Monday, 29 September 2008

Shall we write Chapters a letter?

There is a reason why I don't shop at popular music stores: they don't seem to be able to get their genres right. I'm a bit of a "genre Nazi", and it annoys me to see breakcore albums placed under "techno" or albums by pop groups placed under "punk" (HMV is the worst for this kind of thing), so I do my music shopping online. This goes for books as well as music. One place where I'm satisfied with the sorting of the stock, though, is Chapters. Chapters usually does a good job. Usually.

I was browsing at Chapters yesterday when I noticed something a bit disheartening. They had a table with a pile of books on it, under the header "Ideas and Opinions". They had Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great, along with Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation and some Christian apologetics books, which is fine. A lot of those matters are ideas that need to be shared and some of them boil down to personal opinions. But what really irked me was their inclusion of On the Origin of Species.

Darwin's seminal work is not merely an "idea" or "opinion". It is the genesis of the foundations for all of modern biology. To call it an idea does not do it any justice, and to call it an opinion is to do it an incredible disservice! Yes, the book was built upon ideas that Darwin had while journeying on the Beagle, but calling it simply an idea has the connotation that it's something unsupported by evidence; it's tantamount to saying evolution is a mere hypothesis rather than a scientific theory. Calling it an opinion is blatantly wrong; there is a fine distinction between fact and opinion, and evolution is as much of a scientific fact as you can get.

What's more is that, upon looking through Chapters' science section (where Chapters usually puts On the Origin of Species), I came across copies of Michael Behe's IDiotic Darwin's Black Box and The Edge of Evolution. Perhaps the bigwigs at Chapter's are unfamiliar with the Dover trial, but Intelligent Design is certainly not science and should not be found under the Science section. If any book should be found under "Idea's and Opinions" then Behe's trash would be it. The girlfriend and I just happened to have a pen and a sticky note on us, so we left a message for the Chapters staff, asking them to move it to a more appropriate section, like philosophy or religion.

Alas, I think it will go ignored.

Perhaps we should write Chapters a letter. I can understand their wanting to be impartial in the current culture war over evolution and putting Origin in a neutral category, but it's simply wrong. Evolution is science. Evolution is not "just a theory" or "idea" or "opinion". Writing a letter will probably do nothing - and maybe I'm just being a "genre Nazi" again - but maybe it's something we, the secular and scientific community, should consider.

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