Sunday, September 20, 2009


A recent facebook status from a friend of mine posed the following question:

"I went to the school library and got a book question and answers which only discussed evolution viewpoint. If I toss the book I can get a new one for the school, with creation included. Is it ethical to toss the book? I don't want my kids learning evolution is the only way, at school, this will confuse them!"

It seems like there is an obvious answer to the question "is it ethical to toss the book?" Well, no, the book does not belong to you, therefore you can't just get rid of it. Besides, you'd have to replace the same book. You can't just "lose" a book and then replace it with whatever you want. Problem solved. Content of the book shouldn't really come into play, here, because the book is not the property of said question-er.

Tossing books does not sit well with me. However, the following response to the query really pissed me off: "If you own the book, it is ethical to destroy it. I have destroyed/burned many books I had moral/ethical disagreements with because I could not justify allowing their continued existence to propagate a lie. If you dont own it, then your choices are obviously limited."
I have left names off to protect the stupid. Burning/destroying books? Really? Now I realize I have a slight bias, in that I am the daughter of a librarian and that I grew up with a great respect for books and what they stood for. To be careless with a book or to ruin it was, in some small way, to end someone's personal record. Respect for the physical book equated respect for the author, if only in that he/she spent valuable resources to get the book published and that book is that author's personal stamp on history. Here is my immediate response:
"Are we burning books now because of disagreements? I don't entirely believe in evolution but I do strongly believe that books are someone's opinion which they are as entitled to as we Christians are. I personally believe everyone has a right to their opinion, published or otherwise and if we start burning book we lose the ability to have conversation. Hitler burned books. I think you further your faith and strengthen by allowing yourself to consider other's points of view even if you disagree. You do others a disservice by burning books and not allowing that same learning experience. I am sad to hear that as Christians we can't enter any conversation that is in disagreements with out beliefs.
I fully understand that there are other view points on how we (humanity, the world, etc.) came into existence. I have a solid belief of how that happened, but I want the girls to have a full understanding of all viewpoints so that they are not threatened and confused when these inevitable conversations happen. My job is to teach my kids how tothink and reason for themselves and to be able to work their way through things they come across that they might not agree with in a manner that is respectful of others. I'd rather them learn evolution in my home with some helpful guidance than have them be snowballed by it when they get out into the real world. Christian cannot hide their head in the sand on these issues and expect to be taken seriously. We must be able to be a part of the conversation."
Sorry for bad grammar. I was typing quickly and I was angry. I later wrote a personal message to my friend somewhat apologizing for being reactionary, in which I included the above comments on respect for books in general. I also offered for her to remove my posts if she thought they were offensive. I'm glad she didn't.

I can't tell what angers me more- the sheer stupidity of plugging your ears like a child when you hear/read something you disagree with or the arrogance it takes to actually burn a book because you think you know better than your fellow man. Does that guy really think that I'm so dumb that I couldn't process the information in that book for myself so he's just going to do me a solid and destroy it before I get the chance? Or I shouldn't even be allowed the chance because the content of the book "propagates a lie".

Here's what is frustrating. That guy has a right to burn books in protest. He isn't disturbing the peace by doing it in his home. He isn't putting anyone at risk. He's just stupid. He has the farging right to be stupid, too, same as I have the right to increase my knowledge. It's just frustrating as hell when people are willfully ignorant.

Open season for discussion...go!


Avila said...

I don't think I can fault someone for destroying a book (or really any kind of media) if they own it and from the date of purchase to a later time found a reason to not want it in their home and would somehow feel better destroying it than selling it/ giving it away.

That said I agree that it's wrong to sneakily destroy something that doesn't really belong to you, or gain said media just to be able to destroy it.

A similar argument about banning books came up in a Small Group I was in. Of if we as Christians should try to ban certain books from our school that we don't agree with. A lot of people would say yes. However, it's my experience that if you make something "forbidden" it will just make it more tempting for some people. It's also healthier to have everything open for view and to be discussed.

On a different note I have a book that scientifically presents how evolution and a Christianity can exist together if you want to borrow it or lend it to your friend as long as I get it back in one piece.

Elliot said...


yeah, that makes me mad too.

i hate it when people are stupid.

i hate it more when people are stupid to the detriment of others.

Dekkofskii said...

I liked how you stated your opinion on this, and I agree with your respect of books and the stupidity involved with destroying knowledge/records for the sole reason of disagreeing with it.

However, I do not agree with you on the evolutionary perspective. The way I see it, saying evolution didn't happen is kind of like "plugging your ears"; with all the proof and information out there, I don't think evolution is contestable without extremely solid evidence. Right now I am not contesting whether or not a god exists. What I am saying is that whatever you believe, deity or otherwise, it isn't that hard to believe that either this happen as a natural randomized act, or that your deity decided to progress things in this way, slowly crafting and changing until it was at the point where the deity could bestow sentience on it.

I think that people take biblical records to seriously; there may be a grain of truth in them, but the chances of it being recorded precisely and without errors and then translated in a way to convey the exact meaning is about the same as no one ever lying.

I look forward to a response and, hopefully, to other discussions about your faith. I love debates and you seem like someone who can keep it clean and eloquently articulate your points.

I hope I didn't offend anyone by my post, but remember, we are all human, so we are all inherently imperfect; that I believe can be agreed on by most belief systems.

Mel said...

Thanks for your response. I throw these topics out for discussion because I appreciate having meaningful dialogue with people who will come at them with a different angle I might not have thought of.

On the Evolution/Creation: 10 years ago, I was that guy who wanted to burn the books. I went to Bible college which very strictly taught a young earth, 6 literal day creation, etc. and how to defend this viewpoint in an argument. The focus was not on actually trying to make some sense on how we all got here (cause we already know that, right?) it was how to win the argument. Talk about plugging your ears and putting up the blinders.
I still fall on the creation side of how things came to being. It makes sense to me. And, in honesty, I take comfort in believing that humanity wasn't a pleasant accident, but rather intentioned and subsequently cared for.
That said, I'm no longer of the opinion that the earth could only possibly be 10,000 years old and that God made it in a week as we know it because that's what the Bible says. Is it possible God put all the elements into place and allowed them to progress? Possibly. Obviously the human body has changed over time. I can see how one can walk that idea out.

On the Bible: I agree that people have taken the Bible much too literally. This can be quite dangerous as it tends to get used negatively. Among Christians it gets used to prove why one group of Christians is more right that another group, but they are both using the same Bible to prove their points. It gets picked apart, mined for the tiniest details that will win an argument. Between Christians and non-Christians it gets used to cut people down under the guise of 'trying to win the lost souls to Christ'.
People can get lost in the details and miss the point entirely.
On the translation aspect, today's Bible is most understandably a translation of a translation of a translation. I will offer the benefit of the doubt that Bible translators are rather meticulous and stay as close as possible to the the original texts (understanding that 'original text' still means copies). I think it's as accurate as it can be given the passage of several thousand years, cultural differences, etc. I'm okay with that. It's kind of all I have to go on anyway. I obviously can't translate it myself, so I go with what I've got.
I try not to get caught up in these details. I don't ignore the legitimacy of the questions, either. I think that the Bible, on the whole, is the greatest story of humanity. I see a great deal of worth in looking at it this way. What do the details matter once you can see the big picture? Maybe this is a copout, but I don't think so.

That was a rather lengthy response! Looking forward to further discussion!