It's not every day you get to speak to a prophet. Most of them are too deador at least too busyto chat about their respective religions with a reporter from an online magazine. But Bobby Henderson, a 24-year-old out-of-work physics major, is not your typical prophet, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to spread the Word at a time when his faith is under attack.
Courtesy Niklas Jansson
Henderson first shared the beliefs behind FSMism in an open letter to the Kansas School Board. He explained that the main tenets of the religion include the creation of the universe by the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), the "evidence" for evolution put in place by His Noodly Appendage (to fool non-believers), and the mandatory pirate regalia for worship. As evidence of the power of the Creator, Henderson put forward a graph showing a statistically significant inverse relationship between the number of pirates in existence and global temperature. True FSM believers end prayers with "rAmen" and celebrate several holidays, including Pastaover, which celebrates the night that the Flying Spaghetti Monster flew over the city, looking for the houses that had marinara sauce splashed upon the doorposts. (Boing Boing)
In an effort to be heard over the ruckus emanating from the Intelligent Design/Darwinian Evolution debate, the Great Prophet Bobby Henderson told Gelf more about FSMism and its non-faith-based theory of evolution.
Gelf Magazine: What do you prefer to call your religion, Pastafarianism or FSMism?
Bobby Henderson: I use the term "FSMism" by habit, but "Pastafarianism" is growing on me.
GM: When did you start the religion and how did the idea come to you?
BH: The letter came first. I didn't put it up online until several weeks later, after receiving no replies from the KS Board. Mounting disgust over the whole ID issue and lack of sleep were the prime catalysts. Also, the FSMonster told me to do it.
GM: When did you know you were the chosen Prophet for the great Flying Spaghetti Monster? Does He still speak to you?
BH: I had of course seen spaghetti several times throughout my life, but it wasn't until He revealed Himself to me and touched me with His Noodly Appendage that I knew I was Chosen. Does He still speak to me? If by that you mean "Do I hear voices in my head?" the answer is yes. Further evidence that He is near me abounds. I oftentimes find that I have made mistakes in my day-to-day activities. These, clearly, are the work of a mischievous Flying Spaghetti Monster, tampering with my work with His Noodly Appendage, purely for his own amusement.
GM: What does a normal day in the life of a Pastafarian entail?
BH: Believers of the FSM are normal people, living normal lives. Certain rituals must be followed, however, most of them having to do with pasta and/or pirates. Random acts of piratical expression are encouraged. Flipping off a stranger, for example, would not only be hilarious, but would also go a long way in pleasing Him, bringing you that much closer to FSM heaven, which, among other attractions, features a Beer Volcano.
GM: How do you feel about your growing number of followers? Do you think the newcomers are just jumping on the bandwagon or do you believe they are true Pastafarians?
BH: I think it's cool how much FSMism, or pastafarianism, has grown. I always wanted a cult. And these people, a lot of them, are incredibly smart. I have tons of emails from Ph.Ds. It is all very entertaining, but I do miss sleep.
GM: What do you think of the contest awarding $250,000 to anyone who can "produce empirical evidence which proves that Jesus is not the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster"? Does this challenge degrade your preachings or help perpetuate them?
BH: The Boing Boing $250k challenge was great. That is sort of the whole deal with religionyou make an a priori assumption and then challenge people to disprove you. If that's a legit strategy in mainstream religion, and increasingly in the science classroom, then it's legit for FSMism as well.
Courtesy Bobby Henderson
In the beginning...
BH: There are a lot of similarities between ID and FSM, that is true. However, I think FSM does a better job of explaining what would motivate the creator to go to so much trouble to change our scientific results in order to make the universe appear older than it truly is. Tampering with our radioisotope measurements, geographic observations and, perhaps most impressive, placing individual photons enroute to earth, suitably redshifted, in an effort to mislead us is not only an act of an intelligent maker, but also an anarchistic, mischevious one. It is for this reason that we believe pirates must be His Chosen subjects, as their personality perfectly embodies the mischevious spirit of the FSM. Virtually no field of science goes untouched by His Noodly Appendage.
GM: Is there any sort of structured ranking within Pastafarianism (i.e., other than The Prophet, are there any levels within the religion that parallel church official rankings)?
BH: There are rankings in the church, yes. Structured rankings, no. I have been told by Him that I am to procure a pirate ship of immense proportions and engage on a mission to spread his Word. The most endeared members of the church will be accompanying me. And in the case of female members, by "endeared" I of course mean "endowed."
Related in Gelf
•You Say You Want an Evolution: Gelf book nerd Aaron Zamost recommends some background reading to get up to speed on the debate over Intelligent Design.
•Intelligent Falling: The Onion tells Gelf what's what.