Oklahoma’s Anti-Evolution House Resolution

From the invertebrate paleontology collection, SNOMNH
From the invertebrate paleontology collection, SNOMNH

Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, and The God Delusion , is speaking tonight on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman. It’s free and will start at 7pm at the McCasland Field House and there should be an overflow crowd. I’ll be there, too, be sure to wave howdy if you see me.

So this little nugget just crossed my desk: the Oklahoma Legislature has officially announced its dismay at the “unproven and unpopular theory” of evolution, and expressed mighty disapproval of this and all the other Darwin Days events at OU. Check it out:

HR 1014: A resolution disapproving certain actions of the University of
Oklahoma regarding the theory of evolution; distribution.
HR 1015: A resolution opposing the invitation to Richard Dawkins to
speak at the University of Oklahoma and encouraging certain discussion;

I include Resolution HR 1014 (that’s about all you need), dated March 3, 2009. Try to stay with it; it’s a wonderfully peculiar document. I’m including a few pictures to spice it up.

1st Session of the 52nd Legislature (2009)

A Resolution expressing disapproval of the actions of the University of Oklahoma to indoctrinate students in the theory of evolution; opposing the invitation to Richard Dawkins to speak on campus; and directing distribution.

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma is a publicly funded institution which should be open to all ideas and should train students in all disciplines of study and research and to use independent thinking and free inquiry, not indoctrinate students in one-sided study and thinking; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma has, as evidenced on the departmental homepage, been framing the Darwinian theory of evolution as doctrinal dogmatism rather than a hypothetical construction within the disciplines of the sciences; and

Saturnid Moth, Amazon
Saturnid Moth, Amazon

WHEREAS, not only has the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma been engaged in one-sided indoctrination of an unproven and unpopular theory but has made an effort to brand all thinking in dissent of this theory as anti-intellectual and backward rather than nurturing such free thinking and allowing a free discussion of all ideas which is the primary purpose of a university; and

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma has planned a year-long celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s controversial theory of evolution, called the “Darwin 2009 Project”, which includes a series of lectures, public speakers, and a course on the history of evolution; and

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma, as a part of the Darwin 2009 Project, has invited as a public speaker on campus, Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published opinions, as represented in his 2006 book “The God Delusion”, and public statements on the theory of evolution demonstrate an intolerance for cultural diversity and diversity of thinking and are views that are not shared and are not representative of the thinking of a majority of the citizens of Oklahoma; and

My personal tangled bank; Panama tree drawn from life.
My personal tangled bank; Panama tree drawn from life.

WHEREAS, the invitation for Richard Dawkins to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma on Friday, March 6, 2009, will only serve to further the indoctrination engaged in by the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma by presenting a biased philosophy on the theory of evolution to the exclusion of all other divergent considerations rather than teaching a scientific concept.


THAT the Oklahoma House of Representatives hereby expresses its disapproval of the current indoctrination of the Darwinian theory of evolution at the University of Oklahoma and further requests that an open, dignified, and fair discussion of this idea and all other ideas be engaged in on campus which is the approach that a public institution should be engaged in and which represents the desire and interest of the citizens of Oklahoma.

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

THAT a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the University of Oklahoma, the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Oklahoma, and the Chair of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma.

the complexity of tropical canopy life. Amazon rainforest, Peru.
the complexity of tropical canopy life. Amazon rainforest, Peru.

11 thoughts on “Oklahoma’s Anti-Evolution House Resolution

  1. pheidole says:

    So it goes.

    It’s heartening to know that the same legislature, collectively, refused a bill that would allow the teaching of creationism in science classes.

    Rationality is slowly winning. Even in the buckle of the bible belt.

  2. Ken Januski says:

    I’ve always reacted somewhat negatively to the easy way that more educated, and often liberal, people often ridicule those with opinions other than their own. And I’m much more a liberal than anything else myself. I think sometimes they might do better to at least consider alternate opinions.

    However there is just no way I can find a viable alternate opinion here. Under seemingly civilized words, e.g. “an open, dignified, and fair discussion of this idea”, this bill really just tries to paint evolution as “indoctrination” and “dogmatism.” The only indoctrination and dogmatism comes from this bill itself. I hope the people of Oklahoma will see through its many fallacies.

    It’s a sad counterpoint to the physical beauties of Oklahoma described in other recent posts………..

  3. TR says:

    When will evolution and theory no longer by concomitant? The time is long overdue. I read recently in some high-brow science journal that evolution was never a theory – that natural selection was the theory of evolution. Evolution is a theory in as much the sky is blue only a theory.

  4. Jo says:

    Oh, oh, oh. It makes my head hurt. Believe me, denialists, when I say this in absolute, honest sincerity: there is no hypothetical construct, no dogmatism, no controversy! How can something so simple, so elegant, and so obviously correct in the context of every scientific discipline be so reviled?

    I wish you could have your 6000 year old planet in the centre of the universe. Then you could go live there, and leave the rest of us to experience this complex, imperfect and endlessly fascinating world in peace.

  5. gatoscuro says:

    How was Dawkins’ presentation? I wanted to go, but we had a mandatory thingy at work and nothing short of death was an acceptable excuse for absence.

  6. Julie Zickefoose says:

    Oh, good grief. This has to be seen for what it is–a desperate attempt to provoke fear and loathing. Sorry, but this is the wrong administration in which to try to nurture such small-minded, sadly antiquated notions. I’m glad you printed the whole thing as an educational exercise, but sorry to see your blog–a riotous celebration of diversity and evolution in action–giving it space. Ohhhh-klahoma.

  7. Seabrooke says:

    It’s sad that in a North American culture that promotes itself as open and forward-thinking such things still happen, but what’s scary is the frequency that they still happen at, particularly at government levels. At least it was simply an expression of disapproval, and not an active attempt to ban the talks or some other form of interference.

  8. pheidole says:

    Dawkins talk was, well, a scene.

    There was celebrity in the air (it felt a lot like Gore’s talk 2 years ago in that respect). The lecture itself I’d give perhaps a B–it started off well with him spending 10 minutes or so razzing Senator Johnson and his funny bill. Then it got mired for a while. Dawkins, attempted to distinguish the two meanings of the word “purpose” ( the purpose, as generated by natural selection, is for all organisms to leave offspring; while things, like airplanes and VCRs, are designed with a purpose of a conscious mind). As a result, Dawkins descended into a liquistic/philosophical rap for 15 minutes which, frankly, risked losing everybody. However, he pulled it out by then suggesting that maladaptive behavior in humans (things like overeating, not exercising, compulsive blogging) are likely the “subverting” of basic traits that do contribute to fitness (the need to find food when it is scarce, preserve your energy, put off real, substantive work).(1) The basic idea is that our cushy environment makes these basic drives bad for us. (2) Dawkins finished with an appeal to humankind’s inherent goodness, save the planet, yada yada. (3)

    The question period, which had students lined up at the auditorium’s three microphones, ran for about an hour. This was largely uneventful, save for an evangelical chowderhead standing up and venting. The vast majority of questions were of the somewhat adoring kind that managed to apologize for the behavior of “Oklahoma”, while lofting a big orange softball for Dawkins to swing at. In short, it was a love-fest for like-minded rationalists and their groupies (4) to feel a sense of communion.

    Not a bad way to spend a Friday night, actually.
    (1) To anybody who reads Konrad Lorenz, the notion of a “superstimulus” comes to mind.(1.1)
    (1.1) See the pleasure orb in Woody Allen’s “Sleeper”.
    (2) I suspect authors of Marketing 101 textbooks would look on this insight and roll their eyes, while they and their kin on Madison avenue rake in the very adaptive lucre.
    (3) Yada.
    (4) Easily identified via their Flying Spagetti Monster t-shirts and readiness to hit the floor at the sound of gunfire.

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