Religious fundamentalists and modern atheists have something in common: Neither one can take a joke. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and the other heirs to the enlightenment are not funny, Giles Fraser writes for the Philosopher’s Magazine, “And that’s as sure a sign as any that the Enlightenment is as creatively dead as the proverbial parrot.”
“Whenever laughter is absent,” Fraser writes, “the heavy drumbeat of political control is never very far behind.” Humor is the most effective way to speak truth to power (see: Steven Colbert), and without humor, political views become too serious, too certain. Laughter promotes understanding, and Fraser writes, “whereas understanding leads to peace, certainty leads to conflict and violence.”
Some people laugh at the dry humor of Christopher Hitchens, but his “vitriolic attacks upon Islam as something backward and ignorant” make Fraser anxious. Though Fraser doesn’t mention them, Hitchens’ recent attacks on women’s humor are decidedly not funny. And most of the other new atheists don’t even try to find humor in their attacks on religion and their defense of science. “Without laughter,” Fraser writes, “all this is smug and dangerous.
Sources: The Philosopher’s Magazine