Dan O'Day says that the worldview of this site is postmodern relativism. Is it? Should it be?
The views represented in individual answers are those of their authors (or at least whatever their authors choose them to represent). The site itself should be worldview agnostic, not even endorsing neutrality. Answers are certainly bounded by certain limitations, but these limitations are imposed by the scope of the question and the discipline of hermeneutics, not the inclusion or exclusion of doctrine or philosophy.
Questions limit the scope of answers by posing a specific topic. In the case of exegesis questions, answers must stick to the issue raised in the question.
The discipline of hermeneutics limits answers to exegesis questions in that, rather than just giving conclusions, the answers themselves must be the show the work of interpretation.
I would go so far as to say what defines this site is the
pretense presence of diverse doctrinal absolutism, not relativism.
Our FAQ insists on pluralism:
We welcome Jewish, Christian, Atheist and other viewpoints as long as they take seriously the process of understanding the Biblical texts.
The state of the art way to implement a pluralistic society is to insist on relativist standards:
Questions are required to be open to answers from all sides.
Answers are judged based on how well they argue their case, not on whether the case is true.
Comments are expected to encourage participation and not to discourage it.
We agree to disagree on assumptions as basic as the content of the text. We only insist on a commitment to the process (or I perhaps I should have written, "a process") of understanding of the Bible.
...but you don't have to agree.
We are currently divided on whether or not we should apply a single set of community standards to answers (as we do with questions). As a practical matter, until we agree on a single standard, the only way we can judge answers is using a system of our own choosing. So if you want to apply a standard of truth when voting, there's no reason not to. (But be aware that others will apply their own standards when they vote.)
It's possible to build a pluralistic system that applies an objective standard and there is some hope such a site could work out. Skeptics has built an entire site around the father of all modern philosophies and insists on a single, rationalistic viewpoint. Answers differentiate themselves, not on different approaches to the questions, but on the way authors muster sources. It is a noble effort, but not, I think, a model for this site. (Though I'm personally willing to listen to proposals.)
In the meantime, the internet default seems to be postmodernism. Postmoderns, however sloppy that term can be, reject the notion of applying a single worldview their surroundings. Many are deeply suspicious of any attempt to declare truth. I propose a more radical postmodernism that applies that rejection to itself. Perhaps a better label is inclusionism: if you have a way of reading the text of the Bible, we'd like to hear it. We'd prefer you don't insist on your own way, but if that's part of your hermeneutics, just let us know.
Your answers are welcome here.
DISCLAIMER: I have completely changed my answer.
Yes, I did make that assertion. I'm going to rescind part of it (relativism). But I still think we're postmodern. Allow me to elaborate.
Postmodern relativism, pluralism, and diverse doctrinal absolutism, oh my!
Definitions of Terms
Postmodernism: Defining this term is like nailing Jello to the wall, but I'll give it a shot. Essentially postmodernism just refers to what follows Modernism, and it is critical of the foundational assumptions and universalizing tendency of Western philosophy. Within religious traditions, this generally involves deconstruction as well. "Postmodern religious systems of thought view realities as plural and subjective and dependent on the individual's worldview. Postmodern interpretations of religion acknowledge and value a multiplicity of diverse interpretations of truth, being and ways of seeing. There is a rejection of sharp distinctions and global or dominant metanarratives in postmodern religion and this reflects one of the core principles of postmodern philosophy. A postmodern interpretation of religion emphasises the key point that religious truth is highly individualistic, subjective and resides within the individual" (Source). Having a site like Stack Exchange with no central authority on 'truth' is in many ways a postmodern endeavor.
Relativism: "Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration" (source). This is how accepting answers works here at BH.SE. Each OP makes a subjective decision to accept a given answer, and each site participant subjectively votes on answers for various (and purely subjective) reasons. Accepting an answer does not mean that that answer is true - answers only have relative value. Relativism is in and of itself a philosophical fallacy, for the assertion that there is no absolute truth is itself a statement of absolute truth.
Pluralism: In general this means that there are multiple ways to arrive at truth, but some clarifications need to be made here as well. No one really agrees on a definition of religious pluralism, but being consistent with its philosophical definition would mean that multiple religions lead towards God/truth, no specific one is correct. Value pluralism (a term from philosophical ethics) means that differing values "may be equally correct and fundamental, and yet in conflict with each other" (source). Technically speaking, relativism is a philosophical subset of pluralism, and a much more mature way of thinking (in my opinion). Pluralism is integral to postmodern thought. The main difference between pluralism and relativism is that pluralism doesn't necessarily equate all answers on SE as having equal value (while relativism does).
Absolutism: Also known as universality in philosophy, "universalism is a doctrine or school claiming universal facts can be discovered and is therefore understood as being in opposition to relativism" (source).
With that being said, I think we can pretty much all agree that this site is an outgrowth of postmodernism. Whether that is your personal way of viewing the world (I hesitate to say worldview, because postmodernism is tolerant of a diversity of worldviews and is thus not a worldview in and of itself, and yet at the same time it is. Remember: nailing Jello to a wall...) is irrelevant. The site simply is.
Concerning relativism and pluralism, it doesn't really matter. Relativism is actually a subset of pluralism, anyways. This site welcomes "Jewish, Christian, Atheist and other viewpoints as long as they take seriously the process of understanding the Biblical texts" (FAQ). This is pluralism - like it or not.
UPDATE: Please also see the latter half of this meta post where Grace Note, a community coordinator at SE, states:
...outright stating another religion to be "false", no matter how much it is the case in your own perspective, that's rather a case of defamation and insult to that faith. That's not allowed for reasons not having to do with doctrine. Something belonging to one's truth does not override our network policy.... In a site like this, however, differing takes on a question's solution may be the result of actual different truths. There are multiple truths that different users will follow, and this is a slightly different beast than matters of opinion. Opinion is about personal stances, but truths are about worldly absolutes. The nature of this site means that this kind of conflict is rather inevitable, and difficult to manage.
For this reason, I would suggest that the matter of doctrinal respect, how much value we put in others to follow their truths, be something that should be discussed separately from the general etiquette of editing answers. All other aspects of this discussion here fall within the lines of the natural essence of editing, the goal of the site and the network as a whole in improving content and readability and accessibility. Doctrine, however, touches beyond the matter of just editing but indeed on how answers as a whole should be presented.
That's relativism, straight from the mouth of a community coordinator here at SE.
But the beautiful part is that participants do not have to adopt this worldview (nor any other, that's the beauty of postmodernism). The only absolute value here at BH.SE is that you "take seriously the process of understanding the Biblical texts" (and "be nice to each other" while doing it, along with some other specific guidelines). If you can do that, you and your answers are welcome here.