Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meanwhile, over in Oklahoma...

The University of Oklahoma (I interviewed there for a job once...) is sponsoring a "Darwin 2009 Project." Not everybody is happy. A story in the OU Daily by Cadie Thompson states:

House Resolutions 1014 and 1015, introduced by Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, assert that OU’s recent evolution-related discussions, part of the “Darwin 2009” project, have been unfair and biased because proponents of creationism and intelligent design have not been represented equally alongside evolutionary biologists.

“I am trying to promote free thinking,” Thomsen said. “I strongly oppose the Department of Zoology for their unwillingness to lead our state in this discussion and not have opposing views in this matter.

This was met with a swift response:

“It’s breathtakingly stupid,” said Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. “Rep. Thomsen might as well be complaining students are being indoctrinated with the theory of gravity.”

Boston said he thinks Thomsen’s resolutions promote creationism and are a step toward implementing creationism instruction in schools.

Also lost in the kerfuffle is that Thomsen, in the same breath he is asking for discussion, wants Richard Dawkins banned from OU. Here is the relevant language from the bill:


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.

Thomsen doesn't want open discussion of evolutionary theory. Like Don McLeroy in Texas and Kent Cravens in New Mexico, he wants it gone. As far as opposing views are concerned, telling him that there are no scientifically defensible young earth creation models would likely have no effect. As I said in an earlier post, when science is co-opted by politicians, nothing good can come of it. Thomsen, by the way, has no graduate training of any kind in the sciences. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 1989. He is manifestly unqualified to introduce this kind of legislation.

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