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Creation 40(4):27, October 2018

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Facing up to design

iStockphotoold-face@400w

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Those who would claim that the human face is the result of evolution, not creation, face some huge challenges.

For example, the incredible expressivity of the human face is surely way beyond what is necessary for the survival of our species. Researchers have identified 21 distinct facial expressions—not just the six long-recognized basic emotions of happy, sad, fearful, angry, surprised, and disgusted, but 15 other combinations of these, such as happily surprised, angrily surprised, etc.1,2

Each of these 21 facial expressions is produced by a unique combination of muscles, i.e. different from that of all the other expressions.1 The human face has approximately 50 muscles in all, with about half being needed for functions such as eating, speaking, and closing the eyes, but the rest are dedicated to making facial expressions.3 About 20 of these muscles are unique to humans,3 not being found in gorillas and other apes—yet evolutionists claim we share a common ape-like ancestor with them. Did these muscles really originate by a slow step-by-step process because there were survival advantages in having a plethora of facial expressions? Rather, our incredible facial expressivity instead points to us having been overdesigned, which of course implies a designer who did so.3 This is in keeping with us having been specially created by the God of the Bible, in His image (Genesis 1:27), to be relationally emotional, creative, and spiritual beingscontra atheist Richard Dawkins, who claimed we are mere “survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.”4

This overdesign is proving to be the bane of engineers attempting to realistically emulate our facial expressions in their android robots. Most of the robotic faces tried so far have been composed of a flexible and elastic skin, with internal deformation mechanisms, e.g. motors strategically positioned to pull on wires attached to the inside of the ‘face’5. Researchers admit to being constrained by the mechanisms and materials available, and the limited space in robot heads.1

One robot, dubbed the FACE bot, had 32 separate motors to control the ‘muscles’ in its head and upper torso.6 But independent assessment of the accuracy of the FACE bot in presenting the six basic emotions was not flattering. While viewers were able to recognize when the robot displayed happiness, anger, and sadness, they were less able to identify robotic fear, disgust, or surprise.7 And the slow, unlifelike transition between expressions highlighted the problem of what some have termed the ‘uncanny valley’.6 This is the uneasy or creepy sensation people have when they see a human-faced robot intended to be realistic, but that isn’t realistic enough—the gap between android and real human is still too wide. (Some viewers’ unease is because they’re reminded of a corpse.)7

Surely all this shows that evolutionists should be facing up to the reality that our faces, indeed our whole bodies, were designed—by Someone who clearly wasn’t limited by mechanisms, materials, or the space in our heads. As the Bible says, we are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

References and Notes

  1. Gholipour, B., Happily surprised! People use more facial expressions than thought, livescience.com, 31 March 2014. Return to text
  2. Du, S., Tao, Y., and Martinez, A., Compound facial expressions of emotion, PNAS 111(15):E1454–E1462, 2014 | doi:10.1073/pnas.1322355111. Return to text
  3. Burgess, S., Overdesign in the human being with a case study of facial expressions, J. Creation 28(1):98–103, 2014; creation.com/overdesign-facialReturn to text
  4. Dawkins, C.R., The Selfish Gene, 1976. Return to text
  5. Ishihara, H., Ota, N., and Asada, M., Derivation of simple rules for complex flow vector fields on the lower part of the human face for robot face design, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 13(1):015002, 2018 | doi:10.1088/1748-3190/aa8f33. Return to text
  6. Hsu, J., Uncanny Valley watch: Making android faces, livescience.com, 11 July 2012. Return to text.
  7. Thomson, H., Expressive face helps robot bridge ‘uncanny valley’, newscientist.com, 11 July 2012. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Aaron L.
This article brought a smile to my face as I thought of the faces of people who would read this article.
1. The angry facial expression of the evolutionist
2. The surprised look of the student who thought that evolution was proven through science
etc.
David B.
It would be interesting to study which expressions are reflexive and/or universal (as far as we can determine) and which appear to be culturally developed or molded. Smiling and laughing in happiness, and frowning and crying in sadness, certainly seem to be universal among humans. I suspect there may be differences in more subtle expressions such as disgust and disdain, but I think such a study might turn up some surprises.

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