Have you ever wondered where librarians put books on creationism? The answer is (usually) under “religion,” not science. That’s not only appropriate, but raises the hackles of creationists.
This information comes from one of our readers, who wrote a post on this issue on his/her website, The Sensuous Curmudgeon, a site that you should look at, for it is dedicated to enlightenment values, especially the promotion of science and criticism of creationism. The post in question is “How libraries classify creationism,” and it’s worth a read.
Also worth a read is a linked essay in the prestigious Library Journal, “Librarians decide what is reality.” (I love that title.) A quote from that essay, written by “Annoyed Librarian” (unsurprisingly, librarians cherish their privacy on such issues):
The problem isn’t that young earth creationism might be wrong. The problem is that it isn’t scientific. Our scientific congressman may have found some evidence as a scientist, but if you already have a belief, only look for evidence to confirm it, and ignore any evidence that refutes it, you can find evidence to support any belief.
That’s what most of us do for beliefs all the time. We start with something we believe and then select the evidence that supports the belief. It’s very human, but it’s not very scientific.
Nobody looking at the evidence who didn’t start with that particular religious belief would think the earth was 6,000 years old. Have Hindus or Buddhists evaluate the evidence and see how persuaded they are. Even the young earth creationists themselves admit they start from the creation account in Genesis and then go from there.
Apparently one of the most influential books on young earth creationism is The Genesis Flood: the Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications. This book has sold 200,000 copies and a lot of people believe it has something to do with science. Where do libraries stand? According to the WorldCat record, libraries that have this book shelve it either in the BS or the 220, which are both call numbers for religion in LC and Dewey.
Another book I saw listed in the Conservapedia entry on Young Earth Creationism is Evolution: the Fossils Still Say No!, which you can tell from the exclamation point in the title is a really scientific book. Where do libraries keep the book? Either in the BL or 213, both still religion rather than science. By the way, the entry partly plagiarizes the Wikipedia entry. How desperate do you have to be to plagiarize from Wikipedia?
The partly plagiarized Conservapedia entry also lists two “peer-reviewed journals” that the Wikipedia somehow failed to find: the Creation Research Society Quarterly and the Journal of Creation, both classified in both LC and Dewey as religion journals.
The author also raises the possibility that creationists will object to this classification, causing a mini-kerfuffle in the library world.
What isn’t answered by the Library Journal article is whether books on Intelligent Design, like Darwin’s Black Box or Signature in the Cell, are also classified under religion. They should be, for they just use the gussied-up arguments of older creationists, like Yahweh-of-the-Gaps arguments. I checked in the University of Chicago catalog, and, sure enough, both Behe’s and Meyer’s works are classified as science. Meyer’s latest book isn’t in the catalog (something I’m sure will soon be rectified), but his older works, like Behe’s, reside in the science library and sit alongside real science books.
Going further, I find that while Duane Gish’s infamous Evolution: the Fossils say No! is classified as science here (“QH”), Henry Morris’s similar books, like Scientific Creationism, are classified in the “B”s as religion. To wit:
There is no substantive difference in the tone or nature of these books; they’re both pure creationism masquerading as science. In fact, Morris’s book comes in two versions, one with reference to scripture and explicitly Christian in tone; the other purged of Biblical references and intended to be snuck into schools like a Trojan Horse.
I may have a word with our librarians about this. Do we really want Duane Gish’s books in the science section given that Judge Jones labeled even Intelligent Design as “not science”? (My own view is that ID is bad science, motivated by religion, and should therfore not be in the science section.) Of course it’s the librarians and not judges who these decisions, but our science librarians are smart and savvy. I’ll give them a call.