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Antievolution resolutions introduced in Oklahoma

Two bills in the Oklahoma House of Representatives — House Resolution 1014 (document) and House Resolution 1015 (document), introduced on March 3, 2009 — attack Richard Dawkins's visit to the University of Oklahoma. The sole sponsor of both bills is Todd Thomsen (R-District 25), a member of the House Education Committee and the chair of the House Higher Education and Career Tech Committee. Both measures, if adopted, would express the strong opposition of the Oklahoma House of Representatives to "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." Dawkins is speaking at the University of Oklahoma on March 6, 2009, as part of the university's celebrations of the Darwin anniversaries.

While HR 1015 ends with a plea for civility — "the Oklahoma House of Representatives encourages the University of Oklahoma to engage in an open, dignified, and fair discussion of the Darwinian theory of evolution and all other scientific theories which is the approach that a public institution should be engaged in and which represents the desire and interest of the citizens of Oklahoma" — HR 1014 attacks the University of Oklahoma's Department of Zoology for "framing the Darwinian theory of evolution as doctrinal dogmatism rather than a hypothetical construction within the disciplines of the sciences" and engaging in "one-sided indoctrination of an unproven and unpopular theory" while branding "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." The text of both bills is provided below.

At the beginning of his talk, which was repeatedly interrupted by cheers and applause, Dawkins opened by saying, "I don't want to blow my own trumpet, but it isn't everybody who's the subject of legislation ..." Quoting HR 1014's complaint of his alleged "intolerance for cultural diversity and diversity of thinking," he presented the stork theory of human reproduction — illustrated with a parody of the creationist propaganda film Expelled — as a view comparable to creationism. "They've lost in the courts of law; they've long ago lost in the halls of science; and they continue to lose with every new piece of evidence in support of evolution. Taking offense is all they've got left. And the one thing you can be sure of is that they don't actually know anything about what it is that they reject," he added. He also announced that the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science would be donating $5000 to Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, which fights against attempts to undermine evolution education in Oklahoma.


HOUSE RESOLUTION 1014 By: Thomsen

AS INTRODUCED

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.

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

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

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.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 1ST SESSION OF THE 52ND OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE:

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.

HOUSE RESOLUTION 1015 By: Thomsen

AS INTRODUCED

A Resolution opposing the invitation to Richard Dawkins to speak on campus; encouraging the University of Oklahoma to engage in a certain discussion of certain scientific theories; and directing distribution.

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; 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 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

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 present a biased philosophy on the theory of evolution to the exclusion of all other divergent considerations rather than teaching a scientific concept.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 1ST SESSION OF THE 52ND OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE:

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 the Oklahoma House of Representatives encourages the University of Oklahoma to engage in an open, dignified, and fair discussion of the Darwinian theory of evolution and all other scientific theories 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 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.

Revised on March 13, 2009, to add the third paragraph.