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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



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

  1. Al (Dente) says:

    Tom has expressed his views and I for one and proud of the well thought responses by my Pastafarian brothers and sisters. The devout (anything’s) will likley try and pick this site to no end and beliefs and faith will vary with the writers. Here’s a thought…Let’s start with what we have in common rather than dwell on our differences. We all eat is a great place to start. Pasta is in itself possibly the most internationally accepted food in the world crossing ethnic and religious boundaries. I bet Tom even likes Pasta.

    • His Wholyness the Cook says:

      Al(Dente) said:
      “Let’s start with what we have in common rather than dwell on our differences. ”

      I could not agree more. The fundamental similarities between all people far outweighs the differences that superstitions make. We are all tied to a basic human condition. No matter what race or what goes on between our ears, we need to eat, sleep, defecate, reproduce, feel comfort and joy. We all have the same hopes, desires and aspirations. Pasta is so basic to the human condition. It gives us a forum when we eat together, it provides nourishment and energy to do our daily tasks. It warms our bellies and fills us with contentment. Pasta is everywhere. I have enjoyed pasta on five continents and its affects are the same everywhere. Pasta is provable, demonstrable and good.

  2. Insightful Ape says:

    Oh so silly. Quantum mechanics means since different possiblities can coexist then all opinions are euqally valid? No it doesn’t. Human opinions do not obey quantum laws. If you doubt me go jump out the window to see if it is equally likely that you will go up or down.
    Really, depth of this person’s ignorance (of human logic as well as physics) boggles the mind.
    RAmen

    • Tom says:

      Human opinions don’t have to obey any laws. That’s what’s so wonderfully liberating about being human.

      • Insightful Ape says:

        But that doesn’t mean all opinions are equally true. And no, quantum mechanics doesn’t mean you can design your eternity by imganing it. Can I get a hundred million dollars in the bank by imagining that?
        Trolling the web is to degrade and dishonor one’s spirit.

        • Atsap Revol says:

          Sure, Insightful Ape, you can get a hundred million dollars in the bank by imagining it if you first annoint yourself with Peter Popoff’s “Miracle Spring Water.” It’s also good for sinus infections, athlete’s foot, and impotence. It’s made old Pete rich, why not you? Praise the Lard!

  3. Apprentice Frederic says:

    Tom, your own post and many responses, like Dente’s above, does the thread great credit, I think. (Especially after the bad patch you may have followed.) Rebecca’s Valedectory post re seriousness put it better than I possibly can, but a few things are worth repeating. First, the choice between utter frivolity and utter humorlessness is, fortunately, not one we have to make. If we did, I would opt for strippers and beer over playing a harp and singing the eternal praises of Yahweh. If you are upset by the paradoxical (or schizoid, depending on your attitude) nature of simultaneous atheism or agnosticism and devotion to the FSM….well, you have come to the mystical core of Pastafarianism and will progress as you become aware of the touch of the FSM’s Noodly Appendage. Finally, the world view of (whatever) religion is of little interest except insofar as (whatever) religion attempts to shove itself up – er – down nonparticipant’s throats. The earth is not at the center of the Universe, as Religion has alleged, and, while we have hardly transcended the Unknowable, we’ve done pretty well so far in generating a better picture. What we decide to do is up to us, and I, for one, would opt to laugh a little while doing it. R’Amen.

  4. JustDucky says:

    Tom, I think you miss the point of our seeming frivolity. To me, it most certainly is not just frivolity for frivolity’s sake. That is the Three Stooges. Ours is trying to make a very serious social point with satire. More Monty Python. To most of us, we see many Christians, and others, desperately feeling mandated by their deity to forcibly coerce and brainwash the public into their fold. We feel that their religion has little basis in historical, and no basis in spiritual, truth. I feel that Judaism-Christianity-Islam is entirely the product of politically-motivated men, inventing a religion as they went along, because they knew that declaring “The Lord sayeth…” has alot more impact that by telling the truth of “Abraham made upeth…”. The FSM was made up in a response to the Christian dogmatics who try to pass their made-up beliefs off as truth because nobody can prove that it isn’t true. Well, nobody can prove that the universe really wasn’t created by a giant, invisible Flying Spaghetti Monster after a drinking binge, either. Fighting absurdity with absurdity is the crux of great satire.

    As far as us being able to create our own heaven, well, I believe that you may be partially right. I believe that it is possible that at the minutes during brain-death, as our oxygen-starved brains are going offline, many people may experience the dream of their afterlife. And, just like the timeframes of dreams may not equal actual time, a person may experience what feels like an “eternity” of whatever they imagine their afterlife being. A happy thought, indeed, if their dream is a good one for them. An eternity with your loved ones, or with beer and strippers, or 72 virgins, or walking hand-in-hand with Jesus through the daisies, or just being a happy, drooling carrot, singing hosannahs to your self-righteous, narcissistic god. Whatever floats your pirate ship. The unhappy possibility here for me, though, is the thought that some people may give into their fears and self-loathing and be condemned to a self-made, Bible-induced eternity of fire and brimstone. Or, that for the people whose brains are destroyed instantly, without having a few minutes to shut down quietly, they may not have an afterlife at all, just instant nothingness. But, like many posters here, I see nothing in QM to suggest that these afterlifes are an actual reality.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post, Tom!

    RAmen

    • Apprentice Frederic says:

      Ducky, FWIW, I agree with everything you’ve written except for your characterization of the Three Stooges, who were (are, somewhere, still!) comic geniuses of the deepest and highest order.

  5. Zuri says:

    Pastafarians, please keep in mind that sometimes kids take comfort in a religion. They trust God to solve problems for them, and when you’re ten and hopeless, that’s good in a way.
    I used to pray all the time for things I wanted. Did I get them? Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn’t. It also helps when you’re scared. When you’re small and terrified, you can pray and tell yourself that the sound is the rain and not burglars, because God is keeping the burglars away.
    Here’s a very short story I wrote about scared children. It actually did happen to me five years ago

    “Christmas of Fear”
    My name is Zuri.
    I’m only six.
    It’s Christmas Day, I should be happy, instead I’m cowering on the floor,
    I hope somebody locked the door!
    Hard to believe twelve hours ago, I was walking down a dark hallway,
    I found the presents under the tree, I ran to my little Sweetie, and she’s been in my arms ever since.
    My parents turned on the news sometime after dinner. It’s covering a story now- something about “A Tale Of Two Tradgeties”, something happened ten years ago- OOOOOH NOOOOO!
    On this day ten years ago,
    a girl was killed, a six year old, a performer- just like me!!!!
    The other one that died
    is a 3 year old boy with autism.
    Just like my little brother!!!!
    I try to to go to sleep, but I can’t get the little girl out of my head. The lights are off, everyone’s asleep, except for one person. My brother’s up, I run to him, and say “What’s wrong?” He said “I heard on the news about the boy they think the killers had accomplices! They’re looking for someone else for the tenth anniversary!” Neither of us can sleep, we can barely see other. I hear noises, is that them? My neck feels constricted, the last thing I need! It takes until around 2:30 before anyone finds us. They put us back in our beds. My mother says “In six hours, you’ll be seven! Try to get some sleep!” I don’t think I’ll make it to seven! I hear more noise, I swear that Karr guy is crawling through the window. I eventually go to sleep.
    I wake up, the sun has risen. I look at the clock- 8:11.
    I’m seven- and alive.

    You understand how a child in that situation would take comfort in God, right? I respect you and think you have a point, but please, try to understand us before you call us stupid, okay?

    • JustDucky says:

      Religion may not be scientific truth, but it’s ability to provide comfort and security to those in need is undeniable. It’s lamentable that not everyone has a human in their lives to provide that comfort.

      Zuri, your story is touching and poignant, and is a vivid reminder that religion is a complex part of billions of peoples’ lives. I thank you for that. May you always find enough comfort, security, and strength in your life to see you through whatever may come your way.

      RAmen

    • wulff says:

      Zuri-

      I know you are young, so I will speak to you as I would speak to my roommate’s 14-yr old. This does not mean that I intend to speak down to you, and if I seem to do so I apologize in advance.

      To give you a bit of background, I was born in 1971 to parents who were in no way aging ex-hippies. I have an IQ in the high 130′s and was able to read *by myself* at the age of 2. I was raised Catholic. I attended a Catholic school from 1978 until 1985, and even served as an altar boy from 1982-85. I was never physically or sexually abused by any member of the clergy, nor to the best of my knowledge was anyone else at the school while I was there, despite all the jokes about what Catholicism stands for today. When I was about 8 yrs old, I made my First Communion. One of the gifts I received was a book of bible stories from both the Old and New Testaments. I *loved* this book. I read it cover to cover many times and would re-read my favorite stories over and over again. Around 1983, I started to notice some of the inconsistencies in what I was being taught. Being a creature of intelligence and curiosity, I went to my teachers and to the priests with some of my questions, and was only ever given to answers over and over again; ‘all the answers are in the bible’, and ‘pray on it and God will answer you’. The bible did not have the answers I was looking for, an my prayers went unanswered. By the time I graduated the Catholic school in 1985, I was an agnostic. After learning about World History and being exposed to different religions in High School, by the middle of my Junior year, I was an atheist.

      I think most of us here would agree that religion can be a useful tool to *begin* teaching morality to children, or to act as a metaphysical night-light to keep the monsters-under-the-bed at bay. Do you know why the Brothers Grimm wrote the old fairy tales, like Cinderella and Snow White? I mean the real ones, not the Disney-fied sugary ones parents show their kids to keep them quiet. They were originally told as morality tales, to teach children that good behavior could be rewarded and bad behavior punished, just like that book of bible stories I’d nearly worn out as a child. What makes the bible (or any other religious text) so special that it should be accepted as truth with no more evidence than Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny? ALL of these stories began as oral traditions before being written down. Another oral tradition that existed for hundreds or years before the New Testament were the Iliad (the Trojan War) and Odyssey by Homer. These stories plainly say that the gods of ancient Greece not only walked among the soldiers and talked to the heroes, but even fought alongside them. Archaeological evidence has proven the existence of Troy, and can even date one level of the ruins to the appropriate time period. Are *these* stories historical fact or epic fables?

      I apologize for the length of this reply. The point I am trying to make is this: At what point is it okay to learn that fairy tales aren’t real? How old should you be before the night-light goes off?

      • Zuri says:

        Remember, I’m still a Christian. You can’t speak you me about God like he’s the Tooth Fairy. Please, try to be respectful of my current belief.
        Thank you for not biting my head off like some others. I was reading a hate mail sent by a girl my age, and people were swearing at her and even threatening to kill her. If you told me that, I would be scared. I left a political forum when I was nine after some guy threatened to hang my dad.
        First of all, no matter how childish this might sound, there is evidence that God might exist. You might want to watch “Beyond Belief” about people who were clinically dead and claim to have seen God. There is less evidence for that than Evolution, I admit that, but as all of of you that were Christians know, you can’t just let go of your faith.
        I just saw a special on the Crusades. That was terrible, but just because those guys were messed up doesn’t mean we are today.
        And on the “evidence” thing: There may be evidence God exists. Then again, there’s evidence Santa Claus exists.
        I knew fairy tales weren’t real by the time of the Christmas of Fear.
        I still have a night-light and find that insulting. (JK)

        • The Reverend Toni Rigatoni says:

          Hi Zuri, I think that most people here do respect your ‘current’ belief as you put it, or more accurately, respect your right to hold that belief, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept your belief just because you do. I don’t recall the mail you speak of but I apologise on behalf of the vast majority of my Pastafarian siblings as very few indeed would respond in such a manner to one as polite as you, you must have caught someone on a bad day, but that is no excuse and it bathes us all in a bad light.
          As for your claims that there is evidence for god: firstly, if evidence exists it would not be childish to reveal it and the apology, if that is what it was, is unneccesary, secondly, and most importantly, although I have not seen the film/program of which you speak I am very aware of the thousands of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) of which you speak and they have been rigorously investigated and tested scientifically for many years and have been consistant only in their inconsistancy. I’m not a doctor but do I have extensive training and experience in critical healthcare and spend my working life with critically ill and dying patients, including emergency surgical interventions, post cardiac arrest and trauma resuscitation, and much more. My work requires me to have an extensive knowledge of physiology and that includes the effects of hypoxia on the brain (hypoxia=low oxygen). Firstly you must be aware that whatever ‘kills’ you, ie cancer, cardiac arrest or being hit by a truck, what you actually die of is cerebral anoxia (cerebral=of the brain, anoxia=without oxygen). It is well known to medical/helthcare professionals that cerebral hypoxia, that is as when the oxygen levels in the brain fall to unsustainable levels, the sufferer will experience hallucinations. This occurs before death as at the point of death the brain ceases to function and therefore precludes any activity whatsoever, i.e no halucinations. The people you speak of were not ‘clinically’dead, they may have had circulatory arrest (no pulse) that had precipitated an hypoxic episode that resulted in halucinations but had the brain become anoxic to the extent that it ceased to function the persons would not have revived to tell the tale. I now throw of my white coat and speak as an individual with my own personal convictions; I’m sure for every one of the ‘revived’ who claimed to have seen god there are two, ten, a thousand? that claim to see dead relatives and even more revealing, living relatives, white lights (classic hypoxic phenomena) and a hundred different things that the dying brain can drag up from the subconcious. Sorry to rain on your parade Zuri but your evidence is not evidence at all but a desparate struggle to give credibility to the incredible. If the person is dead and the spirit is in the presence of god, how is it that the brain can remember it on revival?
          I get the impression that you are young and have yet much to learn, I don’t mean to patronize you, but you need to experience life more, get a fuller world view before commiting yourself to a rigid acceptance of something you don’t fully understand through no fault of your own.
          I wish you well on your journey through this life, make the most of it I implore you.

          Sauce be with you

          The Reverend

        • Drained and Washed Clean says:

          there is evidence that God might exist.
          ** No there is not.
          You might want to watch “Beyond Belief” about people who were clinically dead and claim to have seen God.
          **Watched it. Scientists can recreate that in the lab by sending electrical impulses through the brain.
          There is less evidence for that than Evolution, I admit that, but as all of of you that were Christians know, you can’t just let go of your faith.
          ** When there is something contradictory, you at least have to question it not blindly move forward especially since you can’t find something in religion that is factual.
          I just saw a special on the Crusades. That was terrible, but just because those guys were messed up doesn’t mean we are today.
          ** Bosnia, Somalia, Iran, Israel, Northern Ireland to name a few of the countries that have been or are currently in the midst of conflict caused by religion. To this day religion still promotes violence, death, and intolerance. They are natural by-products.
          And on the “evidence” thing:
          ** The most important thing.
          There may be evidence God exists.
          ** No, there isn’t.
          Then again, there’s evidence Santa Claus exists.
          ** No, there isn’t
          I knew fairy tales weren’t real by the time of the Christmas of Fear.
          ** Not even gonna touch that.

        • Insightful Ape says:

          OK a few things.
          We are under no obligation to be “respectful” of your beliefs. No one is going to threaten you but it doesn’t mean you won’t be challenged, whether you are a minor or not.
          That some people have claimed to have seen god doesn’t count as evidence. The fact that such claims were made in a near death state makes the claims less robust, not more. FYI, similar claims have been made by people having an epileptic seizure. Human brain can do funny things. It doesn’t mean it is not all in their head.
          I don’t care about your faith, but then, you don’t try to limit our freedom of expression. Deal?

        • wulff says:

          Zuri-

          Firstly, I would like to take a moment to mention, regardless of your beliefs, that at your very young age it is quite admirable that you are participating in forums about politics and religion and are attempting to engage in rational discussion. Too many people of *all* age groups seem unable or unwilling to do so, and I encourage you to continue despite any negative experiences you’ve had in the past.

          As to your specific comments:

          Yes, there have been x-tians who have had NDE’s in which they claimed to see God or heaven or loved ones. There have also been people who have been ‘clinically dead’ who reported that there was *nothing* there. (I find it interesting that I have never heard of an NDE in which someone saw Satan or Hell.) The problem with all these claims is that they cannot be proven valid *or* invalid.

          “just because those guys were messed up doesn’t mean we are today” – Given your age you may not be aware of this, but our last president (George W.) called his assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq a ‘Crusade’. A frightening number of world news stories on the internet are followed by posts from so-called x-tians demanding we utterly destroy Islam because it’s either us or them. Most hate-crimes in the US seem to be committed by x-tians against people of other religions. I’m sorry to say that this argument does not seem valid.

          “There may be evidence God exists” – Aside from the bible, which cannot prove itself, what other evidence is there? I can even ask you for a specific example; Genesis states that after Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, two angels with fiery swords were posted outside the gates to ensure nobody could re-enter Eden. Where is Eden located, where are the gates, and where are the angels? You must admit that their presence would be a pretty strong indicator that at least that part of the text was true.

          “there’s evidence Santa Claus exists” – There is evidence that the currently accepted incarnation of Santa is an amalgamation of several figures that existed in both a historical sense and a folkloric sense, but proving that a part of a thing is true *does not* prove the whole is true. If it did, referring back to my previous post, the existence of the ruins of Troy proves the existence of the Olympian gods.

          Finally, I wish to address the topic of your current belief system. *If* we accept that the bible is true and God exists, how do you know that *your* beliefs are necessarily the correct ones? You do not specify your denomination, and again due to your age may not be fully aware of this, but the Baptists believe differently than the Methodists, who are different from the Presbyterians, and the Catholics, and the 7th Day Adventists. They *cannot* all be right, which means all but one of them *must* be wrong. So how do you know which is which?

        • Atsap Revol says:

          Zuri, your writing suggests that you are very intelligent and a good student. I respect your right to believe in God as you see fit. Many find comfort in religion, and that is excellent, because in this world there is a need for comfort. I have friends that are Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Budhists, Hindus, and members of various other world religions. We respect each other’s right to be religious or not as we choose.

          Note the difference between respecting other people’s right to choose a religion and the actual dogma of various religions. I can’t respect the religions of my friends because they can’t all be correct. Only one, or none, of their beliefs can actually be correct.

          I do not like to be told that I am a sinner, that I will go to hell unless I am saved, or that I am stupid because I don’t believe in one of the gods that others worship. Anyone that approaches me in that way can never be my friend. So I can understand why you want your right to be a Christian respected.

          I suggest that you continue in your religion, but keep an open mind. There are wonderful things to experience in life if one keeps his eyes open. Don’t accept everything that comes from an authority figure as true. Question values that others try to plant in your mind. Here I refer, for example, to politicians, religious figures, and used car salesmen.

          As you study history, you will encounter maniacs, such as Adolph Hitler, that led masses of people into destructive behavior that destroyed millions of lives. Do not be a sheep. Be your own man and continue to develop convictions that belong to you.

          And as you go through life desiring respect for your beliefs and attitudes, remember to respect the right of others to have have different thoughts and opinions. I think you’re a good guy. Have a great life!

          Atsap Revol

        • MNoble says:

          “…about people who were clinically dead and claim to have seen God.”

          If you want a good primer on Near Death Experiences(NDEs,) I recommend:
          The Skeptoid Podcast – Episode #261 — http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4261
          That’s a link to the transcript, and there is a link there to the podcast. It’s 12 minutes long.

          Also note that an anecdote is never evidence. An anecdote can suggest a means to which you can look for evidence, but in and of itself, is not evidence.

  6. JustDucky says:

    Frederic, I most humbly accept your correction. You are, of course, very right in characterizing the Stooges as comic geniuses. I personally adore every nyuk nyuk, woise guy, and chowder head moment. I simply meant that I’ve never regarded their slapstick as being deep social commentary, but I may definitely be wrong about that. Please excuse me while I go watch Curly work on a shower head, and bring the upper class down (up?) to his level!

    • Apprentice Frederic says:

      Fair enough, JustD! LOL!

  7. Veekey says:

    The only thing that I like about this letter is that it didn’t include the words ‘Fuck you’. If you’re going to write some sort of hate mail, take note other haters, write it like that.
    But even still, Tom obviously hasn’t been touched by His Noodly Appendage.

    RAmen.

  8. Nobody of Interest says:

    Tom–
    Big words. Don’t understand. Very boring.

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