Engaging & Critiquing the Logic of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Concept [#3].

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Part 2 – Bertrand Russell’s Teapot
Part 4 – To come

According to its creator Bobby Henderson, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the satirical deity behind the religion Pastafarianism that opposes the teaching of creationism in public schools as well as the Intelligent Design movement. Henderson also satirically masquerades Pastafarianism as a legitimate religion which is also a way of poking fun at fundamentalist Christian creationism (1). Henderson explains it this way,

“Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel” (2).

To my own surprise I find I have some agreement with Henderson. I say this is surprising because of just how dumb the parody really is to anyone who takes the atheist vs. religion debate remotely seriously. But I still think it makes some good points.

Firstly, although I have full respect and love for most people, including those with whom I ideologically disagree, I support the right for others to be satirical of beliefs that are rationally absurd yet still embraced in the face of reason (I’m starting to sound like Richard Dawkins here…). Things like “creation science,”  “Jesus mythicism,” “holocaust denial” etc. fall into this category.

Second, I, nor the National Center for Scientific Education, nor any of the other mainstream science organizations in America for that matter, want creationism to be part of public school curriculum. This is a major focus of the FSM concept which it provides critical commentary on. Creationism, widely criticized as religion in disguise, is not science, nor will it ever be considered science. Science must be neutral and therefore cannot be impeded or constructed upon religious ideologies.

Now for a critique of the FSM.

Firstly, I think the FSM concept will be absurd for most monotheists given that it clearly posits a god that is obviously a delusion. By delusion I mean a proposition that is perceived or thought to be true by its followers on the basis of no evidence, no compelling evidence, or in the face of evidence. For instance, Henderson has drawn (as pictured above) a representation of his FSM and it is clear that it is composed of two large meatballs surrounded by a mass of spaghetti topped with two eyeballs. It’s evident that the FSM is supposed to be a finite, physical object which, for some unexplained reason, is not perceptible to our senses. It is also depicted as somehow in finite relation to the physical world given the surrounding trees and mountain. However, a concept such as this is no different to an individual fashioning wooden idols, calling them divine beings, and then worshiping them. Created entities, whether that be wooden idols, monsters, or bowls of spaghetti, claimed by its adherents/followers as being God are by definition a delusion.

Second, the FSM, despite any claims to the contrary coming from the ranks of its fans and supporters, is kind of like Santa: we all know that he is a fictional character created to excite children. Similarly, we all know that the FSM is an imaginary creation on the part of Henderson to challenge creationism, religion, and Intelligent Design. If Henderson and his supporters maintain that belief in the FSM is fully genuine then he must be declared deluded just as the adult person who believes in Santa would be similarly deluded. This would be the case for all fans and worshipers of the FSM unless they can bring some compelling evidence to the table that this entity exists. A pencil sketch will not suffice.

Thirdly, we could suppose that Henderson is the prophet of this FSM whose goal is to reveal this entity to human beings. After all, it is he who is the brain work behind the concept. But then suppose that Henderson maintains that we should take his belief seriously and that he is really convinced, then our recourse should be to want to know what reasons we would have to trust Henderson’s conviction and message. This shouldn’t be controversial, after all, we don’t accept Islam just because Muhammad tells us to, nor do we accept the testimony of Jesus Christ because he claimed to have come and rescue sinners without having reasons to trust the testimony. 

Fourthly, this brings us to the importance of having reasons for belief, also known as arguments. What arguments have been posited for the FSM that attempt to justify belief in its existence? What intellectuals have come to believe in the FSM on the basis of arguments and reasons? To the contrary, when it comes to monotheism, many intellectuals have come to belief based on critical thinking and the evaluating of arguments. It would appear that Pastafarianism has some major work to do in this department. Philosopher William Craig explains,

“What about the other theistic arguments? The contingency argument, if successful, proves the existence of a metaphysically necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe. That conclusion is also incompatible with the Sufficient Reason of all things being the Flying Spaghetti Monster, since as a physical object (even if invisible to our senses) he can be neither metaphysically necessary, timeless, spaceless, nor immaterial” (3).

These arguments deliver a hammer blow to any rational justification of the FSM. From Big Bang cosmology monotheists have grounds for believing in the existence of a beginningless, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, enormously powerful creator of the universe. Again, a being with such attributes cannot be anything like the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Did the FSM somehow exist in its physical form prior to the Big Bang event? Could it bring the physical universe into being? As per the moral argument, can it ground moral values? One could argue similarly from the other several arguments for God’s existence. Craig thus concludes,

“The real lesson to be learned from the case of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is that it shows how completely out of touch our popular culture is with the great tradition of natural theology” (5).

So, as mentioned, in some ways I like the FSM concept. I think it brings much needed criticism of Intelligent Design and creationism which both seem to be a continual and unwanted hindrance. However, it is clear that the FSM concept possesses some obvious and glaring issues if it is to be taken at all seriously.

References.

1. Henderson, B. Open Letter To Kansas School Board. Available.

2. Henderson, B. Ibid.

3. Craig, W. 2007. God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Available.

4. Craig, W. 2007. Ibid.

5. Craig, W. 2007. Ibid.

 

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19 responses to “Engaging & Critiquing the Logic of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Concept [#3].

  1. Pingback: Engaging & Critiquing Bertrand Russell’s Teapot: Is Belief in God Irrational? [#2] | James Bishop's Theological Rationalism·

  2. Nobody said the FSM was a serious depiction of an eternal being who created pasta in His own image and personally designed organisms by carefully and continually tweaking and re-adjusting DNA-base pairs and enzymes of organisms over periods of millions of years, and letting the majority of cousin species go extinct for every species that carried on the line of surviving tweaks, who even employs mass extinction events every hundred million years or so, and … Continued

    • hmmm… you are aware that you are assuming that such things as those natural marvels could not somehow be employed condoned and/or employed by a God?

      Moreover, how would you justify these things as bad? To me it is quite plain that you are assuming that an allegedly morally perfect being would not do these “evil” things that cause pain to conscious life forms? How would I accept that this is more than just your subjective preference?

      • I was referring to the less than linear (but more like a bushy proliferation of life forms) spreading out over time with branches of species growing bushy then most of the limbs of those evolutionary branches simply fall off, long before humans ever arrived on the scene. Like a Tinkerer shaking an etch-I sketch every now and then, or trying to get the round ballls into the eyes of the tilty toy but missing lots of times and taking millions of years to get there.

        What also can one say about any Being employing such a process in the first place? What kind of Being makes a cosmos where death/life and evolution/extinction are merely in equilibrium since long before humans even arrived and uses such a process to create humans?

      • It’s not a question of evil, but competence. Plenty of evidence of trial and error over vast periods of time. Present day humans also arrived very late on the scene and could be gone tomorrow with plenty of stars and planets yet to form, and stars continuing to burn for billions more years. One can easily imagine a less human-centric, less “one true religion” centric explanation of the cosmos.

  3. Continued… and always kept in mind the design of the human species even if He had to first fill the planet with unknown numbers of now extinct monkey and ape species, not to mention some extinct species of humans, to eventually get to modern day humans which as everyone can see is a completely finished product and in no need of further design at all, no more supernatural tinkering needed on the human genome, and damned be scientists for even imagining otherwise, because now that humans exist there’s nothing left for the designer to do biologically speaking, we can relax and just wait for the Designer to hand out eternal rewards or punishments to said humans.

    • “Supernatural tinkering” does not exercise fidelity to my views, if you mean it in the context of biological development. This would only apply to special creationists, a view I think is quite absurd.

      • It seems the dominant view at the Discovery Institute among Intelligent Design proponents, along with their continued defense of a literal first human couple. I was also attempting to convey that the FSM parody even touched upon beliefs in unseen places, unseen rewards and punishments, like heaven and hell, and touched upon human centrism in general including a belief that the present species of human being has reached its peak biologically and genomically speaking, and that was exactly what the Designer had been aiming at over all that time and all those mutations.

        • I think an important distinction must be made. I argued that the FSM rests on shaky grounds, thus would suggest it reasonable to reject any concepts it, or is founder, proposes in terms of “unseen places.” It would therefore seem like a pointless analogy. The real question then is whether or not any religions have a good espistemic and evidential warrant in some place that would seem to justify belief in unseen places or rewards/punishments that it proposes exists.

          • You said something similar about Russell’s teapot metaphor not being literally believable.and I agreed and found P and WLCs attempts to critique it in a literal manner laughable. In the case of the FSM it originated to satirize IDIst testimony at the Dover trial based on what they told the court, namely that the Intelligent Designer hypothesis had no lack of possible Designers, not just the depictions of God found in the Bible. So they asked, could the ID be a Flying Spaghetti Monster as fleshed out in the holy writings of the FSM sect with accompanying holy threats and promises? Never mind that it sounded stupid, since eternal punishment sounds stupid to some Christians too, as well as a literal New Jerusalem. Moreover, there have always been difficulties trying to reconcile the god of the philosophers with the depictions of god in the Bible, And of course if one is going to metaphorically reinterpret the Bible why not do the same with the holy scriptures of the FSM, and allow conservative, moderate and liberal interpreters? This is not to say that satire proves anything. But nor do attempts by apologists to try and counter attack it with literalistic logic.

          • Yes, that is the real question, and one can read philosophers of religion critiquing each other’s views on such questions and find that some of them seem just as certain that Yahweh as depicted in the Bible makes as little sense as the FSM, while others are of the opposite opinion, and still,others believe in various forms theism without declaring that any particular holy writing contains the sole truth.

      • Discordianism was one of the earliest clever faux religions, which influenced Robert Anton Wilson, as well as the Church of the Sub-Genius, and many more faux religions. You can find quotations from the Principia Discordia . It involves a metaphorical worship or appreciation of the Greek goddess of Chaos, Eris, who tossed the golden apple of discord into the chamber of the gods. Though Wilson’s questions and answers concerning True and False assertions along with his responses to each assertion are probably more to the point.

          • https://principiadiscordia.com

            From somewhere on the site…

            My name is Jake… and I’m a Discordian… I don’t really know how I got wrapped up in all of this… “A joke disguised as a religion, or a religion disguised as a joke” was the soundbite description I got. “Perfect!” I thought. I’m not religious, and the guys who wrote this silly holy book, the Principia Discordia, seem to have a sense of humor that parallels mine, so why not mess around by pretending to be a Discordian?
            Here’s the thing, though: pretending to be a Discordian and actually being a Discordian are not all that different.

    • Speaking of Robert Anton Wilson,

      Answer True or False to each assertion below (a test devised by Robert Anton Wilson to expand one’s thinking a little beyond black and white alternatives and lean one toward asking further questions in each case. The original test appeared in Wilson’s book, The New Inquisition, but variants have appeared on the web—variant assertions are included below. Responses can be found via googling each assertion, though Wilson supplies his own interesting responses in The New Inquisition):

      Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade. T or F?

      PQ = QP T or F?

      The statement below is false. T or F?

      The above statement is true. T or F?

      All mathematics can be deduced by Set Theory. T or F?

      Any set, which is part of another set, is smaller than the set of which it originally came from. T or F?

      Lil Wayne is an ugly manwhore. (Or choose as an alternative, Paris Hilton is an ugly slut.) T or F?

      There is another full-fledged planet somewhere in our solar system. T or F?

      The infamous Dr. Crippen poisoned his wife. T or F?

      The Nazis killed 6,000,000 Jews. T or F?

      All human beings are created equal. T or F?

      Capitalism is doomed by internal contradictions. T or F?

      Continued…

      • Continued…

        Marilyn Monroe was the most beautiful woman of her time. (Or choose as an alternative, The person I married, live with, the people I have hooked up with, are the most beautiful/handsome in the world.) T or F?

        Francis Bacon wrote Hamlet. T or F?

        Lady Chatterly’s Lover is a sexist novel. T or F?

        Lady Chatterly’s Lover is a pornographic novel (Or choose as an alternative, “Destroy My Ass Volume III” is a dirty flick.) T or F?

        Vapors saturate my dreams in a colorless fashion. T or F?

        The Magisterium of the Catholic Church is infallible in matters of faith and dogma. T or F?

        The Bible interprets itself and is infallible in matters of faith and dogma. T or F?

        Salvador Dali is a better artist than M. C. Escher. T or F?

        Entropy increases in all closed systems. T or F?

        Nothing remains of the pacing famous sea but its speech and into its talkative seven tombs the anchor dives through the floor of a church. (Or choose as an alternative, A boy has never wept nor dashed a thousand kim.) T or F?

        God has spoken to me. T or F?

        I am the Divine Effulgence of the Living God. T or F?

        My spouse has always been faithful to me. T or F?

        I am probably not as smart as I think I am. T or F?

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