There are many satirical parodies of Michelangelo’s famous creation panel from the Sistine Chapel; this one happens to be the work of some dude named Mockallangelo. It depicts the Pastafarian deity known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster, creating “Meathead,” the first man.
LIKE MANY RELIGIONS, Pastafarianism is a parody religion, only intentionally so. As such, it uses satire to provoke debate over various religious creeds and doctrines of other religions, as a way of pointing out the “absurdity” and lack of “sustaining evidence” for these notions, often including religion itself.
In this time of relative scientific enlightenment, all evolutionary religions are more or less struggling to maintain their often fetishistic belief in a wide variety of variously accumulated man-made dogmas. Concepts like Hell, Noah’s Ark, Creationism, Intelligent Design, and others, rightfully bear the brunt of this ongoing theological thrashing. But faith— especially in one’s personal religious experience— remains profoundly unassailable.
Yes, the Pastafarians can and will make fun of your religion and you; but the corrective sifting of nearly two thousand years worth of still accumulating religious error is going to happen— one way or another— and before it’s done and God sticks a fork in you, you may just have to shake off of some of the man-made dog-crap-ma stuck on your soul; that is if your intent is to keep your religious compass in good working order.
Top of my list? Hell. The Virgin Birth. Creationism. The Atonement Doctrine. The “Wrathful” God. The “chosen people” idea, in all its manifestations. That’s just a start. But damn, it’s a freakin’ long list.
In letting go of antiquated and, in some cases, simply false ideas that over the last couple centuries have attached to religious faith, remember this: The relation between you as a human creature and God as the divine Creator is a living experience; a dynamic religious faith which cannot be precisely defined. Nevertheless, it can be experienced.
Here’s some known knowns… No one can live your faith for you; <em>you</em> have to live it yourself. You can start to do that by believing what is validated in the deepest part of who and what you are— your soul— and then courageously trying to live the truth you’ve discovered there. Go there, search there; take whatever truth you know with certainty and use it to do good, to increasingly live that truth to realize the beauty and goodness in everything and everyone.
Now if you’re up for a serious walk into the tall weeds on this, step over the bullet holes.
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It’s obvious to most clear-thinking people that the progress of science, along with the philosophic elimination of religious fear, has greatly increased the mortality rate of false gods, and it’s not done yet. And even though these casualties of man-made deities (I’m looking at you, Zeus, FSM) and dogmas can occasionally blur the spiritual vision, they are eventually successful in destroying a lot of the ignorance and superstition which has always obscured the reality of God. And if it takes a Flying Spaghetti Monster to make that happen, then there you go.
When you set all the dogma aside, a true religionist ultimately has faith in a personal God of personal salvation— and such faith is something more than a human projection, or even a sublime hypothesis. They have faith in a God of love; and love will always be the true essence of any worthwhile religion, whether it’s institutional or individual; regardless of any and all associated erroneous doctrine.
THE POWER OF FAITH
It’s also obvious that a considerable number of people are unacquainted with the true nature of religious faith. This number likely includes every bit as many religionists as it does atheists and agnostics. That’s perfectly understandable, because a person— an individual personality— must actually exercise faith in order to experience what it is. But one thing it is not, is an uncomplicated intellectual postulate. Yet an assumed “belief” that it is only that and nothing more is potentially the most egregious personal error that can be made— because living faith done right always results in a relative spiritual experience; not merely an intellectual one.
Thus faith and belief differ in fundamental ways. Belief is invariably limiting and binding; faith is expanding and releasing. Belief fixates, keeping a person locked in a non-progressive circle of cold fact. Conservative thinkers tend to become mired in “the facts, ” and the truth speedily begins to die. But true faith liberates. Because, truth, like faith, is a living reality, and must therefore be lived.
Then can faith, through personal religious experience, get about transforming the philosophic God of probability into the saving God of certainty. Skepticism may challenge the theories of theology, but confidence in the dependability of personal religious experience affirms the truth of that belief which has grown into genuine faith.
Despite such certitude, reason can always question faith, and it should. But faith can always augment both reason and logic. Reason creates the probability which faith can transform into a moral certainty; a spiritual experience.
THE POWER OF TRUTH
If God is the source of all reality, then he is likewise the source of all truth; he must perforce be absolute truth. And since God is the first truth, he must also be the last fact; all truth has its origin in him, and all facts must exist relative to him.
As truth, we may come to know God. But to understand— to be able to explain God— we must explore the fact of the Universe. And this vast gulf between the experience of the truth of God and ignorance as to the fact of God, can only be bridged by living faith. Reason alone simply cannot achieve harmony between infinite truth and universal fact.
A person can arrive at convictions about God through wise reasoning, but that person can only become truly God-knowing by faith; through their own personal experience. When contact is made with cosmic reality, certainty can be experienced when meanings and values are engaged with living faith. A God-knowing soul can say with certainty, “I know”— even though this “knowledge” of God can be questioned and ridiculed by unbelievers who deny any such certitude can exist, because it is not wholly supported by intellectual logic. Still: it’s not a semantic accident that the believer can logically withstand any such questioning with the reply: “How do you know that I do not know?” Snap.
THE LIMITATIONS OF SCIENCE
The ubiquitous but unenlightened whinge on the internets is that there is no “proof” for a God, not a single shred; and if there was, atheists would be lining up at church. Science, or the “scientific method,” is an intellectual yardstick we use to measure the material universe. Being material and wholly intellectual, it is utterly useless in the evaluation of spiritual realities and religious experiences. Nevertheless, to science God must at least remain a possibility. To philosophy, God is a probability; but to religion he is a certainty, an actual religious experience. And reason demands that a philosophy which can’t find the God of probability should at least be respectful of a religious faith which can— and does— find the God of certitude.
Science simply cannot discount such religious experience on grounds of credulity, either; not as long as it persists in assuming that our human intellectual and philosophic faculties emerged from increasingly lesser intelligences the further back they go, finally taking origin in primitive sludge which was and still is utterly devoid of any capability to think and feel, let alone become self aware— self-conscious.
Intelligent men and women use the consistent logic of adulthood: a logic which tolerates the concept of truth as well as the observation of fact.
Intelligent men and women must learn to use the consistent logic of adulthood; a logic which tolerates the concept of truth as well as the observation of fact. For instance, the facts of evolution should not be arrayed against the truth of the certainty of the spiritual experience of the God-knowing individual. Organic evolution is a fact; purposive or progressive evolution is a truth— which makes consistent the otherwise contradictory phenomena of the continuing achievements of evolution. Scientific materialism has gone bankrupt when, in the face of each recurring universe phenomenon, it refunds its current objections by referring what is admittedly higher, back into that which is admittedly lower. Consistency calls for the recognition of the activities of a purposive Creator.
The true teachings of Jesus* have the power to tremendously enhance and supernally exalt every person willing to invest the time to read and understand them. And this is especially true for all Bible-believing Christians who are convinced they already have all the facts they need about the life and teachings of Jesus.
LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD
Very often, mere beliefs may not be able to resist doubt and withstand fear. But faith is always triumphant over doubting, because faith is both positive and living. The positive always has the advantage over the negative; so does truth over error, experience over theory; and spiritual realities over relative facts. But the only real and convincing evidence of this spiritual certainty is the social fruit of the spirit which believers can produce as a result of their genuine spiritual experience.
However you finally choose to get there, this temporal existence must come to be visualized as the experience of the reality of the human upreach with the divine and saving downreach. Only then will you, as a unique individual consciousness find the certainty of God that lives in faith.
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¹ In the spiritual universe the soul is recognized as the more real and enduring reality attached to human personality and identity. In the material universe level, personality and identity are not enduring realities; when the material body ceases function, if the individual is to survive, personality and identity are reinvested in a suitable spiritual form. But in the spiritual universe, personality and identity continue functioning as part of the spirit nucleus which survives mortal death.