In 2005, the Kansas State Board of Education voted to require that public schools include the theory of "intelligent design" as a viable alternative to the Darwinian theory of evolution. This decision prompted a graduate physics student named Bobby Henderson to draft a somewhat satirical letter of protest. Henderson argued that any legitimate "intelligent design" theory could not be presented as scientific fact without acknowledging a God, which would violate the separation of religion and science in public schools. He presented an argument in which an all-powerful Flying Spaghetti Monster could be logically credited with creating the known universe.
This letter became the basis of a parody religion known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Adherents of the "faith" claim a "Spaghedeity", the Flying Spaghetti Monster, actually used His Noodly Appendage and other powers to create everything on the planet after drinking heavily. If a scientist should happen to use techniques such as carbon-14 dating to disprove this theory, the invisible Monster would actively skew the results in His favor.
Henderson went on to create a largely satirical "Sacred Text" which further outlined the tenets of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Many of these tenets are loosely based on, or suggested by, Judeo-Christian scripture, such as the Ten Commandments. Henderson's version of the Commandments is rendered as the "Eight I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts," for example. Followers of the Church call themselves Pastafarians, a play on the Jamaican-based religion Rastafarianism.
Although many of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's texts and beliefs are little more than exercises in college satire, there is an underlying point to the movement. The theory of intelligent design is very difficult to explain on a purely scientific level, since the theory inevitably leads to questions about the "intelligent designer" responsible for creation. While the more established theory of biological evolution uses strict scientific data to prove its case, the intelligent design theory is often hampered without the addition of religion-based evidence. Henderson used a theoretical Flying Spaghetti Monster to point out the difficulty of presenting largely faith-based Creationist theory in a scientific setting.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster could best be described as a parody religion, along the lines of "Bob" Dobbs's Church of the Subgenius, or an anti-religion, somewhat akin to Scientology or scientific agnosticism. It is still popular on many college campuses, especially to those who feel disenfranchised from mainstream religions or are attracted to counter-cultural lifestyles in general. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster does have its own website, and its literature is available at many bookstores and libraries.