13

Exactly what it says on the tin. How and where should we draw the line between religious questions and mythological questions? For example, here are three questions talking about Adam and Eve and/or Cain:

  1. Who did Adam and Eve's son Cain marry?
  2. Adam and Eve vs. Ask and Embla
  3. Who are those that Cain refers to in Chapter 4:14

Which of these should be on-topic and which should be off-topic? How should we distinguish between them? Additionally, as senshin noted, it is or could be possible for a question to be on-topic here and on another religious site. In such a situation, how should we focus/scope the question and answers?

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  • 3
    It's important to keep in mind while discussing this that this isn't a binary situation - questions can be on-topic both here and at <Religion>.SE. – senshin Apr 29 '15 at 20:43
  • @senshin: Good point. I'll edit the question. – El'endia Starman Apr 29 '15 at 20:44
  • Regarding the point made by @senshin : meta.se has this to say: "It is perfectly possible for a question to be on-topic on multiple sites, but that is not a reason to migrate it elsewhere. As a general rule, if someone asks a question here, and it's on-topic here, it should stay here." – femtoRgon May 1 '15 at 3:13
  • Another interesting example: mythology.stackexchange.com/questions/371/… – Dolda2000 May 10 '15 at 21:18
13

I'll have a go at this - bear in mind, though, that I don't participate in any of the Religion SEs, so if you disagree, do chip in.

Question 1: On-topic. It's a question about a story of the Christian mythology/religion, and can be researched and answered in a way consistent with questions from other mythologies. (For example, I'd put this on a par with Who was Theseus' father?, which has no close votes.) This is also (I imagine) on topic at Christianity.SE. I don't see a problem with this.

Question 2: Definitely on-topic. It's a comparison between two myths and asking about potential links between them. I think this is fine, and even encouraged. I would be surprised if this is on topic at Christianity.SE.

Question 3: Tentative off-topic. There is an argument that it should be on-topic in the same way as Question 1 is. However, in the case of Question 3, it seems exceedingly specific to a particular phrasing of a particular text of a particular religion. Asking who a pronoun is referring to does not (or at least, does not seem to me) to require any expertise in mythology and the stories behind it - it seems like it would be best addressed to an expert biblical scholar. Given this, I suspect it is on topic at Christianity.SE.

Interestingly, though, the question does add "Were there any other people on Earth?" If framed as trying to figure out the correct story and mythos behind it, I think it could be on-topic. However, I do appreciate it's a fine line, so feel free to chip in with further opinions.

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1

I think it should really come down to, is the question about the myth(ology) or the religion?

Myths generally come down to stories, or sets of related stories. Most religions have a set of stories that they are built up on, in addition to being about more vague concepts like 'truth' and 'right vs wrong.' So I'd argue if the question is strictly about the stories of the religion, that's alright here (and possibly also alright on the appropriate religion.SE)

If on the other hand the question is about doctrine, attempting to address those slippery topics of 'truth,' 'right vs wrong,' etc, then that belongs on the appropriate religion.SE and not here.

Also, questions relating the myths of one religion to the myths of another religion (or to other myths not commonly considered part of modern religions) belong here, as they are about mythology and I imagine would probably be out of scope on any specific religion.SE site.

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  • It seems a reasonable idea, but could you please flesh it out with a couple of examples showing where the separation lines are? – DVK May 7 '15 at 21:17
0

My personal opinion is that as long as a question is about the stories that one religion believes then it could be considered Mythology. Similarly when we are asking questions about Ancient Greek Religion and we want to know stuff about Zeus or Mithra etc as long as it's about the stories behind them then it is considered on-topic here. It might also be on-topic somewhere else but still, we can not close questions just because they are on-topic somewhere else. This is something we knew when we proposed this site. There might be conflicts with other SE sites but as long as the question falls in the scope then it should not be closed

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Personally, here's what I would say:

  1. Off-topic.
  2. On-topic.
  3. Off-topic.

The first and third questions can be answered from an in-universe perspective, so to speak. They are also not directly and clearly mythological questions. To boot, the first question is answered by these two Christianity.SE questions: 1 and 2 AND this Judaism.SE question, and the third question is well-answered in this Christianity.SE question. The answers to these questions on this site are not really all that different from the ones on Mi Yodeya and Christianity.

The second question, by contrast, is definitely a mythological question. It cannot be answered from the Bible nor the corresponding Norse text. The only other site it might possibly go on would be something like Linguistics.SE, but I think it is fine to have it here.

My rule of thumb, then, would be that a question about a modern religion that can be answered solely from the context of that religion is off-topic. It's a bit of a cumbersome way to say it, but I think it covers my decision process reasonably well.

I realize that this means a significant number of the questions we already have would thus become off-topic under this classification. If the community agrees with me, we have some clean-up to do. If not, so be it. However, I think there is no reason to have two Stack Exchange sites that can answer the same question the same way. So answers to questions for a modern religion on this site should be more focused on the mythological aspects, or the question should be edited/closed.

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  • I'm thinking the same about those 3 questions. Since it can be answered elsewhere in SE, it should be regarded as off-topic here. – codingEnthusiast Apr 29 '15 at 23:02
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    @naltipar "Since it can be answered elsewhere in SE, it should be regarded as off-topic here" I disagree – congusbongus Apr 29 '15 at 23:39
  • @naltipar Stackoverflow and Superuser have common scopes sometimes. And many other sites here. – John Demetriou Apr 30 '15 at 5:05
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    Now for it being off-topic. I disagree fully. Mythology is not only old religions. Mythology can be considered all religions. Thus by definition, questions about any religion are considered in scope of mythology.SE – John Demetriou Apr 30 '15 at 5:07

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