Human Face Book Is Customized
Make a face. How do you make a face? We are all made with faces that can make unique facial expressions, thanks to unique combinations of subcutaneous muscles. Nature News said that humans have unique faceprints of 16 common expression-making muscles.
We all have the same 5 subcutaneous muscles that can make us look angry, happy, surprised, afraid, sad and disgusted. But we have different combinations of 11 more muscles that allow us each to have our own idiosyncratic facial expressions. This was announced by researchers who examined 18 Caucasian cadavers. It means that all humans can express shared emotions important for social communication, but each of us can add our own nuance.
One of the researchers speculated that this can be explained in evolutionary terms. Humans have been selected to communicate the same basic emotions, he said, but have differences to allow for creating relationships within social groups. He did not explain why this strategy never occurred to social bees, ants, schooling fish and flocks of birds.
We’ll just ignore that little evolutionary fable with an expression of disgust and move right along. Facial expression is one of many unique traits among humans who were created like animals in many ways but with special features to express an inner spirit made in the image of God: intellect, emotions, will, love, personality, and faith. To communicate our rationality, we needed a voice apparatus appropriate for the sophisticated nuances of human language. For combined spiritual and physical intimacy, we needed skin instead of hair. For face-to-face communication and stewardship, we needed upright posture. For work, we needed hands with opposable thumbs. None of these is quite the window of the spirit as a person’s unique countenance.
We have the most versatile bodies and faces in nature appropriate for accountable souls. Think of the importance of facial expressions in comedy sitcoms, vocal solos, plays and movies; visualize the clown or mime using faces to get a laugh. Perhaps you have taken a silly family photo with everyone making funny faces. Even humor is a gift of God. Chimpanzees and dogs and parrots can seem to comprehend fun, but try to tell them a joke, and no comprendo. Human laughter and a hearty smile is a joy of life that only spirits operating physical equipment can fully understand and appreciate.
We have more equipment than needed to just eat and survive because we have a special role in God’s creation: to be His stewards, to love Him, and to love one another. Facial expression is an intrinsic part of our unique ability to relate to one another visually and verbally. That we each have unique faces and combinations of facial muscles fits the description of humans being unique individuals with a special role in the world. Look at one penguin and you’ve seen them all. Same for prairie dogs, antelope, honeybees, wildebeest, flamingos and any other wild social animal. Though specialists can tell them apart, other primates have limited diversity and expressivity on their faces. They can curl their lips into funny ways, and bare their teeth and scream, but have you ever seen a chimpanzee with an expression of altruistic love, faith, thoughtful contemplation, solemnity, gratitude or inner joy?
The variety of human faces, though, is astonishing: just look at the faces of any crowd on the street or in a public event. And the number of expressions you can contort your face into in front of a mirror is equally astonishing. We often remember a face when we cannot remember a name. We can pick easily out faces we know from hundreds of strangers in a yearbook. Faces are put on “Wanted” posters. We normally take pictures of ourselves that emphasize our faces. Magazines and newspapers (except for certain kinds) concentrate on the faces of people in the news. We normally take pictures of people to emphasize their faces. This makes sense if we are individual created souls distinct from the animals. It makes no sense in evolutionary terms, or else you would see extreme facial diversity and expressivity all over the animal kingdom. What other animal invented FaceBook? The face is the interface for rational and emotional communication. “Face it, we’re all different” said the Nature News article. Yes indeed, Nature, face up to it. We can make faces because He made our faces. Go smile at someone and start a spiritual communication.