The Flying Spaghetti Monster Is No Different From Any Other God

Lindsay M Miller License PhotoI always like the opportunity to pass along good news, so I’m very pleased to report that Lindsay M Miller finally got her Massachusetts driver’s license. The issue is that she is a Pastafarian — a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. As part of her religious observances, she wears a colander on her head. By Massachusetts’ law, people cannot wear head coverings unless they are “for medical or religious reasons.” Clearly, the colander is part of her religion. This really isn’t a hard case and that may be why it only took two months to resolve the matter and get the driver’s license picture seen on the left.

The reason this is even an issue is because people feel confident about old and large religions. When I was a kid, I used to hear that the Mormon Church was actually a cult. It was just a way for one religion to delegitimize another religion. Of course, the problem is even more extreme with things like the Satanic Temple and Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They seem as though they aren’t actually religions but just groups designed to make fun of religions. The problem with that thinking is that there is no reason to make that distinction.

Pastafarians believe, “The central creation myth is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe ‘after drinking heavily.'”

What is a religion? Truly, I don’t think it is any different than any other group or organization. The Catholic Church and the Elks Lodge and a bowling team are really all the same. But I will admit, that religions normally deal with more fundamental ontological issues. But this has been one of my great disappointments with most religious people here in the US: they aren’t much interested (or even aware of) ontology. And so that really does make them nothing fundamentally different from the Karaoke events at Double Decker Lanes.

According to Wikipedia, the Pastafarians believe, “The central creation myth is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe ‘after drinking heavily.'” I don’t accept this. It is utterly contrary to what we know from negative theology. The problem is that so are the creation myths of every other religion that I know about. The best explanation that I’ve ever heard of the Christian creation myth is that God created the universe in the same way that Mozart created The Marriage of Figaro: as an act of pure creativity. The same can be said of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

So, are the Pastafarians making fun of religious people? To some extent, I’m sure they are. But mostly, they are just having fun. They are making sense of the world in a way that speaks to them. (Wikipedia: “The Pastafarian conception of Heaven includes a beer volcano and a stripper (or sometimes prostitute) factory. The Pastafarian Hell is similar, except that the beer is stale and the strippers have sexually transmitted diseases.”) The complaints that some religious people have about the Church of the Fly Spaghetti Monster are the same as the complaints they have of all other religions: that they don’t take the complainer’s religion seriously enough.

But in all my life, there is nothing that I feel the need to defend against mockery. I’m a big Don Quixote fan. If people mock the books or my love of them, it means nothing to me other than that they are people of very little taste. This is why I think more and more that a lot of religious people are lying about their beliefs. They really do think that the Bible (or whatever other book they follow) isn’t telling them the truth. And it terrifies them to see other reasonable people thinking that those beliefs are silly.

18 thoughts on “The Flying Spaghetti Monster Is No Different From Any Other God

  1. I am not surprised it took that long for the woman to win the right to wear her religious object on her head.

    What I am also not surprised at is how little the Christian right has considered what it means when they demand we respect their “sincerely held beliefs” in law. This is going to happen more and more as non-Christian faiths like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Satanic Temple among others demand to have their beliefs respected. I do think that eventually judges all the way up to SCOTUS will stop allowing exemptions like the Hobby Lobby decision to continue because there is nothing that allows for a secular judge to determine someone’s sincerely held belief and that means it is easier to just stay out of the fights between the different types of religion.

    • I don’t know: the Christians on the Court seem to be fine with special pleading. That’s why the Christian right hasn’t thought about this. Only Christian beliefs can be sincerely held because they are right.

      • That is true although since Kennedy is 79, it is possible that the Satanic Temple test cases will hit the Court after he is gone and his replacement will be picked by either Clinton or Sanders.

        • I’m afraid that if Clinton is the next president, the Senate will have to change the filibuster again, because the Republicans won’t allow anyone to be confirmed.

            • I always try to be understanding. The truth is that it is hard to be poor in this country. We set up a situation where poor people have to work 2-3 part time jobs that don’t allow them extra time off to vote. And then, we make sure that the places where poor people vote are underfunded so that poor people have to wait a long time. So I really see it as a systemic problem. Where I have a complaint is with young people. They are the ones who are destroying our democracy. Just the same, I don’t think we do a good job of teaching them that there are great responsibilities in living in a democracy. I hate the bumper sticker “Freedom Isn’t Free” because it is a dog whistle for “Support ever increasing military funding.” But the truth is that freedom isn’t free — it requires constant tending too like a garden does.

              • Shortly after the 2008 elections the youth vote thing got a lot harder to do.
                http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/us/college-students-claim-voter-id-laws-discriminate-based-on-age.html?_r=0

                Of course since the youth vote was trending against Republicans, they are part of the giant block of voters that the Republicans push hard to keep from being able to vote. So if you have college students who are politically aware-and many are-they find it harder to vote because they don’t get to have on campus polling places, they are not allowed to use their student IDs despite many of them having the same identifying information as required by state law for regular IDs, and on and on.

                The non-college students are stuck in the same boat their parents are in, they have to get two or three jobs to get a car and help out with the family bills while also trying to support the children they have for various different reasons.

                There are those who do want to vote and it is the poor and young even though there are huge barriers put in their way. They have an actual reason to not vote since it is a low reward, high effort situation. The ones who do not have any reason or excuse are the ones who stubbornly insist the parties are exactly the same, hate partisan bickering and think that Obama should just show some leadership and the Republicans will fall in line. (Yes, I just heard that from someone who claims to be a moderate. *sigh*)

                • You mean like Carey Wedler?!

                  I understand. I particularly hate the “parties are the same” argument. They wouldn’t be if you voted! As I’ve been trying to explain to liberals for years, you don’t get a social democratic government in one election. First you get Obama. Then maybe you get a Bernie Sanders’ed Hillary Clinton. And then, maybe you get a social democrat with a Congress to go along with it. It’s politics, not Santa Claus.

                  • Moderates or moderate liberals seem to think that without a Paladin to ride to our rescue, we cannot get any change whatsoever. It is possible because we are used to instant gratification in this country but they rarely seem to want to wait for change to happen. This despite clear evidence it takes decades to make major changes-women’s right to vote took 73 years nationally. Ending slavery took a civil war and well over 200 years (depending on how you look at it.) It took 44 years for marriage equality.

                    It is frustrating and it takes so much effort to educate them, then get them registered then drag them to the polls.

                    • At the same time, things that are quickly changed can be quickly changed back. The long struggle makes the success most durable. We just need to get these people to understand it.

                    • Yep, which is why we are still having the fight over Roe v Wade. It happened too quickly. So when SCOTUS overturns it next year (and I fully believe it will), it is going to take a big chunk of time to get things fixed however I think it will last a lot longer.

                    • Yes. Although note: it wasn’t that big a deal at the time. It was only later that the bigots of the Republican Party convinced the Bob Jones University types that they could keep their schools segregated if they demagogued the issue. Sure, the Catholics hated it, but they hate the death penalty too, and look at all the good that has done.

                    • The emergence of the Moral Majority has hurt this country in so many ways.

                    • It also hurt the Republican Party. The old Democratic coalition with the southern Democrats was far less distorting than the Republicans’ social conservatives and anti-regulation business types. I’m amazed it has held together this long.

                    • Part of that is how carefully managed the party is by the insiders. Even with the loss of earmarks, people like Rove and Norquist are pretty good at keeping the members mostly in line and the natural tendency toward authoritarianism.

                      But it should have smashed to pieces by now and yet, it is has not.

                    • Again: Conservatives Without Conscience. Really, I think it comes down to the fact that America has a major problem with racism, and the Republicans have been brilliant at exploiting it.

    • Elizabeth, they have an answer for this: their religion is legitimate and others are not. They have no problem believing this is Constitutional and properly American in spirit. David Barton and others like him have provided the script for their fantasy.

      • Oh I know. But I enjoy the expressions on their faces when they realise suddenly that they don’t get to force it on others like the ones in Texas when the Greater Church of Lucifer opened up.

        Plus, as I said, eventually even the Christians on the bench will stop meddling because they don’t want the headaches.

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