Summary of reply: Belief is in the eye of the believer, Christianity’s claims to textual support fail, and the argument that evidence for God is all around works for the Flying Spaghetti Monster just as well.
(These Bite-Size Replies are responses to “Quick Shots,” brief Christian responses to atheist challenges. The introduction to this series is here.)
Challenge to the Christian: Believing in God is the same as believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM).
Christian response #1: No one believes in the FSM, not even its creator! The creator protested religion by equating worship of the FSM (Pastafarianism) with religions. He failed.
BSR: The FSM was invented in 2005 to protest a proposal to teach Intelligent Design in Kansas public schools alongside evolution. Since the state school board was in effect declaring biology class open to all comers, Bobby Henderson insisted they add his own variant of Intelligent Design, with the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the Creator of the universe and life as we know it. As a lampoon of Intelligent Design (see his quote at the end of this post), it worked brilliantly.
Pastafarianism claims many earnest followers and even states that the faith has splintered into sects (as you’d expect from any religion that specified precisely one correct worldview). You’re welcome to laugh at Pastafarians, but don’t deny them the government rights that you enjoy for your Christian beliefs. And don’t insist on government oversight that judges who’s an honest follower of Pastafarianism unless you want the same critique for your Christian beliefs.
You’re welcome to laugh at the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but don’t deny its followers the government rights that you enjoy for your Christian beliefs. [Click to tweet]
Christian response #2: Textual evidence for God is far better than that for imaginary characters.
BSR: Let’s go with the assumption that the FSM was manmade. We have the foundational document, Bobby Henderson’s letter to the school board.
But things don’t look any better for Christianity. We don’t have the foundational documents for Christianity, and the origins of Christianity fade into the mists of history. For the gospels, the per-chapter average time gap between original authorship and our oldest copies is two centuries. This is flimsy support for Christianity’s incredible claims.
The best the Christian can say is that Christianity is so old that it’s untestable, but this is nothing to brag about. If Hinduism, Jainism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, and a thousand other venerable religions are in the bin labeled Mythology and Legend, then so is Christianity, and for the same reasons.
Or let’s look at it from another angle. In less than two centuries, Mormonism went from a nutty invention to a venerable religion. Give Pastafarianism the same amount of time, and who knows?
Christianity is so old it’s untestable. Its origins fade into the mists of history. That’s nothing to brag about. [Click to tweet]
Christian response #3: We don’t need to compare founding documents. We find clues to God in nature—design in biology, finely tuned universe, objective morality, and more. Not so for the FSM.
BSR: The “evidence from nature” claim is the usual list of arguments—the Argument from Design, the Argument from Morality, and so on. Problem 1 is that these arguments all fail. Problem 2 is that these are deist arguments, and they support most gods equally. Support for God is support for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And if the properties of the FSM aren’t optimal to take advantage of some particular deist argument, then change the properties. Remember that God relatively recently acquired omniscience, omnipotence, timelessness, and other superpowers. In Genesis, he was just an old-fashioned, limited-power kind of god. If God can level up over time, so can the FSM.
The supernatural explains nothing satisfactorily in our world today. New scientific puzzles will likely be answered by science, and God continues to be a solution searching for a problem.
The deist arguments Christians claim support their supernatural claims will support the Flying Spaghetti Monster just as well. [Click to tweet]
(The Quick Shot I’m replying to is here.)
For further reading:
- “Argument #15: The Flying Spaghetti Monster” in Bad Atheist Arguments? Let’s Investigate 16 of Them. (Part 4)
- 25,000 New Testament Manuscripts? Big Deal.
- How Long from Original New Testament Books to Oldest Copies?
- The Inadequate Deist Argument
- Argument from Design BUSTED!
- How Much Faith to Be an Atheist? Geisler and Turek’s Moral Argument.
- 12 Reasons Why Jesus Is a Legend
- Christianity Can’t be Deduced from Nature
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 [Pastafarianism],
and one third time for logical conjecture
based on overwhelming observable evidence.
— Bobby Henderson, 2005
(letter to the Kansas school board)
Image from Wikimedia, public domain