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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



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

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  1. Drained and Washed Clean says:

    I don’t find keeping religion out of public schools to be frivolous at all. Nor do I think that religion should be put on some pedestal and left alone to do as it may. See Thomas Jefferson on ridicule and unintelligible propositions.

    • Meiguoren says:

      I think it’s easy to take Jefferson quotes from private letters out of context, but you’re right, he wasn’t a big fan of religious dogma & Christianity as an institution even if he really liked Jesus, and God or the “Supreme Being” as he called him.

  2. WilbyInebriated says:

    quantum mechanics is a theory…

    • PastaEater says:

      A “theory” in science is very different from a “theory” in every other field of study. In every other field of study, a “theory” is a postulate made once and supported very few times. In science, something only becomes a theory after rigorous testing, because in science a theory *is a mathematical model*.

      Quantum mechanics may only be “just” a theory, but it means a whole lot more than even the best defined laws in social sciences.

      As for Tom, no.

      Yeah, no. “No” is the best response I can come up for that mess of a reasoning.

  3. Apostle Strozzapreti says:

    Tom, well put arguments. You make some valid points. I for one, can appreciate an intelligent debate.

    We can spin and philosophize all day long about what is “The absolute truth” really is. In reality there is no truth. It just is. Unless God or Allah or *insert diety here* comes down to earth and collectively bitch-slaps all mankind into reality, we just simply will never know.

    Me personally? I think all religions are for weak-minded fools. My reasons are numerous and derived from my collective experiences with my fellow man, and much research into religions. See, I too- at one point was searching for “the truth”.

    But yet…..As much as I scoff at religion, honestly- I think our society needs it. Can you imagine people left to make thier own decisions? Or worse yet- to define thier own morals? Scary stuff.

    Ironic? Sure is. Hypocritical ? No doubt. But that is the very nature of this whole line of reasoning/thinking.

    • Apprentice Frederic says:

      A. Strozz.: “In reality, there is no truth” worries me; and, for example, if you’d said: “In truth, there is no truth” I would have been REALLY worried. But just working out things a little at a time, with improvements and with more layers of the Onion being peeled away, our understanding does – really – advance. Even if we don’t get all the way in one swell foop of Enlightenment. I’ll wait for Yahweh to bitch-slap me, and go limp and blubber if it happens. But bitch-slapping from Dr. Ratzinger or Pastor Pat is another matter. You’re gonna get a lot of argument about whether religion helps or obstructs the molding of good morals. I hold with Mammy Yokum, who blew Paul Tillich and Reinholdt Niebuhrer (sp?) out of the water when she observed that “….good is better than evil, mainly, because it’s nicer….”

      • Apostle Strozzapreti says:

        Frederic- I couldnt agree with you more, and perhaps parts of my statement are a bit too closeminded ……. not open for interpretation. I was trying to cover alot of ground, with mininal run on paragraphs or rambling. People tend to have a short attention span. I could write a book on my own philosphical musings on religion/morals- but honestly… who would care?
        You have been touched by his noodly appendage sir. Salud!!!

    • Mark says:

      “Me personally? I think all religions are for weak-minded fools.” I couldn’t agree with you more but I do disagree that Society needs religion. It doesn’t need a system that instils guilt at every opportunity and causes conflict.
      The say the deadliest animal on the planet is the Mosquito I believe a close second is religion.

      • Apostle Strozzapreti says:

        Mark, I dont disagree with you, but… as I have grown older- my stance on such things has lightened alot. I think the chance for meaningful debate and philosophing can happen with a bit of an open mind and compassion. You have to learn how to walk before you can run. I certainly wasnt born or baptised a pastafarian. To alot of people, to truly live with an open mind is scary and even inpossible.
        At any rate, keep fighting the good fight! Salud!!

        • ray says:

          Yeah, you really don’t want to be baptized Pastafarian, Apostle. From what I understand, the water needs to be at a rolling boil and you are immersed for 9 to 11 minutes (longer times at higher altitudes). You’re not done being baptized until when thrown, you stick to the wall. Definitely not a ritual for the faint of heart. Being baptized Pastafarian prepares one for a life of persecution.

      • The Reverend Toni Rigatoni says:

        You’re right I think Mark, individuals might benefit from religion but society unquestionably does not.

        Sauce be with you.

        The Reverend

    • READRichardDawkins says:

      “Can you imagine people left to make thier own decisions? Or worse yet- to define thier own morals? Scary stuff.”

      Not really, in my humble opinion. And, no, I do not think our society “needs it” (religion). Christopher Hitchens correctly points out that we do not derive our morality from religion, but that religion gets its morality from us. He points to the innate need for “human solidarity” in order for our species to have managed to even successfully survive up to this point.

      Lastly, Hitchens points out the following with respect to people being “left to make their own decisions”:

      He states, “You can make a “good” person do good things and you can make a “bad” person do bad things. But to get a good person to do bad things, that requires religion.”

      • Apostle Strozzapreti says:

        Some excellent points Richard, and I cannot logically argue against that line of reasoning. It is really hard for me, personally to imagine our society with zero religious influence.

  4. B. says:

    What you need to understand, Mr. Quantum Physicist is that although anything is possible until disproven, there is still IMPROBABILITY! Your ‘powerful thought’ is a wishful thought. If I imagine an ice-cream god who is eaten by entrants into heaven then reincarnated into the Buddha doesn’t mean that it is real. Until it is disproven, it is still unlikely to the point of being negligible. Making your point completely invalid.

  5. Sean Boyd says:

    “While life should not be taken too seriously,”
    Which is a sure sign someone is about to take life too seriously.

    “this doesn’t mean we should live with absolute frivolity.”
    Meaning you think the Church of the FSM is completely frivolous, I suppose. Evidence?

    “Yes, so-called religions attempt to mandate all sorts of opinions and behaviors about morality and social conformity.”
    Not just the so-called religions. All religions. Even our Church, which eschews, for instance, dogma.

    “This does not mean that actual religion — the sincere attempt to understand the unknowable — is inherently stupid or necessarily bullshit.”
    Religion is NOT a sincere attempt to understand the unknowable. It is the deliberate construction of, or adherence to, rituals and beliefs based on one’s lack of willingness to attempt understanding the unknown. In other words, religion is, by its nature, automatically bullshit.
    By the way, please define unknowable in this context. What is unknowable? Are you talking about something like: we cannot simultaneously have arbitrarily accurate information regarding both the position and momentum of an electron? Or more along the lines of: we can never really know how the universe was created, or: we can never really know how life started. The former is no big deal: it’s just the way the universe is. The latter is horse hockey: we can know, and know more every day.

    “Quantum mechanics tells us that all possibilities exist simultaneously until foreclosed by inconsistent observations.”
    I’m not a physicist, but I call BS on this. This reads like pseudoscientific horse-puckey. If you’re talking about wave function collapse (where it appears that a particle simultaneously exists in a superposition of states until interaction with an observer), it should be clear that the notion of inconsistent observations is ridiculous. If the particle (say an electron) is observed, that’s the state it’s in. It will not be observed in two different states, somehow magically creating all possibilities. If you’re talking about the many worlds interpretation, we have yet to find definitive evidence that this interpretation is meaningful, even though I’m aware that there is much research into looking at ways of testing this interpretation. The point is, none of these notions can do more, at this point, than SUGGEST a possible way of looking at quantum phenomenon. None of them definitively state that “all possibilities exist simultaneously.”

    “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.”
    Seriously, is this Deepak Chopra? This is ridiculous. If you can’t observe it, or infer its existence indirectly via observation, then what business do you have asserting it exists? You sound like Xenophilius Lovegood: you’ll only believe something is true if there’s no evidence for it whatsoever.
    As for designing our own eternity via our imagination, why do we have to wait until the afterlife to do this? Why now now? For instance, let’s all imagine we can fly. We’ll all meet at the top of the Space Needle, and we can test our commitment to that belief.

    “Personally, I’d want much more from my eternity than to party on a pirate ship with a bunch of beer and strippers.”
    Is there something wrong with beer and strippers? Perhaps you’d rather spend your eternity with 72 virgins (tedious), or singing the praises of YHWH (that should only take about 10 microseconds) or fighting on the fields of Valhalla (ouch.) Or, FSM forbid, an eternity of nothingness, unawareness, because you’re DEAD?

    “The ability to have that experience at any time and for any duration? Sure, that would be great.”
    I thought you just said that you’d want much more. So, is it great, or not?

    “But plain old life has plenty to offer that’s much more sublime and extraordinary than simple hedonism.”
    And, really, that’s the point of the stripper factory and the beer volcano. The notion of an afterlife is, quite possibly, to give people downtrodden in this life the hope of something better coming along. I mean, streets of gold? 72 virgins? Come on.

    And it’s not even a very ambitious vision of hedonism.”
    Which is kind of the point, my satirically-challenged friend.

    “World history is replete with terrible evils committed in the name of “religion.”"
    No, not in the “name of “religion”", but in the “name of religion.” Religion, even if unnecessary for atrocities to occur, has been invoked as a unifying force too many times to think otherwise. You’re treading close to the boundaries of the No True Scotsman argument.

    “Certainly, it’s an important message that moral and social “values” should not be elevated to the level of religious beliefs.”
    Don’t you mean lowered to the level of religious beliefs? Because most religions do, or have, advocated murder, slavery, rape, intolerance, and so on. If you need me to provide examples, you’re writing from a position of ignorance. Modern societal norms are far more tolerant and ethical, by and large, than the traditional views of any of the major religions.

    “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.”
    These are NOT unknowable. That we do not have every single detail in our answers to these questions does not make them unknowable. The answers to these questions are most of the point of research in cosmology, evolutionary biology, anthropology…it’s what scientists do. Grasp for your god of the gaps all you want…in each such gap, you’ll just find more questions awaiting the attention of the right researcher, no deity or other magical thinking required.

    “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.”
    I doubt very much that you would find a single Pastafarian who has a literal belief in any of what the Church of the FSM proclaims as true (and I include our Prophet Bobby in this assessment.) The point of the beliefs as they are presented, and in the gleeful proclamations many of us make in these posts, are simply to point out how ridiculous it sounds when Xtians or Muslims or Hindus makes religious utterances in praise of random occurrences.
    And Pastafarianism is not about choosing what to believe. It’s largely about the need for the primacy of scientific reasoning as opposed to unscientific drivel, for the simple reason that it works, and that magical thinking does not. Scientific reasoning only lets one choose answers based on reality, not on desire.

    “But to do so simply to make a point about the beliefs of others is to degrade and dishonor one’s own spirit.”
    No. Pointing out the stupidity of magical thinking, and the ills it perpetrates, is the responsibility of those who truly want to make the world a better place.

    “-Tom”
    Are you SURE you’re not Deepak?

    • Atsap Revol says:

      Sean Boyd, that’s an exemplary expose of Tom’s faulty thinking. You have properly called bullshit on his ridiculous statements. The lesson to be learned is never try to bullshit a Pastafarian…you did us proud!

      R’amen
      AR

      • Sean Boyd says:

        Must’ve been th’ grog I’ve been drinkin’…I’m not usually this coherent!

        R’amen

  6. Klaus Pedersen says:

    I consider myself a Pastafarian, but I agree with the implied criticism of the Church of FSM in the last sentence. In fact, I would qualify it further by saying that FSM often seems to want to poke fun at Christianity only. Firstly, I think one should be careful about poking fun at something which other people take so seriously, and secondly: if we are going to be explicit about ridiculing other faiths, let us spread it out a bit more.

    • Mal says:

      I would first like to preface my response by saying this: the answer I am about to give you is by no means a justification. I merely see it as a possible reason.

      In my experience, Christianity has been one of the most aggressive forces in attempting to instill religion in all parts of society. When you’re on top, you’re an easy target. If you need an example, look at the hate-mail and hateful responses to postings on this website. A large majority of it is from people who claim to be Christians while it is rare to be accosted by people representing other religions.

      Put simply in as mature a way as possible, they started it. :-D

    • Apostle Strozzapreti says:

      I poke fun at all religions except Buddhism. The ideas and concepts it postulates is very interesting. If youve never read any buddhist wiritngs, I highly reccomend it.

      • Apprentice Frederic says:

        Apostle Strozzapreti: I have to second your recommendation. We have some few Buddhist friends here in Colorado, which, interestingly, has a couple of Buddhist communities, one a mountain retreat, and I am impressed, FWIW. I have to mention, also, that my wife and I were (perfectly ordinary, dweeberly) tourists in SE Asia a few years ago, and attended a great talk about Buddhism in a temple/school in the north of Thailand. A wonderful, bespectacled little priest in a saffron robe gave the presentation: in MicroSoft PowerPoint, and projected from his computer onto the wall of the lecture hall. (Consistent with the present thread, he told lotsa jokes….)

        • Apostle Strozzapreti says:

          Frederic, Thailand is a beautiful place. The food and people are wonderful. Although spending time at the buddhist temples always made me feel like I was truly missing alot of what life is really about. Anyone who has studied some buddhism will know exactly what im talking about….. lol

      • Sean Boyd says:

        Buddhism teaches that people are born over and over again, in different bodies as different beings, and that this process is driven by the quality of our deeds. Moreover, this process is simply a part of how the universe operates.

        It should be needless to say that there is no scientific evidence for any of this. In fact, many practitioners of woo (Deepak Chopra is one of the more offensive) use Buddhist and Hindu proclamations, suitably reinterpreted, as evidence that the ancient traditions somehow knew all about quantum mechanics, providing legitimacy to their particular brand of woo. Thus, while Buddhist practice has spawned a discipline (meditation) which measurably allows people to better control their thinking, Buddhist dogma suggests that we are all pawns to karma. This is just as silly as the notion that Zeus ate his parents, a zombie Jewish carpenter died for the sins his father required all humans commit, or that Kali kicks the crap out of random demons.

        • wulff says:

          I wonder about your information. My impression is that you’re describing Hindi, not Buddhism, and that the reason for the schism between the two was that Siddhartha Gautama taught his followers that through meditation and sacrifice-of-ego they could leap off the wheel of karma and achieve enlightenment in a single lifetime.

        • Apprentice Frederic says:

          @Sean Boyd, your point taken; however, will let you and wulff thrash out the comparative roots of Hindi and Buddhist thought. I do think you’re being a little hard on religion as a context in which some folks motivate their approach to moral issues, and most “decent” religions do preach humility and compassion, however hypocritical their adherents occasionally/often/usually (take your pick) are in practice. The Pastafarian approach – as I understand it – is to mightily resist the I’m-gonna-shove-my-religion-down-your-throat approach, which I think is more typically evangelical Christian than Buddhist (but I could be wrong). I haven’t run into a Zeussian who insisted that I eat my parents, but until that happens, I’m gonna let them burn incense at the foot of Mt. Olympus without bothering them.

        • Sean Boyd says:

          @wulff As to the role of karma in Buddhist thought, I refer you to http://www.pbs.org/edens/thailand/buddhism.htm, which provides a very brief outline of traditional Buddhist belief. In particular, the notion of rebirth into either favorable or unfavorable planes of existence, based upon the quality of previous lives, is a part of traditional Buddhist thought. Your statement, however, is telling: if Buddha thought he could game the system to get people off the karma train (via the Eightfold Path), then in fact he had belief that a person’s karma determined their future lives, and was thus an unabashed pusher of bullpuckey.

          The point is: the practice of meditation has been studied by medical science and has been shown to provide significant and measurable benefits, which does not mean that the reasons Buddha and his buddies offered as explanations were correct. Incidentally, intense prayer has been shown to offer similar benefits, although it apparently doesn’t help heal the sick (at least not consistently.)

          @Apprentice Frederic: modern religions claim to derive their morality from ancient revelation, by and large (the 10 Commandments, for instance.) Compare these standards of morality with the other rules that accompanied them: you know, like kill the gays, and adulterers, and by golly don’t mix meat and milk during the same meal. Read Leviticus for more similarly ridiculous notions.

          And I would tend to agree that Buddhists don’t seem too pushy about their way of doing things. That’s great. I’m not aware of anyone posting here visiting their temples to ridicule them. Until recently, I lived in a little apartment directly above one of the more obnoxious Xtian churches (it was the church that moved, not me, praise the FSM)…one of those in which the preacher claims God wants everyone to be rich, or some such crap. They never once heard from me about my view of their beliefs, though I was mightily tempted. If they choose to come here and spread their views, they’ve asked for a response.

          And as far as morality, some people might point to their religion as the source of their modern notion of morality (tolerance and respect of other creeds, for instance) but others use the same precise source material and arrive at completely different notions (for instance, toleration of homosexuality vs. condemning it as a sin.) Both can’t be right. That such a schism exists has more to do with the modernization of society than any benefit of religion. Those who preach tolerance and compassion do so because these are becoming societal values, independent of religion. One only needs to look to the Tea Party, which is nothing but a front for the Xtian Right, and which advocates less tolerance and less compassion for others, to see the effect of religion on those values.

        • Apprentice Frederic says:

          @Sean: Fair enough, Sean – helpful inputs. You will surely dwell on the ground floor of a house in the Vale of Vermicelli for your forbearance, LOL.

    • Drained and Washed Clean says:

      I despise every religion, and though more time is given the xtians because they are the most prevalent on this site, they are included in my ridicule.

      • able semen says:

        Ditto :-)

  7. Reggie Dixon says:

    Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom . . . . No.

    An unfathomly common argument from believers in bullshit goes “Quantum Mechanics is very hard to understand, therefore I can use it to say any made-up crap can be true”. Homeopaths do this all the time.

    You cannot create your own truth, flap your arms all you like, you will not fly, believe in invisible sky fairies all you like, it won’t make them exist.

    • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

      Creationists use that non-logic all the time, Reggie. “There must be a creator because the eye is so complex. Hell, I can’t build one, and can’t understand how it works, so….I’ll go back to my belief in the Big Magic Guy. But I won’t give him the name my religion uses, so you’ll think I’m being open-minded”.

  8. hahaha says:

    its funny how ticked off this guy got. this is a protest thing. if he dosent like it he can just not get involved.

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