Michelangelo’s iconic The Creation of Adam painting has been satirized by the anti-creationist Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I myself have had this iconic doodle thrown at me in response to several inquiries and posts and memes. So let us explore how this came about- Wikipedia not withstanding.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster promotes various philosophical convictions. Type it in a search engine you will get about 781,000 hits. 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.1 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.2 This basically puts a new twist on the old idea of ‘Russell’s teapot’3, which states that the burden of proof for scientifically unfalsifiable claims lies on the one(s) making the claims.4 Also known as Pastafarians (cute isn’t it), the members claim that the undetectable FSM created the universe.
A movement has grown up around this idea, involving all sorts of lore and rituals. 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 their discussion however, there is a lack of distinction between creationism and intelligent design, presumably because this is not considered important and is typical of those who wish to denigrate those who live by faith. In their opinion, both beliefs 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 they might have to eventually give account to.
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 as we all know is completely 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 despite the openly antagonistic attitude by major publishers (see http://retractionwatch.com)
In stark contrast, there appears to be only spurious, tongue-in-cheek support for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.7 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.
This ‘church’ fails to see that evolution is scientifically unfalsifiable! 8
The biggest irony however is that this ‘church’ fails to see that evolution is scientifically unfalsifiable! The theory of evolution has changed significantly in the evidences used and the mechanisms proposed. The only claim that seems to remain constant is that evolution happened.
Any theory about an event that happened in the past simply cannot be proven scientifically. This highlights the differences between origins science and operational science. Origins science, including both creation and evolution, can only make inferences about happenings in the past from evidence at hand in the present.
1 Langton, J., In the beginning there was the Flying Spaghetti Monster, telegraph.co.uk, 11 September 2005.
2 Henderson, B., Open Letter to Kansas School Board, 7 April 2007
3 Designating the quality of a hypothesis, proposition, or theory such that no empirical test can mandate that it is untrue.
4 Russell, B., Is There A God? 1952, russell.mcmaster.ca.
5 Vergano, D., ‘Spaghetti Monster’ is noodling around with faith, usatoday.com, 27 March 2006
6 Lauder, S., Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster fights for recognition in Australia, abc.net.au, 18 December 2015.
7 Henderson, B., The BBC has endorsed the Pastafarian universe-origin theory, venganza.org, 2 November 2015
8 Falsifiability or refutability of a statement, hypothesis, or theory is the inherent possibility that it can be proven false. A statement is called falsifiable if it is possible to conceive of an observation or an argument which negates the statement in question. In this sense, falsify is synonymous with nullify, meaning to invalidate or “show to be false”. The concern with falsifiability gained attention by way of philosopher of science Karl Popper’s scientific epistemology “falsificationism”. Popper stresses the problem of demarcation—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience.