Saturday, 24 May 2014

Smaller than the Average Library

I'd never noticed this meme until it was brought to my attention today. The "Atheist Temples" meme that is. The idea that atheists can have many books, whereas people of faith would just have the one, I guess.

I mean, yes. I remember when Drayton Parslow declared it was the Bible or nothing. From now on if he needed any knowledge, it would be in the Good Book. It was murder when he needed to phone one of his congregation. He went all the way through the Book of Numbers, and couldn't find them. And it's not even in alphabetical order.

The irony of the "Atheist Temple" meme, I have discovered, is quite well known. The library in the picture is that of Trinity College Dublin. This being a least a threefold irony.
1) It's called "Trinity"
2) It was an overtly sectarian foundation
3) It contains the Book of Kells, that wonderful 1200 year old Latin version of the Gospels.

See, when I consider the libraries of the world I think about Caxton, and Gutenberg. The printing presses that among other things produced lots of Bibles. I remember the way that the old philosophical wonders of Greece were preserved by Muslims and then rediscovered, printed and wondered at by Christians.

I reflect on my own conversion, just after finishing my course in Quantum Chemistry. Being awkward, I did most of my revision for the exam in the Hulme History Library of Brasenose College. A college founded by a bishop. On that course I mostly read a book by PW Atkins, the famous atheist.  And here is my point.

A library is a collection of books that seek to enlighten, and enliven. Through its sections of fiction, and nonfiction, we expand our experiences to lives we never need live ourselves to gain knowledge we could never gain ourselves experimentally if we lived 1,000 lives.

A Christian like myself sees libraries not as some kind of weird atheist threat, but as places where all the wonders - scientific, religious, historical, imaginative - of our world are piled on shelves.

In fact, I reckon if a library is a temple, it's one "to an unknown God".

Except the library in that poster, of course. That's to the honour of the undivided Trinity.

I wonder if the person that created the " Atheist Temples" picture worshipped at a temple that was missing its history section?


  1. I believe removal firms dislike moving doctors, lawyers and clergy because of the quantity of heavy books that need to be carried.

  2. What is the difference between a meme and a trope? Since "meme" was coined by Dawkins - well, adapted from something else - I prefer not to use the word. Actually "idea" would do just as well.

    Now back on topic. That "atheist temple" link is about the stupidest possible. It only makes sense to someone who hasn't the first clue about theology, philosophy, or history.

    1. It's not a "trope" of baboons. It's a "flange"...

      Dawkins' meme idea is unscientific and a silly analogy. I like it.

  3. Maybe the person who created that particular wannabe meme lives in Kansas or Iran.

    1. If the people in Iran only use one book, I'm gonna stop worrying about their nuclear programme.


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