In Pasta We Trust

Didn’t we outgrow this sort of behavior when we left junior high?
Flying Spaghetti Monster
Touched by his noodly appendage (Niklas Jansson, Public Domain)

Earlier this month, the Kansas Board of Education agreed to begin teaching the concept of “Intelligent Design” (I.D.) in their schools as a way to provide an alternative to the concept of evolution.

(I.D. essentially states that the universe has been incredibly well-designed, especially when it comes to living systems like us humans. It’s so well-designed, in fact, that there must have been some sort of intelligent designer behind it all. For more info, here’s the Wikipedia entry.)

A number of folks, especially Christians, see this as a victory over Darwinism. Needless to say, however, a number of folks aren’t quite so hip to the idea that what they claim to be religion dressed up as pseudo-science will be taught to children. Which brings us to the Pastafarians.

Pastafarians believe that the universe and everything in it was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Concerned that only one variant of I.D. was being taught, they drafted a letter to the Kansas School Board demanding that another viewpoint be taught to students, so as to give the students yet another alternative viewpoint from which to choose. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize 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 cannot stress the importance of this enough, and 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.

Of course, it’s all funny and whatnot — I’m surprised those jokers at Lark News didn’t cook up something like this first — and a fairly obvious attempt to take the piss out of I.D. and its supporters, such as the school board. (And the pirate outfits are a nice touch, I’ll give them that.)

However, here’s where it gets a little wacky. BoingBoing posted a little bit about the Flying Spaghetti Monster “cult,” which, naturally, prompted a number of responses from I.D. supporters, some of which mentioned a challenge by one Kent Hovind. Hovind has offered to pay $250,000 to anyone who can provide empirical evidence that supports evolution.

In response, BoingBoing offered a little challenge of their own: they’ll give $250,000 to anyone who can produce empirical evidence proving that Jesus is not the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Several other folks, most notably Jason Kottke, have ponied up contributions of their own, so the pot now sits at a whopping $1,000,000 for anyone who can prove that Christ is not the offspring of divine pasta.

Ah, but there’s a catch. Read the fine print and you’ll see that the prize will be awarded with “Intelligently Designed currency” and that the offer is “void where prohibited by logic”.

Just curious — didn’t we outgrow this sort of behavior when we left junior high? It’s sad when the chance for some semblance of an intelligent (npi) dialog gets lost in a sea of sarcasm, disdain, and smarm. What’s next, “yo mama” jokes? How about a raspberry or two for good measure?

Of course, with an issue like this, dialog is probably the last thing on people’s minds. It’ll get in the way of shouting, posturing, and politicking, which are all so much more enjoyable. (Remember abortion debates? Those were the good old days.)

I’m sure that both sides of the issue will probably point at the other and claim that they burned the bridge long ago — that is, when they can take a break from ridiculing each other. Sad thing is, if any sort of dialog does occur, it will only reaffirm in the minds of both sides what they’ve thought of their opponents all along.

The I.D. supporters will point out their opponents’ apparent close-mindedness for wanting to keep “alternate viewpoints” out of the public forum (as well as the fact that they’re going to hell). The I.D. detractors will stare out across the DMZ and claim that they have even more proof that religious fanatics are trying to cram bunk down the throats of this nation’s intelligent folks.

And so both sides will go bed that night, secure in the knowledge that they’ve done their part to fight the good fight, regardless of who the foe was — the evils of evolution or the ignorance of religion.