Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education Inc. Helps Bring Controversial Figure to Campus

Article excerpt

Victor Hutchison, George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, said he doesn't agree with everything Richard Dawkins says.

But Hutchison and his colleagues fought to make sure Dawkins and other controversial figures are allowed to share their views at universities throughout Oklahoma.

Ten years ago, Hutchison helped found Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education Inc., a nonprofit educational organization.

OESE was formed in the wake of a public battle over the efforts of the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee to insert disclaimers in any textbook that mentioned evolution.

"There have been bills introduced almost every year since 1999 for legislation that would allow teaching creationism in science courses; OESE has opposed all such attempts," reads the organization's Web site.

It was expected that someone would protest Dawkins' appearance, but unexpected that that protest would result in a $5,000 donation to OESE.

Dawkins is a British scientist known for authoring several books championing evolution and criticizing religion. Hutchison expected there would be some opposition to Dawkins' appearance, scheduled during several weeks of events to commemorate the anniversaries of Charles Darwin's birthday and publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

During the 10 days previous to Dawkins' appearance, the university hosted no less than three speakers from the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that criticizes the theory of evolution and supports the theory of intelligent design.

The three speakers - John West, William Demski and Casey Luskin - were sponsored by the local student chapter of the IDEA (Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness) Club.

"The IDEA Club is an officially recognized student organization," said Hutchison. "The university has academic freedom. …