I’m mentioned in the piece because I fall in the latter category. Greg Epstein doesn’t go quite that far.
For many atheists like Mehta, the satire is a positive part of the atheist experience and provides a safe haven for nonbelievers.
“If I go to a Christian church, some people have a habit of speaking ‘Christianese.’ Atheists don’t have that,” Mehta said. “But you can say ‘I’m a Pastafarian,’ and people will say, ‘Oh, you’re one of us.’ It gives us a way to bond over our non religion.”
Greg Epstein, the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University — a group of mostly atheists and agnostics who insist ethical behavior doesn’t require religion — expressed concern over how much airtime the banter gets.
“The Flying Spaghetti Monster … may be hysterically funny, but just cracking ramen jokes … does not constitute a meaningful alternative to traditional religion,” he said.“If we can take the energy that goes into cracking jokes and put it into positive acts, we could really change the world for the better.”
Before you rip on Greg for being waaaaay too kind to “traditional religion,” keep in mind the article discusses the recent church vandalism issue and I would consider that a very positive act.
Regarding the whole “parody or more” question, I don’t think it’s a clear dichotomy. Even jokes can help us understand larger truths — just look at The Daily Show.
The fact that Pastafarians can use the same kinds of language, symbolism, and rules to describe our “faith” that religious people use to describes theirs makes a *huge* point: This is all nonsense.
The only difference is that our side can actually admit that.