• Does God have a sense of humour?

    There is this prevailing idea that God has personhood and that humanity is somehow styled on his image. Atheists believes that the causality here works the other way such that humanity existed and styled God on the image of humanity. But who would want to let minor quibbles like that get in the way of a good god-design? These anthropogenic properties of God manifest themselves in different ways: looks, emotions, rationality and sentience. 

    The problem here is that these things make a lot of sense in the context of humanity but not so much sense in the context of a divine being. Emotions, as you will see later in this collection, have functional properties as reason for their existence with basis in evolution. This makes no sense for a god.

    The tricky concept of personhood is equally troubling. Without going into the complex area of defining personhood, let’s look simply at humour. This is something which we humans take for granted. GSOH – Good Sense Of Humour – is something you often see in a list of demands on dating sites and classified ads (so I’ve been told), which goes some way to showing how important a characteristic it is for us to see in other people. Humour and comedy plays a massive role in society and our day to day interactions. In short, it is necessary component to our humanity. For a human to lack the dimensions of humour and comedy, of jokes and laughing, would mean they would be lacking a desired human characteristic.

    By being a required characteristic that most of us would demand in a partner, it is surprising that we would be expected to love God if he didn’t have that capcity.

    As one Bible study page states:

    It is logical to conclude that since our Creator God made man after himself, and we know we have a sense of humor, that he would have one too! If we can look around us and find things funny, so can he. Those who study the Bible can become so familiar with its verses and teachings that they forget to step back and consider what they read from a different angle. We need to change our perspective of Scripture to discover yet another side of our God.

    For God to lack these dimensions would, to me, mean that God lacked something that we had. According to the Bible, God has anger, jealousy and love. But it doesn’t appear that God has a penchant for gags and laughing. Not that the Bible should be some joke book (though with the amount of death and condemnation, the odd gag wouldn’t go miss..), but there really is no evidence to support the idea that od has a happy, laughy, jokey side.

    One of the problems for God is that he is supposedly omniscient, which means he would know the punchlines and even the experiential knowledge of what he himself (gender alert) would feel at that exact future moment of comedy. I simply cannot see a divine transcendent being having the capacity to laugh uproariously about anything.

    One could argue that there are other types of comedy, that you can re0watch brilliant comic actors, films and scenes and derive pleasure from seeing that which you already know. Of course, if God is outside of time, it is hard to see how he can in any way interact with the world in what would appear to be an instantaneous moment as opposed to the billions of years of chronology that we have. As Jerry Corley’s Comedy Clinic states:

    One of the most common questions I get as a stand up comedian, writer and now coach is: What is the key to comedy?

    And although there are too many variables for me to even suggest that I have all the answers when it comes to comedy, I can give you the key. That’s right I can give you the key to comedy.

    The key is SURPRISE.

    If we break comedy down; I mean, really break comedy down into parts, then we can start to design solutions. So let’s do that briefly in this blog post.

    I guess we can all agree that for comedy to be comedy, we need to get the audience to laugh, right? So that’s our problem. We need to make people laugh.

    So let’s find a solution…

    Somebody has to be laughing in order for someone to say that something is comedic or humorous. Now that we know that, we need to know what causes people to laugh.

    According to several psychologists, the number one element that triggers human laughter is surprise.

    Create surprise and do it well and the audience almost has no choice but to laugh.

    Imagine that power as a comedian; to put the audience in the position where they have no choice but to laugh!

    Now that we have that psychological element in place we are part of the way through solving our problem. The next question is how to we pull that trigger?

    We create surprise in our writing or our dialogue, conversation, speech or script.

     God just wouldn’t be good at being surprised.

    Academics like Steven Pinker have expressed the functional benefits of laughter from an evolutionary psychological point of view, none of which would be relevant to the case of God.

    In shirt, it doesn’t really seem plausible that God would be able to laugh, get most if not all humour, have a sense of humour or be funny himself; and this might just invalidate God’s personhood.

    Category: God's CharacteristicsHumourPhilosophy of Religion


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce