Column: Evolution versus flying spaghetti

Surfing the Internet last week, I had a revelation.

I stumbled onto the Web site for the Flying Spaghetti Monster and was simultaneously angered and inspired. His Noodly Appendage was clearly the creator of heaven and earth, but why had I heard nothing about Him from my public high school biology teachers? Why was I never told that Darwin might be wrong, and that I may have in fact been created by a higher being with meatballs for eyes?

For those of you who are entirely confused and considering writing letters to the editor insisting I be committed, I urge you to first take a look at the Wikipedia article on the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which reveals that Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is a “parody religion” created by University of Oregon physics student Bobby Henderson.

His new religion, whose followers believe that “the Universe was created by an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster” and that “all evidence pointing toward evolution was intentionally planted by this being,” was created to challenge the recent assaults on teaching evolution made by advocates of intelligent design – the concept that humans are too complex to possibly have evolved from single-cell bacteria and therefore a higher being must have had a hand in our creation.

Several states, including my home state of Pennsylvania, are considering requiring public high schools to teach intelligent design alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in biology classes. In Kansas, the site of the famed Scopes trial of 1925, the school board is even trying to change the definition of the word “science” in its curricula to make teaching intelligent design easier.

Kansas’ machinations were the ones that caught Henderson’s attention and prompted the creation of his new religion. He wrote the school board an open letter requesting that if equal time were given to evolution and intelligent design, an equal amount of class time be spent teaching Flying Spaghetti Monsterism. He threatened the board with a lawsuit if they allowed intelligent design and refused to teach his new religion.

Henderson faces determined opposition.

Even President Bush has come out in support of teaching intelligent design, very carefully saying “both sides ought to be properly taught … I think that part of the education is to expose people to different schools of thought.”

I applaud Mr. Bush’s general sentiment on this issue, however hypocritical it might be (I’d like to see him apply the same logic to sex education, for example, but that’s another column for another day). But here, Bush’s logic is flawed: Evolution is a scientific concept taught in science class, and intelligent design is not a scientific school of thought. There are most definitely disagreements within the scientific community – different schools of thought on, say, why dinosaurs no longer roam the Earth – but nowhere do you find any science class trying to teach that thunder is God’s anger. Intelligent design is a faith-based concept that belongs in a religion or philosophy classes, as a school of thought contrary not to evolution but to creationism or other supernatural explanations for the existence of man.

By George Bush’s logic, we should be teaching alchemy alongside chemistry, astrology alongside astronomy and magic alongside quantum mechanics. And we should be teaching the Flying Spaghetti Monster – or any other crazy idea – alongside evolution in our biology classes.

The state should not force public school children – or their teachers – to choose between science and religion in biology class. Darwin’s theory is one of the most venerable in science, long established by rigorous inquiry and backed by libraries of empirical evidence. Intelligent design is an unscientific, unproven matter of faith that should be left to parents and families. Until the courts and state legislatures recognize this, though, I will remain an ardent Pastafarian, supporting His Noodly Appendage through whatever lawsuits may come to pass.

Ramen.

-The writer, a junior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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