Monday, August 4, 2014

Pirates and Pasta - The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

 “Global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.”

What madness is this?

Fear not, good friends. There is no madness here. It’s not some person with no grasp of cause and effect. It’s the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

In 2005, Bobby Henderson, a physics student and proponent of common sense, learned that the Kansas School Board was considering whether or not to include the “alternate theory” of Intelligent Design in the school curriculum.

Bobby believes in science, and he also believes in logic. And logic says that, if you are going to teach one “alternate theory” of creation, you need to teach them all. He whipped out a letter to the Kansas School Board illustrating just how silly the religious argument sounds to those not indoctrinated into that religion, and sent it off. When he received no answer, he posted it on line.

Soon hundreds, then thousands of people wanted to know more about the Spaghetti Monster, his religion, Pastafarianism (as he called it - see what he did there?) and the FSM's chosen people, the pirates. As the phenomenon grew, serious science and religious groups such as the American Academy of Religions began using the concept of the FSM as a tool to discuss issues such as “What is a religion?”

And so a religion was born.

Henderson had only meant to create one piece of satire, but scientists, bloggers, and a general host of those who worry about the way schools are encouraged to teach religion made the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster a talking point to explain how:

1. It’s impossible to disprove the existence of ANY invisible, all-powerful being that does not want to be seen, and how this puts the burden of proof on the believer (if proof is required.)

2. Correlation (the fact that some things happen at the same time as others) is not the same as Causation (some things being caused by others.

3. Gravity is “just a theory, too.” (Pastafarians believe that gravity does not exist, and that we are held to the earth by the Noodly Appendages of the FSM.)

Hence, the talk about how a lack of pirates “causes” Global Warming. Conveniently, Somalia - home to modern day pirates – has some of the lowest carbon emissions on the planet, and therefore less warming. Though it’s actually caused by the kind of civil unrest and governmental decay that drives people to become pirates, it’s a nice touch.

Soon, Bobby created the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an official religious book for the organization (recognized as such by the US Army) and the 7 “I’d Really Rather You Didn’t –s”, in response to the Ten Commandments.  He claimed that heaven is where there is plenty of beer and strippers (both male and female, gay and straight) and that hell is where the beer is flat and the strippers have VD.

This signaled a new development in the church’s history. Fun loving people wanted the trappings of a “real” religion. But Bobby’s writings are carefully non-sexist, non-dogmatic. He informs his readers that, spiritually, there is no difference between men and women, and urges people to “Just play nice, okay?”

Many who are drawn to the FSM because of the elements of parody in the Church stay because of this officially sanctioned plea for rationality. The statues of the FSM have been carried in countless parades, and bowls of pasta have appeared at serious political protests in Eastern Europe, symbolizing the importance of personal belief, rather than religious dogma.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is popular at college campuses, possibly because the Church teaches that the reason the world is so messed up is that the FSM created it while drunk. With the energy and passion associated with young people, the students (and some older folk) dress as pirates in order to spread the word.

You see, it’s absolutely required that, in respect for the original pirates, those who talk about the faith must dress in full pirate regalia (or at least an eye patch).

What’s the point? Fun, in part. But fun with a purpose. Pirates have always symbolized the rejection of authoritarianism. To those who feel that a smaller and smaller group of religious fanatics is having a greater and greater effect on the way the world is run, the Spaghetti Monster is a benevolent, humorous form of protest. It’s also an enjoyable snack.

In addition, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the number one contributor to its chosen charity, the micro-lending site KIVA, which funds third world farms and businesses.

Plans to build a pirate ship are on hold right now.

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