By Ben Davis
First Mate (VP) of RU Pastafarians
Rutgers University Engineering Student
My religious background was the best I could’ve asked for. I am a proud Unitarian Universalist, and if you’ve ever heard of that, you are a rarity indeed.
The Seven Principles we share revolve around the inherent worth and dignity of all people and more ideas of the like. Yet while we discuss viewpoints that we all have in common, my congregation’s Bond of Union talks of “reserving to each individual the right to his or her own beliefs as to the nature of God and the universe.”
The quest for those beliefs can be a confusing one. I never have and never will even consider renouncing Unitarian Universalism, but I’ve had dealings with other religious groups.
In high school, my first girlfriend – Christian to the core – invited me to join her youth group’s activities. She assured me that my lack of solid beliefs wouldn’t be a problem, so to spend time with her, I agreed. Indeed, the youth and guides provided a warm, friendly environment, despite the fact that I wasn’t exactly one of them.
Feeling welcome, I essentially became a member of the group, accompanying them on a retreat, mission trip, meetings, and more (while maintaining a loyalty to my UU background, mind you).
Spending so much time around vocal religious views is always likely to affect one’s own conscience. I never formally declared belief in the church, but prayers, readings, and cry-your-eyes-out musical numbers swayed me towards Christianity throughout my participation. At times, I even started thinking of myself as Christian.
When that girl and I broke up, however, there still wasn’t any real substance tying me to the church. After one last event I’d already signed up for, I allowed myself to drift away from the youth group. To this day I feel some guilt for vanishing with no real explanation, but given the situation I think everything was rather implied.
After being distanced from my ex’s church, I was exposed to more Atheistic ideas.
Even in my 99% Caucasian high school, containing at most 1000 students, there was enough diversity of opinion that I routinely experienced both Atheist and Christian ways of thinking. I called myself Agnostic, but since everyone around me seemed to have their own set of beliefs, I felt some sort of responsibility to find mine.
This was the most confusing part of my belief quest. I was always thinking, “We can explain most of the universe’s development, but how was it created in the first place if not by a higher power? Maybe something’s always existed, and time extends infinitely backwards, but is that even possible? Doesn’t everything have a beginning?
But that begs the question; if God created everything, where did HE come from?!?!?”
And then, one day, something happened. I don’t remember what I was doing or whether I was pondering the great mystery at the time, but what matters is that it hit me.
“Wait a minute……….I DON’T CARE!!!”
Everything went uphill from there. I then decided to remain Agnostic indefinitely, realizing it’s a perfect fit for me. As someone who was raised to fight for equality regardless of people’s beliefs, not taking a side in the great debate helps me represent with less bias.
Although others would try to convert me, I carried on blissfully free of both religion and Atheism.
Then came college.
Among the first days of freshman year, I wandered the Involvement Fair with my roommate, seeking interesting groups. Shortly before departing, I came to a somewhat isolated table, complete with two quiet people dressed like pirates.
Although I wasn’t entirely wrong about what they did, I was handed a pamphlet as I went on my way and realized I was dealing with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (a parody religion). My roommate and girlfriend at the time were both Christians, and after all, I wasn’t anti-religion. I decided it was a club I best avoid, for the sake of not offending anybody.
I remained, however, on the emailing list.
Early sophomore year, I had an Atheist girlfriend and roommate, and any religious close friends of mine were pleasantly secular.
It was then I received an email from the Pastafarians (the FSM’s followers) announcing a celebration of their “high holy day, Halloween.” As a Halloween baby, I thought, “Whoa, my birthday’s a religious holiday? Maybe I can be their savior!”
My interest piqued, I decided there was nobody to offend, donned my pirate hat (leftover from Halloween), and sailed ta the port where yonder scallywags been gatherin’.
They didn’t name me their lord and savior, but it was still the perfect first meeting to attend. Our captain read a sermon, demonstrating the “beliefs” of the Church of his Noodley Appendage. Oh, the hilarity. I soon learned about the real Pastafarian message, which is not against religion itself, but supporting separation of church and state/education, a principle I have always held close.
I came to realize that even Christians could be Pastafarians if they valued religious freedom, and that the whole concept need not be offensive when used for the right reasons. Some will always be offended by the satire, but it’s pretty damn difficult to go through life without offending anybody.
Now that I’ve become the Pastafarian First Mate (Vice President, for you landlubbers), I can deal with offending a few people while getting an important message across. Besides, obligatory YOLO.
This is all how I came to my current religious standpoint, but my views could still change.
These days, with all the science, internet culture, etc that I am exposed to, I find myself leaning more Atheist than in the past. I have certainly swayed farther from the Christian church; if I believed the Christian God existed, I would likely side with Satan, but that’s another story.
Despite this and the fact that some religions/groups can annoy me more than others, I don’t see myself declaring formal religious beliefs. I’m focusing on what is fair and what needs to be done so long as we’re here on Earth, and I guess that makes me a Humanist.
I am staying in the middle so I can fight for the rights of everybody on all sides of me.
My name is Ben Davis, and I am a devout Unitarian Universalist Agnostic Pastafarian.
By Ben Davis
First Mate (VP) of RU Pastafarians
Rutgers University engineering Student