Two powerful and often opposing forces within society are faith and reason. Regardless of the extent to which a cultural war exists, the balance between the two (e.g., teaching evolution in the schools, etc.) is a prominent feature of popular socio-political discourse in the United States. Thus, the topics makes a perfect subject of a map and leads us to ask which parts of the country prefer bookstores to bibles? What's the ratio of Baptists to bibliophiles?
Using the number of Google Maps directory listings for "bookstores" and "churches" as proxy values, this visualization maps the spectrum of the faith and reason conflict. As there are an overwhelmingly larger number of churches than bookstores nationwide it is important to index each of these variables before comparison. The technique used in this map was to divide the number of churches (or bookstores) at a location by the national average of churches or bookstores. If a location had twice the number of churches as the national average it would receive an indexed value of 2. Similarly having only 50 percent of the national average of bookstores would produce an indexed value of 0.5. The church index was then divided by the bookstore index to see each locations relative balance of churches to bookstores. If each of the indexed values were the same, the faith-reason index would be equal to 1. But as in the case of the example above (church index = 2, bookstore index = 0.5) the faith-reason index would be 4. This indicates that this particular location has a much higher relative number of churches to bookstores. In order to exclude places that had approximately equal number of churches and bookstores, this map only includes locations where the faith-reason index was skewed more than 20 percent in either direction (i.e., values greater than 1.2).
For the most part, the relative prevalence of bookstores occurs in and around the big cities - Los Angeles, California is the site of the highest indexed value, and is joined by the megalopolis of the eastern seaboard as having the highest concentrations in favor of bookstores. Even cities such as Atlanta, nestled in the Bible Belt of the American southeast, tend towards a relatively large number of bookstores. On the converse, other large cities like Dallas, San Antonio and Houston continue to favor churches, with New Orleans (the largest city in Louisiana) having the highest relative concentration of churches in the nation. Suburban areas surrounding large population centers also show a near-universal favoritism for churches.
So while there appears to be no single variable determining the local trends toward faith or reason, it is evident that even some of the most common assumptions regarding the geographies of faith and reason have proven to be more complicated; not all large cities are necessarily bookish, but neither is the bible belt a homogeneous geographic unit.
 Google Maps directories are drawn from a range of sources such as yellow page listings. This category is distinct from and excludes user generated placemarks that we use in other maps.