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Sophisticated theologians have spent years at universities or theological colleges and are steeped in hard to understand nonsense truths about God! Sophisticated theologians write complex material with many impressive long words, some even include Latin, New Testament Greek or Hebrew in their texts. To the rest of us theology may look superficially like meaningless drivel but that just shows how uneducated we are. Or does it?

The Boudry test[]

Dr. Maarten Boudry wanted to find out how well two conferences of theologians can understand the difference between what's sensible and what is meaningless. Below is an example of Boudry's scribbling.

By narrowly focusing on the disorderly state of present-being, or the “incoherence of a primordial multiplicity”, as John Haught put it, Darwinian materialists lose sense of the ultimate order unfolding in the not-yet-being. Contrary to what Dawkins asserts, if we reframe our sense of locatedness of existence within a the space of radical contingency of spiritual destiny, then absolute order reemerges as an ontological possibility


Does that make any sense to you? Maarten Boudry doesn’t think it makes any sense and as the author he should know. Anyway sophisticated theologians listened to the word salad (And it isn't even healthy like a real salad or other culinary masterpiece). The theologians tried to look intelligent and assumed it must make sense somehow or other.

Theological work that's published without peer review can be anything. Could similar material appear in a peer reviewed theology journal?

Perhaps there is a challenge there – maybe some devious atheists should write some “Sophisticated Theology™” papers and submit them to the suitable journals.

—Ken Perrott [2]

We don't know yet what peer reviewed journals will publish, time will tell.


Even nonsense can impress the most sophisticated theologians.

The Christian philosophers apparently didn’t notice that this was just a bunch of meaningless babble, put together to sound really sophisticated. Word salad for the win!

Ed Brayton hosted by PZ [1]

To impact theologians you don't need to make sense. All you need is to use imposing words, write spiritual nonsense and criticise materialists.

This shows once again the appeal of religious gibberish to the educated believer, and demonstrates that conference organizers either don’t read what they publish, or do read it and think that if it’s opaque then it must be profound.


Atheist outsiders can no more than guess how much of regular theology is baloney dressed up in impressive words like what Maarten Boudry wrote. After all in the opinion of David Pollock

The wonderful thing is that in the conference programme the genuine abstracts are just as ludicrous as the spoof!


Will theology ever recover from the Boudry test?

Sophisticated means obscure[]

Chris Hallquist suggests that real theology is frequently deliberately obscure. (That's why sophisticated theologians couldn't see through Boudrey's work.)

(...) they [theologians] frequently don’t even try to write clearly. My typical experience when picking up their books is to first notice they are using words in ways I am not used to. Then I start skimming to try to find the section where they explain what they mean by their words (sometimes there are legitimate reasons for using words in unusual ways). Then I end up closing the book when I fail to find such a section.

—Chris Hallquist[5]

Are theologians sophisticated?[]

Is there any real division between sophisticated theologians and ordinary unsophisticated theologians? Well those theologians who listened to Dr. Maarten Boudry lecture look like a representative sample of academic theologians and sadly Pharyngula Wiki knows no evidence for theologians anywhere else with greater sophistication.

Undergraduate Christian students look up to those profs and lecturers. Most Christian students imagine those profs and lecturers are intelligent, wise and godly people. Despite this some undergraduates have religious doubts and doubt their lecturers, see Catherine Dunphy and the profs for more.

What will happen if those naive undergraduates ever find out the truth?

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Philosopher Pulls a Sokal on Theology Conferences So we can all enjoy it PZ hosted a section of Boudry's masterpiece on Pharyngula.
  2. The paradoxes of theological gullibility
  3. A Sokal-style hoax by an anti-religious philosopher A friend of PZ, Coyne also hosted sections of the hilarious Boudry screed in his website.
  4. Atheist philosopher pulls Sokal-style hoax on theology conference
  5. Unintelligible theology

External links[]