Not So Natural Selection
Photo by Courtney OquistIn a conference room the size of a closet, on Charles Darwin's 193rd birthday, Annie Tran doesn't blend in. While the Students for Science and Skepticism at UC Irvine throw a birthday party for and a respectful discussion on Darwin, Tran walks in wearing a shirt that reads "Boys Lie" and, around her neck, the biggest gold cross you've ever seen.
"Everybody's an evolutionist around here," explains Tran, a third-year undergraduate biology major who turns to the Bible for biology. But Tran isn't your grandmother's creationist: she doesn't believe the Earth is only 10,000 years old, as a Gallup Poll showed 47 percent of Americans do, doesn't think the world was created in seven 24-hour days, doesn't have a Jesus fish on her car. And she does believe in a kind of evolution—namely adaptation.
"We do labs here with bacteria, and you can see them adapt," she said. "But the bottom line is the bacteria have to come from somewhere."
Tran has her eyes set on becoming an optometrist and doesn't figure her creationism will get in the way. There haven't been any explosive confrontations in biology classes or pressure to hide her beliefs, perhaps because "I don't speak about it unless spoken to. It's a biology class. You expect evolution, and I wouldn't go in trying to argue with the professors."
When the topic of evolution versus creationism occasionally drifts into conversation with friends, she enjoys discussing it, but she says she often discerns what she calls "intellectual arrogance" in people who refuse to acknowledge the possibility of a creator behind the curtain pulling the levers and pushing the buttons.
Tran takes the Old Testament and the New Testament as truth, "and people think that takes so much faith—that you're blind to the world—but Darwinism and evolution say that the world came from one cell. When you study biology, you'll realize how complex one cell is. For this to spontaneously come together from nothing by chance is like saying I could play poker all night and get four of a kind every single hand. I think you need a lot of faith to believe in the theory of evolution as the origin of life."
And why do virtually all respected scientists continue to bet on evolution despite these supposed odds?
"I bet the evolutionists have read many books on evolution but never even opened the Bible once," Tran says.
A talk with Tran on life's origins consistently spills over, libation-like, into other topics: Christians who don't read the Bible, evolutionists who don't read the Bible, the End Times, souls, and the death of her grandma when Tran was eight years old. Tran still remembers sitting through the funeral services, after which she was too sad to play with the other children. She left and walked through a nearby woods where she felt a presence; something asked why she wasn't playing, why she was so upset. She stopped and, feeling refreshed, ran to play with her cousins.
This is proof, she says, that there is something out there—something beyond science and evolution—something that not even she can explain, but the Bible can. As a pillar in her Christian beliefs, Tran carries creationism way down deep where science can't reach.
"Even if the evolutionists do make new theories, I don't think they'll take me away from the Bible," she says. "The answers I've gotten from the Bible are good enough for me."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts