Why I Love Pastafarians

Why I Love Pastafarians April 1, 2018

If Voltaire were alive today, he’d be wearing a pasta strainer too!

Image courtesy of The Telegraph UK

Satire has a rich literary tradition. Writers in antiquity such as Juvenal and Aristophanes lampooned the excesses and delusions of their time. Voltaire ridiculed humankind for its presumption and self-centered perspective, while Jonathan Swift savaged the social and political hypocrisy he saw in Europe.

Keeping that noble tradition alive are modern-day Pastafarians. You may not have heard of them, but they pretend to worship a deity they call the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and (keeping up the pasta theme) wear spaghetti strainers on their heads. How better to confront the issues of secularism and the political influence of religion?

It’s tough to narrow it down, but in the interests of brevity I’ve decided to present three major reasons I admire Pastafarians:

They zero in on exactly what’s wrong with religion.

It should be obvious to anyone who has spent time in the discussions on Patheos Nonreligious that religion is a vast and problematic historical construct. Pastafarians, therefore, should be commended for their ability to focus in on the core problems of the phenomenon: religious people worship beings that don’t exist, and they wear funny hats.

If you’re like me, you’re probably kicking yourself right now for the amount of time you’ve spent criticizing religion for the way it perpetuates oppressive power structures, appeals to people’s credulity and desperation, and legitimizes inhumane prejudices against women and the LGBTQ community. But that’s all just window dressing. The stark reality of religion, laid bare by the incisive satire of the Pastafarians, is that religious people worship “gods” that are no more literally real than cartoon characters. And they wear funny hats.

It’s no surprise that the Pastafarians got their start during the evolution wars, when they showed that everyone was defining the conflict in a host of completely counter-productive ways that were perpetuating instead of solving the matter. Rather than seeing the issues of intelligent design and teaching creationism in schools in the context of American social history, involving long-standing regional and socioeconomic divisions, having to do with issues of community self-determination and the ever-politicized minefield of public education, or even dealing with the matters of scientific consensus and expert argumentation, the Pastafarians cut to the core of the debate: the question of whether the intelligent designer is or isn’t the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Because of their input, as we know, creationism and intelligent design disappeared, everyone accepts evolution by natural selection, and no school board in the USA has ever had to deal with those matters since.

They send an important message to nonbelievers.

In the past few decades, various nonbelievers, humanists, skeptics, and atheists have fought to get society to recognize the value of a nonreligious outlook. This push to normalize nonbelief has been a tough struggle, as the social stigma against atheism is such a tenacious bias in society.

The Pastafarians, in their wisdom, have an ingenious approach to nonbelievers’ campaign for inclusion in public discourse. They merely pretend to be religious, and then demand respect on the grounds that all religious people deserve respect. What could be more conducive to overcoming society’s exclusion of the nonreligious than that?

Such is the brilliance of the Pastafarians. All that time we’ve spent in the nonreligious community trying to broaden the scope of society’s discourse about morality, tolerance and knowledge would have been much better spent if we had just accepted religious privilege and created a religion of our own.

It would be silly to complain that, by asserting that Pastafarianism is a legitimate religion, Pastafarians are implicitly contradicting their own satirical intent and admitting that it’s beside the point whether religious people believe in the literal existence of their deity. Lighten up! If anything, this complaint justifies the Pastafarian project by admitting that—like all religions—Pastafarianism is also plagued by paradox and contradiction. Like religious people, we can merely say it’s whatever we want it to be, and isn’t whatever we’d prefer it not be!

They make atheists look sophisticated and intelligent.

The point is to satirize religion while projecting wit, wisdom and poise. Atheists have been ignored and misunderstood for so long in our civilization that it’s important that we portray ourselves, and nonbelief in general, in a positive light. If this can’t be achieved by saying “Ramen” a lot and wearing kitchen implements on our heads, then I submit that Western society isn’t nearly as tolerant and inclusive as it claims to be. I understand that the average religious person might be intimidated upon their initial encounter with a nonbeliever displaying such maturity and erudition. However, once they realize the depth and sophistication of the Pastafarian mindset, they can’t help but be admiring and accepting.

Religious people have to realize that modernity has brought new ways of thinking to society. They need to be shown that the nonreligious have a worldview characterized by a commitment to curiosity, reason and empathy, and can contribute meaningfully to our society’s public discourse. Pastafarians are doing just that, the only way they know how.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I admire the way satire is used to point out the issues with religion. However, in my personal experience bringing up Pastafarianism with devoutly religious people, they become defensive and therefore not open to the discussion.

  • Bravo Sierra

    Blasphemy! Pastafarianism is not a pretend religion. It’s sincere.

  • StevoR

    What exactly does make the devoutly religious folks open for discussion aside from just agreeing with them on pretty much everything?

  • StevoR

    Is there a hint of sarcasm I’m detecting in the OP here?

    (Honestly not quite sure. Damn sarc detector overloaded from umpteen gazillon Poes long ago.)

  • aвѕolυт clancy

    This post deserves better than just sharing a graphic, but it fits so well…


  • Happy chocolate egg day, old friend! Great to see you again.

  • I haven’t found out yet!

  • Is there a hint of sarcasm I’m detecting in the OP here?

    Whatever makes you say that?

  • Sensible Bob

    For those of you who wish to mock the FSM, may I just say, mock away.
    But for those who wish to find a better way of thinking and need a religion, we have a lot to offer.
    First, our approach is to be nice. Sometimes we are sarcastic, but a true Pastafarian does not attack individuals – no matter how ridiculous their beliefs.
    We have a code – 8 “I’d really rather you didn’ts” – it suggests that you not be a dick. We mock beliefs, not people.

    But back to the features and benefits. Our heaven is cool and our hell is less terrible than the Catholic one.
    We spend a lot of time eating pasta and drinking. We love people from all over the globe. We even welcome aliens. As long as they don’t erect monuments to their faith on the capital steps. Because if they do, we will be right there with our giant meatball and spaghetti display.

    Look, what we really are all about is fun and tolerance. But we don’t think fun is combining government and religion. Big, big no no.
    So for us, a Mike Pence is a putz.

    We like folks who understand that the government is not to teach kids anything of a religious nature – but if they are going to do it, we want to be part of the lesson.

    There are several facebook pages about us. But you may not trust fb anymore (I don’t). Go directly to https://www.venganza.org/ to learn about the fastest growing pasta based religion.
    It’s the best ever. RAmen

  • stphneye1971

    You could have left the Jedi out of it. Many of the scientists we rely on for facts are Jedi.

  • But for those who wish to find a better way of thinking and need a religion, we have a lot to offer.

    My problem is that there doesn’t seem to be much thinking involved. Like a real religious person, all you did was ignore the points I brought up in the article: Pastafarianism doesn’t address the main problems of religion, it’s a capitulation to religious privilege, it makes atheists look like idiots, and it’s a stale joke.

    Why other atheists seem so attached to the whole FSM gag is beyond me.

  • Hank Itkin

    So, in short, we must all criticize religion in the same way you do, and we must pick the same aspects of religion to criticize as you do. This reminds me of a politician on an old Firesign Theater album, who urged people to vote for him because “I never lie, and I’m always right.” Only thing is that the Firesigns were kidding.

  • That’s a terribly uncharitable interpretation of what I was saying, Hank. My point was that, if you’re going to critique religion, at least point out the things that are objectionable about it. Sensible Bob, below, makes it sound like Pastafarianism is just about “fun and tolerance,” and is just a way for people who need a religion to have a nice one instead of one of those bad ones.

    Is that really a coherent critique of religion, or something that will help normalize nonbelief in our society?

  • M. Reid

    Because sometimes ridicule is the only appropriate response to absurdity? The FSM started as a satire not of religion per se, but of policy; specifically, Kansas’ decision to include creationism in their school curriculum. Henderson came up with the FSM to highlight the non-scientific nature of “intelligent design” and show it had no place in a classroom. It’s not a criticism of religion so much as the way religion interacts with government in this country. Your criticism are not invalid as to the Pastafarians who have turned the movement into a faux religion; but at its heart the FSM is a satire of public policy.

  • Who says it’s the only appropriate response? If it misses the point, represents a capitulation to religious privilege, and makes atheists look like fools, I’d dispute whether it’s appropriate at all.

  • Sensible Bob

    Excuse me? With all due respect, there is a clear and important goal for true Pastafarians. It is to fight the good fight when it comes to the separation of church and state. That’s why Bobby our Prophet revealed the FSM. It’s not our fault that some of our followers are lost in the parody.
    And we do not view atheists with disdain. We don’t disdain anyone – except those that wish to teach a single whacky religious idea to vulnerable kids. If they are to learn that we all are the products of Noah and his incestuous family, then they should also learn about how the FSM created the first human (who was a midget) after drinking too much beer.

  • With all due respect, there is a clear and important goal for true Pastafarians. It is to fight the good fight when it comes to the separation of church and state.

    Like I said in the article, and like I said to you in my previous comment, the Pastafarian thing frames church-state separation as a matter of not wanting the government to privilege one religion over another, even if we’re talking about people just pretending to be religious. What about those of us who aren’t religious? Isn’t secular society obliged to maintain neutrality in the matter of religion because we’re part of society too? Or don’t we count unless we’re willing to pretend we’re religious and wear colanders on our heads?

  • Sensible Bob

    Shem, of course you count! I was an atheist as a youth – I knew everything. Then I realized that agnostic was more accurate for me. Then I discovered the FSM. Not sure what is next, but I am rooted in Atheism.
    Atheists, agnostics, Druids, Pastafarians – who cares – everyone is a part of society and all should have access to cheap internet and cable. Worship or not worship. The government should have no interest one way or the other.
    There is an enormous community of Pastafarians. If you still use facebook, you’ll find millions if not dozens of us there. I was an active fb Pastafarian Pastor type until the Cambridge Analytica thing broke. I have since deleted my account. But I digress.
    If you interview most Pastafarians, you will find that before they discovered the FSM, most were or are still Atheists and would be in sympathy with your positions. Dual belief systems are permitted. Read our Gospel for more great information on the fastest growing pasta based faith in the world.
    Carbo Diem and RAmen.

  • Before you pen another round of witless cheerleading for your quasi-religion, you could for once acknowledge the point I’ve been making over and over and over here to no apparent avail. Pastafarianism is predicated on seeking inclusion in US society by pretending to be religious, and I think it would be more conducive to inclusion for the nonreligious if we didn’t have to create a fake religion.

  • Sensible Bob

    Hey Shem, I’m back to clarify. Yes, Pastafarianism is about “fun and tolerance” and why wouldn’t “nice” be a best criteria for selecting a religion? Beats burning in hell for eternity for some technical infraction, eh?
    A friendly tip: by mocking the other religions we demonstrate their absurdity.

  • Sensible Bob

    1. Most Pastafarians are with you in spirit (pardon the pun).
    2. Your non-belief is solid and has value on it’s own. That’s just logic and freedom in a world filled with delusional fantasy worshippers.
    3. ALL religions are FAKE – made up, created by some snake oil salesman. Some dude coming off a mountain. Whoopie.

    I am with you in logic. But as long as there are people like Mike Pence who really think our kids should be taught “Christian values” we will be teaching the values of the FSM. You could consider sitting down with a beverage of choice and reading our “Gospel”. It’s fun.

    Finally, your regular references to “inclusion” suggest that you might not realize just how main stream your “non-belief” really has become. While Christians get a lot of press, the truth is that they are dying off. Young people are not buying it.

    Sorry you don’t like our “wit”. But I think we are more aligned than you realize. For us, a little humor and startegic absurdity goes a long way towards getting through the day. Wish you well. Peace.

  • Sensible Bob

    I know. In fact, they look at me really strangely, as I compare creators with them. I wonder why? After all, our god created the world in seconds – their guy took 6 days and after a successful run of reproducing via incest, he killed them all off in a flood.

    I really like the Pasta creator story better. With so many religions to choose from, why are millions jumping on the FSM wagon? Because we are nicer! More fun!
    There have been no recorded deaths in the name of Pastafarianism. I’ll leave it there.

  • No, by wearing a pasta strainer on your head and making witless gags about the FSM, you’re merely portraying all atheists as booger-flicking idiots who can’t come up with an informed, coherent critique of the historical phenomenon of religion.

  • Sensible Bob

    So sorry you dumped your sense of humor! “Portraying all atheists as booger-flicking idiots”? Where did that come from? Shouldn’t I assume that atheists are as diverse as “believers”?

    Atheism isn’t a club. It is just a word that describes a non belief. You are so sensitive!
    Apparently, Shem, you are as tolerant as a Southern Baptist 🙂

    As far as religion being an historical phenomenon, the critiques are in. At some point, someone invented them all to control the minds of their “followers”. Maybe the crowds were unruly and that seemed the best solution for the times. I would hope we are past the need for fantasy today – except for fun.
    I wish you well.

  • Dude. A guy who thinks it’s funny and satirical to wear a pasta strainer on his head and worship a cartoon character has no business criticizing anyone else’s level of wit.

    You’ve given no indication whatsoever that you even understand the critiques I’ve offered of the Pastafarian thing. Since I made a couple of honest attempts to explain myself to you two weeks ago to no apparent avail whatsoever, I won’t waste my time again.

  • Priya Lynn

    You’re taking pastafarianism all too seriously.

  • Priya Lynn

    What a mirthless life you must lead.

  • If you think irony is a cruel mistress, try being married to her.