A Sokal-style hoax by an anti-religious philosopher

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I’m a big fan of Dr. Maarten Boudry, a Belgian philosopher who’s a research fellow in the Department of Philosopy & Moral Sciences of Ghent University.  Boudry has spent a lot of time showing that religion and science are incompatible, attacking the distinction between “metaphysical naturalism” and “methodological naturalism” (a distinction much beloved by accommodationists), and generally pwning “Sophisticated Theologians™.”

 


You can find my earlier discussions of Boudry’s work herehere and here,and, if you’re familiar with the unctuous theologian Alvin Plantinga, be sure to read Boudry’s new review of Plantinga’s book Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. Boudry’s review is free online, starting on p. 21 of the latest newsletter from The International History, Philosophy and Science Working Group.

But today I’m presenting something else: a real Sokal-style hoax that Boudry has perpetrated. He informed me yesterday that he had submitted a fake, post-modernish and Sophisticated-Theological™ abstract to two theology conferences:

By the way, I thought you might find this funny. I wrote a spoof abstract full of theological gibberish (Sokal-style) and submitted it to two theology conferences, both of which accepted it right away. It got into the proceedings of the Reformational Philosophy conference. See Robert A. Maundy (an anagram of my name) on p. 22 of the program proceedings.

To save you the trouble of downloading it, I reproduce below, with Boudry’s permission, “Maundy’s” abstract. Note that he made up a college, too, but the quotation from John Haught is real.

The Paradoxes of Darwinian Disorder. Towards an Ontological Reaffirmation of Order and Transcendence.
Robert A. Maundy,  College of the Holy Cross, Reno, Nevada

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. 

Written By: Jerry Coyne – WEIT
continue to source article at whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com

45 COMMENTS

  1. Just goes to prove that to out theologian the theologians, all that is required is a thesaurus and strong hint that sophisticated theology is apparently alive and well even though the rational realize that it inhabits & lazes like a succulent slug in the greyish area between con and incoherent pompousness.

    Well done Dr Boudry…classic and so glaringly typical of the intellectual rigour of the god droolers!
    Who after all only read want they want to, whether it is in black or white and actually written is neither here nor there.

  2. That’s unfair.  Genuine religious papers make no sense either because they are about fictitious beings, and are not based on reality data, and are also dressed up in grandiose language.  How could you expect the conference organisers tell this paper apart from a genuine one? 

  3. Perhaps a spoof theology writing contest (although the spoof articles would not differ from the real thing at all) would help raise awareness that we should not take theologians seriously, especially “sophisticated” theologians.

  4. @OP –   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.

    It is indeed a text worthy of comparison with this author:-

    http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

      SaganTheCat – i love this

    I’m busy reading , ” The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”!

    You would love that too!

  5. What you lot don’t seem to understand is that it is the study of Theolgy that has moved our understanding of our humanity, indeed our morality – and our place in God’s plan – forward:

    Old Unsophisticated Theology™

     “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them
    have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on
    their own heads.” 

    – Leviticus.

     Modern Sophisticated Theology (even at 30 degrees)™

    “A ‘homosexualist’ is an individual of either gender, who may or may not be a sodomite or a lesbian, but who does what he or she can to advance homosexuality. The term satisfies an important need in nomenclature. Credit for devising it goes to Scott Lively, a California lawyer, whose book is Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which suggests that Hitler was a homosexual prostitute in Vienna, and that homosexuality and Nazism are almost the same thing (and that is) something that our Christian Founding Fathers deemed “…that horrible sin not to be named among Christians”, and “…the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature” MUST be recriminalized.”

    TheologyOnline.com

    Thank the Lord for the Reformation and the Enlightenment.

     

    Anvil.

  6. What a laugh. I expect that if the recipients had had a sense of humour they’d have cottoned on to what it wasn’t about.

    There aren’t many jokes in the Bible or the Qur’an, so their devotees are probably unfamiliar with the concept of not taking yourself too seriously, and now and again having a bloody good laugh at your own expense.

  7. but who does what he or she can to advance homosexuality. The term satisfies an important need in nomenclature. Credit for devising it goes to Scott Lively, a California lawyer, whose book is Pink Swastika:
    Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which suggests that Hitler was a homosexual prostitute in Vienna, and that homosexuality and Nazism are almost the same thing (and that is) something that our Christian
    Founding Fathers deemed “…that horrible sin not to be named among Christians”  – TheologyOnline.com

    Can’t let those inconvenient facts get in the way of a bit of bigoted rewriting of history!

    Hitler and mother with the Mutterkreuz
    http://nobeliefs.com/mementoes

    German Christian Movement Badge 
    http://nobeliefs.com/mementoes

    Deutsche Christen Pin
    http://nobeliefs.com/images/De

    The Deutsche Christen
    (German Christians) were a German Protestantism movement aligned towards antisemetic principles of Nazism. The DC were sympathetic to Hitler’s goal of uniting the individual Protestant churches into a single Reich church.
    The DC was first formed in 1931 and the flag was flown during marches and demonstrations
    http://nobeliefs.com/images/De

  8. I fear that Boudry’s abstract fails to acknowledge the ontological transcendence of the apophatic (so perspicaciously theorized in neo-Husserlian dialectics) that subtends the corporealized numinous in hegemonic post-Levinasian ideologies.

  9. I personally view theology as the study of humanity’s emotional bent on individual immortality. It would be interesting to equate lower order animal behaviour or psychology with that of the homo sapian. Non-sophisticated philosophies may germinate in the mental process of other primates beyond humanity; and due to their inferior knowledge of science, their fear and ignorance would predict that faith and theology would dominate their mental processes.

    As individuals we have to accept faith as a persuasive factor in our mental process. Anyone who has not been to Paris has to accept at face value any offered evidence that Paris actually exists. The reality does not match our mental conception until we actually visit the city and verify the evidence from our personal point of view.

    The less we know about the laws of nature, the more religious our faith in nature will be. Therefore, philosophy and theology will decrease inversely with increased enlightenment. Research and education is the key to our immortality, at least as a species.

  10. Unfortunately , your enlightenment will not be forthcoming in your lifetime and your philosophy will be severely restricted to unfounded religious doctrine. Everything evolves in nature except religion, apparently! Tell me, where is the wonderment in a fixed ideology? Your lack of reverence for nature is disheartening.

  11. Just what is being laughed at? the judges, the typical papers they accept, or the entire nonsense of pretending there is such thing as a PhD in Divinity? Imagine my original post read by John Cleese.

  12. I’d like to see somebody set up an online course in “Supernatural Physiology, The study of the corporeal states of imagined figures of faith” to see how many bites you get from the sophisticated theology crowd. If they bought this paper as genuine I can’t imagine it being too hard for them to accept the premise.

  13. Anvil,
    Me thinks thou dost protest too much. Do you feel you may have latent tendencies? There is no other religion on the face of this earth that is more engrossed and susceptible to sodomy and pedophilia than Christianity. The authors of your bible must have realized this when passing judgement on the fold. Hence, the satanic verses against homosexuality.

    Homosexuality serves a very good purpose in nature. It controls the growth of a prominent species in areas of over population and effectively balances the species with its environment. It is more prevalent in nature than any of your limited misoneism.

  14. In reply to the question  -  “How could you expect the conference organisers tell this paper apart from a genuine one? “
    By reading them ???
    Or is it impossible to tell the difference between a fake and a genuine paper?
    Of course there is a third possibility, all theological papers are rubbish, irrespective of the intention of the author. (that seems to make sense).

  15. I’ve made the same mistake. You used to be able to go back and look at someone’s previous statements to see where they stand on certain issues, but as far as I can tell now, that feature is gone in the new Disqus format.

  16. Rrh1306,
    My apologies. Anvil’s “tongue-in-cheek” sarcasm is markedly undetectable and leaves the impression of genuine homophobia.
    Al Garnier

    Thanks for breaking that to me.

    So that’s why people don’t laugh at my jokes?

    Sob…

    Anvil.

  17. Al Garnier.
    Homosexuality serves a very good purpose in nature. It controls the
    growth of a prominent species in areas of over population and
    effectively balances the species with its environment. It is more
    prevalent in nature than any of your limited misoneism.

    There I was thinking it was all about teaching the rest of us better dress sense?

    Anvil.

    ps: I’d better not give up the day job, eh, Al  ;P

  18. This writing style reminds me of the business lingo from the dotbomb era online tech-companies.

    “At Velron, we develop synergistic solution strategies for increased relationship forecasting and input management. Our best-in-class software proactively aligns opportunity matrix figures to capitalize on the new speed of business.  Every Velron employee is dedicated to delivering greater ROI through apex thinking!”

    Why did it crash again?

  19. “The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.”
    - From the suppressed introduction to “Animal Farm”

    “As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to hunt about for the words; you also don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious.” 
    - “Politics and the English Language”

    Both apply here, I think.

  20. After reading Mr Boudry’s enlightening tour de force, I feel really quite numinous. The over-arching principle of deconstructing mere positivist materialism, must be to argue dialectically that thought comes before matter! The eternal mind transcends the nitpickery of ontological discussion and drives through to the irresitible conclusion that GODDITIT!

  21. I loved the Sokal hoax, and I love this. As well as the religious spin-makers, I am still coming into contact with many examples of social texts style frauds in academia. Its not that I disagree with their research – rather it is obvious they are not actually doing any, only pretending to. When I think of the colossal waste of resources (supplied by genuine taxes here in Australia) that their salaries and grants represent, it really bothers me.

    Sorry for the whinge – the other light hearted posts were much more entertaining! ;)

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