Fear of a Flying Spaghetti Monster (Or Why Pastafarians Are Off Their Noodles!)
by Graham Veale
At High School I memorised a few poems hoping that I could somehow bluff my literature teachers into thinking I was well-read. The opportunity to use one of my favourite poems never arose – and perhaps it is as well, for the original version W.H. Auden’s Song of the Devil is somewhat coarser than the rather tame adaptation I stumbled across.
In the poem, Satan mourns the rise of contemporary secularism. Because scientism has replaced theology the challenge has gone out of his work. When anyone facing temptation is apt to surrender, the demons merely whisper “you’re sick”. Moral qualms disappear with objective morality; what are “shouldn’ts or shoulds” if humans are merely matter in motion?
“If you pass up a dame, you’ve yourself to blame/ For shame is neurotic, so snatch!/ All rules are too formal, in fact they’re abnormal/ For any desire is natch.”
Lucifer has a point. Jerry Coyne recently informed Saints and Sceptics that no-one has free-will and that no-one suffers from moral responsibility. Auden’s devil would approve:
Free-Will is a mystical myth as statistical /Methods have objectively shown/ A fad of the Churches: since the latest researches / Into Motivation it’s known/That Honour is hypocrisy, Honesty a joke./ You live in a democracy/ Lie like other folk!”
The devil, however, does not experience fulfilment. He can no longer bear working with empty-headed, soulless, selfish atheists. So one wonders how he would cope with the tedium of New Atheist movements. Richard Dawkins, for example, argues that the truth of Christianity is no more likely than the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. The “FSM” is the parody god of a parody religion – Pastafarianism. Pastafarians mimic and mock the behaviour of the religious by caricaturing Christian ritual and liturgy. They wear colanders on their head as distinctive religious garb or bang wooden spoons to begin their mock services.
The short attention span of the average undergraduate has turned the Flying Spaghetti Monster into a successful meme; but the implied critique of theism is hopeless. There are several problems…
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