Barnes & Noble in the cultural wastela-, er, heartland of Irvine. I drop by the lone bookstore in the huge outdoor mall, The Spectrum. Bracing myself, I approach the science section.
The science section is tiny, only two small aisles three shelves high, but it doesn't take long to come across a miscategorized book - and it wasn't what I expected. God is not Great by the celebrity atheist Christopher Hitchens.
Seeing as my aim is to re-shelve religion and/or philosophy books to the correct part of the store, I am duty-bound to act. This is a book on atheism from a non-scientist, and it simply does not belong in the science section. Science is a secular process and has nothing to do with the question of the existence, or the non-existence, of a God. It is thus relocated to the Philosophy shelves upstairs. "But what about Dawkins?!" I hear you cry. Dawkins is another well-known atheist, I agree, but he is best known as an evolutionary biologist and his books are strongly evolution-themed.
Let's see what else we can find.
I think I might have picked a bad week to start this quest. Behe's new book must have been just released:
Four copies of The Edge of Evolution were discovered once more in the science section.
I flip a copy and read the back. Here's the beginning of the first quote from the back cover: "Until the past decade and the genomics revolution, Darwin's theory rested on indirect evidence and reasonable speculation..." (Dr. Philip Skell, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Pennsylvania State University, and member of the National Academy of Sciences). That's not true! I am emboldened by this bare-faced lie from this well-respected elderly chemist, pick up all four copies, and stroll upstairs.
Now, I aim for accuracy in my recategorization, and I was still slightly mad at the lies on the back cover (read the "Editorial Reviews" at Amazon for a sampling), so I sought out the most appropriate section of the store:
Behe's lie-covered volume now rightly resides in the Religious Fiction section (click on the image to see the label). A job well done.
Since the puny science section carried very few science books, there wasn't much other opportunity for other mistakes on behalf of Barnes & Noble. After finishing browsing science, I went to browse the expansive Religion department and got a nice suprise:
A book by Lee Strobel called The Case for a Creator. This book claims to be a scientific investigation on evidence that points to God's existence, and it is shelved correctly in Religion. As I was saying, science is secular, but that doesn't mean it cannot inform people's religion, just as science can inform people's atheism. In fact, it can do this because its a secular process.
How did Barnes & Noble do? Pathetically small science section, the usual Behe books, a non-science atheism book. Not so great. Picked up points with the Strobel book though.