Monday, March 08, 2010

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

I've been meaning to write up a little something on the Flying Spaghetti Monster for some time now. Finally getting around to it.

You can see some background here at the FSM's official website. Knock yourself out. The FSM is basically a sort of spoof (sprinkled with a lame attempt at wit) on the Intelligent Design's "unknown Designer" to the tune of "You believe God is the designer, but I think that this Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world in 4 slightly-hungover days, and I believe it because he touched me with his noodly appendage".  However, it also has applicability to the sort of presuppositional argument (ie, the TAG) I usually use in arguing for the justification of presupposing God's existence.
An interaction in which the FSM is mentioned usually includes "Why can't I presuppose the existence of the FSM?" or "I believe the FSM is the designer!" Here's a recent example, even:

PChem said: At some point you have to explain why the universe is here. This is a basic philosophical question that a valid world view should be able to handle.

Dr Funkenstein said: well the invisible pink unicorn would 'explain' it as well as the Christian God, but all that shows is that simply putting forward a content free explanation (and one in itself that would also require an explanation) for the sake of having one is not always better than admitting ignorance.

So here are some principal rebuttals to the existence of the FSM. If you've been linked to this page, you need to answer ALL of these challenges in order for your claim to believe in the FSM to be taken seriously. If you can't or are unwilling, I have nothing more to say to you until you own up to what you actually believe (everyone knows you don't really believe in the FSM), since I'm not interested in discussing stupid fairy tales. Also, you should know that Dick Dawk cites this argument all the time, and it's more than amusing. The guy is completely in over his head when he tries to make philosophical statements. He likes to say "there's as much evidence for a designer as there is for the Flying Spaghetti Monster". Little does he realise (since he's not a particularly deep thinker) that there's as much evidence for evidence, or other minds, or the reliability of one's senses, as there is for the Flying Spaghetti Monster - none.

Challenges for the Pastafarian to answer:

How does the FSM account for the origin of the universe?
The FSM is supposedly made of...spaghetti and meatballs. Did it precede the creation of space in which to exist? How does matter, specifically a delicious Italian meal, exist without space to occupy?

Since the FSM's nature is not timeless, how does it solve the problem of entropy or infinite regress?
If the FSM is supposed to be eternal and since it is composed of matter, how does it escape the problem of entropy? Whence does it derive its energy? How is it that all its energy was not used up an infinite amount of time ago? If it has infinite energy, how do you know that and how does limited matter contain it? If you answer that "it has infinite energy", why does that sound suspiciously like the God of the Bible?
How does it solve the problem of past infinite regress, where if matter and time have always existed (meaning that an infinite number of seconds have already transpired), continuing to exist into the future means that we are continually adding to infinity? (This is, of course, the exact same argument one uses in arguing against the past eternality of the universe itself. It's the Pastafarians' fault for positing a 'god' composed of matter.)

How is the FSM sufficient as a foundation for all reason and intelligibility?
What is the FSM's relationship to the laws of logic and of mathematics?
Does the impossibility of the contrary exist for Pastafarianism? If so, what is your defeater for Christianity?
Speaking of which...

Why is it that enough questioning of Pastafarians or approximations thereof always leads you back to a clear imitation of the God of the Bible?
See a post I did on this a while back.
The idea here is that the FSM is supposed to be an obviously false satire of the God of the Bible, and in showing that one can muster the same kind of argumentation for the FSM as one can for tGotB, show that tGotB is irrational. But what one finds is, if one asks enough questions, the Pastafarian always ends up stealing ideas and theology from the Christian God. Alternatively, when one presses enough, one finds the Pastafarian positing internally inconsistent dogma about the FSM, leading to incoherency. Multiple examples exist in the just-cited post.

There is no serious self-revelation of the FSM. Thus, how can anyone know anything about the FSM?
This is a question I'm always asking of non-Christians - how do you know? The God of the Bible has revealed Himself, in the Bible. If He had not revealed some things about Himself, there would be no way for any human to have access to knowledge about God. He is not composed of matter and is therefore beyond the reach of science. He is not composed of energy per se and is transcendent, so cannot be measured or manipulated and His repeatable effects reliably studied. He is generally invisible, does not generally speak audibly, etc. Any philosophical exercise or thought experiment has no basis with which to begin, and so would have no guarantee of reaching any detailed result or confidence in the accuracy thereof.
The way we know about Him is that He has spoken through prophets and through the God-man, Jesus and His apostles, and this God-man predicted He would be killed and rise from the dead, and then did it. He predicted that worship of Him would arise from within a fiercely nationalistic and fiercely opposed religious context and have success all over the world, and here today is the church.
What is the comparable revelation from the FSM? How can we know it is actually revelation from the FSM? What verification, such as miracles or fulfilled prophecy, has been advanced from the Pastafarian side?

Does the FSM provide any foundation for any objective morality?

Should I believe that the FSM exists? Why?
Should I hunt down and kill all Pastafarians and their children? Why not?
How do we know unless the FSM provides some overarching prescriptive standard in comparison with which we can determine good/bad and right/wrong value judgments?
(Yep, same argument as the commonly used one against atheism.)

What precisely has the FSM done?
Why is it that the FSM blog is full of man-made drawings and representations of the FSM with nothing else? When this supposed higher being supposedly exists, why is the only "evidence" things that humans have done? What sets the FSM apart from other imaginary deities like Vishnu or the sprite in yonder large oak tree?
The answer is obvious - this is a made-up spoof, a satire. Satire, when done well, can stay with someone for a while. When done poorly, it's worth a smirk; then one moves on. This is the latter kind.
And no, I don't want to hear some throwaway "the God of the Bible hasn't done anything either!" Bring a decent rebuttal to the resurrection of Jesus, a rebuttal to the growth and existence of the Christian church, an explanation of the masses of people who preferred painful, messy deaths to denying something they were in a position to know for sure was wrong, an explanation of the origin of time, space, energy, and the universe, an explanation for the origin of life, an account for the diversity of life that doesn't beg the question in terms of the fossil record and by trying to demonstrate unguided processes by means of intelligently-guided experimentation, and that would be a good start.

Why are the claims made by the FSM "religion" so incoherent?
For example:
It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel.
It's times like this when I wonder why I'm wasting my time. I thought you SAW the FSM, and felt it "touch you" with its "noodly/noodley (depends on which Pastafarian is writing, I suppose) appendage". Did the FSM create itself? How does that work, exactly?

But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage.
This is obviously meant to be a swipe at creationism, but it's very poorly done. Satire has to be precise, else it's a strawman, and this is a strawman. Further, this raises serious questions about the reliability of ANY observation in the FSM-verse. And how does the Pastafarian know this about the FSM? Further, given how much of a strawman this is, why can't the FSM correctly represent or bring its followers to correctly represent competing worldviews, such as Christianity?

Why is the founder of the FSM "religion" so incoherent?
Have a look at Venganza's FAQs:
There are plenty of good Christians (and Muslims, and Buddhists, and Hindus), and plenty of bad ones.
No explanation how he knows good from bad. It's a pretty important question!

Dogma is bad for everyone.
1) That's a dogmatic statement. I guess he didn't really mean it, then. Or he's a sociopath. Or none too bright.
2) This is nothing short of an open admission that the FSM is not to be taken seriously. If the founder doesn't take it seriously, why should anyone else?
3) On what basis, then, does he presume to tell anyone else what the FSM is and isn't? I mean, he NAMED it the FSM! What right does he have to tell me what to call that thing, or to draw it? Don't I have freedom of expression too? Can't I show you a blank piece of paper and say to him, "That thing you call the FSM I have reproduced on this sheet of blank paper, and this is just as valid as yours, since dogma is bad for everyone. Further, it's not actually the FSM; I believe this is my pet Sterrance, who is either visible or invisible, as you like."? Of course, since dogma is bad.

Which leads me to:

Why so much Jon Stewart-like disingenuousness and inconsistency with respect to whether Pastafarianism is satire or not?
Whenever it suits the FSM people, the FSM is real. Whenever you get too close to inflicting a fatal wound on the FSM position, alluvasudden "it's just a spoof on you stupid ID people!"
Why do so many Pastafarians pretend to play "FSM is my god" when convenient and go back to professing atheism or agnosticism on their days off?

What is the FSM's answer to the problem of evil?
It's funny to me that skeptics like to bring up the problem of evil pretty often, but then on the other hand cite things like FSM or paganism or something that have no chance of bringing forth any decent theodicy. Does the FSM define evil? Is there a law to which humans must conform? If so, what is the remedy for the lawbreaking? If not, isn't it the case that it's completely unimportant and inconsequential if I don't believe in the FSM? Or the truth?
Is there any resolution to the suffering we see in the world? How did it all begin? Is human life meaningful at all? If so, on what basis? If not, why believe in the FSM at all, and along those lines, why "evangelise" about it?

Why do so few people believe in the FSM?

Does the FSM ensure the continual consistency of observed physical laws, thus ensuring the utility of scientific inquiry and experimentation? The God of the Bible is explicitly said, in the Bible, to hold the universe together, and to have promised that the world will continue as is until the Eschaton. Atheism labors under the problem of induction, specifically that the patterns observed in the recorded past are in no way certain to continue into the future, even one more second. How does the FSM solve this problem, and how does the Pastafarian know?

If Pastafarianism is true, what explanation does it give for the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
And why are the arguments against the resurrection of Jesus so poor?

All that to say, those who cite the FSM as some kind of decent argument have not done nearly enough heavy lifting in terms of establishing the boundaries and content of the concept they're proposing. They seem not even to realise the necessity thereof, and that willful ineptitude reveals how seriously they take the FSM as a viable concept - they don't. These questions have been dealt with for centuries by Christian thinkers, both clergy and laypeople, and even intellectual dwarves like myself. Where has similar treatment been given to these vital issues from the Pasta side?

See also Mariano's (of True FreeThinker) treatment of this issue. The FSM (like its idiot cousins the Invisible Pink Unicorn, the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish, and all other variants) was funny the first time I heard it, but how funny is a bad joke the 50th time around? Dick Dawk and his friends could also stand to learn that it's in bad taste to laugh at one's own joke all the time.

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