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There are certainly lots of questions about Christianity. But whereas many other SE sites deal with subject matter that's constantly developing and changing (I'm thinking mainly of StackOverflow and English.SE) we have a scope that essentially consists of established, documented doctrine from established, documented Christian denominations. While it's true that interpretations change, new churches spring up, etc. the pace of change of our subject matter here is much slower.

With that in mind, is there a danger we may reach saturation point - when there are no "good" questions left to ask? Is C.SE sustainable in the long term?

  • If so, it'll remain a repository of useful information. – TRiG Apr 3 '13 at 15:14
  • @TRiG I would hope so, but one of the main measures of effectiveness SE seem to use is how many new questions are being asked and answered. – Waggers Apr 3 '13 at 15:18
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    I thought that we'd hit the wall a year ago and we still keep getting questions - some quite good. – David Stratton Apr 4 '13 at 3:11
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    Assuming that there is a length limit of some kind, there are a finite number of possible questions on any subject. – DJClayworth Apr 5 '13 at 18:11
  • @DJClayworth True. "Finite" is the wrong word, but I'm sure you get the idea :) – Waggers Apr 8 '13 at 9:11
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the pace of change of our subject matter here is much slower

This is true, but it is not zero. We don't have to keep pace with Stack Overflow to be a useful site. If nothing else, the rate at which language changes provides an ever moving target for theology to express itself. This has always kept Christianity on its toes. I see a continuing use for this site that reflects that.

[...] is there a danger we may reach saturation point - when there are no "good" questions left to ask?

Yes. There is a saturation point, but I would suggest that it is far far beyond our current scope. With several thousand years of history and miscellaneous doctrine and practice to delve into, I don't think we will be reaching saturation point any time soon.

It is likely that a smaller and smaller percentage of what people think to ask off the top of their heads will not have already been asked. However with the wide range of permutations that can be examined, I don't expect the well of possible questions to run actually dry in my lifetime or yours.

Is C.SE sustainable in the long term?

Time will tell. My bets are on yes.

  • Thanks Caleb, that's reassuring. I particularly like the way you link to ever-changing language in this answer in response to my mention of English.SE – Waggers Apr 3 '13 at 15:28
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    Sustainable at least until the second coming. I'm afraid all the experts are heading out on holiday then. Seriously, though, all products have a product maturity that comes after the growth phase. We are clearly in the growth phase and doing well. Further, maturity can last for decades. I'm not worried at all that the site will die before I loose interest. – fredsbend Apr 3 '13 at 17:29
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Theological insights have been developing for 2000 years - and the reason is not because God is saying anything new. Rather, our collective experience of God is new each and every day. As a result, the application of what God said to our present circumstances and outlook will always be refreshed.

That said, our outlooks do change at a slower pace than your average coding language or piece of software. We will never reach the volume of new stuff that SO has, but as long as people are growing, there will always be new applications.

The trick, of course, is that the most immediate applications - pastoral advice - is off-topic. Still, there are meta issues within doctrine that will always relate to present experience.

In Islam.SE, they worry about actual implementation of practice a lot. As such, they will always have edge case questions. And, while no disrespect to Islam.SE, I think we actually have the far more interesting site, because we don't care about application. In a sense, Islam.SE is very much at the 'give me the codez' level. https://islam.stackexchange.com/questions/7749/what-should-i-do-if-my-cell-phone-rings-during-salaat is an interesting adaption of culture to practice.

Christianity.SE, however, is far more like Computer Science than programming. The vast majority of us are not rules based, but rather doctrine based. (I'll save the orthopractic vs. orthodoxic debate). As such, we are not likely to be as interested in the implementation details. But we are still confronted with the issues, if not the practice. I doubt anyone would ask "What should I do if my cell phone goes off in the middle of the sermon?" (Answer: Silently leave the building and never return :0) but it is relevant to ask "How does the attention sapping culture affect a Christian's ability to meditate on the goodness of God?"

These questions are harder to ask, but they are still there.

  • YES! ` ` ` ` This. – Caleb Apr 3 '13 at 19:50
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Have you ever tried to read the entire Bible?

Of course there are many people who have finished Bible over many times, but if you have any experience of finishing a book, I would ask you to compare Bible to other types of books.

When you finish a entire book or series, all the information is in your head. The plot, the rising action, the climax, the conclusion, the etc.

With Bible it's very different; just when you think you know all parts of it, new ones jump out.

Some might argue that it is because Bible is comprised of vast books some differing greatly from each other; but if I can keep the entire plot of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (800,000 words) after reading it several times over how come I cannot do the same for The Bible (774, 746 words)?

The Bible is very complex; it has meanings inside meanings inside meanings. Its a perpetual spring of information; just as you think you know it some other stuff you didn't know pops up.

And while this is all mindblowing, at the same time it makes perfect sense; Bible is living, and breathing, and is God. It existed with God in the beginning, all things were made from him and nothing was made without him.

No, I cannot agree that there is ever a saturation point in the Bible; I believe that there will always be a new information ready to be delivered.

  • The scope of this site is not the Bible or it's depths. We deal with everything by second hand proxy: Christianity; and our scope is narrowed drastically even from that. I think we have plenty to draw from, but I don't think equating a doctrine of Scripture with the potential future of this site is a fair comparison. – Caleb Apr 6 '13 at 21:19
  • Because the Bible is a confused mess? – TRiG Apr 8 '13 at 13:18
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    @TRiG: No. Because people are. – Caleb Apr 8 '13 at 16:31

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