The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the parody religion the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism. The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" first appeared in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005, protesting the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to permit the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. In the letter, Henderson parodied the concept of intelligent design by professing belief in a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs. Henderson further called for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism to be allotted equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution.
After Henderson published the letter on his website, it rapidly became an internet phenomenon and a symbol for the case against teaching intelligent design in public schools. Pastafarian "beliefs" are generally satires of creationism. They are presented both on Henderson's Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, where he is described as "prophet", and in The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, written by Henderson and published by Villiard Press in 2006. The central belief is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Pirates are revered as the original Pastafarians (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarian), and Henderson asserts that the steady decline in the number of pirates over the years has resulted in global warming. The FSM community currently congregates at Henderson's website to share ideas and crafts devoted to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Because of its popularity and exposure, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is often used as a contemporary version of Russell's teapot – an argument that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon those who make unfalsifiable claims, not on those who reject them. While generally praised by the media and endorsed by members of the scientific community, the Flying Spaghetti Monster has received criticism from the intelligent design community. Self-described Pastafarians have engaged in religious disputes, including in Polk County, Florida, where they played a role in dissuading the local school board from adopting new rules on teaching evolution.