Throughout written history, two giants have wrestled to ultimate death with our minds as the prize. One adds stealth and cunning to his incredible strength, but the other is slightly the victor, despite general indifference.

The Texas State Board of Education, by an 8-7 vote, decided on March 27 that it would not require Texas teachers and textbooks to question the very basis of biological science, Darwin’s theory of evolution. So ends, for the time being, the years-long effort to undermine science by one of the world’s largest purchasers of school textbooks.

Also on March 27, one of the few doctors remaining in America who maintains the courage to perform legal late-term abortions, George Tiller of Kansas, won his court case against 19 criminal charges.

Only three months earlier, the Associated Press headline was, “Vatican moves to embrace Galileo.” Nearly 400 years ago, in 1633, Galileo had offended religious leaders by offering clear evidence from telescope observations that the Earth moves around the sun and, thus, may not be the center of the universe. They forced him to recant and put him under house arrest for the rest of his life. They put an anathema (curse) on him that was only relieved in 1992. Although he made breakthrough contributions in other fields, the great Galileo never worked in astronomy again. In May 2009, experts from the Vatican expect to review the case.

The pundits continue their battles across the op-ed pages over whether or not millions of victims of paralysis and other incurable conditions deserve to have any hope of relief from stem cell research.

Because they have not burned any witches lately, we may think that the forces of dark superstition have retreated. But they haven’t. They have to be beaten back by those of us who value our minds.

Jim Lane (flittle7 @ is a labor activist in North Texas.