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We shouldn’t live with absolute frivolity

Published August 12th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

While life should not be taken too seriously, this doesn’t mean we should live with absolute frivolity. Yes, so-called religions attempt to mandate all sorts of opinions and behaviors about morality and social conformity. This does not mean that actual religion — the sincere attempt to understand the unknowable — is inherently stupid or necessarily bullshit.

Quantum mechanics tells us that all possibilities exist simultaneously until foreclosed by inconsistent observations. So, with regard to what we truly cannot know or observe, it’s possible that all beliefs are equally "true" and very much real. It’s an incredibly powerful thought: that we can design our own eternity simply by imagining it.

Personally, I’d want much more from my eternity than to party on a pirate ship with a bunch of beer and strippers. The ability to have that experience at any time and for any duration? Sure, that would be great. But plain old life has plenty to offer that’s much more sublime and extraordinary than simple hedonism. And it’s not even a very ambitious vision of hedonism.

World history is replete with terrible evils committed in the name of "religion." Certainly, it’s an important message that moral and social "values" should not be elevated to the level of religious beliefs. But our ability as humans to recognize the fundamental unknowable questions — where are we from, why are we here, and where are we going — creates a fundamental human need to discuss and confront these questions.

Pastafarianism does indeed celebrate the power of the individual to choose his or her own answers to these questions. Some might like the idea of choosing answers that are deliberately silly or absurd. But to do so simply to make a point about the beliefs of others is to degrade and dishonor one’s own spirit.

-Tom



983 Responses to “We shouldn’t live with absolute frivolity”

  1. Caleb says:

    I’m not sure why you’re calling this particular letter hate mail. He’s just disagreeing with you and saying that what you are doing is frivolous and mean-spirited…which seems true to me.

    • Pete Byrdie says:

      I agree Tom’s mail falls into the category of ‘concerned criticism’ (read the small print). But we’re not mean spirited. However offended moderate Christians choose to feel, our opponents are fundamentalist nut-bags who think people should be taught their chosen mythology as fact. I can’t be mean enough to those people, but I really have no issue with people believing things I don’t believe. Tom seems like a fine chap, in spite of his entirely fantastical grasp of quantum mechanics.

      • Deven says:

        His view on Quantum Mechanics is an accepted view, not fantastical at all.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          Quantum mechanics applies to sub-atomic particles, not people’s thoughts. In any event, if true, one would predict that ‘inconsistent observations’ would forclose superstitious thinking, which is not the case.
          Just because someone believes something, doesn’t make or mean it’s true.
          Tom lives in a Matrix. Aaaarghhhh…

        • Apprentice Frederic says:

          Cap’n Birdseye, your comments quite fair. I found the Wikipedia article on the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (lower-case “q” and “m”!!!) a nice summary of “real” issues and views. The question of how “microscopic” q.m. works with the classical world is far from resolved, see, e.g., the “Schroedinger’s Cat” discussions. I liked Tom’s generally thoughtful post, but the qm comment was frightfully wooly.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          AF. When wondering whether to buy cat food, it doesn’t seem useful to conclude that the cat could simultaneously be both dead and alive, provided one doesn’t look (problems with RSPCA). Thus, I propose a new product: Schroedinger’s Cat Food, with half empty cans (or should that be half full?)
          However, if I said: “Everything I say is a lie”, true, false, neither, both? That’s rhetoric, not QM. Aaaarghhhh…

        • Pete Byrdie says:

          There’s an annoying new age tendency to claim quantum theory suggests all things exist until seen to be otherwise. The Plank Constant governs the extent to which quantum uncertainty affects the macroscopic world we live in (among other things). Besides, saying all probabilities exist is not the same as saying all impossibilities exist. What sort of omniscient, omnipotent god exists only in some possible universes, anyway? But yeah, Tom’s post is moderate and I understand his criticism.

        • Pete Byrdie says:

          Also, I’ve just reread the QM paragraph of Tom’s letter, and he uses QM to imply that all beliefs could be equally true. In fact, QM assigns probabilities to things. So, no, highly unlikely beliefs are not somehow equally true to highly probable ones.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          Anything is possible, but, infinite ‘possibilities’ have probabilities-against, that need more zeros than there are atoms in the Universe. As a Zen Pastafarian, such odds are meaningless: avoiding classifying the lived experience, by science or religion, is the path to enlightenment. Aaaarghhhhh….

          If you meet the FSM on the road, eat him!

        • Rev. Wulff says:

          I believe you gentlemen are missing an obvious point, however. If, as Tom and other x-tians claim, quantum mechanics states that all possibilities exist equally so we must respect their beliefs as possible, the logical follow-up is that, under their argument, FSM is *just as likely* as x-tianity, or Hinduism, or Aztec sun-worship. Every time they trot out their qm argument, they must accept either the possibility that their chosen mythology is wrong, or accept that they are not as smart as they think they are.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          This ship’s books on QM frequently include the sideways-8 symbol. I suspect Christian readers think it’s their fish symbol and that (with such familiar and attractive odds) the algorithms have been approved for Christian use. Aaaarghhhhh…

        • Rev. Wulff says:

          Captain Birdseye, I would think that Schroedinger’s Cat Food would be a can that you wouldn’t know if it was empty or if there was cat food in until you opened it.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          Rev. W. That may be intuitive, and certainly more fun, but, it would not be the RCPCA Approved version, which allows for all three (?) possibilities in the one, double-ended, can; though, I am not quite sure what a cat that is simultaneously both dead and alive (a zombie cat?) might eat. I suspect that is an unobserved possibility, which raises another point: can simply looking, bring a zombie cat to life? I suspect “yes”. Aaaarghhhhh….

        • Rev. Wulff says:

          C.B.,

          “I am not quite sure what a cat that is simultaneously both dead and alive (a zombie cat?) might eat.”

          Zombie birds and mice, of course. :)

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          Rev. W. Of course. That would make it the ideal ship’s cat.

      • Apprentice Frederic says:

        Actually, I think that the sideways “8″ symbol was originally (in the early Pastafarian Church, and therefore the true original) the symbol for farfalline or tripolini. The xtians appropriated it (as they have everything else) much later. It would be interesting to know how it crept into mathematics and physics, but it has been useful there. A tribute to the struggle against gassy pseudo-philosophical generalizations about qm and much else.

        • Keith says:

          I’ll go along with the tripolini explanation. The reason it entered mathematics is probably that Pastafarian accountants in days gone by used tripolini to keep their accounts: similar to using an abacus.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          I think that Rev. Wulff reminded us of the key Apologetics’ point: whatever the QM situation is, it is equally true for FSM.
          Some pope, Gregory I think, banned the idea of zero and infinity. He determined that the Universe could not begin at zero and was also created at tea-time, not 00:00 hours. I think he concluded that night came first, not day. Perhaps the Christian symbol was required annotation to ‘cleanse’ Satanic ideas from certain mathematics.
          I prefer the idea that the symbol represents an everlasting strand of pasta, a useful, pirate’s, accounting term for ‘plenty’. Aaaaarghhhh….

    • K Russell says:

      This is SOOO CUTE! It’s like Disneyland made a religion! You should see if Johhny Depp would apply for a Cracker Jack “ministry” certificate! You should decide on a good representation, not just your fish rip off, and go to Children’s Hospitals with Jack Sparrow. It would be sooo adorable! I know I would have loved a visit from a Pasghetti Monster when I was little! I think it’s adorable and God has to think you are one of the cutest little things ever, He has a sense of humor just look at the platypus! ;) Please don’t start passing out the Kool-Aid and we will all be friends! :)

      • Reverend J. Depp says:

        What a fantastic idea. Kids would absolutely love it and get better far quicker. I doubt that you’d like to see that bit though, as I’m told that your god ‘blesses’ kids with suffering.

    • vonn says:

      yes i know what you are saying …to be really civilized and serious you need to tell people they are going to burn in hell for eternity if they dont play with the real magic sky fairy. RIGHT?

      • Atsap Revol says:

        Oh NO! Maybe I’ve been playing with an unreal magic sky fairy. Verily, how can I tell the difference between the real and the false sky fairies? Have I been duped? Verily, will I burn in Hell for all eternity (or just part of eternity)? Verily, verily, I think I’ll cling to the Noodley Appendages of our beloved Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  2. chris says:

    I would like nothing more than to party for eternity with strippers and beer, AND ON A PIRATE SHIP NONE THE LESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Deacon of Dickin says:

      I, sir, would like, neigh, would expect nothing less.

  3. Paul says:

    Thank you Tom for your wise and very well written comment that I find does not have its right place in the hate-mail section.

    I find you mark a point and I acknowledge that pastafarinism is making fun of many community beliefs. This has however become necessary. We have to recognize it as a peaceful and kind way to react to some revolting attitudes of certain religious communities. It does point out how ridiculous some faithful communities have become in their attempt to maintain their beliefs. The dangerous part is that these communities are trying to force societal changes by having their principles taught in public schools. You also have to acknowledge that for most people on this planet, these principles are just as ridiculous as the ones made up by Pastafarians. If it warn’t for our beliefs, the bible would certainly be considered as a poor source for educational purposes. It does seem to require some slight revisions to serve as a textbook.

    To me, religious beliefs are simple principles for restful minds. My mind is sadly not calm enough for me to ignore all the underlying incoherences and I therefore cannot remain with the grazing flock. I totally respect others believes as long as they keep it to themselves and to their religious community. If it is written “In god we trust” on money, this does not mean I have to believe god will make us have good use of it.

  4. TheFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

    Tom, you are right about quantum mechanics when you say it’s possible that all things are equally true. That might be one possibility out of trillions, so let’s ignore it, not let it rule our lives. The odds that any religion is close enough to the wishes of a benevolent god ranks right up there with monkeys flying out of a certain bodily orifice.

    • Apprentice Frederic says:

      If it’s possible that all things are (possibly?) true, then one possible fact backed by high odds is that NOT all things are possibly true. Just as you said…

      • Captain Birdseye says:

        AF. I’m not sure about negative possibilities being ‘facts’. I suspect the statement: ‘NOT all things are possibly true’, may be false; but, what then about that statement itself? When probabilities need more zeros than the number of atoms in the Universe, one needs to ignore the ‘possibility’ and seek input from Einstein.

      • Captain Birdseye says:

        AF. Your last statement seems ‘more’ true if phrased the other way round. Rather than: ‘it is possible that all things are true’, I prefer: ‘it is true that all things are possible’.
        My contribution is: don’t forget the odds mentioned of more zeros than there are atoms in the Universe, and; rhetoric and QM are different things.
        I suggest you consult Rev. Wulff on these points; perhaps rhetoric obeys QM principles, such as instantaneous leaps of discrete packages, etc.. Aaaaarghhhhh….

        • Apprentice Frederic says:

          Cap’n Birdseye, Your rank well-deserved and well-earned. Was going to bring up Russell’s Paradox, but have thought better of it. Am only happy to have witlessly helped you demonstrate once again the slipperiness of mere language. I think that Bill Clinton once famously said something along the line of “..it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”.’”
          PS – loved the Schroedinger’s Cat Food concept.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          AF. You are too kind to an illiterate captain and revolting crew.
          I suggest an Encyclopaedia of FSM Apologetics and suspect that Rev. Wulff may already be (have I just split an infinitive?) compiling one. There is much in the Scripture but, so much more has been discovered by FSM scientists working at the cutting edge of research. Could there be a market for Schroedinger’s Cat Food (RSPCA approved)?
          I also would like to suggest an on-board FSM seminary, perhaps anchored in Bali? Pasta Exegesis appeals to me (Keith, is there an appropriate sauce for that?), remembering, that a supernatural supplement makes it so much more productive, accurate and useful. Aaaaarghhhhh…..

          PS. If you were in a spaceship convoy, traveling at close to the speed of light, 1) Could you look out the window and see your comrades beside you? 2) Contact them by radio? 3) Has an event that ‘occurs’, on their ship, actually occurred at all?
          Einstein says “no”, but FSM is like The Man From Del Monte.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          Pasta Exegesis is defined in the Oxford Complete Dictionary as: ‘scholarly reading between the noodles’.
          Whilst it is instant terminal heresy to think one could possibly ‘know’ the mind of FSM, of course, He sent us coded messages: He wrote between the noodles! Aaaaaarghhhhh……argh.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          AF. Reading your post again: Clinton was an EXPERT of rhetoric. What about his definition of ‘sex’ excluding oral? What in FSM’s name was it then? Perhaps they asked the wrong question.
          Good book: The History of Thought. (how rhetoric defeats logic?) Aaaaarhhhhh….. ’tis a good read for a long voyage.

        • Keith says:

          Captain Birdseye: In response to your request for a sauce, this is a genuine 18th century recipe:

          CATSUP FOR SEA STORE
          Take a gallon of strong stale beer, a pound of anchovies washed from the pickle, the same of shalots peeled; half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of cloves, a quarter of an ounce of whole pepper, three or four large races of ginger, and two quarts of large mushroom flaps, rubbed to pieces. Cover these close, and let it simmer till half wasted. Then strain it through a flannel bag; let it stand till cold, and then bottle it. This may be carried to any part of the world; and a spoonful of it to a pound of fresh butter melted, will make a fine fish sauce, or will supply the place of gravy sauce. The stronger and staler the beer, the better will be the catsup.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          Keith, a fine recipe to pass to the galley. No doubt it also cures the plague and preserves wood.

        • Apprentice Frederic says:

          Aye, Cap’n Birdseye, and I thank ye fer ye’re reading recommendation! I’ve now cutlasses to sharpen for all, but will nab a copy off the next French trader we board…

        • Rev. Wulff says:

          C.B., no I’m not compiling such an encyclopedia, that sounds too much like work. But if someone else wanted to do one and asked my input, I’d be happy to help.

          Since long before Tommy Lee Jones and Men in Black, I’ve subscribed to the theory of “A person can be smart; people are stupid, panicky animals”. And I’ve long known that reason only works on reasonable people. So my usual tactic for dealing with reason-impaired people is not to persuade them that I’m right, but to show them why they’re wrong. It’s less frustrating for me, and it’s a lot of fun watching their heads explode.

        • Captain Birdseye says:

          Rev. W. Sounds messy, and I hope you back away for that moment. Of course, locating a single black swan demolishes any amount of evidence supporting the theory that ‘swans are white’. Some people, however, simply raise the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy, and claim that it can’t be a true swan.
          I believe that groups behave as a different animal, even when scurvy aliens. Aaaaarhhhhh….

  5. Anthony says:

    I love your concept. Keep up the good work. I for one, hope you get to buy your pirate ship. I’d gladly attend the first sailing, if invited.

    One sad observation I’ve made, regarding so many of the hate mail comments, is the poor grammar and spelling used by so many. It is quite disheartening to see how stupid our society has become, when adults are incapable of discerning between “your and you’re”, as just one example. Maybe they should have “went” to school or paid better attention in class.

    If society thinks the price of an education is expensive, they’ve clearly yet to understand the price of not having one.

    Cheers, Johnny Carbonara.

    • Keith says:

      We certainly get a mixed bag on this site. Generally, the more the writer foams at the mouth the worse the spelling and grammar. We even have the occasional entry that displays a form of written Tourette Syndrome by LEAVING THE CAPS LOCK ON AND SHOUTING. Some of these people have entertainment value, much like the ranting creationists who call in to the Atheist Experience show. Others are unnecessarily uncouth like Spammyboy a couple of entries down.

      • Cannon Chris says:

        They’re typing in tongues.

        • Keith says:

          I can’t think of a better explanation.

  6. T-Bone Hicks says:

    I’m sorry if this is not an appropriate venue for this question, but does the Flying Spaghetti Monster take a stand on high-stakes standardized testing? I’d like to get my kid exempted, but PA only accepts religious exemptions. Thanks in advance…

  7. Jason says:

    So the things that people say in the hate mail are the exact same things you could say about any religion its you just think that religion is supposed to god when religion is stupid and there is no such thing as god so as an atheist I am free to make fun of religion and be a pastafarian because it makes you mad

    • TheFewTheProudTheMarinara says:

      “religion is supposed to god” English, please. Or French or even Latin.
      Point is, we’re trying to EXPAND people’s minds, not lock them in. Nowadays
      it appears “religious freedom” means limiting the freedom of anyone with a different outlook.

      • Atsap Revol says:

        Speaking of religious freedom, please observe a moment of silence in respect to the passing of Phred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church. Phred died March 19, 2014 at the ripe old age of 84. As one line goes in a song from the Broadway play Oklahoma: “…All the daisies in the dell soon will have a different smell, now that Phred lies buried underneath the ground.”

        If there’s a special place in Heaven for bigots, old Phred will be elected chairman of the board. Would it be appropriate to picket Phred’s funeral with placards reading: “Thank God For Dead Westboro Baptist Preachers.”

        RIP, Phred.

        • Keith says:

          I gather that there is not going to be a funeral for him. Presumably his followers expect his resurrection any day now.

        • Rev. Wulff says:

          The church says they don’t believe in funerals. Presumably what they mean to say is that they’re too damn cheap to pay for anything so their leave his disposal to the government to handle at taxpayer expense.

        • Cannon Chris says:

          I repeat the suggestion that if Fred was given an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox!

        • TheFewTheProudTheMarinara says:

          Why doesn’t his family (the ones that haven’t disowned him) just stand him up in a corner of the living room? After all, if he’s such a stalwart spokesman for the Almighty, it’s just a matter of hours before his body is raptured away.

        • Rev. Wulff says:

          “Why doesn’t his family (the ones that haven’t disowned him)”

          Apparently he doesn’t have any. News reports are saying he was kicked out of his own church back in August, after trying to mediate a dispute between Shirley and some other high-muck-a-mucks, and asking them to play nice with each other. So the family *in* the church doesn’t want him, and he turned his back on the ones *outside* the church who dared to disagree with him. He died alone in a Kansas hospice. Oh, wait, I’m sure his goD was with him…

  8. Ruzho says:

    Tom: let me get this straight. You’re using Quantum Uncertainty as an argument that your acid trip last weekend was actually real and the walls really were breathing? Is that where you’re going? I’m not sure, but it seems to me that you’re of the mind that because fundamentalist religious nutjobs are believing really hard, that the world is only 6000 years old.

    Either way, you seem to be flip-flopping. You’re for it, you’re against it, you’re for it, you’re against it. Reading your post reminds me of watching H. Ross Perot running for President. Damn it, you both would have done an excellent job if you’d have just picked something and stuck with it. THROW IT OUT AND TRY AGAIN.

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