Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Intelligent Designer or Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Commentary by Dick Dorworth


Dick Dorworth

It is self-evident that if there is an intelligent designer of the creation, She, He or It would have been a lot smarter about the design of several aspects of the universe, especially the part of it where humans live. Skiers, for instance, could use a better designed knee, and the human brain should come equipped with an operations manual. An intelligent designer would have known that having more than one religion among humans would lead to spiritual chaos, intellectual anarchy along parallel and increasingly narrow points of view, surly and ungenerous attitudes towards those of the next view east (and west), burnings at the stake, completely absurd and unbelievable creation myths, war and the death of humor. It is also self-evident that any intelligent designer of the universe is: (a) still working on the design (that is, the design is evolving), which would at least include intelligence, or (b) is as dumb as a rock of the Paleozoic.

The state of Kansas (as well as some school districts in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland and Montana) is considering the teaching of a faux scientific theory called Intelligent Design (ID) in its schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution without, of course, examining the premise of the previous sentence or identifying ID as Christian code for Creationism. While the ID of Creationism is as valid and worthy of respect as any other religious belief, as scientific knowledge it is more chaotic than intelligently designed.

Out of the current chaos swirling around teaching faith-based science in Kansas has emerged a bright ray of humor and what is being called "perhaps the world's fastest growing 'religion' and maybe its most improbable." It is called the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and its adherents worship His Noodliness and refer to themselves as Pastafarians who end prayers and sermons with "ramen." Its Prophet is Bobby Henderson, a 25-year-old unemployed physics graduate of Oregon State University. The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) appeared to Henderson in a dream earlier this year. Though Henderson does not view himself as a starchy version of Abraham, Moses, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Jim Jones or David Koresh, his divine inspiration presented itself to him as a satire on the attempt by some Christian groups to mix religious belief with scientific theory and call it Intelligent Design. ID has the support of such religious proponents of science as President George Bush and Senator Bill Frist, among others, because, unlike science, it relies on the existence of a god. However, it does not specifically identify which god.

Enter the Flying Spaghetti Monster. In an open letter to the Kansas Board of Education last July, Henderson wrote, ""I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory 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. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

"It is for this reason that I'm writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action.

"I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One-third time for Intelligent Design, one-third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one-third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence."

He has received thousands of e mails and letters since being visited by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Three were favorable ones from members of the Kansas Board of Education who are not in favor of teaching ID as science. Approximately 95 percent of Henderson's letters have been positive. Five percent have been negative and have expressed a belief that he will be going to hell.

Henderson may have created a (parody) monster. On his Web site (, one can make a donation or purchase through Sacrilicious, the FSM store, T-shirts, coffee mugs and various graphic art works of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, including original artwork by Prophet Henderson, none better than a drawing for the Kansas Museum of Science in the style of a 5-year-old of a stick-figure human riding a dinosaur with two stick-figure people holding spears to keep the beast in line, titled "5,000 years ago man conquered the huge beasts who roamed the lands ... "

"I don't have a problem with religion," Henderson says. "What I have a problem with is religion posing as science. If there is a god and he's intelligent, then I would guess he has a sense of humor."

I would guess.

It's enough to revive one's faith.

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