The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is in the news again of late. The Australian chapter laments that they are falling behind progress in New Zealand, where the ‘church’ has recently been granted permission to perform weddings.1 Jeff Montgomery, New Zealand’s registrar-general of Births, Deaths and Marriages, has deemed that the group fulfil the requirement to “uphold or promote philosophical convictions” and can therefore nominate marriage celebrants.
They certainly do promote philosophical convictions. For those unfamiliar with this group, it began in Kansas in 2005 when a satirical letter was sent to the Kansas State Board of Education, protesting the teaching of intelligent design alongside the teaching of evolution.2 In the letter, Bobby Henderson poked fun at creationism, claiming that there was instead a Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) in the sky, changing the carbon dates of minerals with “His Noodly Appendage”. He also claimed that his belief was as valid as intelligent design.3 This basically puts a new twist on the old idea of ‘Russell’s teapot’, which states that the burden of proof for scientifically unfalsifiable claims lies on the one(s) making the claims.4
A movement has grown up around this idea, involving all sorts of lore and rituals. Also known as Pastafarians, the members claim that the undetectable FSM created the universe and that Bobby Henderson is his prophet. They wear colanders on their heads, claim that the original adherents were pirates and discuss supposed sightings of their ‘deity’.5 Their beliefs are unashamedly secular humanist. One of their ‘ordained ministers’ explained that the FSM does not discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation—or even gluten intolerance!6
In the discussion however, there is a lack of distinction between creationism and intelligent design, presumably because this is not considered important. In their opinion, both rely on some kind of intelligence for the appearance of our universe, which goes against their humanistic worldview. The overriding principle appears to be that the universe was not made by any intelligent being to whom we might have to give account.
There is a certain amount of irony to the group’s claims. The implication is that both creationism and intelligent design are completely unscientific in their approaches, which is of course patently untrue. Although still a minority in the scientific community, there are significant numbers of highly qualified scientists who support creationist views. Numerous papers have been peer reviewed and published.7 In stark contrast, there appears to be only spurious, tongue-in-cheek support for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.8 In addition, the protests of the Pastafarians are aimed at keeping genuine scientific evidence of views that oppose evolutionary naturalism out of classrooms, thus reinforcing their view that there actually IS no evidence for them.
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