mouth display.5 This is hardly surprising, and frequently occurs among southern California adults when viewing the latest gasoline prices.
These are all nothing more than secular "just-so" stories, natural man's attempt to explain God-given expressions of mirth. And when all the guffaws and chuckling stops, evolutionists admit that "we know little about laughter itself" and "laughter research is still in its infancy."6
1. Provine, R. L., as quoted by Jeanie Lerche Davis in "Why Do We Laugh?" See the following: http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/53/6
2. Harris, L. http://exploration.vanderbilt.edu/news/n
3. Provine, R. L., "Laughter," American Scientist (vol. 84, Jan./Feb. 1996), p. 40.
4. Owren, M. J. & Bachorowski, J. "Reconsidering the Evolution of Nonlinguistic Communication,"
J. of Nonverbal Behavior 27(3) 2003 p. 187.
5. Beale, R., http://dsc.discovery.com/news/afp/200310
6. Provine, R. L., p. 45
Cite this article: Sherwin, F. 2004. The Origin of Laughter. Acts & Facts. 33 (7).