Evolution, God, and Humor

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 

Humor is something I have studied for years, if one includes watching television. Study is a word that I would like to use, but to be more accurate, I have pondered it off and on for about 135 years.

There is a difference between humor and laughter. Some people laugh because they are nervous and are attempting to self-soothe and perhaps garner sympathy from other people. Other times, people laugh because they find something genuinely funny or see the humor in a situation. 

The Laughing Violinist / Gerard van Honthorst, ca.1624
My own sense of humor has evolved over the years, inserting genetic material from old American comedies, other people, comedians, and British styles. Subtle things appeal to me, and I occasionally insert humor into my posts and articles. I wonder if people catch them, however, since I don't have "I see what you did there" comments on Fakebook and Tweeter.

We often laugh when something takes us by surprise, as mentioned on the Dick van Dyke Show episode, "Father of the Week." He discusses this and other things that make people laugh, beginning at 15:51 (if you can find the episode). Related to that is hearing a joke or watching a funny movie over and over, they are much less amusing.

Being misunderstood can backfire. While working on a project with my supervisor, she quietly remarked that she thought the customer (who was nearby) had been drinking. As the project got more involved, I said to my supervisor, "Maybe when this is all over you should take me out for a drink." Her response was a half-indignant laugh and she said, "You're a funny man!" An instant later, she caught on to my customer reference and realized I was not asking her out. She laughed at the real meaning of my remark. Fortunately.

Humor is very subjective. What is amusing or laugh-out-loud funny to one person is not amusing to another. Plays on words (puns) are useful when one wants to make a joke but there simply isn't time for a funny story. Laughing at the pain and sorrow of others may reveal a lack of compassion or a psychological disorder.

My father said, "Comedy is tragedy viewed from a distance." That fits watching something like Hogan's Heroes, set in a German prisoner-of-war camp in World War II. For me, the funniest parts of that were things I learned afterward: The German and Nazi officers were Jews!

Ridicule can be another defense mechanism and often reveals someone with an unkind nature. Satire, parody, and sarcasm are humorous ways to illustrate something, but when misused, they can be perceived as caustic. Points they were attempting to emphasize may well be lost. Atheists ridicule Christians and creationists quite frequently, often using 😆 laughing emojis and such when they have been caught lying or using logical fallacies. Such a response indicates that the user may not be capable of rational discussion.

People like to laugh together, hence the laugh tracks in situation comedies (and yes, I Love Lucy was filmed in front of a real audience). Fortunately, those laugh tracks are fading. Awkward silences, facial expressions by actors, and other things can signal that something funny just happened.

A famous trope is, "A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar..." Okay, we know there's going to be a joke, and some people are waiting and wanting to laugh. Although The Family Guy is helmed by an atheist leftist who frequently puts blasphemy in the show, I remember that it had moments of comedic brilliance. A scene that lasted maybe five seconds showed a priest, minister, and rabbi walking into a bar, and the rabbi said, "Hey, you hear the one about us?" Earlier, I mentioned how repeatedly hearing a joke or watching a comedy when one is not surprised, then it's not so funny. I kept using, "A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks, 'Why the long face?'" A co-worker said I needed a new joke.

Laughter "breaks the ice" in social situations, and helps relieve tension. It helps people bond. 

Some animals seem to laugh, but do not display developed humor. Corvids seem to be amused by annoying other animals:

This raises the question of how we gained humor in the first place. There is an interesting article on an Intelligent Design site titled, "There’s Nothing Funny About Evolution", by Dr. Geoffrey Simmons. Although I disagree with the author's use of millions of years, he raises some interesting points.

Believers in universal common ancestor evolution claim that we are all animals. Well, humans are unique and have far more sophisticated systems of humor than animals. (Yeah, I know. We're classified as mammals because of similar traits. That's evidence of common design, not evolution, old son.) We are unique, created in God's image.

It is reasonable to think that since God appreciates variety, beauty, and other things that he would have a sense of humor. It can be seen when God pranked the Philistines. There are other areas in Scripture where God laughs, and even mocks the wicked. We laugh at the Just-So Stories of evolutionists (see "Laughing at Evolution").

Some things to ponder involve Moses. In Exodus 2:1-10, there was an edict to destroy male Hebrew children. You know how his mother put him into a basket and set it drifting in the Nile, then Pharaoh's daughter pulled him out. His sister, who had been following the basket, told the girl that she know a woman that could nurse him. Moses gets to spend more time with his mother. There's a lot going on there, but there's humor in the situation. 

Also, consider that God had humiliated the false Gods of Egypt, and in Exodus 14:1-2, God issued a puzzling command which gave Pharaoh (who was pursuing the Israelites) confidence, "I got 'em now!" But...Baal Zephon? That was an area dedicated to a demon. I wonder if God was humiliating that demon, or at least Pharaoh's confidence in it.

Yes, we have humor. It is varied and unlike anything the animals may possess. We are created in God's image, and he has a sense of humor. God laughs. Biblical creationists along with the Creator laugh at those who try to give fact-free evolution praise for the existence of humor. It is to laugh.