Firstly I was accused for being "combative" and "non-constructive" in this question of mine. Even though I honestly and sincerely didn't think it was combative, I did take this into my consideration and re-phrased it taking any references to any particular group - only to find out later that the question was closed as "it's difficult to tell what is being asked here". What is so difficult about it? My question was very clear.

1 Answer 1


I didn't see the original question until now and I have no axe to grind, so let me say how it looks to me with fresh eyes.

Firstly, the wording "it's difficult to tell what is being asked here" is a stock/template phrase and was not tailored for your question in particular. There are a few standard boxes into which closed questions might fall - and there's not always a clear best match - but the general idea behind this one is in the main heading, "not a real question".

So what is a real question, and why did readers think that your question wasn't real?

When we talk about a real question we basically mean one which is answerable. Someone can read the question and have a clear idea of what a good answer would look like. He or she should also have confidence that the questioner would accept such an answer.

Some questions are not easily answerable because they are too vague. Often we start off with quite a fuzzy sort of doubt about some topic, and have to do a bit of work in order to find and write down the definite questions that lurk inside that cloud of general uncertainty. It can also be difficult to express ourselves in words that will be meaningful to the other people here. I do not think this applies to your question particularly, though there was evidently some trouble with the word "hermeneutics". But it is basically clear that you are looking for Old Testament sanction for the idea of the Father having a body like ours. This is not the problem.

What happened was that your question was read (whether you intended this or not) as unanswerable by reason of being rhetorical or combative. The suspicion is that you are trying to catch LDS people out by asking a "question" where you're not really interested in the answer, but just want to score points or stir up trouble. Hence: not a real question.

The use of the word "Mormons" is a red herring - even if it does not appear in the question text, it is clear who is being talked about. There is a non-constructive question pattern that looks like, "Dear X, why do you foolishly believe Y when my reading of the Bible says the opposite?", where X is probably Mormons or Catholics or liberals 1. You have (accidentally) come up with something that matches the pattern and so people assumed you were being combative.

More generally, as mentioned by AffableGeek and MaskedPlant, it reads like you're asking others to justify themselves according to your terms. This is inherently adversarial but also doesn't lead to good (factual, supported, helpful-to-others) answers. It's fine to mention your own beliefs and background, to give context to the question and your assumptions, but you shouldn't expect other people to take your beliefs as their starting point. A more open question will let them explain their position more naturally, and probably in more detail.

Having a question closed is not the end of the world. I think the decision in this case was simply that because of the ongoing discussion and editing, it would be easier to start again with a freshly-written question on the same topic. Matt said as much in the comments under the question. I'm sure users here or in chat would be happy to help you thrash out one or more improved questions.

1. "my reading of" is usually omitted. Also, Y is often something that X don't actually believe.

  • "there was evidently some trouble with the word "hermeneutics"" - Can you, please, elaborate here. I don't understand what kind of trouble it was.
    – brilliant
    Jan 17, 2013 at 4:29
  • "He or she should also have confidence that the questioner would accept such an answer" - How is this possible? Isn't it like the OP has the freedom not to accept answers to his questions? How is it then that the person answering a question can have a confidence that his answer will be accepted?
    – brilliant
    Jan 17, 2013 at 4:32
  • (1) "Hermeneutics" can cover many different ways of interpreting text, whereas I think you were trying to get at a specific mode of reading, "what the text literally says". (2) I mean that the questioner gives the impression of sincerely seeking information and that he/she will accept whichever answer best provides it. Of course that might not happen.
    – James T
    Jan 17, 2013 at 4:46
  • 2
    This has got to be one of the best Meta answers I've ever seen. You cover "refute-this" questions in a way that's crystal clear. I haven't seen it phrased like this before, and it's exactly the reason "refute-this" questions are not a good fit. Whether brilliant intended this to be combative or not, I'm voting this up just because of how you explained the problem. Jan 18, 2013 at 20:52
  • "There are a few standard boxes into which closed questions might fall - and there's not always a clear best match" - I think they must be diversified. Quite often I almost took offense to my questions being closed as "not a real question"
    – brilliant
    Jan 23, 2013 at 12:02
  • So, maybe you could help me re-phrase my question in such a way that I could ask it here with no fear of having it closed again?
    – brilliant
    Jan 23, 2013 at 12:04
  • @DavidStratton - David, same goes to you: you seem to be quite excited about the answer given here, so, perhaps, you could also have your own version of re-phrasing my question so that it could be re-asked on "Christianity"?
    – brilliant
    Jan 23, 2013 at 12:07
  • I'll take a closer work when I get home from work... Right now, It's time for me to get the kids to school, but if I can help salvage the question, I will. Jan 23, 2013 at 12:23
  • @DavidStratton - Sure. No problem. And no rush at all.
    – brilliant
    Jan 23, 2013 at 12:25

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