pulp (2006-13)

Pastafarianism: A Critical Look

Are noodles responsible for the history of mankind?

by Mike Gibson

In summer of 2005, when the Kansas State Board of Education ruled that state schools should teach the principal of Intelligent Design (ID) as an alternative to the theory of biological evolution, a few observers saw it as a thinly veiled attempt at promoting Judeo-Christian Creationism.

Hopefully, you didn’t listen to those people. In their flimsy protestations, these scientists, mathematicians, and other godless egghead types could cite nothing more compelling than ID’s complete lack of grounding in actual scientific method. Or some such ridiculous thing.

But lost in the clamor of debate was the voice of one intrepid pilgrim who, flying in the face of heathen scientists and well-intended-but-only-slightly-misguided mainstream clergy alike, struck a blow for both religious freedom and broader scientific inquiry. In a letter to the Kansas board, 25-year-old physics-graduate-turned-prophet Bobby Henderson proposed that along with Evolution and ID, Kansas schools also offer the creationist beliefs of Pastafarianism, a religion which holds that our universe was wrought by a supernatural entity known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM).

Some saw this as a thinly veiled attempt at ridiculing ID, a philosophy that is supported by roughly the same amount of empirical evidence as Pastafarianism (or perhaps slightly less). But don’t listen to those people, either; they’re just bitter, jealous cynics.

Unfortunately, like John the Baptist, Mohammed, and L. Ron Hubbard before him, Henderson met with only persecution and spite when he went public with his revelations. Rumor has it that his library privileges were even cancelled, and that he was denied entrance to a number of popular chain restaurants—particularly those whose menus don’t offer any kind of reasonably priced pasta dish.

But all of that is set to change with the arrival of Henderson’s new book , The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Random House, 2006), a tome which explains the nature of Pastafarianism and purportedly offers conclusive scientific evidence that the FSM is indeed the Creator of us all.

I say “purportedly” because, while The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is truly an inspiring work, a religious treatise on a par with the Old Testament , the Koran , and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , it is nonetheless rife with several philosophical and factual errors. In the interest of good science, sound theology, and tastier spaghetti, I will briefly review a few of the book’s more egregious mistakes.

Henderson posits that our universe was wrought several thousand years ago by the FSM, a creature composed entirely of yummy pasta. In keeping with this notion, Pastafarian artwork over the centuries clearly depicts the FSM as a Being with several flexible, pale, noodly appendages. However, closer scientific investigation reveals that once cooked, spaghetti noodles—even the really, really expensive kind—get hard and yellow within hours, if not minutes, when exposed to open air. That the FSM might have survived the eons—lacking constant refrigeration—without becoming crunchy and inedible-looking seems, well, hard to swallow.

Henderson further claims that the FSM manufactured and strategically implanted all of the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards biological evolution as the wellspring of life when He created the earth. The reason for this, Henderson alleges, is that the FSM is much less egocentric than other Supreme Beings, and didn’t want to draw attention to Himself. But this hypothesis begs the question of all those damnable Missing Links the pencil-neck evolutionists are always trying to explain away. If the FSM is truly a perfect, omniscient being, as Henderson seems to think He is, surely He wouldn’t have forgotten to cover some of His tracks. Unless, maybe, He was really in a rush. 

Also problematic is the fact that the FSM, to have created the universe, would have to have been in existence long before Italian people—and thus spaghetti—were even invented yet. Pastafarianism would be infinitely more credible if it were grounded in older, rice-based noodle-making traditions.

And I can scarcely begin to address The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster ’s conspicuous avoidance of discussing the popularity of the Atkins Diet, and its implications for carbohydrate-based religions in general. Let’s just say that denial is an ugly thing.

I’m sure that pointing out these discrepancies in TGOTFSM won’t make any difference to true Pastafarian believers, though. Faith and spirituality are personal, they’ll say, and shouldn’t be tethered by the same caveats that govern observable, objective reality. Funny, but I’ve heard a number of godless intellectual types say more-or-less the same thing.