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Flying Spaghetti Monster or FSM

What does Flying Spaghetti Monster mean?

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the supreme being of a parody religion called the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster refer to themselves as Pastafarians and their beliefs are sometimes called Pastafarianism or FSMism.

image of Flying Spaghetti Monster

Where does Flying Spaghetti Monster come from?

In 2005, Bobby Henderson, then an unemployed physics graduate, proposed in an open letter that the world was created by a deity made of pasta, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The open letter was a response to the Kansas School Board’s decision that schools be allowed to teach Intelligent Design, the idea that the world was created by some intelligent higher power, in science classes. In Henderson’s open letter, he argued that that students should also be taught the “alternative theory” that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world.

Henderson posted the open letter to his personal website, which received over 14 million hits in the following weeks. Soon supporters started producing art depicting the Flying Spaghetti Monster and describing encounters with the being. Three members of the Kansas School Board wrote letters of thanks to Henderson, while one member wrote to rebuke him.

In 2007, the American Academy of Religion hosted a panel on the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Among the serious questions addressed by the panel was “Is an anti-religion like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism actually a religion?”

Courts around the world have attempted to tackle this question as well. In New Zealand, Pastafarians are now allowed to officiate marriages. A Texas Pastafarian was given permission to wear a pasta strainer on his head as “religious headgear” in his driver’s license photo, but a New Jersey man was denied the same request.

A few things to note…

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is most frequently referenced by atheists and other critics of organized religion, usually in an attempt to dismiss certain religious beliefs as absurd. The noted atheist writer Richard Dawkins even referenced the Flying Spaghetti Monster in a debate.

In a more light-hearted vein, non-believers may, tongue-in-cheek, call on the Flying Spaghetti Monster in lieu of a traditional higher power.

Intelligent Design advocates naturally reject Henderson’s criticism. One pastor referred to the parody offered by the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a “cheap shot.”

For example…

“You might say that because science can explain just about everything but not quite, it`s wrong to say therefore we don’t need God. It is also, I suppose, wrong to say we don’t need the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, Thor, Wotan, Jupiter, or fairies at the bottom of the garden.”

Richard Dawkins, “The Church of the Non-Believers,” Wired (November 1, 2016)

“FSMism contains a serious argument—but that does not mean that the trappings of the satire used to make that argument are entitled to protection as a 'religion.'”

“Cavanaugh v. Bartelt,” United States District Court for the District of Nebraska (April 12, 2016)

“He recognized the point when his neighbor, a militant atheist who sports a pro-Darwin bumper sticker on her car, tried recently to start her car on a dying battery.
As she turned the key, she murmured under her breath: 'Come on Spaghetti Monster!'”

Justin Pope, “Pasta monster gets academic attention,” NBCNews.com (November 16, 2007)

This is not a formal definition of Flying Spaghetti Monster like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Flying Spaghetti Monster that will help you expand your word mastery.