Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Regarding Flying Spaghetti Monsters

Seeking inspiration for my next post, I recently spent some time poking about on some Atheist forums.  Now being a former atheist myself, I didn't expect to read anything new.  With the exception of particularly hostile posts, I could pretty much remember every word I read coming out of my mouth at one time or another.  Many people stated they were raised in semi-religious homes and were made to go to church, but never felt any connection with God, or only prayed when they really needed something or were scared.  Most everyone seemed to view the Bible as a book of fairytales designed to frighten and control the masses.  Again, nothing new here, but what jumped out at me was this bizarre little figure that seemed to be following me from post to post and forum to forum:


In all my days as an atheist, I never once heard the term "flying spaghetti monster" so I'm wondering if this is new.  Of course, in all my days as an atheist, I never really knew many other atheists.  I've only recently become acquainted with this term, and while I'm still not really sure what on Earth it has to do with God, I do know what it represents at its core: a profound misunderstanding of what we mean by "God."  Many atheists don't have a clue what we are talking about when it comes to God.  I hope to clear that up in this post, so grab some Parmesan and let's take a fork to this mess.

Let me start by saying what God is not.  God is not the greatest creature in this world;  He is not a creature at all.  Neither is God the highest being in our world.  See, everything in this whole great unfathomable universe is contingent upon something else for its existence.  We can grow a plant from a seed, but we did not create that seed.  Just trying to explain its existence will send you on and on back in time to the cause before that and that and so on.  You'll go all the way back to as close as we can pinpoint the beginning of existence all because you tried to explain a seed.  

Science with all its advances and discoveries can tell us more and more about the beginning of the universe and our world.  But try as it may, it can't explain how at some point so very many years ago, something came from nothing.  That is what does not happen in this tangible reality we live in.  What we mean when we say "God" in Christianity, is not some great puppet master who lives in the sky and does nice things for us if only we'll be good little minions.  No, what we mean by "God" is the one whose very nature is "to be."  He is the one who simply is and whose existence is not contingent upon anything else.  Listen to this commentary by Father Robert Barron: Who God Is & Who God Isn't.

Did you catch that question at the end?  Why is there something rather than nothing?  Tell me all you want in your infinite regression further back into time.  Indeed, the details are quite fascinating, but so much more so is the very fact that anything exists at all.  

This brings us to the timeless question of meaning.  Not so much the 'what' or 'how' of our existence, but why?  Why are we here?  Why does anything exist at all, let alone these strange creatures set apart from the rest who sit around pondering why they exist?  Think about it:  when was the last time you witnessed a gorilla waxing poetic about the meaning of his existence?  Without a doubt, it is a unique component of the human condition to question the reason for our existence and where we come from.  Why?

Christianity will tell you God made us this way.  He designed us to seek Him with all our hearts.  But let's say you're not a Christian and that statement does nothing for you.  Not so very long ago that statement did nothing for me.  As an atheist it seemed to me that Christians or any person of faith had this strange secret language that only made sense to them.  It was like some sort of a club with secret passwords and such.  So let's come at this from a different angle, shall we?

Let's start with the assumption that atheism is correct.  God does not exist and we are just randomly here for no reason or purpose at all.  In that case, our lives have no meaning or purpose.  We are here as a result of random occurrences and nothing awaits us by death and nothingness.  I suppose I'm a little late in creating plans for world domination.  I have wasted so much time being nice to people who don't deserve it and supporting charities.  From now on, I'm looking out for number one! 

Now, I can feel you glaring at me through your screen.  I already know the objection to what I'm saying because I've said it a thousand times myself.  "We don't need a god to tell us how to be good!  I'm a good person for the sake of being a good person, not because I'm afraid of Hell or trying to get into some candyland in the sky!"  Here's the problem:  what is a good person?  How do you define a good person from a bad one with nothing to measure good or bad against?  If we are just dumbly here flying about through space on this randomly perfect planet for no reason, what does "good" mean at all?  

The rest of the universe goes on as nature determines.  All the other creatures of this planet go on about their natural business - eating, sleeping, reproducing, and dying.  There are no elephant courts of law.  I've never seen an insect tribunal.  Not once have I seen one of my chickens brought up on charges for violating the pecking order.  I have, however, seen a chick that was pecked to death by its mother.  If all of this and all of us simply are a product of nature, where did this idea of good or bad, right or wrong, justice and injustice, selfish or compassionate come from at all?  There's nothing natural about it!  How could we have evolved a yearning for something that doesn't exist?  How could nature produce a creature that imagines a Creator that doesn't exist in nature or that imagines anything at all?  And if evolution is the process by which creatures steadily improve for the sake of survival, why would we have evolved morality?  It doesn't help us as a species, it makes us do things no other species on Earth does.  It makes us take on burdens other creatures don't; that's not beneficial to survival.

None of it makes sense.  We are supposed to believe that we are just simply here for no reason, when we cannot even imagine a life without meaning.  When people find their lives have no purpose they want to die!  What's evolutionary about that?  How does nature program a creature to seek purpose that doesn't exist and want to end its life if it can't find that something that doesn't exist?

Let me be clear.  When I was an atheist, I thought Christians believed in their faith to give their lives purpose and meaning.  I thought the idea of no god or reason for existence gave them the willies and they put on their faith like a warm blanket so they could sleep at night.  But I had it backward all along.  We don't believe in God because it gives our lives meaning.  Our lives have meaning and therefore we know God must exist.  Without it, we would just be another random creature on this random planet in our random universe.  

Our lives have meaning.  We know this intuitively from the time we are old enough to move past the basic necessities of life.  We see this phenomenon in no other creature on Earth.  Humans think about, dream about, imagine, and yearn for something greater.  We create art, erect great structures, and fill endless volumes of literature and poetry in a never-ending expression of our search for something which transcends this earthly existence.  That something, my friends, is God.

One last point I want to make is a response to the idea that the Bible, and religion in general, are designed to frighten and control the masses.  I once believed this too.  As with the concept of God, I believe most atheists (and unfortunately many Christians as well) suffer a profound misunderstanding of the Bible.  I highly recommend this video by Father Robert Barron for a better understanding of the Bible.  You can skip to about 5:12 if you're short on time, but all of it is excellent and well worth the time.  

But in regard to controlling the masses, consider for a moment the message of Christianity. I'm speaking from a Catholic perspective here.  Did you know the word "catholic" means universal?  The message of Christ is for everyone.  Long ago, when the ability to read was limited, people could still hear this message read to them at Mass.  In fact, in every Roman Catholic Church all over the world, you will hear the same scripture readings on any given day.  All are welcome;  we teach that God loves all of us great or small, rich or poor, powerful or powerless.  All can come to know, love, and serve God according to their own ability.  Does that sound  like control?

Contrast this with modern atheism.  The intellectually elite insist that the majority of us are too feeble-minded to understand our own existence.  They hold up their degrees and alphabet soup after their names as evidence of their superiority and tell us we should defer to their judgement.  They posit that the only way to know anything about life and its origins is through sophisticated scientific study, something most of us are either incapable of or do not have access to.  This means that we must rely on our great scientist overlords to know what to think about life and its purpose and meaning.  And after all of this, they tell us it has no meaning and we all just happen to be here for no reason at all.  In other words, they tell us the only thing we are able to know about life through our own limited understanding, that it inherently has purpose and meaning, is in fact false.   Relying on someone else for all the answers to the point of rejecting your own instincts, now that's control.

Trust your instincts.  Trust that voice inside that says there must be more than this because there is, so much more.  Reach out to  God;  you don't have to know what to say.  And when you do, know that you aren't waiting for God to respond now, but rather you are finally responding to Him.  Until next time, may God bless you.


  1. Jennifer, I'm so glad you started your blog! You are an awesome writer and I pray your posts will bless many! I must say the spaghetti monster is a new one for me :)

  2. I have never heard of the spaghetti monster either. This was a great read!