Flying Spaghetti Monster

noodly appendage

The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the parody religion the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism, a satirical movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. Created in 2005 by Oregon State physics graduate Bobby Henderson, it was originally intended as a satirical protest against the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to permit the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public schools. In an open letter, Henderson parodied the concept of intelligent design by professing belief in a supernatural creator which closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs. Henderson further called for his theory of creation to be allotted equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution.

In his letter he wrote, ‘I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; one third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.’

Pastafarian ‘beliefs’ are generally satires of creationism. They are presented both on Henderson’s Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, where he is described as ‘prophet,’ and in ‘The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,’ by Henderson in 2006. The central belief is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Pirates are revered as the original Pastafarians, and Henderson asserts that the steady decline in the number of pirates over the years has resulted in global warming.

Because of its popularity and exposure, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is often used as a contemporary version of Russell’s teapot (a hypothetical teapot orbiting the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars) – an argument that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon those who make unfalsifiable claims, not on those who reject them. While generally praised by the media and endorsed by members of the scientific community, the Flying Spaghetti Monster has received criticism from proponents of the creationist intelligent design philosophy.

Although Henderson has stated that ‘the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma,’ some general ‘beliefs’ are held by Pastafarians. Henderson proposed many Pastafarian tenets in reaction to common arguments by proponents of intelligent design. The central creation myth is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe ‘after drinking heavily.’ According to these beliefs, the Monster’s intoxication was the cause for a flawed Earth. Furthermore, according to Pastafarianism, all evidence for evolution was planted by the Flying Spaghetti Monster in an effort to test the faith of Pastafarians—parodying certain biblical literalists. When scientific measurements such as radiocarbon dating are taken, the Flying Spaghetti Monster ‘is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage.’ The Pastafarian conception of Heaven includes a beer volcano and a stripper factory. The Pastafarian Hell is similar, except that the beer is stale and the strippers have sexually transmitted diseases.

According to Pastafarian ‘beliefs,’ pirates are ‘absolute divine beings’ and the original Pastafarians. Furthermore, Pastafarians believe that the concept of pirates as ‘thieves and outcasts’ is misinformation spread by Christian theologians in the Middle Ages and by Hare Krishnas. Instead, Pastafarians believe that they were ‘peace-loving explorers and spreaders of good will’ who distributed candy to small children, adding that modern pirates are in no way similar to ‘the fun-loving buccaneers from history.’ In addition, Pastafarians believe that ghost pirates are responsible for all of the mysteriously lost ships and planes of the Bermuda Triangle. Pastafarians celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19.

The inclusion of pirates in Pastafarianism was part of Henderson’s original letter to the Kansas State Board of Education, in an effort to illustrate that correlation does not imply causation. Henderson presented the argument that ‘global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of pirates since the 1800s.’ A chart accompanying the letter (with numbers humorously disordered on the x-axis) shows that as the number of pirates decreased, global temperatures increased. This parodies the suggestion from some religious groups that the high numbers of disasters, famines, and wars in the world is due to the lack of respect and worship toward their deity. In 2008, Henderson interpreted the growing pirate activities at the Gulf of Aden as additional support, pointing out that Somalia has ‘the highest number of pirates and the lowest carbon emissions of any country.’

Pastafarians celebrate every Friday as a holy day. Prayers are concluded with a final declaration of affirmation, ‘R’amen,’ referring to the instant noodles popular among college students. Around the time of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, Pastafarians celebrate a vaguely defined holiday named ‘Holiday.’ Holiday does not take place on ‘a specific date so much as it is the Holiday season, itself.’ Because Pastafarians ‘reject dogma and formalism,’ there are no specific requirements for Holiday. Pastafarians celebrate Holiday in any manner they please. Pastafarians also celebrate ‘Pastover’ and ‘Ramendan.’ Pastafarians interpret the increasing usage of ‘Happy Holidays,’ rather than more traditional greetings (such as ‘Merry Christmas’), as support for Pastafarianism.

In 2005, before Henderson had received a grant to write the ‘Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,’ a Pastafarian member of the ‘Venganza’ forums known as Solipsy, announced the beginning of a project to collect texts from fellow Pastafarians to compile into the ‘Loose Canon,’ a Holy Book of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, essentially analogous to the Bible. The book was completed and made available for free download in 2010. Some excerpts from the ‘Loose Canon’ include: ‘I am the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Thou shalt have no other monsters before Me. (Afterwards is OK; just use protection.) The only Monster who deserves capitalization is Me! Other monsters are false monsters, undeserving of capitalization.’

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