Round the time The Courtier's Reply was developed, two things happened. First, some atheist bloggers claimed those critics were trying to bring up some "sophisticated theology" which really did prove God, "if only one knew of it or understood it", and bloggers from the Christian community replied insisting there was indeed "sophisticated theology" that proved God just as the atheists claimed. And so, a meme came to life, by 2008, atheist bloggers were using the phrase enthusiastically.[1]

At this point, some other unnamed theologians said what new atheists had not read was supposedly the good stuff: a theology of the gaps, not so much moving the goalposts as hiding them.

Once brought to life memes grow and develop so today sophisticated theology has a broader meaning. Today atheists tend to talk about sophisticated theology whenever they come across theology that doesn't make sense to them. Atheists like PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins have even taken to reading theology, later they tell us what they've been reading and why they don't think it makes sense. Anyway theology that doesn't make sense to atheists turns up quite a lot.


  1. PZ Myers was using the phrase pejoratively as early as September 2007. Source: PZ Myers. Sophisticated theological arguments are unanswerable. Pharyngula. 2007 September 4.