Additionally, humor—especially self-effacing humor—allows one to critique ideas or people held in high esteem without being offensive or inciting anger. It’s hard to be mad when you’re laughing.
Thought: Humor lowers one’s natural barriers to accepting new ideas.
In the context of ideas as memes that undergo Darwinian processes of mutation and natural selection, perhaps humor can be thought of as an immunodeficiency virus? A way to lower an idea’s natural defenses against competing ideas, which is why we see Christians willing to listen to Atheist comics, and vice versa. Humor lowers Christianity’s natural defenses against Atheism (group consolidation, faith, etc.) and allows new ideas to attack the weakened “body.”