2

So I'll take it that this idea is not going to fly.

But, fundamentally, I think it's still a good way to ask questions (one that certainly managed to stand the test of time) so, why don't we make it a contest!

The Contest

Choice Phase

My idea, is to choose a question, tag it .

Objection Phase

For a week, we'll accept as answers only objections to the question at hand.

After a week, we'll take the top 3-5 objections, by votes, and edit them into the original question as links.

Reply Phase

Then, the statement will be reformulated with a general answer and maybe a general refutation of the objections, starting with I (we) answer that and on the contrary respectively, this will be the "answer".

After which, another week will be given to make replies to the objections.

Conclusion

If needed, we'll edit the "answer" to put in the best points from the objections and refutations to put in an In conclusion part.

Winning

The winners will be the person responsible for formulating the best objection and the best reply.


The key here, is to make sure that the questions at hand are things that 95% of Christians can agree to. (i.e. this would be ecumenical, not Eschewmenical), then all our friends who want to vent their disagreements can get them out of the way, but we'll get the last word in, after all it is Christianity.SE.

In any event, good scientific, skeptical answers will get upvoted along side good theological, philosophical answers.


An overview of the quodlibet.

St. Thomas Aquinas's penultimate work the Summa Theologica is a collection of theological questions, each one posed as a question which he seeks to answer in the affirmative.

St. Thomas' genius was his ability to anticipate the objections to his questions and lay them out first. So he's says something like

Whether charity is caused in us by infusion?

then he adds a few reasonable objections

Objection 1. It would seem that charity is not caused in us by ...

Objection 2. Further, the more lovable a thing is the easier ...

Objection 3. Further, the Apostle says (1 Timothy 1:5): "The end of the ...

after which he usually adds a section that begins with On the contrary like this:

On the contrary The Apostle says (Romans 5:5): "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts ...

then he makes a general statement which is his answer to the original question (always starting with I answer that)

I answer that, ... charity is a friendship of man for God, founded upon ...

and then to each of the above Objections he makes a rebuttal.

Reply to Objection 1. Dionysius is speaking of the love of God, which is founded on ...

Reply to Objection 2. Just as God is supremely knowable in Himself yet not to us, ...

Reply to Objection 3. When it is said that in us charity proceeds from "a pure heart, ...

3

Objection: This will probably confuse the average user who will not be familiar with the format.

In the first round, for instance, I don't know how we could "accept as answers only objections to the question at hand". Is someone going to go through and delete answers that agree with the question's premise?

I also find the passive voice problematic in this phrase:

Then, the statement will be reformulated with a general answer and maybe a general refutation of the objections, starting with I (we) answer that and on the contrary respectively, this will be the "answer".

Who will do this work and how? More importantly, how do we address the problem that some will still hold to their objections even after they have been replied to? Are we really in the business of making firm stands on (potentially) divisive issues?

What you seem to be after is a sort of FAQ for Christianity that acknowledges differences of opinion, but provides an answer 95% of Christians can get behind. I don't think that's a bad idea (and I could even get behind calling it "quodlibet"), but why make it more complicated than simply asking a question, letting the best answers rise to the top and accepting the answer that most represents the ecumenical position?

  • Your first objection is probably the most problematic. But I don't understand how to participate on the contests on half the SE sites anyway. I think we'd let the person who had the best reply on the previous question manage the subsequent contest. I am, indeed, after a crowdsourced Summa for the 21st century. I mentioned the idea back when there were a lot more antagonistic questions because I didn't want them to set the tone for the site. But this would fully incorporate them into the site. (although you don't have to believe it to have the best objection) – Peter Turner Feb 10 '12 at 22:12
  • For the passive voice problem, the questions can be voted into oblivion if the final I answer that formulation is a poor one. Hopefully the fact that anyone could change it would make the person writing it realize they'd better be careful about what they write. – Peter Turner Feb 10 '12 at 22:21
  • @PeterTurner. The thing is, most contests work within the existing rules. You are free to ignore them, and behave as normal, without interfering with the contest. This contest would be different. – TRiG Feb 16 '12 at 19:44

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