What exactly is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and what do its followers believe in? The Flying Spaghetti Monster or FSM is supposedly a supernatural being, reminiscent of a big, floating blob of pasta noodles with two eyeballs on top and two meatballs at either side of its ‘body’. This is the so-called deity that the Pastafarians ‘worship’.
First of all, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the brainchild of Bobby Henderson in 2005, who at the time was an unemployed physics graduate. The character was first publicized when Henderson posted an open letter to the Kansas School Board on his internet site. His intention for the letter was to voice out his concern regarding the Kansas School Board’s decision to include the teaching of Intelligent Design along with the Theory of Evolution in Science subjects in the curriculum of its public schools.
Intelligent design is the idea or belief that an omnipotent being is the sole creator of the world and designer of the entire universe. This is often referred to as ‘creationism’, and related to the beliefs of numerous religious groups. In contrast, the theory of evolution states that life forms and everything else simply evolved by themselves through millions of years. He claims that if people were allowed to teach Intelligent Design as a science in public schools, then the teachings of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster should be taught as well, since they have equal rights as beliefs.
Secondly, the Pastafarians, as they are called, are described as somewhat an anti-religious religion (though they explicitly deny this on their website), spreading their propaganda through many creative ways like paintings, posters, web site blogs, photos and videos. A book was also published by Henderson, describing and elaborating on the Pastafarian beliefs he wrote about in his letter. The book was entitled ‘The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’. The book is a very elaborate satyr and an eloquently-worded criticism of both Intelligent Design and the evolutionary theory.
What constitutes Pastafarian beliefs? Since its ‘foundation’ in 2005, a lot of followers have written, collected and organized texts based on Henderson’s letter as well as his posts on his website, and have collated it into a sort of gospel scripture book entitled ‘Loose Canon: A Holy Book of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’. It is a lengthy volume, completed after five years. As Henderson states in his website, their group does not follow any kind of dogma, and members have to power to shape it and structure it according to what they want to ‘believe’ in.
Let’s take a look at some of their beliefs. Their faith lies in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who created the world as it is seen today. Their explanation as to why scientists have data and theories that are otherwise is because the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there during tests and experiments, meddling and manipulating the results with its long, noodle-like arms.
They also believe in the ‘divinity’ of pirates, which they consider to be the very first Pastafarians. According to his letter to the School Board of Kansas, the real pirates in history were not the swash-buckling kind that we see portrayed nowadays, but instead were peace-loving adventurers who gave away candy treats to children as a sign of their good will. According to their teachings, pirates have a direct effect on the ecological status of the world’s countries. This is illustrated by Henderson’s comical graph wherein the number of pirates correlates to the rising global temperature. They say that the dwindling number of the pirate population across the globe is the primary cause of global warming, adding that the country of Somalia- being the country with the most pirates- also has the least carbon footprint in all nations.
Because they hold pirates in such high regard, the official religious attire, so to speak, of the members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is full pirate regalia, worn during their meetings and congregations.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster believers also hold their own set of holidays comparable to the widely-known holidays of popular religious groups and demographics. For instance, around the time that the African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, or when the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, or when the Christian people celebrate Christmas, the Pastafarians also have a holiday of their own. It’s not so much a day as it is a season in itself. It is vaguely referred to as the ‘holiday’, and as such, they claim that the greeting ‘Happy holidays’ refers, in fact, to the Pastafarian event.
Their scriptural texts are loosely based on the Christian Bible, with references to God replaced instead with the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Since it is largely created by followers, the whole doctrine is very adaptable, so long as it stays within the confines of the ideas originally found in Henderson’s open letter.
Some people say that the followers and members of the Church of the Fling Spaghetti monster are simply creating a satirical experiment on the impact of Intelligent Design to society. However, the organization insists it is a real religion, and any forms of sarcasm and humor that can be deduced from their texts towards people who read into biblical scripture too literally are simply coincidental and have nothing to do with what they believe in.
They do not have any strict rules, and as seen on their website, they have a very easy-going attitude towards their beliefs and ideals. They believe in heaven; that is, a heaven that is comprised of a volcano that spews beer instead of lava, and a so-called stripper factory. Their version of hell is quite similar, except that in their Pastafarian hell the beer is stale, and the strippers are infected with sexually transmitted diseases.
They do not have set standards when it comes to prayers, rituals and things like that. They do, however, celebrate the ‘International Talk-like-a-Pirate Day’ on the 19th of September. They also herald Friday as a religious weekly holiday. They also have parodist terms when they say prayers. For example, instead of the usual semitic ‘Amen’, they say ‘Ramen’ instead. This is partly because the ramen is a kind of noodle dish, like spaghetti, and because most fanatics are part of the university student demographic, who like to eat instant noodles while studying.
They celebrate parody holidays of the Muslim holiday Ramadan (which is ‘Ramendan’ in Pastafarian terms) and the Jewish holiday of the Passover (the equivalent in Pastafarian is ‘Pastover’). The members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are very active propagandists, and are impressively creative at that.
Their propaganda materials consist largely of fan-mad paintings, doodles, art projects, stained-glass works, photos and videos. In the scientific community, the works of Henderson have received critical acclaim, saying it was a clever and witty way to disprove the validity of Intelligent Design. On the other hand, the people who believe in the concept of a complex intellectual being creating the world say that his parody is merely a failed effort to mock religious traditions.
Regardless of the disputes that have sparked because of the popularity of the Gospel of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it continues to get both support and disapproval from the global community up to this day. Henderson himself admits he was quite surprised at the success and infamy his letter (and subsequent following) has received. While he states he wrote the letter out of amusement, he stands by the Pastafarian belief that, if there is to be an intelligent creator being, then there is also a possibility that this being is in fact a Flying Spaghetti Monster.