The Texas Board of Education gave grudging support last week to teaching the mainstream theory of evolution without the most troubling encumbrances sought by religious and social conservatives.

This was not a battle over whether to include creationism or its close cousin, intelligent design, in the science curriculum. That battle has been lost by Darwin’s opponents in the courts, and most political arenas. Rather, this was a struggle to insert into the state science standards various phrases and code words that may seem innocuous or meaningless at first glance but could open the door to doubts about evolution.

Conservatives failed to reinsert a phrase requiring students to study the “strengths and weaknesses” of all theories, including evolution. That language had been in the standards for years, but it was eliminated by experts who prepared the new standards

for board approval because it has become a banner

for critics of Darwinian evolution who seek to exaggerate supposed weaknesses in the theory.

At the end of a tense, confusing three-day meeting, Darwin’s critics claimed

that this and other compromise language amounted to a huge victory that would still allow their critiques into textbooks and classrooms. —The New York Times