Below are four pretty good reasons for thinking humor is dangerous to religious belief:
- Humor is dangerous to any confident expression of metaphysics, for it lampoons pretense. It deflates and complicates; it speaks on behalf of the sorts of contending truths that religious metaphysics, in its seriousness and blinkered focus, tends to ignore, marginalize, and oversimplify.
- Humor is a weapon of democracy and experience, not miracle, mystery, and authority. It notices the marginal individual in the concrete, not just the abstract; the individual as an evolved social animal; an actor in contingent history.
- Humor is subversive in that it takes the vantage of the outsider. The fool, the child, the fast food worker, the black lesbian: in humor, the vantage of outsiders like these becomes the fresh measure of all things; the vantage from which religion, God, and power might be judged–and found wanting.
- The emperor has no clothes! Humor is a form of critique that can be directed at any metaphysics that is in excess of sane measure and reality testing–which is what faith and religion amount to (bad epistemic practice). Comedians are spell-breakers on bad epistemic practices.
In short, humor is on the side of doubt and irony, not certainty and religious metaphysics. Beware Tim Minchin and Monty Python!