Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Bible-based classification system for human knowledge


As an avid library user and a trained librarian, I am a BIG fan of Dewey and his Decimal Classification System. From boyhood, I learned to master this numerical way of finding stuff around the library. Numbers are definitely a great way to organize the universe of information. However, on reading The Library at Night, I came across Manguel (2006) in discussing library classification. Manguel (2006) states that on "[e]ntering a library, I am always struck by the way in which a certain vision of the world is imposed upon the reader through its categories and its order" (p. 47). Indeed, Manguel (2006) points out that classification systems reflect how human beings conceptualize the universe. As such, after reflecting on this, I have come up with a faith-based or creation based system for classifying human knowledge.

The classification system

000 - God and time (theology, mathematics, branches of physics that deal with time)
100 - The heavens (Astronomy, Astrology?, Weather and climate sciences, meteorology, Space)
200 - Earth and Oceans (Earth sciences including geology, oceanography) (+ Chemistry, minerals)
300 - Animals and plants (Ecology, Biology and Life sciences)
400 - Humanity - The social sciences (studies of humanity including psychology, government and politics, society and economics, education, religion, and law)
500 - Humanity's representation 1 - (information science, information studies, libraries, media studies, communication studies)
600 - Humanity representation 2 - Languages and Literature
700 - Humanity's occupations - The arts and technology
800 - History and genealogy

The logic behind the system

This classification system or scheme is a way of organizing all that mankind knows and all branches of human knowledge according to a Biblical worldview.  It begins with the knowledge of God as the head of the classification system. According to Proverbs 1:7, the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. Hence all knowledge but begin with the knowledge of the Creator.

The inclusion of time and mathematics with God follows the idea in Genesis 1:1 that in the beginning, God is the creator. As such, time began with acts of God. Time itself was a product of God establishing order in the universe. Following that order and time is organized and measured by numbers, I include mathematics and branches of physics that deal with numbers, time and the study of order in the universe.

Genesis 1:1 specifies that God created the heavens. In Nehemiah 9:6, the scripture states that the Lord alone is the creator of the heavens and stars. Here I assign two meanings to heavens - 1) the atmosphere surrounding the earth and 2) the galaxies and space.

200 -300
Nehemiah 9:6 also specifies that the earth was created by God as well as the oceans, followed by the creatures. God created habitats to support and sustain life. Everything to support and sustain human beings were made before humankind entered the world scene.

In Genesis 1:26-29, God expresses the purpose behind the creation of human beings. As such, we see that human groups and interaction were planned before their existence. The plan of God for human beings is to establish families, societies and government structures and to sustain themselves from what was in their habitation. The planning for human life and living and the allocation of resources to support their life is therefore placed in this section of the classification scheme.

Humanity's representation sciences and studies is put in this section.

God gave instructions not only for humanity's existence and mission, but also creates or plants a tree of knowledge of good and evil and warns human beings to avoid eating from the tree (Genesis 2:16-17). Later on, the serpent came as a medium to discredit God's monopoly on communication providing an alternative reading of God and the information he provided. Here enters concepts of deception and truth and the representation of knowledge. Here I put the information sciences, information studies, libraries, encyclopedias, media and communication studies.

Language and literature is also used in human representation and communication. Language was used by the first human beings to attribute blame after their disobedience. Yet it is until Babel (Genesis 11:19) that human beings began to develop varied language systems scattered over the earth.

Literature has also been important in humanity's expression. In fact, one could argue that Adam was the first poet, as in Genesis 2:23, we are introduced to his poetic expression of love for Eve on his wedding day.

The development of musical instruments are attributed to Jubal, a descendant of Cain (Genesis 4:21).
Other technologies and tools, farming raising livestock, and knowledge applied to helping man better cope with life after the fall from Paradise are also developed (Genesis 4:20-22).

History too is another representation of man's life. However this need to preserve our common history comes after human beings discover death and mortality and need to transmit life stories and history from one generation to the next.

Concluding remarks

My proposed creation-based classification schemes is a way of organizing all human knowledge according to a Biblical worldview. It imposes a Biblical worldview on all branches of human knowledge and subjugates knowledge to a hierarchy that is based on a Biblical view of life, the universe and everything in it.

While church libraries that I am aware of use Dewey's Decimal Classification Scheme, I propose that peoples of faith should develop their own systems and schemes for representing knowledge that reflect their theological worldview. Nothing is wrong with good old Dewey, but Dewey's scheme in fact, does not reflect a Bible-based representation system for knowledge, though it can be used as a point of departure and comparison in developing a Biblically-based classification system (let us call it BBCS).


Manguel, A. (2007). The library at night. Toronto: Vintage Canada.