"May the sauce be with you."

In June 2005, the Kansas Board of Education began to seriously consider including the Christian intelligent design theory alongside the traditional theory of evolution in science classes.

Their reasoning was that since both are "theories", they are of equal value and should be given equal weight in science classes. What most of the board seemed not to understand, however, was that rather than being based on the scientific method of drawing conclusions from available evidence, intelligent design theory selects evidence to back up a pre-existing concept. As such, critics argue, it is not scientifically reliable and should only be taught in religious education lessons.

The decision raised the ire of many, including 24-year-old Bobby Henderson, a physics graduate living in Oregon. To show up the absurdity of the idea, Henderson created his own religion, "Flying Spaghetti Monsterism", and declared himself its prophet.

The religion puts forward the theory that the world was created not by the intelligent design of the Christian god, but by the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or FSM), a giant floating mass of pasta and meatballs with eyes on stalks. Henderson claims to have volumes in his possession which detail the FSM's powers and history in full. This means it has the same quality of scientific proof that Christianity receives from its Holy Bible.

Henderson also claims that, much like the fundamentalist Christian god, the FSM is something of a prankster and enjoys fooling humans into thinking that the Earth is older than it actually is. Although the carbon dating method is extremely rigorously applied by scientists, the FSM uses its Noodly Appendage to alter the readings every time. Of course the FSM is invisible, so it cannot be seen when it performs these acts.

Just as some creationists believe that correlation is the same as causation, the FSM faith claims that the increase in both global warming and natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes are a result of the fall in the number of pirates since the 1800s. Henderson notes that whilst software piracy is in its ascendancy, "real pirates use swords".

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism's followers are known as Pastafarians. They are forbidden from teaching their faith unless they wear pirate costume and must end each prayer with Ramen rather than Amen. The faith promises "flimsy moral standards" and a heaven that features a stripper factory and beer volcano. They take Friday as their holy day and followers are advised to contact the ACLU if they find this being impinged upon by teachers or employers.

The symbol of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is The Pirate Fish and an FSM car emblem similar to the Jesus Fish is available.

Those wishing to experience life as a flying spaghetti monster may wish to play the game at this external site. It's like Chick tracts only fun!

With the religion now formed, Henderson sent a letter of remonstration to the Kansas Board of Education proposing that Flying Spaghetti Monsterism be taught alongside evolution and intelligent design. This letter is reprinted from Henderson's website with permission:

Open letter to the Kansas School Board

I am writing to you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will hear only one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing to evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

I'm writing to you to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I'm sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, was (sic) around to see it, but we have several volumes explaining details of His power. You may be surprised to hear that there are more than a million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don't understand is that He built the world to make us think the Earth is older than it is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artefact. He finds that approximately 75 per cent of the carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to nitrogen-14, and infers that this artefact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realise is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible.

I'm sure you now realise how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realise that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don't.

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the past 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

----There follows a diagram which shows Global Average Temperature plotted against Number of Pirates (approximate), from the years 1820 (35,000 pirates) to 2000 (17 pirates)---

I thank you for taking the time to hear our beliefs. I hope I was able to convey the importance of teaching this theory to your students. I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time 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 Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

Sincerely yours, Bobby Henderson, concerned citizen

In the months that followed, Henderson received e-mails from three members of the Kansas School Board: Janet Waugh (District 1), Sue Gamble (District 2) and Carol Rupe (District 8). He also received thousands of e-mails from readers of his website, of which he estimates 5% were negative.

http://www.venganza.org/ - Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2005/08/01/national/w200833D87.DTL&type=printable - Bush: Intelligent Design Should be Taught http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/June%208%20letter%20to%20Boards.htm - A Letter to the Kansas Board of Education in support of intelligent design theory

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