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Consider the following:


Question Title: "According to Biblical Literalists, should all class level properties in C# code be in PascalCase"

Scripture tells us that in Romans 13:1: (NIV)

...The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Microsoft, as the "owners" of .Net and C# are the authorities on proper coding styles. state in their guidelines:

Pascal Casing

The first letter in the identifier and the first letter of each subsequent concatenated word are capitalized. You can use Pascal case for identifiers of three or more characters. For example:

BackColor

Since Biblical Literalists believe all authority is established by God, do they teach that not using PascalCase for identifiers in C# code is a sin?


I bring this up because this question clearly as absolutely nothing to do with Christianity, but unfortunately, it falls within the guidelines that are used for editing a question to keep it within site scope.

So the question I have for the community, and the moderators is "can simply adding 'according to X' salvage any question and bring it within site scope?

We've had a number of questions recently that really have nothing to do with Christianity, but people seem to think that adding "According to Catholics" or "According to some Christian dude down the street" is used as a quantifier to "magically" make any question "within site guidelines". Is this legitimate?

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    According to Caleb: no! – Caleb Apr 6 '13 at 8:03
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    I suspect that this post will end up being used as a hammer to clobber perfectly reasonable questions simply because they include "according to". It is obvious that this won't fix the made-up question above, but I don't actually see a real problem on this site of "according to" being used as a band-aid. Can you link some of these questions, or provide a realistic example? Saying "what do Catholics think" translates to "what does Catholicism say", which is fine. It's perfectly on-topic to ask for the views of certain "Christian dudes" like St Aquinas. – Alypius Apr 6 '13 at 18:36
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My vote goes to no. Adding "According to X" only salvages certain types of questions.

The only situation where this phrase actually salvages a question is when the question already has to do with Christianity.

Example: Some new seeker comes and asks "According to Christianity, is premarital sex a sin?"

This is something addressed in most Christian doctrines, but different denominations may disagree. This could be salvaged by adding "according to X".

But the issue of PascalCasing variables in a C# program is just stupid. It's not a real question people have, and has nothing to do with Christianity. It's a completely off-topic question that some person attempted to phrase in a way that makes it fit within site guidelines, even though it is completely off-topic.

The same can be said for any number of questions. Is an ape sentient? Or an android? According to Catholics, should we fly to Jupiter? According to LDS doctrine, should we be attempting to use alchemy to solve the world's financial crisis? The list could go on forever.

In particular, with this question in mind: According to Catholicism, does intelligence or rationality belong to other animals by participation?

About whether apes have intelligence...

  • That is an interesting question
  • It is something I'd like to discuss because it would be a fun conversation
  • I'd watch a Discovery Channel show where scientists explore the question
  • I'd read articles describing how scientists are attempting to answer the questions. I'd like to know the methods they use, the results of their experiments, and how they interpret the results, and the conclusions they come to.

Two points so far:

  • As interesting as I find the question, this isn't a discussion site.
  • Up until this point, however nothing about the question of whether apes have intelligence falls within the scope of Christianity to answer.

    • It's not mentioned in Scripture
    • It isn't a doctrine that is central to any mainstream Christian group

What Catholicism, or Lutherans, or Baptists think is, at best, a side note. An opinion.

Asking "according to x" does change the question enough so that it, technically is answerable based on an established stance. But it still doesn't change the fact that the underlying question - do apes have intelligence is just not on topic at all. Just because some member of some group put out their opinion doesn't make a question in-bounds.

The ape and android questions do skirt around an issue that is on-topic and could be asked as:

Can/do beings other than man...

  • go to heaven
  • be a Christian
  • be guilty of sin
  • have a soul.

The difference is that ability to get into heaven, ability to be guilty of sin, etc. are all within scope. Christianity is very concerned with these things. They are central.

Whether something has intelligence might be relevant in answering those questions, but until some group (other than your occasional wierdos) tries converting apes and androids, or until apes and androids start asking to be saved or join a Church it's only speculative.

It doesn't solve an actual problem.

That guideline is central to all StackExchange sites, and covered in the About page;

Get answers to practical, detailed questions

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

Just adding "according to whom" cannot solve every problematic question. It can only solve those questions that are already within scope, but which different traditions have disagreeing views. Things like the necessity of Baptism, Transubstantiation, faith vs. works. Those are issues addressed by Christianity.

The problem with the other types of questions is the same problem inherent in all "not constructive" questions. Even if you can find some obscure representative of position X that has made a statement on a subject, that's not the same as a doctrinal statement. It doesn't carry the same weight. it's still just pure speculative, subjective opinion.

So, I'd say

NO! Adding "According to x" only salvages questions that are already within the scope of Christian teaching. Adding that phrase does not salvage questions that had nothing to do with Christianity in the first place.

  • This is because of the Ape and Android questions? If so you should link them as examples. +1 I agree. – fredsbend Apr 6 '13 at 4:38
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    -1 I think this answer went off the track when you edited in that ape question. If we read it beyond the title, it's clearly a question about the views of St Aquinas. The fact that the author actually dug up the relevant theologian shows research effort, and keeps the question focused on St Aquinas. There is no room for "discussion": the question makes it clear that answers must explain the views of St Aquinas (and closely related theologians). And the opinions of St Aquinas are on topic for this site. – Alypius Apr 6 '13 at 18:13
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No, it wouldn't salvage questions that are off-topic or too localized.

Are you asking about questions that we know are too broad to have one unified answer? Don't edit them. Close them after showing that there is reason to believe that Christians generally disagree on the topic (you might list two major denominations that disagree in a comment). We do not need to rescue every question. We give too much attention to the bad questions, and not enough to the good ones. The only reason I can think of to edit in "according to" is if the author seems to belong to some denomination, but was not initially clear about which one.


Or are you asking about questions that already include the words "according to"? Those are usually fine. We don't want to apply pressure against them because we want to encourage those questions. I guess you're talking about this question:

Parts of it are off-topic. Once we spell out what St Aquinas meant, we have no idea how to apply it to that useless report about apes. But the general question about what St Aquinas meant about intelligence, and how it could be applied to apes and androids (or whatever) is a good question. Just remove the reference to the specific nonsense facts about apes. What does St Aquinas think human reason is? Would he say that a very smart ape might conceivably have a soul, or is that out of the question, and why? Great questions!

  • According to Catholics, should we fly to Jupiter?

In the other answer, you ask this along with a few other questions, and say "the list could go on forever". Well, let's hope it does! That question (tidied up a bit) might actually have a pretty good answer. A quick search gives us:

Ladies and gentlemen, in concluding these brief remarks I confide to you my hope that the research which brings you so close to the marvellous mysteries of the universe will enkindle in you an ever deeper appreciation of God’s power and wisdom. May your discoveries contribute to the building of a society ever more respectful of all that is truly human. May the Lord of heaven and earth bless you all abundantly!

That's Pope John Paul II speaking to the International Conference on Space Research. If it is your vocation, then for the praise and glory of God and the betterment of others, fly off to Jupiter! (Questions about Mercury would be marked as duplicates of the question about Jupiter.)

So no, it doesn't salvage any question, but it's not a bad sign. It's a good sign, especially when the question makes it clear why some particular person or denomination is being mentioned.

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