The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarian), a social movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. According to adherents, Pastafarianism is a "real, legitimate religion, as much as any other". Pastafarianism is legally recognized as a religion in the Netherlands and New Zealand – where Pastafarian representatives have been authorized to celebrate weddings and where the first legally recognized Pastafarian wedding was performed in April 2016. In the United States the same month, a federal judge ruled that the "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" is not a real religion.
The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.
Because of its popularity and exposure, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is often used as a contemporary version of Russell's teapot—an argument that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon those who make unfalsifiable claims, not on those who reject them. Pastafarianism has received praise from the scientific community and criticism from proponents of intelligent design. Pastafarians have engaged in disputes with creationists, including in Polk County, Florida, where they played a role in dissuading the local school board from adopting new rules on teaching evolution.
Pastafarian tenets (generally satires of creationism) are presented both on Henderson's Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, where he is described as "prophet", and in The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, written by Henderson in 2006. The central belief is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Pirates are revered as the original Pastafarians. Henderson asserts that a decline in the number of pirates over the years is the cause of global warming. The FSM community congregates at Henderson's website to share ideas about the Flying Spaghetti Monster and crafts representing images of it. So-called "sightings" of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are also discussed. Critics attribute such sightings to pareidolia, a tendency to perceive patterns in nature where no such patterns exist....LESS