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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



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

  1. Kodi says:

    I think Tom has missed the entire point of Pastafarianism, at least as I see it. He thinks this is about belittling other religions, which is the farthest thing from the truth. Members have many various beliefs, as allowed for by personal revelation, but we have not spoken badly of others. We only want to point out that when it comes to the science classroom, our beliefs are just as valid as intelligent design — or the ideas of the cosmic egg or dismembered gods, as methods of creation. That belittles no one. I’m perfectly fine with each person having his or her personal beliefs. But when it comes to teaching ideas in the science classroom that are not supported by any scientific evidence, we want the same consideration as the other religions. If we are kept out of the science classroom because we are unscientific, fine — as long as that is the same treatment other religions receive.

    • Tom says:

      So far as I could tell, FSM is a thought experiment intended to show that belief in the FSM is exactly as rational as belief in any of the other gods of other religions. I strongly agree that this is true. However, it seems to me that there are some who claim belief in the FSM purely as a joke in order to belittle those who sincerely believe in other, equally-irrational and -invented gods.

      • JustDucky says:

        Tom, I believe that you may be correct. That means that our Churches’ flock is human. But, I believe that the FSM worshippers who are mean-spirited are definitely the exception than the rule. I believe that separates us from many other religions.

        I have sat in many Christian church services where the Pastor takes seeming great pride in mocking the spiritual fervency or beliefs of other Christian churches. I have witnessed more than one Protestant Christian Pastor mock Methodists, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Mennonites, etc. And I have seen and heard them tear atheists and Muslims to shreds. And, clearly, many countries with Islamic governments have stated policies of persecution and intolerance towards other religions. These attitudes of superiority and meanness do not come from an isolated minority in these churches and religions, but from the leadership.

        I believe that the vast majority of CotFSM believers are opinionated, but respectful. We understand exactly what the Church is founded upon, and strives to accomplish. Many of us have come to our beliefs after only deep thought, research, observation, and experience. I, for one, look forward to civilized, respectful discussion with anyone who is open to the same.

        May You Be Touched By His Noodly Appendage

        RAmen

        • Former Dupe of a More Ridiculous Religion says:

          Point of order Mr Chairman……………Objection to the use of the word ‘Flock’ when referring to the congregation of CotFSM.

        • JustDucky says:

          Duly noted, Former Dupe. Forgive me, and I understand your objection completely. Do you or anyone else have any suggestions for how I should have referred to us as a group? Group, congregation, brother/sisterhood, brethren, people, pirate hoard, mateys? I’m very open to suggestions.

        • Former Dupe of a More Ridiculous Religion says:

          @ JustDucky.

          As a collective noun for our group, I particularly like your suggestion of ‘Mateys’. It has a friendly ambience and is non-hierarchical.

          I propose that henceforth we be known as The Mateys of CotFSM.

        • stylusmobilus says:

          Aye Former Dupe, ye offerin’s be roight pleasin’ to th’ eye! Mateys, we be!

        • JustDucky says:

          Christians have their brothers and sisters, Communists have their comrades, we have our Mateys! I LOVE it!

          Thanks, Former Dupe and Stylus!

          Your Matey Always, JustDucky

        • wulff says:

          Aye! Count me in, mateys!

        • Danny says:

          We be Matey’s and our Minister’s be Captains

          RAmen

        • wulff says:

          While I fully support referring to each other as ‘mateys’, can we call any gatherings or groups a ‘bowl of pastafarians’?

  2. A Nonymous says:

    Whenever someone tries to relate quantum mechanics to religion (or some other equally unrelated topic) it just shows that they really have no clue what they are talking about.

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    Tom – If, as you say “it’s possible that all beliefs are equally “true” and very much real”, then for the sake of consistency, you surely must now accept that that the Earth is flat, that the Earth is round, that drinking tea can make you fly, that tea really doesn’t, that astrology is true and that equally that is isn’t, that religion is exempt from ridicule and that it isn’t – because all these beliefs are equally “true and very much real”.

    Is that what you really want to say? I guess not, but I’m not sure.

    I suggest that you are trying to defend a specific set of beliefs – namely that religion should be exempt from ridicule and criticism. But once you take the “nuclear option” of suggesting that all beliefs are equally true, then you cannot then revert to adopting a specific belief when it suits you (such as your suggestion that ridiculing the beliefs of others degrades one spirit). All or nothing mate.

    Whilst you believe that religion is exempt from ridicule, there are many who believe that it shouldn’t be exempt. If people use religion to try and justify atrocities or oppression, or even something more trivial, such as replacing proven scientific fact with pseudoscientific bull (e.g such as trying to replace evolution with creationism or ID), then you better believe we’re going to ridicule it.

    • Tom says:

      I do not think religion is exempt from ridicule. I also do not think it is bereft of purpose. We should not cease our efforts to explore the unknown merely because the dominant religions have abused their power. And of course, criticism and ridicule, where appropriate, are necessary as restraints on that power.

  4. His Wholyness the Cook says:

    Tom defines religion as “the sincere attempt to understand the unknowable”

    That is what my Pastafarian friends do over dinner. They discuss, postulate, propose, examine and dissect the possibilities.

    Tom says “it’s possible that all beliefs are equally “true” and very much real.”

    Beliefs happen in the mind only. They do not have external reality and they have no need to represent the externally observable world.

    Tom says “It’s an incredibly powerful thought: that we can design our own eternity simply by imagining it.”

    The rules of the universe are what they are. We can postulate and propose, but we cannot change it. If reality is imagined by the individual and we can create our own individual eternities, we do not know it. We only imagine it. This goes back to belief, which only happens in the imaginations of the individual.

    Tom says “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.”

    There either is or is not an eternity. Your perception of yourself is a function of your physical brain. When you die, it will rot away and the you that you currently imagine will cease. The apparent hedonism of the beer and strippers model is merely a reasonable counterpoint to the Islamic lying on pillows and drinking wine while being serviced by 23 boys and 72 perpetual virgins. Either way, what is is, and what we imagine will not change it. So if we Pastafarians propose a jocular counterpoint to some of the ridiculous superstitions that religions propose as a way of controlling peoples behavior, imagining it does not make it real.

    Tom says ” World history is replete with terrible evils committed in the name of “religion.”

    The only evil that will come out of Pastafrianism is when the superstition based religions attack it. In the meantime only good enjoyment of discourse, food, drink and other fun comes from it.

    Tom says “Certainly, it’s an important message that moral and social “values” should not be elevated to the level of religious beliefs.”

    The most important function of religions has been to dictate and control behavior. Most of them use fear of supernatural and superhuman beings as a stick, and promise of heavenly reward as a carrot, because most religionists are donkeys.

    Tom says “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.”

    Yes, that is why I cook pasta dinners and serve wine to my friends. We have the joy of fellowship and the chance to discuss all sorts of ideas, without fear of reprimand.

    Tom says “Pastafarianism does indeed celebrate the power of the individual to choose his or her own answers to these questions.”

    It gives us the opportunity to reject the obviously wrong answers that are foisted on us.

    Tom says “Some might like the idea of choosing answers that are deliberately silly or absurd.”

    Then they are fools. We are all in the same boat and we all know nothing. We should each be able to choose the answers to the unknowable that suits us individually. No person has a monopoly on pure speculation.

    Tom says “But to do so simply to make a point about the beliefs of others is to degrade and dishonor one’s own spirit.”

    When people try to foist their superstitions off on others with threats, they become the legitimate target of ridicule.

    • Tom says:

      “We are all in the same boat and we all know nothing.” This pretty much sums up my own beliefs. Which is exactly why the imagination is such a gift. And I just can’t get behind the logic of, we don’t know if there’s any substance to eternity, so we might as well assume there isn’t. That’s pessimism. Our brains are wired to choose faith and derive a benefit from what we’ve convinced ourselves to believe. It’s an amazing power, but one that’s only accessible if the mind is open to accept that what we have no reason to believe is true, might be true.

      • Atsap Revol says:

        Yes, Tom, there’s no doubt that many human brains are wired to accept faith. That’s why Peter Popoff, posing as a Christian, can screw people out of $millions with his “Miracle Spring Water” con. (If you aren’t familiar with Popoff, he’s on You Tube.)

        Would you say I’m a pessimist for doubting that “Miracle Spring Water” will cure all my ills and bring me money that I need to pay my bills? Popoff’s con compares to the historical sale of “indulgences” by the Catholic Church. It compares to all the other ploys that organized religion has used to gain control and extract money from believers.

        You claim that choosing faith provides benefits. You should also weigh the costs to humanity of making such a choice. Some of the costs are: all the wars fought for religious reasons, all the time spent dwelling on religion that might be better spent on productive activities, and all the money contributed to support cathedrals and holy men and women.

        Accepting what we have no reason to believe as possibly true, is not an amazing power. It’s the mark of gullibility that has been exploited by dictators, Popes, and used car salesman throughout human history.

        Atsap Revol

  5. Leaky Dishwasher says:

    On what basis, I wonder, does Tom claim that these things are “unknowable”? The fact that they are not yet known by no means makes them unknowable.

    Also, there is a big difference between two things being “possible” and being “very much real” or “equally true”. It is “possible” that Tom understands Pastafarianism, but it is evidently not “true”. The premise that all things are equally possible and therefore “true” is an insult to human intelligence.

    May you all be touched.

    LD

    • Tom says:

      I like your optimism about what we don’t yet know.

      As for the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics, I suppose Norton Juster said it better in my favorite book, The Phantom Tollbooth: “So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

      • Adam says:

        Oh man, I love that book! I disagree with your opinions on religion but high fives for liking The Phantom Tollbooth.

  6. T:) says:

    What’s wrong with a party on a pirate ship for eternity? Seriously? I’ve got 1 word for you: Ungrateful.

    • Tom says:

      Nothing’s wrong with it. But, why not have fun with the idea of imagining anything at all? I mean, if you could pick that as an option, you could pick anything.

  7. BigBoneDP from OZ says:

    I like beer and strippers.

  8. READRichardDawkins says:

    Tom says “Certainly, it’s an important message that moral and social “values” should not be elevated to the level of religious beliefs.”

    Elevated? “Elevated”??? Hardly. Supernatural religious belief has usurped and poisoned the human discourse which is supposed to examine with clarity, reason, questioning, doubt, and critical thinking that which we try to determine is moral, both for ourselves and as a human society. And, YES, Leaky Dishwasher! It is highly prejudicial and presumptuous to determine what is or isn’t “unknowable”. Our history is literally rife with examples where we thought a state of affairs was “unknowable” only to see us peel away the mystery (usually using science) and make it knowable for all after all.

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