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Talk:Sophisticated theology

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So, it's live now[edit]

It appears to me that this "sophisticated theology" is not so much a case of moving the goalposts but of hiding them. Redchuck.gif ГенгисGum diseaseModerator 13:05, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Nicked! - David Gerard (talk) 23:03, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

My writing is too convoluted even for me. Someone who isn't Proxima is invited to try to do better - David Gerard (talk) 14:40, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Is the idea that "sophisticated theologians say that these answers are unobtainable" or that "sophisticated theologians say they have the answers, but New Atheists can't see it because such arguments are beyond incomprehensible". Current wording strongly implies the former, but in particular Coyne's recent post bigging up a hoax, it seems like it's the latter. Scarlet A.pngpostateModerator 15:18, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
Either or both. The point is that "so where's the sophisticated stuff?" gets pointers to people like Plantinga, who then turns out to write transparent rubbish, or just tumbleweeds - David Gerard (talk) 16:20, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Is it worth mentioning that the vast number of lay theists also can have no notion of "sophisticated theology" (whatever it may be)? If it exists, it is clearly only known and understood by my a small minority of theistic philosophers. --Weirdstuff (talk) 17:54, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Gnu[edit]

Bad. Make it go away. I got rid of a few. Meaningless word/phrase to 99.9% of humanity. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:17, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

Finally, someone who agrees with me on that. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 03:07, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
I love the word "gnu", just cause i think of some kind of goat like thing. not necessarily for atheist, just in general. heh. --Green mowse.pngGodot44 days and counting - Be informed. Vote. 15:17, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

The sections below[edit]

Material discussed below is now in the Theology article at Theology#Duping theologians. Proxima Centauri (talk) 10:02, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Karen Armstrong[edit]

How far does Karen Armstrong write Sophisticated theology? Is she worth including? Proxima Centauri (talk) 14:25, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

No one writes "sophisticated theology", Prox. And Karen is about as sophisticated as Benny Hill. --Green mowse.pngGodot44 days and counting - Be informed. Vote. 15:16, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Below is a section from the page:-

Sokaling sophisticated theologians[edit]

In 2012, atheist philosopher Maarten Boudry committed a Sokal-style hoax against a theology conference[1] by submitting an intentionally absurd abstract that was promptly accepted.[2] As with Sokal's hoax, the work was not peer reviewed, and so getting this sort of crap under the radar isn't as difficult as it might seem - and should a conference be desperate for the numbers, they might just accept any old rubbish to fill the slots. Yet, even a casual read-through Boudry's abstract shows it to be clearly a load of nonsense. The opening sentences form a semi-coherent screed about Darwinian evolution:

In the Darwinian perspective, order is not immanent in reality, but it is a self-affirming aspect of reality in so far as it is experienced by situated subjects. However, it is not so much reality that is self-affirming, but the creative order structuring reality which manifests itself to us.

Boudry even managed to shoehorn Dawkins' name into the abstract, too, suggesting that we should "reframe our sense of locatedness of existence within a the space of radical contingency of spiritual destiny"[sic] - which is, somehow, contrary to Dawkins' own assertions. And so, it seems "sophistication" may just be synonymous with "using big words", and it doesn't take much to impress people who are eager to have their own views reinforced no matter what. As Jerry Coyne noted:

I defy you to understand what he’s saying, but of course it appeals to those who, steeped in Sophisticated Theology™, love a lot of big words that say nothing but somehow seem to criticize materialism while affirming the divine. It doesn’t hurt if you diss Dawkins a couple of times, either.

  1. The conference was hosted by the philosophy department of VU University Amsterdam, but was organised by the Association for Reformational Philosophy, which is "grounded in the Calvinistic tradition and inspired by the statesmen Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer and Dr. Abraham Kuyper, the founders of Reformational philosophy developed their thought, on the one side against traditional Christian philosophy on account of its scholastic nature and, on the other side, against the Modern secular philosophy on account of its humanistic mindset." i.e., theology and apologetics.
  2. Why Evolution is True - A Sokal-style hoax by an anti-religious philosopher

Is Karen Armstrong like the above? Proxima Centauri (talk) 15:47, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

No, she is not a hoax. She believes what she says. Green mowse.pngGodot44 days and counting - Be informed. Vote. 16:01, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
Sorry I didn't make myself clear. I just get the impression a great deal of what she writes looks sophisticated and uses impressive long words but means rather little. I don't suggest she's a hoax or a fraud, rather I suggest that Armstrong does unintentionally what Boudry did intentionally. Proxima Centauri (talk) 16:15, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, i suppose it could be argued such. She writes for a lay audience - she is rather blasted at academic conferences - she is often cited by or included in less academic "religious studies" courses, like you would find in the states at a community college. And her world is an invention of "I believe what I want, so I will turn religion to mean what I think it means". Green mowse.pngGodot44 days and counting - Be informed. Vote. 18:30, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

"And, of course, there's Sokalability."[edit]

Why the hell include that line a whole section after the concept has been fully explained and dealt with? What value is added to the article by mentioning anew something we've finished talking about in a section where it's barely relevant? JubalHarshaw (talk) 19:47, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

I've taken a rest from the constant back biting here and written about Maarten Boudry in Pharyngula Wiki at Sophisticated theologians. Proxima Centauri (talk) 16:33, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Not to beat a dead horse, but you do note this is at a conference, right? Not a peer reviewed journal? I've submit about 30 papers at conferences that did not rise to the quality of peer review, due to errors in research, errors in logical assumptions ,etc. But far be it from me to expect any honesty in your writing.Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 17:10, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
So you admit you make errors? That's a step in a good direction. Are there peer reviewed theology journals? Incidentally you made errors that weren't obvious at conferences. I don't hold a particularly high opinion of Godot's intellectual or other honesty but even I don't accuse her of deliberately sounding forth with a nonsensical word salad at any important conference. Proxima Centauri (talk) 17:13, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
There are dozens. But you understand, of course, that those "peers" are theologians themselves, and not, say, biologists, right? JubalHarshaw (talk) 17:19, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Peer reviewed theology journals? Interesting idea. And of course they would be reviewed by theologians. Could you give links to (or names of), say, the six most respected ones? I'd be interested in looking at them. Thanks.--Weirdstuff (talk) 18:31, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
@prox, do grow up. @Wierdstuff. Journal of Biblical Literature is *the* be all, end all of anything to do with Bible studies or biblical theology. Harder than crap to get into. specifically theological: Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Psychology and Theology, Modern Theology Journal, Journal of theological interpretation, Review of Religious Philosophy (French journal on Theology), Theology and Science (never used it, just knwo it's out there). Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 18:46, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Page that links here, but doesn't[edit]

It says that Free will links here, but the word "sophisticated" does not show up in a serch of the page in edit mode--thus, no link here. What gives? OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 02:59, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Sidebar template randomization. Тy... 03:03, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Longer explanation (and edit conflict, you quick-typing bastard): It happens when a navbar template has a random chance of including a link to a certain page. In this case, "Sophisticated theology" sometimes appears on Template:Philosophy. Said template is on the "Free will" page, so MediaWiki reports that the page is linked, even if you can't see the link when editing normally. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 03:06, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
That drove me batty when I was trying to clean up the Religion template and categories a year ago or so. I decided to be more direct, and make an actual category for articles good enough to show up in the random section, rather than every single article crappy or amazing that we had. --Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 03:10, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

ah, thanks! OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 03:24, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Speculation[edit]

Moved from article:

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 [1]
Time will tell.

This is idle speculation, and the original blog post contains only the quote on the matter. Is there anything more sokalogically substantial? Else it comes across to me as just JAQing off - David Gerard (talk) 09:25, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

Not only is it lame speculation (and almost undecipherable,at that--who wrote that thing?), It seems to assume that peer-reviewed journals in the hard sciences have never been duped. Sure, the Sokal case was more of a warning for the humanities because of the particular methodological structure, but it's not like peer-review in the hard sciences hasn't let a few by in recent years. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 13:02, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Also, I'm not really sure why somebody would try and make claims about "sophisticated theology" when "sophisticated theology" -- like "sophisticated physics," "sophisticated history" and "sophisticated economics"--doesn't exist. Like all scholarship, there are people doing better work that others, there are people taking the field into new directions, but there's no school offering a degree in "sophisticated theology." OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 13:10, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

Removed section on "Sokaling sophisticated theologians."[edit]

There is no such thing as "sophisticated theology." It's a snarl word. The article says so. Therefore there is no such thing as "sophisticated theologians." Therefore they cannot be Sokalled, as they do not exist. The section had nothing to do with the use of the term as a snarl word, which is all that it is. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 23:54, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Cutting out sections you don't like and shoving them off to an amputated side article is ridiculous behaviour and really doesn't fly. (Godot tried it in the Historical Jesus article too.) Taking out the "snarl word" claim is pretty obviously more sensible in terms of the article - David Gerard (talk) 09:20, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
Except it is a snarl word. Show me one person who claims to study/produce "sophisticated theology." It's a term used exclusively by people who are trying to make a point against others. That's the entire thrust of the article, as it stands now. I'm moving the section to where it belongs, the theology article, as the section is a critique of actually-existing academic theology/theologians, and has nothing to do with the snarl word that is the topic of the article here. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 14:20, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, that's actually a better place for it - David Gerard (talk) 15:31, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
I know. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 16:38, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Alternate theologies[edit]

feminist, liberationist, postmodern, queer What does this mean, exactly?--"Shut up, Brx." 18:13, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Feminist theology, liberation theology, postmodern theology and queer theology are all actually things. I copied the list of names from Tom Morris ranting in response to me asking around about the phrase "sophisticated theology"; as a former philosophy Ph.D I'm presuming he's read and suffered them and the list makes sense - David Gerard (talk) 22:56, 25 November 2012 (UTC)
Thomas V. Morris merits a Wikipedia article and probably ranks above some user who claims to be a religious studies academic but never gives her name or other details about her professional position. Proxima Centauri (talk) 10:32, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
I mean of course User:Tom Morris, but Proxima is too fucking stupid to live - David Gerard (talk) 22:25, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
What do any of them, as actually existing schools of thought, have to do with an article on a term that that only has meaning outside of the discipline to which they belong? As actually existing things, would they not fit better in an article about actually existing theology?Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 02:00, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Which brings us back to the idea that this article is poorly framed, and still gives the impression that 1) there is such a thing as ST, and 2) that atheists using it are making some kind of grand inroad into the 'weakness" of theology by showing theology's problems. Which they don't do, since as we've said, the "new atheists' are attacking a straw man.--Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 02:55, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
I should clarify, sorry. the opening paragraphs are great. it's the following ones that were added to try to expand it, that reallly cause it to fail all over itself. --Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 02:57, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
You seem to be saying "I don't understand the article and it's mean to theology, so I'll fuck it up then complain it's silly" - David Gerard (talk) 22:25, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Please be more specific, which paragraphs do you feel are good and which are bad? Proxima Centauri (talk) 05:27, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
The introduction is clean and precise. After that, the article loses focus, and it's hard to tell how RW uses/understands the term. we seem to be explaining that the term is basically real and that these atheists have won some major battle against theists on the stand of SoTheo. Then we try to say "cept they didn't". The whole point is that Dawkins and the new atheists are not "winning", because there is nothing for them to "win" there. When we shift into the argument that "god is illogical" and therefor should be dismissed, rather than simply saying that Dawkins makes the claim that... our article becomes murky. --Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 14:03, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
I tried to focus the second section a bit, but then there was an EC and it was late and I, you know, and... well, it was probably still crap. Anyway, I can stab at it again a little later. Scarlet A.pngtheistModerator 14:09, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm not that Tom Morris. We just share a name. —Tom Morris (talk) 00:06, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Here's the problem.[edit]

If someone hands me a history text that I think does a simplistic analysis, I might say something like--"well, it's not the most sophisticated history I've ever read." "Sophisticated" is acting as an adjective that gives a value judgement on the work. If someone hands me a history book that doesn't really use class analysis, I might say something like "well, that's not the most Marxist history I've read." "Marxism" is acting as an adjective that classifies the work, and not as a comment on how good the work is. It seems like Proxie, bless her heart, when she talks a bout "a sophisticated theologian did this," is thinking that word "sophisticated" has elements of the second type of adjective, when it can only be meaningfully used in the first sense. "Sophisticated theologians" exist only in terms of saying "people who do good work." And it's a clumsy way of saying so. But the term seems to, among the angry atheists, taken on this whole other meaning. It's that confusion, and our inability to clearly articulate it, that's the problem with this article. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 14:16, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

I think part of the problem is that sophisticated theology doesn't have a precise dictionary definition. Different people have used the term differently. Early on Christian apologists claimed New Atheists hadn't read "the good stuff", today mainly atheists use the term sophisticated theology when they argue against what theologians etc call the good stuff. I think before new atheists started ridiculing the term Christians may have talked or written about sophisticated theology meaning erudite theology, I'm not sure. Proxima Centauri (talk) 15:28, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Hence why the opening lede marking it as a snarl word is clear. In that case, rather than bashing the crap out of theology, we need to dig up everything from WEIST and Pharyngular and just review how those guys use it. Scarlet A.pngssholeModerator 15:24, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Should this or part of it go back into the article? Proxima Centauri (talk) 16:15, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
The first part, maybe. The second part is indecipherable and appears to have been written by a someone who was dropped on his/her head as a child. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 16:22, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
The second part is (as noted above) from Tom Morris, who did philosophy professionally and suffered this stuff. That you haven't makes you lucky, but I'm presuming he knows what he's talking about that they've been thus labeled - David Gerard (talk) 22:23, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Slight correction. I have an MA in Philosophy and started a Ph.D (before deciding that having a proper job was more likely to get me money and chicksblokes than becoming a philosophy professor)—if that counts as "professionally", I'm not sure. I read some theology at undergrad, and that is simply my personal opinion, not reflective of professional training in theology. (I also don't have professional training in unicornology.) —Tom Morris (talk) 00:25, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Dawkins[edit]

I have to say, I'm finding it hard to believe that Dawkins used the term "sophisticated theology" in God Delusion. The mis use of the term just doesn't sound like an oxford trained academician. I'm going to Download GD, and see if i can search for that term, and then rewrite the "history" section. I'll leave the changes commented out, until we can verify that Dawkins did or did not use "sophtheo".Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 16:19, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Don't bother. I thought it was already established that the current use of ST was in response to those who criticized Dawkins for his lack of sophistication in dissing commonplace religion in The God Delusion so the snarl is sarcastic use of sophisticated at the ones who claimed Dawkins was unsophisticated. Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic?Moderator 19:33, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Dawkins did use the adjective "sophisticated" to describe theologians who actually bothered to read the Bible and do the work to understand the context (as opposed to, say, Haggard and Bakkar)...but that is not the "sophisticated theology" which this article is deriding. -- Seth Peck (talk) 20:02, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
As the article says, or used to say before howler monkeys got to it, he described theologians this way - David Gerard (talk) 22:21, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
If you read how the term came about, following the reactions to his book, and then the reactions to the reactions, the summary I wrote makes far more sense in an actual context of "facts" than what you reverted it to. This idea that there is some kind of sophisticated theology out there - which is exactly what is implied in that prior paragraph, is nonsensical. We need a history of what happened, not some overlay of terms that does not make any sense and is full of vague "he said she said" that leaves no one knowing what happened or what position RW takes.Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 00:00, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Separately, the phrase "sophisticated theology" is also used for the mysteries and the word salad brigade[edit]

While I get "the word salad brigade," whoever wrote that needs to explain what is meant by "the mysteries," or find a way to write that sentence because "used for the mysteries" makes no sense to a bear of little brain like myself. Also, some references to term being used in that context would be nice. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 22:54, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Pinged Tom - David Gerard (talk) 23:56, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
It was rather unclear. "mysteries and word salad" is basically trying to describe how lots of the particularly sophisticated theologians seem smitten with the idea that everything is a mystery. God is a mystery, faith is a mystery, everything is a mystery, but despite the mysteriousness, they seem to be able to write lots of very long and very dull books. —Tom Morris (talk) 00:02, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
The problem is, those are not and were not ever considered "sophisticated theology", they were just theology. They are no more "sophisticated" than post modernism is to general ol' philo 101. They are branches of theology, and they might well be word salad, but they don't belong in this article. --Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 00:03, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Ah, I thought they had been given the tag "sophisticated theology" by someone, somewhere - David Gerard (talk) 00:08, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
We don't seem to be drawing any distinction here between writers and thinkers that are more sophisticated than myself, and the idea that there is some product out there which they or others are writing, that is "Sophisticated Theology". Maybe the article should just be scrapped down to the well written and clear first section? --Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 00:11, 27 November 2012 (UTC)


The point about "sophisticated theology" is that it's a rhetorical technique various theistic writers pull. Terry Eagleton in his review of Dawkins:
What, one wonders, are Dawkins’s views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus? Has he read Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope?
To which the sensible reader might plausibly object: "no, but given the point of theology isn't to convince non-believers but to try and understand faith from within the context of that tradition, would there be any particular point in reading Rahner or Eriugena?" If you've decided you aren't a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reading reams of Buffy fan fiction might not be high on the agenda. The point about the "sophisticated theology" cry is that you can simply say with a slightly misty voice "ah, but there are these sophisticated theologians!" You don't actually have to say why what Karl Rahner has to say about grace affects the case that Dawkins is making at all.
Sophisticated theology is the name given by various people to this rhetorical technique. —Tom Morris (talk) 00:20, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
^^^ that ^^^. Can we just copy it word for word? It's more clear than anything else we have or had outside of that first paragraph.--Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 00:33, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Go for it. —Tom Morris (talk) 00:43, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

If not theology then where?[edit]

I find it interesting that the article makes the point that the purpose of theology is not to prove that God exists but rather to consider the nature of God once you have decided that he exists. I must admit that I was not aware of this fine distinction.

But that leads me to ask: If theology is not concerned with demonstrating the existence of God then to what religious writings (if any) should we look for arguments which purportedly demonstrate the existence of God? What would they be called?--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 08:50, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

So basically theologians are the religious equivalent of trekkies arguing how Heisenberg compensators work? SophieWilder 09:07, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
I agree theology is as relevant to reality as trekkies arguing how Heisenberg compensators work. Sometimes when I read stuff about how some people think we should respect theologians I reflect on The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun. Those aliens worship their sun as a god. I wrote far more about how their religious beliefs influence the aliens which comes under religious studies. Still I included a bit of theology about the sun god. I feel the theology of real religions is about as relevant as literary criticism and other people agree with me. Proxima Centauri (talk) 09:35, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Please don't spam your shitty fanfic. SophieWilder 09:40, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes I was spamming sorry, but I was also trying to show how theology of real religions is as relevant to reality as theology of fictional religions. Proxima Centauri (talk) 10:09, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
To answer my own question it looks to me as though Apologetics would be the place to look. But that gives us another problem in that the concept must have been has been misnamed by both sides from the beginning, and it really should be "Sophisticated apologetics" in that case.--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 09:30, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

" not to prove that God exists but rather to consider the nature of God once you have decided that he exists." A bit of historical context: theology as a field of study dates back to when the existence of God was, for most people not something that you decided you believed in--God was woven in to much of daily life, and, in the worldview of most, He existed. Even today, if a person is brought up to believe, there may well never be a moment when they decide that God exists--as far as they're concerned, they just "know" he does. Yes, sometimes do people change their minds and come to believe for one reason or another, but that's not always the case. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 13:47, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Theology has always had to deal with issues like "the problem of religion", so Paley's watchmaker is in one sense theology, but Descartes, Paley, Liebnitz, Kierkagaard's arguments for a god, are largely regulated to general philosophy of Religion, to be honest. very much for the reasons ToP has stated.Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 14:15, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
OK. Fine. But from what you (we) are saying, theology is completely and utterly irrelevant to the question of whether or not God exists.
Consequently, criticizing Dawkins for being unaware of, or well versed in, theology - sophisticated or otherwise - was an utter waste of time from the beginning. Furthermore, even if clever sophisticated theological arguments were to exist they still wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to Dawkins' points in The God Delusion. --Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 15:43, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Right. I would never make an argument that Dawkins needs to be well-versed in theological scholarship if he wants to engage in a debate about the existence of God, and no argument about the nature of an assumed God would make the least bit of difference re: Dawkins arguments. Now if Dawkins were to try to engage with theologians on their own turf--and I don't know if he has, because frankly, I find him terribly uninteresting and simplistic (I could say "unsophisticated," but I won't)--then, like in any scholarly debate, he needs to be sufficiently versed in the scholarship in order to participate and be taken seriously. I have no [place in a scholarly debate on particle physics, cellular biology, or French literary criticism, because I don't know the scholarship. If you want to debate me on my particular academic turf, there are certain things that I will expect you to have read critically, certain ideas I expect you to be intimately familiar with--if you haven't, or aren't, I'm not going to take you seriously. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 16:07, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
FWIW, I'm strictly an amateur streetfighter in philosophy, and I found The God Delusion annoyingly simplistic philosophically - David Gerard (talk) 20:09, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
According to TOW, one of the purposes of theology is to "challenge (ex. biblical criticism) or oppose (ex. irreligion) a religious tradition or the religious world-view." So arguments for/against god would fall under theology, contra the article. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 19:59, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
To an extent, sure. but notice it's one of the last things listed. When you go into a theology class at any major university, or read the classical theology texts (and most modern ones, but i'm not up to day on them) you aren't trying to prove god. God is there. it is real. it is part of your world view. YOu are trying to better understand it. better understand teh religion you are in, and other religions (are they real? does your god accept them? if not, should you blow them off the face of the earth?). You are trying to understand the nature of the universe - a huge deal since the Rationalists started saying "only thing we can really know, is that which we can touch, taste, etc.". How do you face a world with billions upon billions of galaxies when you're religion and god are limited to earthly presence. (and this is a huge aspect of theology today, by the way. God and Science). How does your god interact with modern governmental systems? What about the growing trend of independent thinkers who are finding "their own god". where do they fit in. These are questions you see in classical and modern texts, though, sure, there are always writings (like Descartes or Aquinus) that spend quite a bit of time trying to prove their god in light of Rationalists and scientists. Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 20:06, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Sure, but like you said, Summa Theologica is still going to be thrown under the "theology" label. I've also seen the term "atheology" used for arguments against god. So the statement is still wrong. Plus, the division between philosophy of religion and theology is ultimately artificial like any other distinction. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:20, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Which i think we address. "most is X", but some is the existence of god, etc. And if we don't address it here, we do in the theology article.Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 20:28, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

So now I'm confused again. Is theology only about arguments about the supposed nature of god or does it also address questions which attempt to demonstrate the existence of god?--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 20:44, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

Yes. — Unsigned, by: ORavenhurst / talkDo You Believe That? 20:47, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps "theology" like "gravy" is whatever you make it? (You want gravy on your spaghetti? huh?)Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 20:54, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
I suppose that one could not expect more from such a subject. It means what you want it to mean? That is just ever so useful.--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 20:58, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Outside of hard sciences, doesn't almost everything "mean what you want it to mean". (not "you" anyone, but at least "you" this group or that group?) Music, art, philosophy, feminism, socialism, literature, porn - these are all classes of things that are highly dependent on who is making what point at what moment. And yet they are all topics of study and academic "research". Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 22:45, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Fantastic. From mow on I'm going to personally define cookery as part of theology. As we can define these things as we like would anybody mind if I added this definition to the theology article?--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 11:36, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, Mrs Bystander's cooking is divine! Innocent Bystander (talk) 11:52, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
You also get to define stuff out of it just by saying so, including apologetics, despite the public visibility of theology and theologists in apologetics. I realise P(A|B)!=P(B|A), but ... - David Gerard (talk) 12:01, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
"Outside of hard sciences..." Oh really...? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:56, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

This could improve the article[edit]

If this isn't copyright it's worth downloading and adding to the article. Proxima Centauri (talk) 16:20, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

"if this isn't copyright..." It took me five seconds to find out. Nice research there. SophieWilder 18:02, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
GRAMMAR GEEK HELP. What is the adjective form of "a copyright". I want to say copywritten.  ;-) but clearly that's not correct. --Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 19:24, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
I believe it's "copyrighted". Uke Blue 21:09, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Indeed. That would be "copyrighted" or "protected by copyright".--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 08:23, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
Scroll down to the bottom, it's CC by-nc-sa 3.0 - David Gerard (talk) 20:10, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't see how this would much improve the article. It would take up a lot of space & be somewhat of a tangent. WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 08:35, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
Takes up space and is irrelevant? That has Proxima all over it! Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 08:43, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

Plantinga's rebuttal to Dawkins' claim that "God is complex, so is highly unlikely to exist by chance alone"[edit]

At that point, this article is losing focus, getting into a micro-analysis of a particular aspect of a larger debate, as opposed to dealing with the specific question of the use of a particular rhetorical tool. It should probably go. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 15:23, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

It's "losing focus" because it's getting buried under howler monkey shit - David Gerard (talk) 18:46, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
Like where? Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 18:48, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

Is Eagleton a "believer"?[edit]

I have my doubts on this--I always thought he respected the figure of Christ in terms of His cultural centrality/role as a socialist/revolutionary figure, and saw value in a progressive reading of Christianity, but I don't think he believes in God. Am I mistaken? Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 17:44, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

He was brought up Catholic and spends a lot of effort battling New Atheists, despite (and this is interesting) claiming no theological ability himself (just more than Dawkins or Hitchens). Is there actually any documented statement that he's a nonbeliever? - David Gerard (talk) 18:49, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
All of the above could apply to me, and I'm not a believer. He's also a pretty deep-red Marxist. This interview seems to show that he has a particular take on Christian doctrine that speaks to his left sensibilities, but he doesn't ever acknowledge the existence of a deity.
"Eagleton believes in Jesus, or rather in the symbolic power of Jesus the revolutionary who urged his followers to feed the hungry, love their enemies, give away their possessions and visit the sick, and was finally tortured and killed for such advocacy. If, he argues, we want an image, a signifier, that captures the ugly awful truth of human history then we could not do better than choose the tortured body of the innocent Christ - the crucifixion.

Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 18:56, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

Reads like someone who can't let go. I would be hesitant to call him an atheist on the basis of that - David Gerard (talk) 19:21, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
So he's not an atheist because of your reading of some stuff he said and your preconceptions of his psychological workings. How 'bout we find him saying something directly, or not categorize him a s such in this article? Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 04:29, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
So he was brought up in religion and consistently defends religion in public life, therefore he should be presumed to be an atheist unless I can prove it isn't true? I think you have the burden of proof here - David Gerard (talk) 11:06, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

I have not edited the article to make a truth claim about his belief or atheism. You have. I merely asked a question to start this discussion. Your reply has been to repeat your truth claim buttressed by conjecture. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 21:16, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

Obtuse theology[edit]

What proportion of theology is obtuse like this, A Sophisticated Theologian asks if God is part of the material universe? Proxima Centauri (talk) 18:06, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

Depends how how obtuse the reader is, I suppose. SophieWilder 18:13, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
This is why our article sucks, in my opinion. "sophisticate theology" IS being used the way I suggested it is, and not only as a way to denigrate idiots. Coyne (who needs to be shot when he goes out into his theology rants) is truly reading higher end theology that is not at all problamatic for those who are in the field, reading it. It's based on a long standing tradition of writings about the nature of god, and invokes several well known assumptions and assertions that play within theology. Since Behr is writing about the nature of god he already knows, and not trying to prove god, coyne's argument "he doesn't even try to prove god" is vapid and typically anti-religion "you are all just idiots who have no rationality in this world". Yes, the paper never addresses if god even exists. It doesn't need to, any more than a paper on art needs to address if beauty exists. the issue is what god *is*. and where theologians can or should draw the lines. Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 18:40, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Please tell us what those "well known assumptions and assertions that play within theology" are so we can begin to understand Behr. Proxima Centauri (talk) 19:39, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Some of these, perhaps? SophieWilder 19:45, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Start with Paul, then Augustine. Move to Acquinus. From there, move to Calvin, Luther and erassmus. They gave way to Milton and Owen, and after them, Spencer, Edwards and Wesley. The 19th century included Kierkagaard, Pope and Alexander (I would also toss in Descartes, and spinoza as both of them have a lasting effect on theology). 20th century theolgy is anyone's game. Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 19:52, 3 December 2012 (UTC) mind you, i love coyne's page and follow it regularly. he and i have "bantered" -- in the way an unknown person would ever be considered 'bantering' with someone who is just writing them back out of politeness - but hey, it's the closest i'll get to 15 minutes of fame -- about theology and what he expects theology to be doing. He grabs stuff and takes it out of context. he expects people writing to other theologians to debate things they aren't debating. It's a dumb game, and I see some atheists do it all the time, under the guys "sophisticated theolgy". They aren't doing any mind games, PC, they are just being theologians. You will never accept theology if you aren't a believer - as you have said, it would be like debating whether klingon wine tastes better than farengi wine. And if you don't accept that it is a complex topic with a long and deep history, and that you've read that long and deep history, you won't be engaging with theologians. you'll be telling treckies that it's all fiction and shut up. which is fine, in and of itself... but not reallly an argument.Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 19:52, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Put another way - you don't have to accept anything theologists say. Why would you, you are an atheist. Further, you are a science minded "show me the proof" type person. There is no proof for god, so theology is fully irrelevant to you. But, if you are going to say "your theology is wrong", or "you are doing theology wrong", then you need to know what you are talking about. And coyne doesn't. As a linguist I do not think Klingon is a "real language". But, if i were going to enter a debate between a tolkin elfish speaker and a klingon speaker, I better set aside my comment that they are not "real languages", cause they are doing their discussions from the stand point that they are "real languages". Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 20:00, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
That link nicely encapsulates the difference between Mencken and Coyne. Mencken eviscerates his opposition with a heaping helping of cynicism. Coyne looks at something and says "I don't understand this, therefore it's bullshit." Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:51, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Your (repeated) claim that we're all just being mean and should leave the poor theologists alone is made problematic by the visible public manifestation of theology and theologists being apologetics, and that being the thing we're actually talking about here - David Gerard (talk) 12:06, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
I have not idea what "repeated claim" you are talking about. My point is that people like Coyne are using the the term differently from how you are using the term. Proxie jumps in with "see, here is this article with a sophitacted dude that is obtuse". The 'dude" wasn't talking to atheists or scientists. so why is coyne saying "he's not doing it right?" you seem to want this to be a one sided game, David. But really both sides are playing like 10 year olds.Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 14:06, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
tl;dr You keep claiming theology has nothing to do with apologetics. This is bollocks. This article only exists because of apologists using theology and theologians engaging in apologetics. It might be true of some imaginary Platonic ideal theology that exists in your head, but is not true of the one visible in the world. Stop saying it, you're talking rubbish. (I note also how wikipedia:Christian apologetics describes its subject in the first sentence.) - David Gerard (talk) 16:41, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

That part of theology which deals with apologetics is certainly relevant for us. What about the rest of theology? Well we are entitled to ask questions about how much public funding goes into 'educating' those higher end theologians till they can understand stuff that the rest of us find opaque and probably irrelevant. We are entitled to ask how that funding could be put to alternative use. Proxima Centauri (talk) 15:44, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

You are entitled to ask the same thing about courses in Art theory, music theory, aesthetics, creative writing courses, literature courses, or pretty much anything that does not have a direct link to "profit". In the US, republicans tried to make your argument saying "feminism, black studies (or other ethnic studies) and ebornics are not productive and should not be majors at a public university.Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 16:13, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't know of any religious universities or seminaries, in the US at least, that are not private. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 16:17, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't know the details about what Republicans are trying to do In the US. Feminism, black studies (or other ethnic studies) and ebonics should be majors at public universities because they are relevant to real people. Art theory, music theory, aesthetics, creative writing courses, literature courses, all are relevant to how people see the world. Human reactions to music, aesthetics, creative writing are well known and relevant to universities. Religious studies can be scientific and a proper academic subject.
If you want to counter Republicans trying to stop majors in feminism etc it may be worth pointing something out. Republicans risk setting a precedent and theology could later be for the cut. Religious belief is declining in the USA as in the rest of the industrialised world, therefore those who want to stop/scale down theology 10 years from now will be stronger than they are now. Proxima Centauri (talk) 16:32, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

The argument by converses[edit]

There is a saying that if the reverse of a description is nonsense, you are being insulted (nobody advertises stale fruit, oldest fashion etc). As there could be a discussion on 'unsophisticated atheism' ('there is no obvious evidence of God(s)(ess)(es) he/she/they don't exist') 'sophisticated theology' may be a viable concept. 212.85.6.26 (talk) 15:56, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

"high end" philo now?[edit]

For god sakes, entries like that look like 12 year old whining brats wrote them. Theology is a field, a well studied, documented field. You can think it's as stupid as studying underwater basket weaving. You can think it is as stupid as studying womyn's studies, you can think it is as stupid as fighting about light sabors vs. phasers. but it exists. It has real fields, and "high end" is not one of them. There are real topics, there are real fucking things you get really fucking tested on. Ancient people said real sentances, and modern writers replied to those real sentances, even if every single god they are talking about is fucking made up, the field is still there, and you cannot just wave it off as if it's all the same and anyone who has never read any of it is as aware of it's topics as someone who's studied it. so proxie, respectfully, shove off.--Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 23:40, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

Catherine Dunphy was a Theology student but before she graduated decided Atheism made more sense than what she was studying. [1]
I remember how frustrated I would become in class, given that it didn't appear to me that my profs had any more authority than I did!... I came to realize that we were all complicit in making this stuff up as we go. |||[2]
  1. Catherine Dunphy– The Clergy Project: Embracing Secularism
  2. Major Threat to Religion? Clergy People Coming Out as Atheists

She had first hand knowledge, yes there are many varied complex fields to theology but they're made up. We don't deny that fields in theology exist, we just deny that they correspond to reality. High end theology is a description of a hard to understand type of theology and I don't suggest that it is a field. Proxima Centauri (talk) 11:36, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Facepalm.png ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 13:13, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Theology and apologetics[edit]

I think the comments about theology and apologetics are making a category error. Apologetics is a practice, not an academic field like theology. Religious apologias may be written by theologians, or by creation scientists, church leaders, religious laity, anyone with an interest in promoting or defending the religion. So assertions that "theology and apologetics are claimed to be different things, but in practice they frequently aren't", or "the point of theology supposedly isn't apologetics", are very flawed. By the same token, we could accurately say that "the point of science supposedly isn't apologetics", but this doesn't make it inappropriate for Dawkins, or any other scientist, to write apologias on science or the scientific method. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:13, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

I poked around some syllabi and course descriptions from some noted seminaries. "Apologetics" does not seem to show up as a topic among the pros. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 18:21, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Apologetics routinely uses theology, Paley's watchmaker analogy is just one example that comes to mind. When Ray Comfort says, "A creation requires a creator" this is also developed from arguments based on Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas claimed in 4 of his 5 ways that what exists, what changes, what is dependent on something else, what is ordered in hierarchies needs a cause. Of course arguments used to convert ordinary people with average or below average intelligence/education are simplified versions of academic theology but they're basically the same arguments. One definition of theology is, the study of the nature of God and religious truth" [1] that would seem to cover the whole of religious study/education that assumes god is real and religion is true. Proxima Centauri (talk) 07:39, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
Speaking purely of the question of academic categorisation, questions around things like Paley's (not Palin!) watchmaker analogy and Aquinas' five causes more broadly falls into the remit of philosophy of religion rather than theology. Theology tends to start from the presumption that God exists and studies who God is and what he wants. Subdisciplines of theology study things like what salvation is, or who Jesus is. But the questions about whether God exists tend to be labelled as "natural theology" (as opposed to "revealed theology") and these days that tends to be the subject of inquiry of philosophy of religion. People who study theology might take a curriculum like this: heavy on Biblical interpretation, history, moral theology and not so heavy on philosophy of religion. Meanwhile a philosophy of religion student at most British universities would have a curriculum that doesn't have any Bible reading, but reading of a mixture of thinkers both religious and secular. Obviously, there's crossover between philosophy of religion, academic theology and other fields. —Tom Morris (talk) 01:28, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Sweet Jesus, somebody who actually knows what he's talking about. We must do our best to discourage him from contributing to this article. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 01:35, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

I've restructured the article to improve the flow and better explain the origins of the "sophisticated theology" meme. Most comments & sources that were already in the article are still there (except ones that were repetitive or redundant) but I've taken out the claims that theologians aren't supposed to do apologetics, as this is unsubstantiated, doesn't really make sense, and doesn't seem to have much bearing on the issue anyway. WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:11, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

comments on an article at another wiki[edit]

Thank you! I have been wondering what the heck sophisticated theology was and how it differed from unsophisticated theology. Now I know: there is no difference! They are both based on the belief in woo woo, as Sam Harris once put it! July 3, 2011 by A Wikia contributor

I've always been fascinated with the disconnect between the theologians understanding and reasoning of God, and the laity, the latter which, most often believe based on a sort of, "well, someone else did all the hard work, and they claim it's right, so I should believe it, too." Having studied most ST, I can say with certainty that those are not the arguments people in the pews use, or are even aware of, when discussing whether or not God exists. It's extremely sad.

Sophisticated, however, does not mean correct. It merely means complicated. And every time one of their complicated arguments gets defeated (as is consistently the case), they got back and a few years later come out with a more "sophisticated" (read: complicated) version of the argument. The range of teleological arguments is a perfect case in point, with Richard Swindburne's being both extremely recent, and extremely complicated. (It may or may not be worth noting, that it is also extremely wrong) I await it's next reincarnation with the same excitement as an 8 yr old in the Dentist's waiting room... July 5, 2011 by A Wikia contributor

Also known as:

- Sophistimacated Theology (I don't understand it, so it must be smart)

- Schrodinger's Theology (It's only there when you're not looking) April 9 by A Wikia contributor From Talk:Sophisticated theology Proxima Centauri (talk) 07:49, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Why the hell do you think we care what a random Wikia editor thinks about the subject? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 07:58, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Luke Muehlhauser[edit]

Proxie, at least two different editors have removed that quote and given similar reasons in their edit summaries. There's a section about what Dawkins said in his book. Great. What should follow logically is that quote from Dawkins. What you have instead is some quote from a guy otherwise unmentioned in the article. Get the Dawkins quote in that spot. Introduce the new guy and tell us why he's relevant. Theory of Practice "Now we stand outcast and starving 'mid the wonders we have made." 13:50, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

I don't think a quote from Dawkins' paperback preface is particularly needed as I summarised what he says in the text instead, but can put one in if you think it would look better. Stringing on a quote from somebody else saying something else straight after without explanation looks incoherent. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 16:56, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
I've cut the Muehlhauser quote. Where it was put in, it interrupted the chronological & thematic flow of the article (TGD -> critic/apologist response -> atheist bloggers' response to critics -> sophisticated theology meme). I tried moving it to the end of the article, but it seems out of place there & doesn't use the phrase "sophisticated theology" at all. I think it's a bit redundant overall & doesn't say much that isn't already said or implied in the article. WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:08, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Added the blog without the quote, as an example of atheist discourse re the "not my theology" argument. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:23, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
I was going to zap it, but Luke's blog post itself is actually a pretty good summary of the issue - David Gerard (talk) 21:54, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Argument from authority.[edit]

We say:

Such extended reading wouldn't inform or counter the central thesis of The God Delusion. Eagleton's review doesn't tell us how Rahner on grace or what Moltmann on hope are relevant to Dawkins's argument — their significance seems to be both argument from authority (name-dropping these somewhat arcane thinkers) and an ad hominem suggestion that Dawkins is closed-minded and insufficiently well read.

This would not be the argument from authority fallacy. Argument from authority is not simply "name dropping" - it is name dropping of people who have no knowledge or expertise in respect of the issue but who have made some comment.--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 20:29, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Since the argument is that Eriugena, Rahner & Moltmann are better informed to say whether God exists than Mr Dawkins, I think it is a fallacious argument from authority. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:44, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
They may well be complete fruitcakes - but they seem to be authorities on theology (whatever it is). So quoting what they say about theology cannot fall foul of the the argument from authority fallacy.--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 20:57, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Eagleton doesn't quote what they say; he just name-drops them. & Dawkins wasn't writing theology; while he addressed some of the most commonly encountered theological arguments, his own argument was primarily based in the observable material universe. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:08, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Indeed. It's precisely an argument from authority, specifically allusion to ill-specified claims of the existence of authority - David Gerard (talk) 21:50, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

"Epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus? (...) Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope" aren't relevant to whether or not God exists. The part of theology trying to prove God's existence is called natural theology. Proxima Centauri (talk) 17:53, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

No, it's not. The argument from authority is based on the idea that authority in one field would be transferred to authority in another field. Thus quoting Einstein on theology falls into the argument from authority fallacy as Einstein was certainly mot an authority in the field
Quoting an "expert" on homoeopathy when they were speaking about homoeopathy would not fall into this fallacy as they were not speaking outside their area of expertise. Although their area of experience is utter crap they cannot be accused of speaking outside of it - so it's not covered by the "argument from authority" fallacy.
Although it is clear that theology is about as (or probably less) justifiable than homoeopathy, it is also clear that a theologian is speaking within their area of expertise when speaking about theology.--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 22:49, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
"The argument from authority is based on the idea that authority in one field would be transferred to authority in another field." Er, no, that's not at all what the argument from authority is: it's "X is an expert in this, so shut up." - David Gerard (talk) 23:15, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
unless you're joking, and if so I appologize, but no, it's really not. The argument from authority is when you say "Well, but Obama likes chocolate, so it must be good", or when you say "Stephen Hawking, great physicist, has said that brushing your teeth each day is important for your health". It when you take an authority (usually a known one) and use them as an "authority" on something they are not an authority on. [2].Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 02:21, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
Veuillez voir ici. I've always taken "argument from authority" to mean "So-and-so, an authority on the subject, says thus-and-such, so you don't need no more steenkin' reason than that." Pretty much what Gerard said.
Notice that the English WP article admits the fallacy of citing an expert in the relevant field who does not agree with other expert consensus. Sometimes this happens when a previously recognized expert's assertion has been superseded by more recent information, e.g. Galen's claim that the human uterus is bifurcated, based on his dissection of jackrabbits. Later researchers, with easier (but still possibly illegal) access to human cadavers, found that to be untrue. (That does not diminish Galen's stature as an eminence in his time.) Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 03:49, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, Godot is closer to right on this. The usual argument from authority fallacy involves citing Einstein, say, in order to justify a claim about world politics. His apparent authority is misplaced --- he is a recognized authority in physics, not diplomacy. To be sure, we also sometimes use the term to refer to situations where a purported authority is simply no authority at all, but that's a looser interpretation of the phrase. Both are related: the question is whether the person cited really is an authority on this matter.
I'm not sure whether citing a theologian is a fallacy of this sort at all. At least, it's not obviously so. The problem is that the relevance of the expertise involved is a matter of some dispute, so it's not an obvious authority fallacy issue at all.
As long as we're talking about authority, I'll cite my own: I've taught a few courses on logic and critical thinking and reviewed several textbook treatments of the informal fallacies in doing so. I can't cite the texts presently, since I'm out of town.Phiwum (talk) 04:22, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
All I've got is more argumentum ad vikipaediam: "Fallacious arguments from authority often are the result of failing to meet at least one of the required two conditions (legitimate expertise [on the relevant subject matter] and expert consensus) structurally required in the forms of a statistical syllogism."
It seems myopic to focus on the first part of the trick, legitimacy of expertise, while ignoring expert consensus (or lack thereof.) In other words. the induction also fails if the cited authority is indeed an expert in the field, but is not aligned with other expert opinion. Appealing to Ptolemy to confirm a geocentric cosmology does not fail because he was not a recognized authority in astronomy (he was) but because informed opinion has moved on since he had his say. How is that not a verecundiam failure?
While I'm being a gadfly, might as well claim that narrowly construing the fallacy as "expert, but not in that field" is a form of goalpost shifting. The vernacular understanding of "appeal to authority" as "specious name-dropping" serves very well, no matter how sophisticated our steps are, on the head of this pin. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 14:06, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
Fundamentally, this dispute over the goalposts doesn't matter much. The real issue is that this isn't a classical example of the fallacy at all, because whether theologians really are authorities is a matter of dispute. This is rather like creationists claiming that biologists aren't authorities about evolution because evolution doesn't exist and so no one is an authority.
Effective references to informal fallacies are indisputable. When Einstein endorses a breakfast cereal, it's clear he's not an authority. When a homeopath claims authority over homeopathic remedies and their effectiveness, it's best to respond directly to his claims and not claim that it's an authority fallacy. Otherwise, we end up wasting time arguing over the claimed fallacy and not the essential point. Phiwum (talk) 15:55, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
Either way, I think we can agree the above is an awesome example of argumentum ad definitionum. Scarlet A.pngnarchistModerator 17:16, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
In point of fact I quite liked your definition in this essay Armondikov:
Here is a brief run-down of a few other pieces of skeptical jargon that occasionally get misused: Appeal to authority As noted in the article, appeal to authority is perfectly valid when it's an appeal to a relevant and experienced authority. Talking to Brian Cox or Stephen Hawking about physics, and Richard Dawkins about evolutionary biology, for example is fine because they have studied and contributed to these subjects. While it is true that even in these cases their arguments need to be judged on their own merits and aren't correct because they are authorities, this fallacy is often mistaken as a carte blanche to ignore anything said by an authority.
Presumably you would still stand by this definition?--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 18:27, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

Is all theology unsophisticated and made up?[edit]

Catherine Dunphy was a Theology student but before she graduated came to see Atheism made more sense than what she was studying. [1]

I remember how frustrated I would become in class, given that it didn't appear to me that my profs had any more authority than I did!... I came to realize that we were all complicit in making this stuff up as we go.
[2]

As a theology student she had many years to examine the intellectual soundness of theology at first hand.

  1. Catherine Dunphy– The Clergy Project: Embracing Secularism
  2. Major Threat to Religion? Clergy People Coming Out as Atheists
Proxima Centauri (talk) 10:05, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

The Problem of evil is actually proof for God’s existence. If all that stuff you said is true it means that SOMEONE messed up the universe. Inanimate objects don’t make mistakes, therefore whatever made this universe must be animate. Sophisticated Theology: a graphic demonstration. Praise be to God! Is there any way to fit this into the article? God is Lord (talk) 00:32, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

I get the feeling that Proxie still doesn't have a real clue what the word "sophisticated" means. As for it being "made up," theology is no more made up than literary criticism is. Theory of Practice "Now we stand outcast and starving 'mid the wonders we have made." 00:44, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Proxie, you seem to totally buy into arguments from authority, selectively, as long as they back up your worldview. "As a theology student she had many years to examine the intellectual soundness of theology at first hand." OK, but what about the other theology students who had many years to examine the intellectual soundness of theology but didn't come to the same conclusions as this person? Some of them might even have gone on to become priests or church officials. Can you really say that they didn't understand the theology as well as her, or is it all just a little but more complicated & sophisticated than that? WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 02:40, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Jerry Coyne[edit]

Jerry Coyne has noticed us!

(...) the so-called “Sophisticated Theology™” (I notice that the term now has a nice RationalWiki entry, and I will greedily claim credit for the trademarked phrase). Walter Kaufmann on the gerrymandering of theologians
Proxima Centauri (talk) 08:03, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
If you check the references, you'll see where I told him about it and he claimed the TM - David Gerard (talk) 12:49, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

What Google displays[edit]

This 1st paragraph appears in Google when people search for ‘Sophisticated theology’. Well I feel it’s worthwhile to focus on what interests those who make a Google search right at the start of the article. Casual readers aren’t interested “(stylised Sophisticated Theology™)”. Jerry Coyne wants his credit and I’ve given it to him, just I put that all into a footnote slightly further on where Google won’t display it. Proxima Centauri (talk) 09:24, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

Do we want the whole concept? Or is there somewhere else?[edit]

Fred Clark was talking about the same problem recently - but didn't use the term Sophisticated Theology. It's a serious issue, but is there another entry to go under or do we want to re-work this one to point out that although New Atheists coined the term it's a general issue. Neonchameleon (talk) 20:39, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Sounds like a related issue (that the apologists are weasels) rather than this particular one (a claim of a sophisticated version that answers the objections to the simple version). Or perhaps a superset. - David Gerard (talk) 09:37, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I think that it's a sightly different issue, at least in the Ken Ham case. Christians are as likely to disagree with each other as they are are to disagree with athiests. Many share Ham-handed beliefs that the Earth is 10,000 years old. Many others think that that is ridiculous though they may believe that God guided evolution via intelligent design or whatever.
Normally these two groups are able to keep a polite truce in the face of scientific evidence. But when Ken Ham gets up - claiming to speak on behalf of Christianity - one group suddenly finds a need to disown him or claim he is marginal. --Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 15:55, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Attempted recovery[edit]

Goddamn how did this linger so long with the grammar and sense so for shit. I went through and added back a bit of stuff the howler monkeys at typewriters had splattered over it. There is at least one editor I hereby promise to blindly revert if they ever touch this thing again - David Gerard (talk) 16:58, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Anti-intellectual language[edit]

While the The God Delusion is a middlebrow book for good reason, there's no reason for RationalWiki to imply that anything not middlebrow is worthless and that nobody who's interested in it counts as a human being, which the language on this page does. My removal of it has been reverted without any explanation. --Anotherreader (talk) 16:31, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Let me put it another way: pseudo-sophistication is only funny if the people making fun of it know what real sophistication is. Calling Tillich "word salad" makes the article's valid defence of Dawkins' strategy seem like the insecurity of middlebrow people, which it isn't and shouldn't be open to accusations of being. "Who reads that shit anyway, amirite?" isn't what the rest of the article seems to be saying, and is a counter-productive line to take, if the aim is to demonstrate real sophistication. --Anotherreader (talk) 16:58, 30 January 2018 (UTC)