Friday, August 12

God And The Flying Spaghetti Monster

Pastafarianism (also known as Flying Spaghetti Monsterism) is a  parody religion which was created by Bobby Henderson, and first appeared in a letter of Henderson's to protest the decision from the Kansas State Board of Education (2005), which permitted the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in school. This is where the phrase "Flying Spaghetti Monster" first appeared. Essentially, Henderson created the Flying Spaghetti Monster and called for equal time to be given to it, since he claimed it was no different than intelligent design. Henderson wrote the "Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" in 2006 and continues to make Pastafarian beliefs satires of Creationism. But can it really be claimed that Pastafarianism is no different than intelligent design, and how is belief in the God of Christianity any different? (Photo credit: GoodMenProject)

Henderson's reasoning appears to be that he believes there is no evidence for the God of Christianity, there is no evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, therefore, the God of Christianity and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are equal beliefs with no evidence. There are numerous problems with the first premise of there being "no evidence for the God of Christianity." As we have explored in past entries, there is an abundance of evidence, it is that the evidence has been rejected, Henderson has not accepted (or perhaps even considered) the evidence for God. In fact, the very statement "there is no evidence for the God of Christianity" is a priori in nature (rejection before even considering), and Henderson offers no evidence to the contrary, nor does he attempt to refute or give a rebuttal of the evidence for the God of Christianity. 

Thomas Edison and Sir Isaac Newton's combined statements on the knowledge of mankind demonstrate that we do not know a full 1% of everything there is to know in the universe - in that 99%, the skeptic must concede that there is a possibility that God can exist. Since we do not have all of the knowledge in the universe, one cannot truly make the absolute statement, "God does not exist." To deny the existence of God, an individual must first sort through the arguments for the existence of God, such as the Moral Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Teleological Argument, the Cosmological Argument, the Standards of Beauty Argument, and many others. Concerning the God of Christianity, one must also examine each of the theories for the resurrection, and careful scrutinize each one. 

The Truth Ministries engaged in this activity, examining the different theories such as the ones which postulate hallucinations, stealing the body, resurrection simply a myth, Jesus fainted and did not die, disciples going to the wrong tomb, and others. At the end of this examination, we concluded that the only possible explanation left, having demonstrated that the others did not stand up to scrutiny, leaving us with the explanation that Jesus Christ, who is God, actually physically rose from the dead three days after His crucifixion under Roman law (For more on these theories, see here). One must also deal with the reliability of Scripture - its continual confirmation and given credence by archaeological discoveries, its preservation through the centuries, among many other details. To outright reject God, one must explain away all of this among many other things.

Contrast to the God of Christianity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is known to be a fictional story formulated by Henderson beginning in 2005. Got Questions Ministries points out the following comparison for God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

"Belief in God
(1) Prevalent among all peoples of all times. Atheism is very rare; even atheists admit this.
(2) There are many sophisticated philosophical arguments for God’s existence.
(3) The Christian God is a coherent explanation of why something exists rather than nothing, why logic is prescriptive and universal, why morality is objective, and why religion is ubiquitous.
(4) Belief in God is rationally satisfying.

Belief in Flying Spaghetti Monsterism
(1) Believed by no one. Even the so-called advocates of the FSM do not really believe that it exists.
(2) There are no technical philosophical arguments for the FSM. Actually, there are no technical arguments of any kind for the FSM.
(3) Even those who sarcastically espouse that the FSM exists don’t really believe that the FSM exists, nor do they think that the FSM is a coherent explanation for finite contingent being, logic, morality, beauty, etc.
(4) No one really believes in the FSM, but even if they did, it would not be rationally satisfying."[1]

The Truth Ministries is in contact with several people who popularize Pastafarianism, and these agree that they do not actually accept it as truth, understanding it be a created concept used as a satire, essentially, and do not actually believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster truly exists. Books such as The God Delusion attempt to tear down weak and unfinished arguments for the existence of God, which is a rather dishonest intellectual venue of doing so, since the fully reasoned arguments are not tackled, but the weak and unfinished arguments. Belief in a god (specifically in the God of Christianity) is rational, reasonable, and logical, and there are a vast number of different arguments for His existence, whereas belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster is irrational, unreasonable, and illogical, unsupported by any philosophical arguments, and certainly not fitting the attributes of a Creator.

It is difficult to dismiss Christianity as nothing more than myths and fairly tales once the evidence is examined at face value rather than through the a prior lens, once the resurrection, the arguments for the existence of God, the archaeological confirmations of Biblical events, people and places, the preservation of Scripture, among other things. But what of intelligent design? As shown in the entry, "Is The Intelligent Design Movement A Form Of Creationism?", the ID movement's scientific research attempts to demonstrate that the Universe necessitates a Creator, but it does not specify the Creator. Some ID adherents accept the intelligent design arguments as evidence for Allah, the gods of Hinduism (such as Ganesh), for the God of Baha'i, for African or Native American gods, for Ancient Aliens, the like.

Consider the following: C.W. Eddy, in his book The Power of I Will, writes, "Our eyes have 137 million light-receptive pixels in their retinas. The cone receptors in our eyes have chemicals sensitive to different wavelengths of light that our brain represents to us as colors. Even color is a God-given representation to us in our brains. The only scientific differences in light are the measure of its wavelength. The chemicals in the cones stimulate an electrochemical response that is transmitted over the optic nerve to our brains. This information is transmitted at least thirty times per second. In the brain, the information is reconstructed into a three-dimensional hologram of our surroundings replete with depth, color, brightness, and texture."[2] It is difficult to imagine that the human eye could be the product of time plus chance plus matter, and it appears more rational to believe that the human eye was the product of an intelligent designer. 

Pastafarians state that their reason for promoting and advocating the parody religion is to show that if Intelligent Design should be taught as an alternative in schools, then every other possible alternative - including the Flying Spaghetti Monster - should be taught as well. The issue at its core is this: the very premise of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is false. The assumption is made that Intelligent Design is the same as Biblical Creationism, and as shown in the aforementioned entry, it is certainly not the same thing. There are those who utilize Intelligent Design and attempt to force Biblical Creationism into the classroom under the ID tag, but at its very core, that is not what the Intelligent Design movement is. 

"The Intelligent Design Theory—that the vast majority of its advocates are trying to get into the science classrooms—is the idea that biological life exhibits such extraordinary complexity that it could not have come to be entirely in a naturalistic vacuum. The more that science advances, the more obvious it becomes that the universe and the life that is within it could not be the result of completely random, unguided, and non-designed chance. This understanding of the Intelligent Design Theory is clearly not the same as literal biblical creationism. In fact, Intelligent Design is no more an argument for biblical creationism than it is an argument for theistic evolution."[3] Indeed, though the ID arguments may be useful to show that belief in a Creator is reasonable, Intelligent Design is not the same as Young Earth Creationism, Theistic Evolution, or other positions. 

Interestingly, the YEC organization Answers In Genesis points out, "Ironically enough, the 'members' of the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (known as 'Pastafarians'), in addition to mocking God himself, are lampooning the Intelligent Design Movement for not identifying a specific deity—that is, leaving open the possibility that a spaghetti monster could be the intelligent designer. Yet much of the motivation behind the Intelligent Design Movement is that by not identifying a creator (or creators), the movement remains free of specific religious content and (so the argument goes) does not violate the First Amendment. Thus, the satire is possible because the Intelligent Design Movement hasn’t affiliated with a particular religion, exactly the opposite of what its other critics claim! This puts the Intelligent Design Movement in a double bind of sorts: if they name a designer, they are accused of being merely a religious theory; if they name no designer, their opponents lambaste their ideas for theoretically allowing pasta monsters as deities."[4] The Flying Spaghetti Monster fails to account for or explain away the arguments of the Intelligent Design Theory. ID ought to be raised as an issue in the classroom since the naturalistic arguments that students are taught fails to demonstrate how the universe as well as the life contained within it came into existence - something from nothing - without an Intelligent Designer. Intelligent Design does not answer the who or the why, merely that there was a who.

Pastafarianism represents the growing opinion toward religion and God, and the sarcastic, sardonic and unwarranted intolerance of Christianity. To claim that Christians themselves are intolerant and yet the one making the claim also claims to be tolerant actually demonstrates that the individual claiming to be tolerant is intolerant, specifically of Christianity. This mood or view is growing more and more each year, and if Christians cannot show that belief in God, His Word, and the accounts described within that Word are not rationally defensible, more and more people will continue to give no heed to Christianity as a defensible religion, and instead continue to claim that it is unreasonable and advocated by those who cannot think for themselves. On the contrary, Christians can think rational - it is rational to believe in God, and as Christians, we ought to be able to defend what we believe, to show others that what we believe is rational, logical, and reasonable - and not a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Troy Hillman

[1] "How is belief in God any different from Flying Spaghetti Monsterism?." Got Got Questions Network, n.d. Web. 9 Aug 2011. < >.
[2] Eddy, C.W. The Power of I Will. 1st ed. New York: Pilgrim-Way, 2011. 11. Print.
[3] "How is Intelligent Design any different from belief in a Flying Spaghetti Monster?." Got Got Questions Network, n.d. Web. 9 Aug 2011. < >.
[4] Galling, Peter. "The Flying Spaghetti Monster." Answers In Genesis. Answers In Genesis, 22 Jan 2008. Web. 12 Aug 2011.

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