Laughter and tears


“If you knew what l knew, you would laugh little and weep much.” – The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) (Bukhari)

Those who consider humans to be merely highly advanced apes never sufficiently explain why we laugh and cry. I’ve heard people guess that crying is simply a distress call, most useful when we are infants but carried into adulthood. That does little to explain quiet tears, tears of joy, private crying, or weeping from being moved by the Qur’an. It also does little to explain the intangible experience one feels when moved to tears, whether of the happy or sad variety. That is the limitation of believing that we are all just highly complex, yet predictable machines. We aren’t, and too often atheists are so out of touch with their own fitra (natural disposition) that they can’t acknowledge the most fundamental realities.

Laughing is arguably even more strange. Like crying, we can break down the chemical responses that occur when one laughs. But, this is like reading the chemical compounds of an art masterpiece without appreciating the important part…the intangible fleeting part…the part that moves us. In fact, it’s worse than this because we all should know better. We know how laughing feels. We know that there are different types of laughter. There is joyful laughter, mean laughter, a small chuckle, and a laugh ‘til you cry/pee your pants experience.

Why humans do these things is still largely a mystery. Scientists theorize on why we laugh and cry and why animals do not, but this is because they feel compelled to explain everything. What if some things can’t be sufficiently explained in words? What if there are things that will forever remain mysteries to mankind? I’m not saying these things will, but how often does humanity consider the possibility that their understanding has limits?

And why does evolutionary science fail so miserably to explain the unique qualities of human beings? Laughing, crying, as well as religion in many ways represent the essence of being human. Yet, those who insist we are highly advanced apes cannot even begin to explain their origins or deeper motivations. These issues will continue to be an embarrassment to their theoretical (and worldly) positions.