Starting college is a major transitional stage in one's life. For me, it was a time filled with both excitement and nervous apprehension. For months I had been dreaming about what the experience would be like—what my dorm would look like, how the food would taste and all the classes I would take. I was especially excited about the last one; I had so many options when it came to planning my schedule—physics, sociology, political science, engineering, theater, classics, English composition—the list seemed endless.
So when my Church friends in my local congregation and from across the country asked me what I was taking and I replied, "Education, psychology and evolution ," red lights automatically started flashing in their heads. " Evolution —why would she want to take that if she had so many other options!" many of them thought, and even a few of them outwardly questioned. To some, it sounded wrong and ungodly. To me, it made perfect sense.
Throughout my schooling experience I was one of the lucky high school students who never had to deal with an overly liberal biology teacher forcing the theory of evolution down my throat, so I never really understood the concepts that formed its framework. I have always believed that education is one of the most powerful tools one can utilize, and that it is not only ignorant, but wrong to say you don't believe something without thoroughly understanding why and what exactly you don't believe.
I knew and had been taught throughout the years that evolution was wrong, and that I shouldn't believe it, but I didn't know the different pieces that built up this supposedly scientific theory of our existence. I was on a quest for knowledge, and thought college would be the perfect opportunity to further this journey.
(Of course, this isn't for everybody. There are other ways to get this knowledge, such as starting with the booklets Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? and Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? and following up with some of the many books on the subject. But I wanted to get the information straight from the horse's mouth—or in the lion's den, so to speak.)
Evolution: theory, not fact
On the first day of lecture, my professor stood at the front of the auditorium and said, "I want all of you to understand that evolution is just a theory and hasn't been proven yet, but in this class, for the next three quarters, we will be referring to hard and fast scientific evidence that makes it a very believable and globally accepted idea of creation and how life arose."
I was happy he had acknowledged the fact that evolution was still just a theory, and although he had no idea of God's marvelous plan for humankind, he wasn't going to lie to us. I knew that learning the material was not synonymous with accepting it, and was glad this attitude was presented up front at the beginning of the year. This made me feel more at ease.
As the quarter progressed, I learned about everything from neutrinos to the Big Bang to Hubble's Law. Fall quarter consisted of the evolution of the cosmos, followed by another class during winter quarter on the evolution of life. During the fall, most of the lectures dealt more with facts that science presented (apart from the supposed Big Bang), so I wasn't always at odds with the material.
However, once we ventured into the evolution of life, questions and opposition started popping up on all fronts. The theories my professors presented just didn't make sense to me. While some of the facts could be observed, like how animals adapt to their environments, when pieced together to form the much larger picture of macroevolution, things never seemed to fit.
Though some of my questions could be answered reasonably, the majority received the response, "We simply don't know." I don't know about some people, but I don't like to think my existence depends on a bunch of unknowns that, just by chance, decided to occur and sporadically form life.
A marvelous revelation
In the middle of the quarter, as I walked to the nearest bus stop across the beautiful UCLA campus one Sabbath morning to catch the metro link to services, I was struck by a marvelous revelation that made everything seem so clear to me.
It started when I began examining the patterns of a falling leaf and the many interrelationships I shared with the environment and other organisms. I realized how carefully everything is made, and how beautiful life really is. All of these thoughts left me with no doubt that a Creator must exist who has a wonderful plan for all of this.
I look at life and at the world, and know that although things are not optimal in many cases, there will be a time when Jesus will establish His Kingdom and all of humanity will recognize the true and right way to live in peace.
This is the hope I hold—not the hope in chance DNA mutations to form an advanced eye structure or the possibility that flying, instead of running, developed in birds in the Jurassic period. I now had the facts I had been searching for through my study of evolution, and the final answer reaffirmed my faith in God's existence and the proof that He is working in all of our lives.
I don't regret taking an evolution class; for me, it was a way to become better educated and informed. Everyone should be educated in what they say they don't believe so they can hold intelligent conversations with people who have different beliefs and ideas. I always hated not having a good response to someone's attacks and wanted to know my opponent's side well, if not better than they know my own.
The knowledge I gained through this class has helped me do that. It not only helps me relate better to people in the world now as I strive to live a Christ-centered life, but will eventually help me, after Christ's return, to work with people who have grown up with false beliefs like evolution.
Taking this class has strengthened my prayer life and the amount of time I spend doing Bible study because I am more inspired to prove to myself directly through Scripture why I don't believe something, rather than blindly accept what I have been taught.
My attitude toward studying evolution clearly parallels my attitude toward studying the Bible—I wanted to know the subject well so I could prove the truth to myself and figure out what I do and do not believe. Every good student of the Bible should take a similar approach.
Closer to God
As I left the lecture hall after my final at the end of winter quarter, more than ready to travel home and begin my much-awaited spring break, I realized that although I was very glad the class was finally over, I had learned more than I bargained for because I had a deep interest in searching for God's truth.
Yes, it may have sounded weird or been hard to admit that I enrolled in a class on evolution, but to me, learning is about knowing the most you can, and then choosing the right way from your knowledge. This class helped me gain a better understanding of evolution and helped bring me closer to God and the truths He offers through His promises and fabulous plan of salvation for humankind. So while I might get an A in my evolution class, God's way offers a much greater reward! GN