Avatar of Google
Join Date: Oct 2007
Re: Need source for newspaper article
The link died, so I'll copy the article.
Pastafarians, Googlists unite on the Internet
Parody sites Flying Spaghetti Monster, Church of Google touch a nerve on all sides of the religious issue
Saturday, January 26, 2008
BY Hilary Matheson
of GateHouse News Service
There are many reasons why science and faith conflict, as well as creationism and evolution. Dissenters often have few places to share their beliefs, which is why many go to the Internet. The Internet has provided a free forum to many who might not have otherwise found an outlet to voice their alternative ideas within their own communities.
"The magic of this medium is that it is relatively inexpensive, and it's expansive in the sense that you create a Web site and people will find it anywhere in the world," said Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the Mass Communication department at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. "There have been many instances in the history of the modern civilization who have come up with revolutionary ideas to challenge conventional wisdom and orthodoxy, for instance the entire revolution of Martin Luther occurred in the age of print."
Jeremy Monigold, programming instructor at Highland Community College in Freeport, said anybody with access to the Internet is able to publish his or her ideas.
"What it comes down to is the individual's ability to judge right from wrong," Monigold said.
Bobby Henderson is from the state of Oregon and is creator of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He views his Web site as a legitimate organization. Henderson graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics and
has recently been traveling in Cambodia and Thailand.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), according to Henderson, came to him as a vision. Although Henderson said he doesn't like pasta, his vision was of a large creature made up of noodles with two large meatballs under his eyes. The FSM is male, can be invisible and can fly.
Members of the FSM are referred to as Pastafarians, although Henderson said they are not related or linked to Rastafarians. According to their beliefs, pirates are saints from whom we evolved, and every Friday is a holiday.
He said some take it as a parody on creationism or a spoof, a joke, a grassroots cause, while some truly believe in a literal Flying Spaghetti Monster.
"No one asks them (Christians) if their religion is meant to be a spoof. People get what they want out of it; it doesn't make sense to tell people how to worship," Henderson said.
Henderson's Web site for The Church of the FSM stemmed from a letter to the Kansas Board of Education in 2005 opposing Intelligent Design being taught in science classrooms. The Kansas board at the time was in the process of changing the science curriculum.
"FSM started as a response to the Intelligent Design movement - creationism posing as science. The issue was the posing as science, not the creationism beliefs," Henderson said.
Although Henderson personally doesn't believe in creationism, he said he would have no problem if it were taught in a religion or theology class along with other religious beliefs.
"Provided none is taught as the 'correct' choice. That's the kicker, though. Christians sometimes forget that last clause," Henderson said.
Henderson said that many Christians don't take the Bible literally, and many members of FSM do not take it literally.
"Pastafarianism is a sensible alternative religion for some people. We offer spirituality and community, without the traps of dogma; no one has ever killed in the name of Pastafarianism, for instance," Henderson said.
When asked if eating pasta is a representation of a type of Eucharist, Henderson said it could be viewed in two different ways.
"You could make the argument either way: either it's sacrilege or it's like communion," Henderson said.
Henderson said there isn't a hierarchy in the Church of FSM and said he likes to keep things simple.
It took Henderson six months to write a book titled "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster," which is published by Random House. It can be purchased online at Amazon.com and at Barnesandnoble.com. He said it would probably be found in the "humor" section because of religious discrimination. In his book, he said people can find a list of eight "I'd really rather you didn't(s)."
As for writing another book, Henderson said he is focused on setting up the Church of FSM as a not-for-profit organization. He said he doesn't like being taxed and wants to raise money and build what he said will be the first "Pirate Ship Voyaging Church." Currently, he said FSM has more than $100,000 in funds.
The Church of Google on the other hand is an alternative religion site created with ideals based in science and has many members who are atheist. The CoG claims Google as the closest thing to an omniscient, omnipresent deity. It is not, however, endorsed or connected by the Google Corporation. The Web site lists nine "proofs" why Google is the closest thing to God and has its own version of the Ten Commandments.
Members range in age from teens to people in their forties who use nicknames or handles when posting in the forum, which gives them some form of anonymity. Some also belong to The Church of the FSM.
Monigold said the Web gives people a much larger opportunity to communicate with a bigger audience compared with other media.
"You basically open yourself up to an audience across the globe," he said.
David Brown lives in England and is also a member of The CoG and an apostate member of the Methodist church. Both he and Matthew Walls, a member from Australia, agreed that the site is not an organized religion.
Brown describes it as a "disorganized non-religion." He also said The CoG values critical thinking in its forums. Walls said it would be a contradiction to believe in any other religion because of the stalwart support for science. Both said they came upon The CoG from other Web sites.
"For me there is no spiritual element to Googlism. Quite the opposite I would say. It's very much 'of the world.' Far more to do with science than anything spiritual," Brown said.
Geoff Boulton is a member from Poland, which is mostly Catholic.
"At first I tried to keep quiet about my atheistic beliefs so as to not cause offense. However, I was not able to do this for very long as religious people invariably wanted to pry into my beliefs," Boulton said.
Boulton wasn't always an atheist; he said he rarely gave much thought to religion or others beliefs until he began military service in Northern Ireland during the "Troubles," - violence between Protestants and Catholics from 1963 to 1985, according to BBC online.
"I personally became sick to my back teeth of people professing their faith and belief in a loving God who then went out to murder and maim people because they went to the wrong church," Boulton said.
Members of The Church of Google can become ministers by promoting The CoG, making multiple posts in the forums, or by being chosen as candidates by other ministers. Ministers have their own private forum where they discuss changes or other initiatives dealing with the site.
Aaron Davidson, from New Jersey, has been a minister of The Church of Google since September 2006. Aaron became a minister after helping out with graphic design.
"I take it lightheartedly, as most of our members seem to do. I do believe that the main site is correct about Google being the closest thing to a deity that can be proven to exist, but I also acknowledge that it is a parody, and a pretty good one at that," Aaron said.
Mark Davidson, from New York, said being a member of The Church of Google is to spread knowledge to everyone. Mark said he thinks that god(s) should be understandable by the human mind.
"I'm constantly amazed how much people take their own religions on blind faith. I think it should be vital to all religions that the followers know what/who they are following. Otherwise, you reach a point where people will believe anything their leader tells them," Mark said.
Both Web sites receive hate mail that is filled with vehement opposition and strong language. Both The Church of the FSM and The CoG openly post some of their "hatemail" in special sections on their site. Visitors are allowed to post as guests.
"Some people feel mocked, but that was never my intent. I'm all for freedom of religion. I have no problems with Christians or creationism ideology, to the extent that they keep their beliefs out of public policy. There is no state-sponsored religion - some people don't want to accept it," Henderson said.
He said he has received about 45,000 e-mails within two years. Henderson does not reveal his home address because he has received death threats.
"Religion doesn't have to make sense. You have to have faith. There's all sorts of things that don't make any sense in FSM. It's fine. I contradict myself all the time. You can get away with anything in the religion business," Henderson said.