If you glance to the right-hand side of this page, you will see a link to the webpage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I remember reading about the site in passing several months ago, but only visited it recently. The open letter to the Kansas School Board is a wonderful example of satire, one of a few pieces that truly deserves the misused label "Swiftian." Bobby Henderson (the author) wrote the letter as a humorous, yet smart attack on the theory of Intelligent Design. He makes an excellent point: If Intelligent Design backs the claim of an unidentified Creator, then any diety can be plugged in, hence the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I added the link button because anybody who knows me well knows my love of sly humor and satire (The Onion being one of my favorite publications).
However, I almost took the link down when I read that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is becoming a symbol for athiests. I personally don't have any strong religious beliefs, and there's no need for me to get into my own thoughts on the existence of a God (whatever the definition may be). My grappling with the subject is no different from anybody else's. However, I do try to take a benevolent approach. If someone is religious and religion plays a healthy part of his or her life, I support that unequivocally. Two things I don't support are the theory of Intelligent Design or religious fundamentalism. To me, it seems that some athiests sometimes adhere to a sort of fundamentalism, not much different from the strict fundamentalism (whether it be Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or otherwise) that it tries to attack and discredit.
Yes, a wild card can be dealt with the idea of agnosticism, but I want to stay focused on athiesm. The subject has been relevant in the past couple of years, evidenced by the sales and publicity of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great. I have not read these books, nor have I done any serious research for this topic, save for some skimming at Wikipedia. However, it seems that public, outspoken athiests are trying to "convert" people, insisting that their views are wrong. Again, how is this not a (anti)religious fundamentalism? Using religion wisely, as a guide to do good personally and for meditative purposes is wonderful. It's when fundamentalism comes into play that problems arise. If an athiest wants to respectfully speak out to defend science, to explain the dangers of fundamentalism, to point out the hypocrisy of Intelligent Design, and to ensure the separation of Church and State (an idea that seems lost today), that's honorable. However, there are scores of people who believe in the same things but happen to identify themselves with religion. To shoot them down because they attend masses is embarrassing.
I'm keeping the link up for its intended purpose, in my mind: intelligent satire against Intelligent Design. I only post these thoughts because using the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a symbol of athiesm takes away from that purpose. As Mr. Henderson is quoted on his website: "I don't have a problem with religion; I do have a problem with religion posing as science."