Is Belief in God like Belief in a Flying Spaghetti Monster?

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a staple of religious message boards. There is even a Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Pastafarianism) which is recognized as a religion in the Netherlands and New Zealand. I have at least one coworker who claims allegiance.

Pastafarianism is, of course, a big joke, and that’s exactly the point. Atheists argue that belief in a Creator God is just as ridiculous as belief in a Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). Of course, you can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but you can’t prove that there isn’t a god-like Flying Spaghetti Monster floating around in the universe either. Both are matters of “faith” and both are ridiculous.

That’s how the argument goes. But is it logical?

The “argument” fails on a number of levels. Don’t be fooled by it. First, it’s a perfect example of the logical fallacy of the straw man, where you ascribe the weakest possible version of an argument to your opponent, making it easier to refute. Belief in God – at least from a theistic perspective – bears no resemblance to belief in a flying spaghetti monster.

Even aside from the logical fallacy employed,  there’s another reason to reject the comparison as absurd, and that reason can be summed up in two words: Explanatory Scope.

The explanatory scope of an hypothesis describes how much of the evidence it is able to explain. Newtonian physics has a broad explanatory scope because it accurately describes (and predicts) the motions in the world around us.

Belief in God, unlike belief in the FSM, provides a broad explanatory scope. That is, belief in God makes sense of the world around us. It “fits” with the evidence available to our minds. Here’s what I mean:

Belief in God makes sense of both our moral senses and the existence of a moral reality. Only a transcendent, personal, and perfectly good being can form the basis of objective moral reality (See The Moral Argument).

Belief in God makes sense of the fact that their is something rather than nothing. Everything that begins to exist has a cause, the universe began to exist, therefore the universe has a cause. That First Cause is God. And God cannot be a thing “in” the universe, but uncaused, timeless, and immaterial. (See the Kalam Cosmological Argument and the Leibnitzian Cosmological Argument)

Belief in God makes sense of the universe’s incredible complex and “tuning” to life. I hope to address this in a later post, but suffice it to say, the fact that our universe supports life is astronomically improbable. A creative transendent intelligence makes sense of this reality.

The list could go on: The theistic picture of God as a being outside the universe, personal, uncaused, timeless, and uncreated, makes sense of our personness, our free will, and the religious experiences of billions of people, among other things. It does so in a way that the FSM never could. That’s because there’s a key difference between the FSM and God, and the key logical fallacy that atheists make when they trot out this ridiculous comparison: God and gods are of a difference in kind.

The FSM as described is a god (small g), is a creature within the universe. Christians (and other theists) though, believe in God (big G) a Being that stands above and apart from the universe, ontologically different. And, as the prophets of the Old Testament will tell you, between the gods and God Himself, there is no comparison. Christians find the idea of gods ridiculous, too, but between those gods and God there is an immeasurable difference.