Consider this situation: World-renowned Christian evangelist Billy Graham has dropped a bombshell on the religious and not-so-religious world. He has just announced that he is no longer a Christian, and is considering becoming an atheist. Moreover, he has just penned a new book outlining his reasons why he no longer finds theism to be tenable.
The publishing world, always on the lookout for a sure-fire hit, jumped at this story. One lucky publisher got the contract, and has printed one million copies of the book. It is being distributed world-wide, with a second million copies soon expected. While it was a bad day for theists, it was a great day for the publisher in question. They have made a mint on this book, and are looking forward to the next blockbuster volume by Graham.
Now none of that above scenario happens to be true. But there is a scenario which is almost identical to it, and it does happen to be true. Several years ago one of the world’s leading atheists announced that he had rejected his atheism and become a theist. Antony Flew even wrote a book about it, telling of his defection from unbelief, and outlining the reasons why the evidence seems to point clearly to theism.
His book is called There Is a God, and it was published in 2007 by HarperOne. Yet if you live in Australia, it is as if this shock resignation from the atheist camp never took place. You see, as far as I can ascertain, there are no copies of the book to be found in Australia? Why is that?
For example, as an avid book lover and collector, I am regularly in bookstores, almost on a daily basis. But even in the big chain bookstores, it is nowhere to be found. Is it at Dymocks? Nope. At Angus and Robertson? Nope? What about the big American chain which is now in Australia: Borders? Do they carry it? Nope again.
By the way, all of these bookstores carry all the atheist authors: Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, et. al. Why not Flew? Why stock all of the anti-theists, but not an atheist who has changed his mind?
I have even checked out university bookstores. Surely it could be found there. But again, no dice. At one uni bookstore I visited, it had what it called a “Highly Recommended” section. And what was found there? As might be expected, Richard Dawkins’ militant tome on atheism, The God Delusion was proudly displayed in pride of place. The store also featured the New Age mumbo jumbo, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. But no Antony Flew.
Now I happen to have a copy of Flew’s book, which I have reviewed for this site. But I had to get my copy through amazon.com in the US. Why is it not available here? Why must one go overseas to get this hugely important and significant title?
These questions need some answers. To seek for such information, I eventually called Harper in Australia after a lead from a friend. Their responses were interesting, to say the least. They claimed, after some prodding and probing, that this book probably would not generate much interest. It is an “indent title,” which means it is not stocked in Australia, but must be specially ordered by a customer.
I asked why they did not carry a book which is so significant and would undoubtedly sell well, given the subject matter. I said books of a similar subject matter were well stocked in Australian stores and selling like hotcakes. So why not this one? All they could tell me was someone or some group decides what titles will come in, in bulk, and which ones will simply be a special order.
So someone or some group has decided this will not be made available to Australian readers. I was told on the phone that there did not seem to be much of a demand for the book, to which I replied: Yes, but if no one has heard of the book, it is unlikely that there will be much demand for it. A bit of advertising might help.
By preventing Australians from even seeing the book or hearing about it, they are effectively cutting demand, thus the need for supply. All in all, I was not too impressed with the reasons given.
Call me sceptical, but could it be that there are those with a worldview which is hostile to theism in general, or Christianity in particular, who are calling the shots here? Are they simply censoring out titles which they do not happen to agree with?
I guess it will be hard to determine the real answers to those questions either way. But given how the atheist titles have flooded into Australia, it seems surprising to say the least that such an important title as this, dealing with the exact same issues, should be effectively banned from our bookstores.
All I can say is it seems a bit like ideology, the battle of worldviews, and censorship to me. But I conclude on a positive note. I mentioned this title to one Australian Christian bookstore chain, Koorong. They have just brought in 40 copies from overseas. I expect they will very quickly sell out indeed, and I have recommended that they get a whole lot more in real soon.
They will end up being the sole supplier of this vital book, and reap the profits. In a battle of ideas, truth is important. Information needs to get out. If the secular bookstores and the university bookstores refuse to stock important titles like this which challenge the reigning secularism, then leave it to the smaller religious bookstores to take up the slack.
I encourage those interested in getting a copy of this most remarkable book to give Koorong a call today. (By the way, I am not employed by Koorong, in case someone is wondering. I just think that preventing certain titles from seeing the light of day is not the way to go, generally speaking. Allow the customers the right to decide what they want, instead of predetermining what they can get access to.) This book deserves a wide hearing, and is a most welcome antidote to the onslaught of Dawkins and Co.