Indigestion, Confirmation Bias, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Bad Spaghetti

Last night, my girlfriend cooked her gluten-free spaghetti, along with some pretty tasty ground turkey , shrooms and sauce.  Problem is, something in the whole shabang gave us both indigestion (i.e. you don’t want to be in the same bathroom as either of us).  While reading today, I realized a possible connection between my indigestion and the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), a deity often used by atheists to identify the ludicrousness of theistic claims:

My indigestion could have been due to a lack of diligence in prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster… or worse… Because I had harmed one of his Noodly Children.

Of course, any rational person would point out the ridiculousness of this statement; Firstly, there is no proof of a flying spaghetti monster.  Second, there is no reason to associate the prayer (or non-prayer) towards the Flying Spaghetti Monster, especially when there may well be another cause.  Finally, how was I to know if the gluten-free variety of pasta would anger said deity? Who can know what the mind of the monster thinks, and if he chose to, he could exact revenge on me for breaking laws, even ones I don’t know about.

Lets change a few words…

My divorce could have been due to a lack of diligence in prayer to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… or worse… Because I did something against His will, and He wanted to chastise me in love.

This is an equally delusional mindset.  There is absolutely nothing that sets this statement apart from the earlier one.  There is no proof that Jesus was the son of god, besides 50+ year old cobbled-together third hand speculation (which has just as much going for it in comparison to the Flying Spaghetti Monster).  There is no reason to associate prayer (or lack thereof) to any deity with consequences: prayer doesn’t work.  Just ask Rick Perry; his rain dance coincided with one of the worst droughts the state had ever seen (I use the term not to mock, but to point out that praying for rain and dancing to the gods for rain are indistinguishable).

Confirmation Bias

Yet people still support Rick.  He ran for president, even after showing himself to everyone to be a delusional, misinformed zealot (with no commune with the almighty, or at the least a bad rep).  People still pray, and think that their prayers have direct effects on their own realities.  This is nothing more than confirmation bias.  It is defined as such:

A tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.

That’s it.  A simple psychological adaptation left over from our evolution, in which we value information on our hypotheses rather than facts, and we don’t want to look at anything that might make us wrong.  So, even when it is clear from multiple independent scientific studies, and even from FSM-induced thought experiments, people still believe in the “power of prayer.”

I can’t blame them too much; it is in man’s nature.  It’s even in mine, and I have to constantly work hard at avoiding it, and rely on others to see it in myself.  A good theistic friend of mine points out that we all have it, either when atheists evaluate the world, or when Christians cherry-pick the bible.  We both seek out confirmed truth to inform our reality, one from the Word, and another from the information we take in.  Here’s the rub, that gets at the core difference between an atheist/freethinker mind and that of a believer.

When I am faced with contrary fact, it is only me that has to be wrong.  When a believer’s God is faced with contrary fact, God has to be wrong.  And God can’t be wrong.

Proving God Wrong

That’s the problem; Theists often point to their own ‘fallibility,’ a lack of knowledge of scripture, of a lack of context, of a million different reasons why we (humans) are wrong, but God isn’t.  God can’t be wrong. This would undermine the whole system of belief.  So when a nonbeliever is confronted with the fact that women are degraded and sexualized, and feminism has a legitimate claim, they can change their mind.  When it becomes clear that slavery is morally wrong, change happens.  Interracial marriage? Fine.

But what about God and genocide? God and slavery? God and homosexuality? Heterosexuality? Creation? Masculinity? Female equality? Evolution? The afterlife? God, insomuch as he is contained in the running theological schools of the day, has been fairly wrong on myriad accounts, and yet groups like One Million Moms or the Discovery Institute are filled with people defending their god’s infallibility at the expense of their own humility.  Throw in confirmation bias, and you have a cocktail of evil, in which even when “God” could be wrong, the information is not evaluated in a way that could possibly negate the hypothesis (God is always right).

This is what makes religion so dangerous: God is simply a projection of the mind, but He cannot be wrong.

Several pastors in the news lately have advocated the slaughter of homosexuals, in full alignment with God’s proclamation in Leviticus.  “I’m just preaching scripture,” the excuse made on behalf of what remains of a mind warped by a delusional projection.  Apologists such as William Lane Craig write extensive rationalizations behind utterly abhorrent biblical legends, such as the slaughter of the Caananites (Craigs arguments have been debunked for decades):

Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself,  He has no moral duties to fulfill.  He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are.  For example, I have no right to take an innocent life.  For me to do so would be murder.  But God has no such prohibition.

This is why when theists accuse atheists of being prideful, it is a statement of such infantile ignorance as to merit smashing heads into desks. I have freely admitted I was wrong on these questions, that I don’t know all the answers, but that I’m always willing to change my mind in the face of evidence.

Meanwhile, the theist (along with their unique version of God), represents both a fallen being and an infallible God across all beliefs.  In Christian circles (and in the bible), these are denoted as “the flesh” and “the voice of God,” where one is perfect and one is prone to lies, deceit, and Satan’s influence.  One incarnation of this dual consciousness will admit to misunderstanding, claim context, or make excuses for the most deplorable, detestable, and inhuman insanities posited by his counterpart.

Never have I seen a theist admit that their God, a projection that rests solely in their consciousness, could be wrong.


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  • pRinzler

    Excellent article. You made a point that I have never heard before, and it makes a lot of sense.