I know, there are many decent people who are deeply religious, and even some intelligent ones. There are even some decent things that religion has promoted and accomplished (along with a stunning number of indecent things). And I also acknowledge that ridicule isn’t always the best way to take issue with those whose ideas one dislikes … even, despises. But I need to tell you that I have a soft spot in my heart for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a “religion” that originated a few years ago, to counter one absurdity – actually, a whole farrago of absurdities – with another.
In case you haven’t yet encountered It (or Her, or Him, or Whatever), the Flying Spaghetti Monster is perhaps the most recent and definitely the most benign manifestation of the supernatural to have received faith-based worship. Devotees maintain that the Flying Spaghetti Monster (henceforth, FSM) is a deity – according to some, the deity – deserving their devotions. Followers, many of whom self-identify as Pastafarians, have incorporated various holy relics into their worship services; among which the pasta collander is especially beatific, and theologicially redolent.
I have long been bothered by the fact that although people are most assuredly not free to profess belief in whatever they choose – rather, they are not licensed to do so without evoking skepticism and indeed, risking well-deserved contempt – they receive a “get out of ridicule free” card if they cloak said beliefs, no matter how bizarre, absurd, counter-logical and counter-factual, in a atmosphere of religious profession. If I were to claim, for example, that the world is orchestrated by a deity in the shape of a fire hydrant, I would expect to be laughed at, taken to task, even peed upon … and not just by golden retrievers. But when people make claims that are no less specific, no less ridiculous, and no more supported by even the most basic of evidentiary requirements, such professions are typically treated with tolerance and respect, even verging on reverence. No less an authority than Mohandas Gandhi can be expected to confirm, in fact, that “all religions are true.”