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Why does laughter exist?

A Darwinian world, where people and animals are designed by cause and effect (not God) leaves no room for the idea of “delight,” satisfaction maybe, but not delight. Think about the things that don’t just satisfy your appetite, but actually delight you. A good belly laugh is that way. Remember …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

A Darwinian world, where people and animals are designed by cause and effect (not God) leaves no room for the idea of “delight,” satisfaction maybe, but not delight. Think about the things that don’t
just satisfy your appetite, but actually delight you. A good belly laugh is that way. Remember the last time you laughed so hard that you couldn’t stop?

Like most adults, it has been too long ago for me. I remember when Karen and I lived in Jakarta, Indonesia. We owned very little and lived in a small apartment. When Brian Birdsall, a college buddy, came to visit, we gave him our one sheet and had him sleep on the couch. We in turn used our table cloth as a sheet. Though it was small for the bed, it wasn’t so bad. What made it complicated, however, were the short slats on the bed supporting our mattress.

We had to move carefully in the bed for fear of jostling the slats. Jostle them and they would come off the bed frame and the mattress would suddenly fall and create a ruckus.

Karen and I were trying mightily to get to sleep when she grabbed part of the sheet to wrap further around herself, leaving me entirely exposed to the night air. For some reason, this made me laugh. I tugged the table cloth back, leaving her with nothing to cover her. She began to laugh too and jerked it back, inadvertently jostling the bed slats and causing the whole bed to fall apart and the mattress to fall to the ground with a great clatter.

At this point, Karen and I roared with laughter. There we were, lying on the ground and wrestling to grab a bit more of the stupid table cloth (that barely covered us in the first place) from one another – sleep was impossible. Of course Brian couldn’t help wonder what was going on in the next room.

Did you ever stop to think how improbable laughter is? What possible role does it play in a Darwinian environment? To me it makes much more sense to attribute it to a genius God, who not only links together the atoms to create molecules and macrophages and immune systems and ultimately galaxies, but who delights in the improbable; and in fact manufactured the notion of “delight” in the first place.

Unfortunately, the older some people get, the more serious they get. When we’re young, the laughter flows out of us. As we get older and crusty and the laughter drains from us, we lose touch with a part of God which he created for no apparent reason other than because it delighted him.

Comments (6)

  • You know Seth, Team 61 was just talking about how in Arroyo Palenque, they must think we are the silliest people, b/c all we do is talk and laugh…

    PRAISE GOD!

  • I was looking for someone by the name of Brian Birdsall, and his name appeared in your article, ( which I do believe there is just not enough laughter in the world these days ). I was stationed in the military with a B. Birdsall, who got out, and went to college to become a youth pastor. Would this happen to be the same one?? If so, could you please contact him with my E-Mail addy?? I would really like to write to him. Thank you so much, and if it is not the same person, thanks for your time anyhow.

  • Hey people well i guess we just laugh because we want to let everything out and thats it!

  • Sergio Martell & Janeth Medina

    Ke rollo mi gente! saying hie to all u peoples of SAN ELI!!! we rule aight?!!!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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