Please help me understand the difference between 213 & 231.765 Dewey Decimal numbers for Creation. 

Example: "5 Reasons to Believe in Recent Creation" , by Henry M. Morris III  ---- where would you classify this book? 

My next primary focus (this upcoming year) is to streamline the Adult nonfiction section. We're a small library, and yet with apparent incosistencies by various librarians in classifications. 

Thanks so much for your help. 

Linda S 

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After checking the Library of Congress online catalog regarding this book, it did not give a DD number for it.  The subject headings are:  

I think I'm as stumped as you are.  I would like an explanation between the two numbers also.   Hopefully, someone with more experience will respond to your question.

Linda, I went over to the church library today and did some research in my "A Classification System for Church Libraries," book.  It indicated that the 230 section of Dewey is Christianity - Christian Theology.  Under that head it reads, "The word 'theology' here refers to 'what the Bible teaches.''  Under the subheadings, I found 231.765 for Creation.  So I'm thinking this would refer to books whose content refers to creation according to the Bible. 

The Dewey number 213 is under the subheading of Philosophy and theory of religion, which would include all religions.  To quote the book, ". . . relates to a philosophical concept of the topics covered rather than to a Christian application."

To me this means that if the book is about different philosophies of creation (such as evolution), then the book would be classed as 213.  If the book is about Christian creation as from the Bible, then it would be classed as 231.765.

I hope this give you a better understanding.



Ann, Thanks. 

I was wondering if it's how you explained, that if a book about Creation is treated with a Biblical perspective, then it's placed in 231.785, but with a secular perspective it receives the 213. 

I looked up several Chrisitan universities thru & saw how they mostly placed the book mentioned above under 231.765, whereas one univeristy library placed the same book under 213. 

It would be nice if I could take one number & place all books about Creation & Evolution under one number in our small library! 

I really appreciate the time & care that you took to reply, Ann.  I have the same library reference book as you & love it! I was trying to cipher the meaning of what you quoted & appreciate you expressing your understanding. Hopefully. this discussion benefits someone else as well. 

I plan to use the 231.765 number for the book mentioned in my first post.  At this point, I think that our little church library will only have books about Creation/Evolution from a Biblical perspective. BUT . . . if a book refutes evolution, would that then fall under a 239 number with apologetics? 

So . . .

Explanation of different thoughts about Creation . . . 213

Biblical treatment of the topic of Creation . . . 231.765

???   Refuting Evolution  . . . 239


If a book refuting evolution has any reference to biblical creation, I would still include it as 231.765.  If the book refuting evolution suggests types of creation other than the bible, then I would use 213.   It seems to me that 239 is for presenting the case for the Christian religion as a whole.   

Linda, thank you for posing these questions.   They certainly have helped me to clarify in my mind the use of these DD numbers for future cataloging.

Ann, I love your input. It makes sense about what you say with 213 & 239. 

This upcoming year, I plan to fine-tune these sections as well as others in the adult nonfiction collection. Your feedback is quite helpful --- I'm so glad if it helps you as well. 

My thought is that you could and perhaps should go ahead and put them under the same number.  After all, who's to know that "technically" they belong elsewhere? Your goal is to make things easy to find for your users, and having those kinds of books in the same area would make it easier.

We have a lot of books in 92, biography, that don't fit the Dewey definition of biography and that would, in a public library, be placed elsewhere.  But we have done it this way because we have a number of people who love biographies and often browse that bookcase.  If we put those books where they are "supposed" to be, they would probably never get checked out.

I'm a big fan of Dewey, but I've learned to stop being too rigid and work at making things better and easier for our users.  Sometimes it kills me, but I'm trying!

Thanks, Debbie. 

I smile in agreement, it sure is a challenge to find that balance within our church library. As I just finished going thru our biographies (and pulling biographies inconsistently scattered throughout our library), I totally understand what you're saying about how we handle biographies. 

For what it’s worth, here’s what the Manual in Dewey Abridged 15 says about the 231 or 213 issue:

231.7 vs. 213, 500, 576.8
Relation of scientific and Christian viewpoints of origin of universe vs. Creation in philosophy of religion vs. Natural sciences and mathematics vs. Evolution

Evolution versus creation
Use 231.7 for works on creation science or creationism written by Christians who assume that the Bible provides a chronology of natural history and who rely upon religious premises in responding to theories from the natural sciences. Similarly, use 231.7 for works that attempt to refute creation science, unless they take the writings of creationists as a starting point from which to demonstrate the case for evolution. On the other hand, use 500 for works by creationist authors that attempt to refute evolution theory by examining the writings, hypotheses, and findings of scientists.

The difficulty stems from the fact that on the question of evolution the pro and con positions differ so radically that they normally belong in different disciplines, science and religion, respectively. However, when a religious author is trying to en- lighten scientists on a specific scientific matter, class the work with science, while if a scientist is trying to enlighten the religious on a specific religious matter, class the work with religion. The correct classification is determined by the intent of the author, and the interest of the readers that the author is seeking to reach, not by the truth, falsity, or validity of interpretations and premises.

Use 231.7 for comprehensive works including both religion and science.

Use 213 for works that consider the relation between divine creation and evolution as a philosophical problem, without appealing to a particular religion or scripture. If in doubt between 213 and 231.7, prefer 231.7.

The most common focus of interest of works belonging in 500 is on biological evolution. Use 576.8 for these works. Use 523.8 if the emphasis of a work is main- ly on stellar evolution, 530 if on basic physical principles, 551.7 if on historical geology, and 560 if on paleontology. Use 500 if there is no clear emphasis on a specific branch of science.

Thank you for your input, Charles.  This confirms what I found in our "A Classification System for Church Libraries."  

BTW, the book A Classification System for Church Libraries is available here. You will also find articles on this page by clicking on "Articles" on the left side of the screen. We hope to have updates to this book on the CLN in the coming months.


Your reply is an awesome reply! I will remember this thread as I continue to work throught the Adult Non-fiction this year. I cannot thank you enough for your detailed input!!!  

Marlee --- Updates coming? YAY! I'll keep my eye out for the new updated version. 

To anyone involved in church library ministry -- I highly recommend A Classification System for Church Libraries! I have 2 copies --- one stays in the church library & one stays with me. It is a substantial help to me, a non-experienced librarian, in streamlining our small church library. And no -- Marlee did not request this plug.


Sorry Morlee -- I incorrectly spelled your name. 



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