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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



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

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  1. Simon says:

    I wouldn’t consider this hate mail. In fact it seems to me like someone is just suggesting that the concept of “I don’t have the answers to life the universe and everything” is in reality more viable than the concept of “I have all the answers, and know that life is meaningless and nothing happens when you die”… to me though it’s just misguided criticism because all that pastafarianism tries to do is keep mythology out of a science class (as it should). You don’t necessarily have to be an atheist to believe that science and philosophy/theology should be kept separate. The core concept of science is actually starting with the words “I don’t know”, the fact is, we really don’t know… especially when it comes to electrical singularity of consciousness and the observer phenomenon which strongly suggest something that we may not even be able to comprehend with senses and a brain that evolved only to detect things that could potentially kill us. Evolution in and of itself basically proves that if there IS something “more” to life, then we wouldn’t have any need to see, hear, smell, taste or touch it since it’s can’t kill us we would never have evolved to sense or understand it.

    • Sean Boyd says:

      “I wouldn’t consider this hate mail.”
      -Which is why Bobby (the Prophet, Sauce be unto Him) named this part of the site “Hate Mail (and Concerned Criticism)”.

      “In fact it seems to me like someone is just suggesting that the concept of “I don’t have the answers to life the universe and everything” is in reality more viable than the concept of “I have all the answers, and know that life is meaningless and nothing happens when you die””
      -Actually, Tommy boy was castigating Pastafarians for using the FSM to point out the silliness of magical deities in general. Perhaps you should re-read Tom’s post.

      “… to me though it’s just misguided criticism because all that pastafarianism tries to do is keep mythology out of a science class (as it should).”
      That’s how it started. But remember, one of the tenets of Pastafarianism is rejection of dogma. To blindly assert that keeping mythology from science classes is the only goal of Pastafarianism is to run afoul of our rejection of dogma.

      “You don’t necessarily have to be an atheist to believe that science and philosophy/theology should be kept separate.”
      True, as far as it goes. Many theistic scientists display a stunning disconnect between what they “believe” and what they “know.”

      “The core concept of science is actually starting with the words “I don’t know””
      Yes…followed by the statement of intent, “Let’s find out.”

      “, the fact is, we really don’t know… ”
      But science strives to find out, in contradistinction to theism, which asserts a priori knowledge based on inspired revelation.

      “especially when it comes to electrical singularity of consciousness and the observer phenomenon”
      I knew the woo was coming, and here it is, right on schedule. Really? Define electrical singularity of consciousness. Keep in mind that two of these technical terms (electrical and singularity) are well-understood, and are amenable to mathematical description. Since you claim they pertain to consciousness, it follows that you are speaking of a description of consciousness that can be described, at least partially, mathematically. Thus, I think it is appropriate that you provide references which discuss the fundamental principles of the “electrical singularity of consciousness.” Once you’ve done that, the observer phenomenon will NATURALLY fall into play, because you will have created a description of consciousness which mixes quantum mechanics (the electrical side is very quantum at its basest level) and singularities (which is a phenomenon of general relativity). Heck, at that point you’ve basically validated all of string theory. I’d be shocked if you didn’t receive the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Medicine simultaneously for this work. While you’re at it, you might write the astrophysicist Sean Carroll (he’s at CalTech) and show him your modification of the Dirac equation, which describe with stunning accuracy how electrons behave in the real world. Clearly, your electrical singularity of consciousness MUST modify the Dirac equation, in that there must be an added term somewhere which describes the effect of consciousness on electrons.

      “which strongly suggest something that we may not even be able to comprehend with senses”
      If it can’t be detected with our senses (or via mechanical augmentation of our senses, like microscopes, oscilloscopes, etc.), how can you possibly assert that it exists? If it’s there, and it can interact with us, we should have the means to detect it, either naturally by our senses or via some extension as mentioned above.

      “and a brain that evolved only to detect things that could potentially kill us.”
      You need to provide a citation for this. Not a biologist, but I call BS. Animal brains are geared towards many things: finding food sources, mating, seeking shelter, mating, avoiding being eaten, mating, and finally, mating.

      “Evolution in and of itself basically proves that if there IS something “more” to life, then we wouldn’t have any need to see, hear, smell, taste or touch it since it’s can’t kill us we would never have evolved to sense or understand it.”"
      No, it doesn’t. We can’t see, hear, smell, taste or touch (in the sense of feel) gamma rays. In sufficient quantities, they can kill us.

      • Poo says:

        The only disconnect I would like to point out here is that you state: “If it can’t be detected with our senses (or via mechanical augmentation of our senses, like microscopes, oscilloscopes, etc.), how can you possibly assert that it exists? If it’s there, and it can interact with us, we should have the means to detect it, either naturally by our senses or via some extension as mentioned above.” And later you state “We can’t see, hear, smell, taste or touch (in the sense of feel) gamma rays. In sufficient quantities, they can kill us.” While it is true we have the mechanical means to detect gamma rays now this was not the case for most of human history; however if you asserted gamma rays existed before there was a way to detect them you would be no less correct. I think you are right that if something exists we should be able to detect it in some way, but I lack your confidence that we are currently able to detect all things that exist.

        • Apprentice Frederic says:

          Poo, I happen to agree with you more or less completely, but, for the sake of being a smart-ass (I wish to live with considerable frivolity) there are things that exist that are not detectible in the physical sense. For example, two solutions to every quadratic equation exist, either real or complex. You’re welcome to argue about the zero case, loflmao

        • Sean Boyd says:

          You’re right..I was quite sloppy with what I wrote. I think it would have been more accurate to state, if an assertion is made that something exists, then there is a responsibility implied to provide a mechanism by which we can make objective measurements of this something. And certainly I don’t believe we are capable of detecting everything that is out there. Consider me properly chastised!

        • Noodly Goodness says:

          I think I love you guys.

          Ramen.

    • stylusmobilus says:

      What gives you the presumption Simon that we think ‘we have all the answers, and know that life is meaningless’? Just because we don’t buy into the fairy tale that a snake broke the laws of biology to talk and bribe people with fruit, a dead person who is two people broke the laws of physics by floating into the sky, the dead blokes’ dad who is himself broke the laws of physics and stopped the world spinning or made the sun move, a burning bush broke the laws of biology and told a bloke not to worship cows, a bloke who was not yet his son broke the laws of physics by holding gigalitres of water up with no control volume, a bloke who was not yet his dad broke the laws of physics by altering the composition of water by the processes of ‘ommmmmmmm’, (or woo as Boydy puts it), a bloke broke the laws of biology (and physics) by getting a woman pregnant without intercourse and the baby is himself…..no, mate, we don’t have all the answers, and I doubt if you would find one of us here who thinks life is meaningless. In fact, I believe there would be a couple around here who have led very fulfilling lives as athiests who would think that the last thing life is, is meaningless.

      • Noodly Goodness says:

        I’m laughing pretty hard right now, but I just wanted to point something interesting out:

        “a burning bush broke the laws of biology”

        I just read something on Cracked today about Eucalyptus plants creating a fire hazard in the area around as a method to reduce competition for land. Hilarious article, let me see if I can find it. Hmmm…. let’s see

        AHA!!!!

        http://www.cracked.com/article_19456_8-things-you-wont-believe-plants-do-when-no-ones-looking.html

        the FSM is truly brilliant in his design of plants!!!

    • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

      Enough already with the “life is meaningless” crap. Get off your knees and MAKE it worthwhile. Seems to me sitting on a friggin’ cloud for all eternity singing the praises of the laissez-faire Man-Who-Is-His-Own-Son is meaningless.

    • Drained and Washed Clean says:

      “since it’s can’t kill us we would never have evolved to sense or understand it.”

      I must be missing something here. If the god of the bible, torah, and qu’ran is what we are speaking of it seems it can kill. Children in Egypt, ordering followers to destroy entire cities and populations, flooding the entire planet, ordering suicide bombings… Seems as if it has killed plenty.

    • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

      What happened is that our brains evolved to the point that – instead of merely getting us through basic animal functions – we were able to consider abstract ideas. That lead to the invention of god and our “greater purpose”.

      • Apprentice Frederic says:

        tFtPtM: the point that you indirectly raise has worried me for a long time; the “conventional” view as I understood it was that evolution progresses to a significant degree in response to challenge and pressure. One might have thought that, while we would surely eventually be smart enough to brain a competitor with a club, the survival need to be able to generate Goedel’s Theorem or Hamiltonian mechanics is far from immediate. I once tried to read a famous anthropologist/evolutionary thinker on that issue – Loren Eiseley – that I came upon, but failed to “get it”, and have no real standing anyways. It would be tempting to try to argue that “god” is a residue of an earlier, more helpless kind of brain functioning, wouldn’t it??? And it would be interesting to read more detailed comments from folks closer to such details. Evolution is close to Pastafarian hearts, frivolity or no, after all.

        • The Guilt Machine says:

          I have no science, or even literature to back this up, but it has always been my intuition that tribes who believed in larger than life concepts like God, were more willing to die for their tribe and therefore fight more ruthlessly. And so be selected for. Just a hunch.

        • George Rodenbach says:

          Guilt Machine: Yes, and unfortunately they’re also more willing to become suicide bombers and take out innocent bystanders.

          Frederic: Sociology is not my field, but it does seem logical that the “god” concept serves some function. Perhaps the traits of a god or gods help a tribe or culture attain some identify.

        • Noodly Goodness says:

          Supernatural beings and mythology surrounding them start off as a way to explain nature, to quell fears about what we don’t understand. It grew into something else from there. First, however, you have to have the ability to imagine the world Not As it IS.

          From what I understand, the human brain developed it’s ability for abstract thought due to complex social structures and hierarchy within populations of early humans. This started with Linear Thought, the ability to think ahead and plan, which might have come about as a by-product of needing to understand how other members of your group were going to act and react–indeed, to understand that other members of the group had thoughts and feelings much like your own.

          This ability may have spilled over onto objects as well; early species of humans figured out how to use objects around them to do work, like opening seeds that weren’t quite ripe yet. Of course, tool use probably had some sort of harmonic effect with social reasoning, the two aspects feeding off each other to select for humans that were not only socially adept, but able to get food (energy) from previously unavailable sources.

          For a million years of human evolution, humans were stuck on the ability to make stone axes. They made some really, really nice ones. They were very successful at it, and so apparently evolution wasn’t pushing them to do more. Then somebody figured out fire, and the brain-race took off anew.

          Finally, for whatever reason, evolution started to select for the ability to imagine. Prior to this, humans were unable to imagine a world where things were not as they appeared. Try to explain ghosts to these early humans and they just wouldn’t get it. “You can’t see it, how can it be there?”

          I can’t even begin to imagine what could have triggered imagination. What evolutionary pressure pushed the human mind to start seeing things that weren’t there? Was it part of the story-telling process? The ability to embellish might have given some an edge. Perhaps lying to get girls in the sack was the thing. Whatever it was, it lead to the next inevitable phase: Religion.

          The world is a scary place. Lightning, thunder, water falling from the sky… Lots to be afraid of. What can make a primitive person with the ability to imagine feel better? Well, if those strange, scary forces were the work of other people, that would be okay, wouldn’t it? But what sort of people could command lightning and thunder???

          I think you see where this is going–in fact most of you probably already worked this part out. Where it starts to get *really* interesting is when one of the really imaginative humans starts using his imagination to tell convince the other humans that if they don’t do what he says, the magical people are going to come and *get* them.

          I don’t claim to be an expert on human evolution. Most of this is gleaned from various sources, one of my favorites being the BBC’s Walking with Cavemen. I suspect much of this is conjecture, or possibly educated guesses.

  2. Matthew says:

    Speaking of Quantum Mechanics, it is possible that my farts smell like Lilacs. Though neither I nor anyone else has yet to observe this fragrant miracle. A negative can never be proven. If I ask you: “Do you speak Mongolian?” The answer is probably no. How can you prove it? Things can only be proven true, you cannot prove something to be untrue. So, I know what happens after we die. We decompose like every other dead thing. You don’t believe it just go check out some roadkill.

  3. Paul S says:

    You have been listening to too much Deepak Chopra. Quantum mechanics is a very successful branch of physics. By successful I mean that the theory makes accurate predictions about how the physical world behaves. The accuracy of quantum mechanical predictions surpasses all other branches of physics. The whole point of understanding the physical universe is to place boundaries around what we can imagine it too be. It does not, as you say, prove that anything that you imagine can become physical reality. Don’t despair about the limits that physical understanding imposes. Understanding the mathematical beauty of reality is its own reward. It’s fun to trip out about EPR non-locality and superposition. These do not fit with our macroscopic experience. But sorry, the limits on what your imagination can consider to be reality get progressively more restrictive as our knowledge increases. That’s what knowledge is.

    Unless you know how to describe quantum states mathematically (and I do by the way) all you can do is parrot the New Age bullshit that you hear.

    • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

      But Paul – parroting is what people do best! High school dropouts like Tom Cruise can blast the psychiatric profession, and Joe the Plumber (who, by the way, wasn’t learned enough to be a plumber) can spout politics. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Most religious people are kept at a certain level and discouraged from too many intelligent questions.

    • Drained and Washed Clean says:

      How does one go about doing that? I find it absolutely fascinating, but I’ve always thought I would struggle with the concept.

  4. I.m Brian and so's my wife says:

    “This does not mean that actual religion — the sincere attempt to understand the unknowable — is inherently stupid or necessarily bullshit.”

    I pretty much stopped reading right there.

    If attempting to understand something that you have acknowledged, in advance, is unknowable, isn’t stupid and necessarily bullshit, the I don’t know what is.

  5. Steve Howerton says:

    So does that mean that the FSM isnt an actual religion?
    Damn….and I just got ordained too.

    • Sam says:

      I’m gonna get ordained anyway, as I already have the regalia, and an emergency eye patch.

  6. john weston says:

    As with all religions you are guilty of speaking only myths and half truths when making your case. You make no mention of the schism in the 19th century when the ‘Tomato Sauceites’ broke away from the spaghetti church to follow the teachings of Heinz who nailed his list of ingredients to the fridge. Despite attempts by traditionalists to ban the can opener the followers of Heinz are now in every home in the western world. The blasphemy of serving toast and cutting with knives is a dark secret which you have never confronted, not to mention the photographing of children some as young as 6 months pictured with red sauce around their mouths forced to live with this stigma in their family albums for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless I will follow the teachings never to put salt in the water or break long spaghetti before cooking. Live long and pasta.

    Sincerely yours Al Dente

  7. TASM10 says:

    Hi guys,

    Been I while since I have posted but I am glad to be back. While Tom has made some fair points, I do have one criticism. I wish people would stop extrapolating ideas about the macrocosm from Quantum Mechanics. The laws set down in Quantum Mechanics apply the quantum world only, and it is therefore incorrect to start applying them to the questions we cannot answer in our “world”.

    R’Amen All,
    Tom

    • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

      Physics, mathematics and theology are human constructs to try and explain the world around us. The difference is that science is willing – hell, eager – to change if a more profound explanation comes along. I don’t believe anyone was ever killed for refusing to embrace a new theory. Religion? Millions.

    • Insightful Ape says:

      If the universe started as a microscopic particle, as the big bang theory postulates, then quantum physics laws are indeed applicable to universe as a whole, though not necssarily to physical object within it.

      • Noodly Goodness says:

        Eh? Try reading the theories before trying to provide profound insights about them, Mr. Ape.

  8. Pieter says:

    I would rather turn it around:

    World history is replete with terrible evils committed in the name of religion.It is therefore an important message that religious beliefs should not be elevated to the level of moral and social values.

    • Drained and Washed Clean says:

      Exactly.

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