Can We Get a Flying Spaghetti Monster Billboard? June 8, 2011

Can We Get a Flying Spaghetti Monster Billboard?

A lot of atheist groups have done it. Religious groups do it all the time. Why not the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Prophet Bobby Henderson is considering putting up a billboard of the FSM! He’s taking submissions right now… paying for it will be Phase 2.

My vote currently goes to this one:

Wouldn’t you love to see that in your city? 🙂

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  • Jon Peterson
  • Adam

    +1,000 on Jon’s comment.

  • It is true. Papyrus is the “no atheists in foxholes” of graphic design.

  • Earthchile

    I LOVE IT!!! This should definitely be done.

  • Needs an easier to remember URL.

  • “Wouldn’t you love to see that in your city?”

    Actually, I really wouldn’t. I’ve written on this before, in fact.. numerous times. I strongly dislike this nonsense of FSM because it makes us atheists look like utter and complete fools, depriving us of any credibility in what is often very little to begin with in the eyes of quite a large portion of the population.

    There is no need to degenerate ourselves to the level of mentally-retarded in order to advertise against religion and in favor of atheism.

    I prefer truth in advertising, kthx.

  • But, Riz, the only important thing is maximizing attention per advertising dollar!

  • Janice in Toronto

    Lighten up Riz.

    It’s parody and very healthy and funny.

    Really, it’s time for a chill pill for you.

    Besides, maybe the FSM likes it.

  • Stephen P

    Of the 4000 (or whatever it is) religions in the world today, I wonder how many started as a joke that got out of hand.

  • auntikrist

    @Riz. I too vote for parody and sarcasm every time. The biggest difference between atheists and religious types is that atheist/agnostic/unbelievers have MUCH better senses of humor (and irony) than the religious types. *%^#! ’em if they can’t take a joke. I’d like to see billboards advertising the Church of the Subgenius nonsense too. Let anarchy reign!

  • Joy Evans Morris
  • T-Rex

    I agree with Riz. This kind of billboard would be lost on most theists anyways. Those that did get it would just point to how rediculous being an atheist is. I prefer the FFRF “out of the closet” billboards. Those put a face with atheism.

  • Would I like to see one? Meh probably not. Maybe for a day or two, just for teh lulz.

  • AteoAbsurdo

    //I strongly dislike this nonsense of FSM because it makes us atheists look like utter and complete fools, depriving us of any credibility in what is often very little to begin with in the eyes of quite a large portion of the population.//

    I think that’s quite the baseless claim. I’ve had a few rational debates over the similarities between the FSM and God. However, I generally don’t use Him in debate; I keep His Noodliness around to annoy the trolls.

    Sure, some people (like yourself) will find the FSM to “[deprive]us of any credibility,” but I think others will find the Complex-Carbohydrate Supreme Being to be an apt analogy. People certainly saw the connection when the FSM first came out as a satire of Intelligent Design.

    I think this billboard is perfect. It shows that atheists can be playful and fun, and it’s something the majority of the moderately religious population can laugh at. Sure, the more fundamentalist Christians will be offended, but they would not take kindly to any atheist billboard.

    //There is no need to degenerate ourselves to the level of mentally-retarded in order to advertise against religion and in favor of atheism.//

    If anything will lose us credibility with theists, it’s calling them mental retards. Many Christians and other theists are very intelligent people. Sure, when it comes to religion, I disagree with their rationale, but it’s far-fetched to assert they suffer psychologically because they succumb to fallacies. Rather, seeing as how many people do reason along the theistic path, I find a more compelling argument would be that religion has potent intellectual and social artifices which ensnare the mind in falsehoods.

  • Richard Wade

    If I remember correctly, the FSM was originally invented to illustrate the absurdity of “teaching the controversy” or “teaching all the ‘theories'” during the 2005 Dover, Pennsylvania trial that stopped the insinuation of “intelligent design” into public school science classes. It was a very useful tool for its original purpose, and once in a while it is useful for countering the same argument whenever it bubbles up.

    But it was also simply funny, so it began to take on a life of its own. People like to celebrate it just to have fun ridiculing religion in general. That can be a legitimate use too, if it is done with a light touch and not just for the purpose of being unkind.

    This proposed billboard seems to be a blanket parody of religion in general with no particular issue or controversy in mind, so its effect is blunted, and it is confusing to the uninitiated. I wonder what is its intended purpose beyond saying “Nyah nyah nyah, religion is stupid, nyah nyah nyah.” Do people really want to spend thousands of dollars just to say that?

    I’m all for having fun, but I think that parody and spoof is best when used in a focused manner on a particular issue or controversy. If we over use this tool it will lose its effectiveness.

  • Rob

    Atheists, like theists come in all shapes, sizes, and senses of humour. If you want to be the super serious, stick up your ass type of atheist, go ahead. But don’t look down on those who have fun with it and point out how ludicrous religion is by being ludicrous themselves. If you can’t poke fun and criticize yourself you really have no right to poke fun and criticize others.

  • Ibis

    Waste of money. I’ve never understood the appeal of the whole FSM thing. I don’t find it clever or funny (as good satire ought to be), just juvenile and stupid. Wouldn’t it be better to have a billboard saying:

    The Universe: God-free for 13.7 billion years [or “since before the beginning of time”] & counting [with a nice pic from Hubble]


    Me and my cousins [a pic of a couple of kids with a bunch of animals in a park-like setting]


    Grown-ups don’t need imaginary friends [against a pic of the CMB or tree of life in the round]


    Keep your church out of my government. [against a pic of the anti-establishment clause in your constitution]


    Jesus commanded you to pray in private. Mathew 6:6 [with a pic of a bible)


    Gods aren’t real. [one of those sunlight through clouds pics]


    No evidence? No acceptance. [with religious symbols]


    Faith: Gullibility in fine dress. [with a silhouette of a cross]

    Well, you get the idea.

  • Roxane

    Seems to me that we can drive ourselves crazy by parsing every atheist billboard. I’d be thrilled to see one–this one, any one, you choose–IRL, but I never have. It seems to me that the main point of all of them is to say, “Christians, don’t assume that everyone shares your beliefs,” and they’re all pretty successful at that.

  • Why is it that I seem to recall, back when I was a frequent poster on Fark, before the FSM meme – seeing a post there (or something) about some guy who posted a drawing of what his child’s (son or daughter, I can’t recall) concept of “god” was – and that the image was the original concept of the “Flying Spaghetti Monster”; that is, he gave it the name, but it was originally a child’s drawing that started this whole meme?

    Am I crazy? Did I just dream this?

    I mean I know the mind is pliable and all that; maybe over time I did change things around in my mind – but I honestly seem to recall that some guy asked his kid to draw “god”, and out popped the FSM. I am unable to find the original posting, though, if it really existed.

    Finally – that’s something to make you pause: Here’s a meme that purports to have been started in 2005 as a mock religion by an atheist, when in reality (if my memory isn’t faulty) it was started (arguably) by a child (or by the father of said child). Yet the record on the internet is “gone”. I tend to wonder what else has dropped down the Orwellian memory hole…

  • UCoR should get behind this campaign and invest a little start up money. Then let the internet atheists spend additional money to move the billboard to more/better sites.

  • DA

    I guess some jokes just get better and better each time they’re told.

    Seriously though, this reminds me a LOT of the Church of the Subgenius. Started out as a joke and then got bigger, more complex, and more involved until it was genuinely difficult to tell the difference between them and a real cult ( a member even sent Bob Black a mail bomb for pissing off Ivan Stang). If it was genuinely funny I guess I could see it, but at best it’s mildly amusing in small doses.

  • I’d laugh if I saw one but I wouldn’t pay for it.

  • Ubi Dubium

    @Riz S,

    I think you are missing the point here. We are not just being stupid for the sake of stupidity, we are parodying those fundies who seem to think that putting up billboards with pious messages is a good way to convert people. And the FSM can actually be a serious challenge to the “True Believers”. Yes, our “religion” is ridiculous, and claims to believe in lots of things which they think are preposterous, but can they justify how their beliefs are any less silly? We have Pirates and Pasta, they have talking snakes and evil fruit. Before a believer would have any chance of converting me, they’d have to make a good case for their “real” religion being “more true” than my fictional one.

    I’m teaching a 6th grade class at my local UU, and right now they are considering the question “How can I know what to believe?”. This Sunday, I’ll be teaching them about His Noodliness. Yarrrgh!

  • GR Jay

    As someone new to the internet world of skepticism, but with a long history of Christianity, I had to look up the FSM when first encountered not too long ago. While “Pastafarian” still amuses me, I’d have to say most people have never even heard of the FSM or anything related, so billboards such as this would be baffling at most. If you want to sponser something to bring a smile as you drive by, that’s fine, but I think that if the goal is to provoke thought, billboards of the “atheists are normal people” type or the like would be much better.

    The skeptic group which sponsored Hement’s talk here in Grand Rapids yesterday (which I enjoyed) wants to sponser an atheist billboard here. That should be interesting.

  • Stogoe

    If you want to be the super serious, stick up your ass type of atheist, go ahead. But don’t look down on those who have fun with it

    Rob, that’s the entire point of the rectal-stick – so you can prop yourself up and look down on people. Which reminds me of a joke:

    Why did Jesus get up on his cross?
    So he could look down on others.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I am a ‘Pastafarian’ and I’m genuinely surprised by some of the negative comments about FSM. I understand the arguments and that not all things are universally funny but I can’t help but feel like FSM is being mislabeled and underestimated. Aside from the I.D. argument, the purpose of its creation, it affords the ability to hold up a mirror.

    Every argument for or against religion applies equally to FSM. As such Pastafarians can role-play as a Fundies, we can draw from the same Fundie toolbag, use the same rhetoric, evangelize the ‘faith’, threaten punishments(of stale beer), juxtapose FSM with counter faiths, reveal FSM as satire, or simply maintain the charade. More importantly, because there is no personal investment(it is satire after all), control can be maintained, leaving only the Fundie vexing.

    To be fair about the subject, there is no ‘right’ way to question faith, it is an automatic insult to challenge it regardless of the tactics. The best one can do is to insulate oneself from the seriousness of it.

  • amsterstorm

    In agreement with TiltedHorizon. Always felt that way about the FSM. Guess I can understand the fear of overusing such a valuable tool, tho.

  • DA

    The thing is though, the FSM is NOT a particularly effective meme. If anything, I’d say it’s actually gone into the anti-intellectual debit side due to overuse, because (especially online) so many atheists are just like “Oh yeah, FLYING SPAGHETTI and RAMEN lol” It’s an in-joke for atheists. Which is fine, and I’m the last person to say your hobbyism is my business, but hobbyism is all it is. Nobody learned to think critically because of “Bob” Dobbs, and nobody is going to give up religion for this joke either. But, of course, most hardcore atheists (including me) have a geek streak, and a defining trait of geek culture is that no self-referential joke will EVER get old. So yeah, I guess the cake is a lie! Come on, laugh, or you have a stick up your ass and you just must HATE FUN.

  • TiltedHorizon

    “Nobody learned to think critically because of “Bob” Dobbs, and nobody is going to give up religion for this joke either.”

    From my perspective no one is giving up religion due to well made arguments either. The crux of the issue is not the effectiveness of the argument or the style of delivery but willingness of the person to actually consider it for more than a second (if at all). Lets face it, it’s an uphill battle, I prefer to lighten the load by offering an easy straw-man for them to attack while I look for an approachable angle from which to counter.

  • Kristen

    I love FSM! I think it’s too early in the game to not take this seriously thou.

  • DA

    “From my perspective no one is giving up religion due to well made arguments either.”

    I did. A bunch of dorks doing an updated version of quoting Monty Python couldn’t have turned me off of fundamentalism.

  • Britt

    You might be one logical ex-fundie DA, but 99% of the fundies won’t give it up even after seeing the truth bite them in the face.
    Tilted is right that most won’t even give any thought to anything other than their faith. So logical people have to pull out all the stops.

  • TiltedHorizon

    “I did.”

    Which I covered when I said “The crux of the issue is not the effectiveness of the argument or the style of delivery but willingness of the person to actually consider it for more than a second (if at all).”

    If I detect open-mindedness the charade is dropped instantly. As a side, if you would like to provide me the winning argument which freed your mind, I’ll gladly add it to my debate strategy.

  • JD

    I think it’s amusing. I don’t know how many people would get the joke, I think they won’t. Many theists that get the joke will probably be insulted. Everyone else would need an explanation, it would probably take Glen Beck a whole show segment to explain to his viewers why they should be insulted by it.

  • DA

    Perhaps we’re talking past each other here. I’ll try to articulate myself better and understand what you’re saying. Tell me if I’m misreading something.

    What you describe just seems functionally useless to me. I simply do not see any kind of actual value in terms of debate to the FSM meme. If people already can appreciate, it seems certain that it’s preaching to the “converted”. If they can’t, they’ll either just see it as a smug atheist thing (with some justification, I think) or be baffled, neither reaction being that conduscive to anything.

    As for what turned me around, it was a gradual process, not one snappy answer. However, the people who I engaged with were thoughtful and often individually witty. As I reflected and my faith was weakened, I never once had someone just bray a barroom level joke at me. I dealt with some people who were utterly uncompromising and brutal in their logic, and some people who showed what then seemed like a disrespectful and caustic take on my faith, but it was all well-thought and sincere.

    The FSM by contrast is a weird psuedo-religion where people have made up a mythos that they’re completely(?) insincere about, out of minor interlocking gags. It’s the kind of gags you’d make with your friends at the bar, and they’d be funny enough to you then, but not really good for export. “In the name of the Pasta Monster, amen.” “No dude, RAMEN.” “NIIICE”. One of the thing that, as I mentioned earlier, bugs me about geek culture is the repetition of humor outside its original context. Just randomly quoting something that was funny isn’t necessarily itself funny. So, regardless of whether the billboard “works” in any useful sense, I just personally find it played out and kind of obnoxious. But, since I don’t think it will “work” to advance any meaningful conversation about faith, it just feels like a back-patting in-joke writ large.

    I’m all for different approaches, and I’m not shy about my anti-religious views. I’m not anti-humor, or anti-confrontation. I just don’t like THIS particular method, that is to say, making up fake joke religions. The jokes get old, they don’t resonate with anyone who’s not more or less on board already, and they have a tendency to form a bizarre kind of religious devotion themselves (I mentioned the Subgenii earlier, but I’ve also met discordians and Moorish Temple types who have developed sort of an anti-logic, fundamentalist slant to their hobby and online some Pastafarians seem to get a little too into the whole thing as well).

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