Aug 16. Irvine, CA.
Having hunted down the elusive Ste (it took weeks, I wouldn't recommend trying it), I managed to convince him to mend his erring ways. Not reshelve books, you say? Hardly. I convinced him to give the clerks at B&N and Borders a well-deserved rest and try one of the other bookstores in OC. And what more natural place to start than the other end of the ID spectrum? We headed down to Sonshine Books in Irvine.
The Idea being, of course, to see how a Christian Bookstore might treat ID books. We were a tad startled by the size of the place, though they sell a good deal more than books. But a first pass through the store came up empty. Then we met Alex, a helpful clerk-cum-theologian who showed us the (small) Creation/Science section. Perhaps not surprisingly, all of the creation science books are in the Creation/Science section. Kudos! These guys are shelving stuff the right way. But far from being lazy biologists, instead of calling it a days work, we took a closer look.
Aside from the accidental but fortunate framing of the photo (which suggests that Creation/Science is a cult or false teachings), the first noticeable feature of this section is the notable lack of books on intelligent design. Where'e Behe? Dembski? Down at the bottom there there's a Strobel book Ste previously found appropriately shelved in the religion section. But none of the big guns.
Just to make sure we weren't missing something, we checked over in bestsellers, but nada. Ste, wary of relinquishing editorial control, moved that last sentence. So don't hold me responsible if it should be above the photo.
Done wrestling over editorial control, we continued to wonder what was up with the lack of ID. My first thought, conspiracy theorist that I am, was that the Discovery Institute or the government or aliens were somehow specifically avoiding selling ID books in Christian bookstores, perhaps to establish a veneer of scientific credibility. But a quick check of the internet tubes finds ID being sold online in Christian bookstores. One can find Behe at christianbooks.com, Dembski at parable.com, and even Campbell at the ever-fundamentalist Michigan State University Press ( no not that Campbell ). OK, OK, to preempt the hate mail and legal battles, I have no idea what other drivel msupress publishes. The point is, Christian booksellers sell ID. So much for conspiracy.
Why then, does Sonshine bookstore not sell the big ID books, the bestsellers, the authors that make it onto Colbert? The short answer is that it's anybody's guess. But, coming back to our friend Alex, we think there are one of two possibilities.
Alex, bless his little cotton socks, endured 10 minutes of conversation with us. And it became clear from talking to him that he wasn't a fan of ID. Though he seemed a conservative Christian, he didn't think there was a conflict between science and religion. One can't test, he posited, whether God is constantly creating. One can't test that the world was created, exactly as we observe it today, 10 minutes ago. He didn't seem at all put off to find out that we were biologists (yes, me too!), and didn't seem to find much conflict between religion and science. In fact, he was rather hostile to the mention of ID or creation science -- anything that tries to mix the two. While he's only a clerk at the store, his attitude was suggestive of the possibility that the store has intentionally avoided ID because of it bastardization of both science and religion. If that's the case, we give Sonshine Books a big two BHB thumbs up!
There is another possibility, one Ste and I personally think the more likely explanation. After perusing the bookstore for some while, it became clear that manliness was an important theme. There were separate sections for boys, teens, and men (we checked, but Dembski wasn't in the boys section either), and gobs of literature about a man's duty to the Lord. As this idea was just occurring to us, the manliest macho evidence possible sprung into being in front of us:
Clearly, these people take machismo seriously. Is it possible, then, that Behe and Demsbki are just not man enough for Sonshine Books? I leave it to you, good reader, to debate this issue. But when considering Intelligent Design, as the mighty Chuck Norris would say "Not in our homes. Not with our kids."