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I've read the metas concerning religious texts and concluded that it would be fine to use them as answers if one does not claim they are fiction.

Is that correct?

Context:

In this question I've posted an answer (now deleted) relating Norse Mythology.

Also on this question I have seen two comments that seem to be unsure whether or not that would be okay. I've also seen similar discussions on other "first appearance of Trope" questions. So, I'd like a distinct meta discussion that I can link to that either says its okay or its not.

This meta is not concrete enough for my question. Even though I read it as "such answers are fine" I was liked to it by someone who thought the opposite (comment now deleted, so no link)

This meta talks more about questions (even though its not in the title, nor tags), this question is about a specific kind of answers.

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Probably not

As indicated in the most-upvoted answer here,

There is one exception though. If a question is asking for the behind a work of fiction, answers citing religious texts should be considered valid.

Many questions ask for the first appearance of something "in a work of fiction" or "in sci-fi" or "in fantasy." For example, this and this. They are not asking for the "inspiration" of a concept (which might be real life, for example), but its point of origin in fiction. This is generally implied even when not stated explicitly.

In such cases, simply giving a religious answer, with no further clarification, doesn't really fit the bounds of the question, rather like answering a book question with a movie answer. The question is not asking for the real-world origin of a trope, but when it first appeared in a fictional work. You wouldn't answer What is the earliest example of a "Blighted Land" created by human or semi-human activity? with a scientific treatise about nuclear testing sites, so why answer it with a religious work?

Stating the first appearance of the trope in a fictional text, and then giving a religious, scientific, or historical text as the probable inspiration should be acceptable, though.

For example:

The first fictional appearance of this concept is in Y (describes Y). However, it is much older, with its roots in the mythology of X.

An alternative might be asking "What is the origin of trope X?," which could plausibly be tagged or , and which would admit real-world/religious and fictional answers.

Example:

Q: "What is the origin of the trope of radiation making animals grow in size?"

A: "I'm pretty sure this actually happened in real life after nuclear tests."

A: "The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Nuking first mentioned this idea in the 40s."

A: "Probably Godzilla."

  • For your hypothetical question about radiation making animals grow in size, I think it would be clearer if questions like that explicitly mentioned that they are OK with real-world answers. Like you mentioned, pretty much every question on the site comes with an implicit "in fiction" qualifier. – Molag Bal Jun 3 '16 at 13:43
  • Then there is the murky realm of texts that are strongly associated with a religion, but are generally considered fictional even by adherents to that religion. That may be why the Mahabharata is considered on-topic here. – Molag Bal Jun 3 '16 at 14:04
  • @armadillo watch this space... – AncientSwordRage Jun 3 '16 at 16:56
  • @AncientSwordRage Okay, so what should we do with all the answers that do contain religious texts? I'll delete mine but should we flag the others? – Angelo Fuchs Jun 5 '16 at 9:00
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    @Angelo downvote them if they're not a good fit for the site, flag them if you, yourself, are offended. The mod grab aren't going out of their way to delete old answers that may be offensive. That way lies madness. – AncientSwordRage Jun 5 '16 at 10:10
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As answers, they are on-topic

It should be noted that such answers must make sure not to claim the texts are fictional, because that is the element that could offend believers.

Neither the question asked, nor the site in general, is a better place when we remove these elements. Many tropes are very old and are (sometimes only) preserved in old religious texts.

Of course a question can state "first appearance of this trope IN FICTION", then such answers would not be a proper answer to this question.

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    Unless otherwise specified in the question, I think that most questions on the site have an implicit "in speculative fiction" qualifier, since that's what this site is about. – Molag Bal Jun 3 '16 at 14:01
  • @armadillo - Precisely. If you want to discuss then in religion or mythology or literature in general then that's not what we're about. – Valorum Jun 3 '16 at 16:10

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