Why Yahweh is Nothing Like the Flying Spaghetti Monster & the Thousands of Other Imagined Deities I Don’t Believe In
It is a common caricature of theism to compare our soul’s most powerful and sacred commitment to beliefs that deserve disdain: the belief in a flying spaghetti monster, a teacup orbiting Jupiter, or an imaginary friend to comfort us. Why is this so wrong? And frankly, so stupid and insulting. I’ll give three reasons.
The first reason is historical.
I believe in Jesus of Nazareth as God incarnate because He walked through the streets of Galilee, entered into and altered history, resurrected from the dead, and emerged from a framework of belief that had the HIGHEST notions of deity. Judaism emerged from the ashes of a child-sacrificing polytheistic world and affirmed the most sacred of realities: that people are created equal, that religion isn’t about ritual but about relationship, and that with a holy God. Life - under Judaism - was seen and proclaimed to be about purpose, morality, and transcendence. We might scoff at Christianity’s old-fashioned ethics and ridicule its tenets, but we should bow in honor of what it has given us. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a reflection of a childish reflex to the faith of our fathers, but we – at our best – are still reflections of the Christian beliefs that have shaped our very way of thinking about the things that matter most.
The second reason is logical.
At the end of the day, neither God nor the Flying Spaghetti Monster are conclusions to syllogisms. God was believed in as a revealed Being, Maker of Heaven and Earth: to be experienced in worship and praise, and in reverence and awe. But the difference is this:
The Flying Spaghetti Monster is less than the conclusion to an argument. God is more than a conclusion, but not less.
If we take even the most basic and traditional arguments for God’s existence, they bring us to conclusions about God as One beyond space and time, the Creator of the universe; unchanging and personal, the anchor and wellspring of our morality; and a necessary and powerful being in a contingent and fading world. Not only is this so obviously distinct from a Flying Spaghetti Monster, but it forces us to realize something that should be obvious. God, the real God, explains the way things really are: why the universe began, why morality is cross-culturally binding, why the human urge for sacredness is relentless.
Why is my atheism toward thousands of historical deities not comparable to an unbeliever’s atheism in Yahweh? Well, it’s surprisingly logical. In the words of David Robertson:
“By logical definition there cannot be two (never mind two thousand) Almighty, Eternal, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Supreme Beings who created everything! There is the Creator and from that Creator comes all created things.”
The last reason is biblical.
I am not moved or phased by the existence of a silly caricature of faith, and neither are you. But I am both moved and haunted by the existence of a transcendent God, and so are you. When my children disobey me and I call them out they each have different reactions. One screams, another comes to me in remorse - yet another avoids, distracts, and teases. She teases, because she’s deeply ashamed but doesn’t want to face that. Why the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Sure, at some point it helped to caricaturize the Intelligent Design movement. But why has it stuck? Because it’s a helpful distraction from something we all know. That God isn’t really silly. That we aren’t really funny. We’re guilty, and we feel it. We feel it, because we are.
I don’t believe that God is anything like the Flying Spaghetti Monster because Christianity is historical, because it is logical, but also because it gets personal. It gets us and bugs us and exposes us. And every time I see the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I’m reminded of that. We are children who want to escape our guilt, but “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). That isn’t easy. It isn’t comforting. But it’s true.