She was referring to a long-running national debate about whether creationist ideas stemming from the Book of Genesis belong in American school textbooks alongside the teaching of evolutionary theory. The controversy around that discussion forms the plot line's crux.
"How the World Began" comprises four scenes played by a cast of three, whom Trieschmann seems to treat equally as protagonists. The plot unfolds inside a starkly-lit FEMA trailer that houses a high school classroom in Plainview, where a twister has struck, killing 17 in its path.
Susan Pierce, a high school biology teacher played by Sarah Rafferty, is a newcomer to Plainview, as well as a pregnant single woman and fresh transplant from New York City. From that hotbed of liberalism she brings with her a rigid set of pro-evolutionary notions, which clashes with the locals' own religious beliefs.
When Susan makes a remark in her classroom that indirectly dismisses creationist theories as "gobbledy gook," she triggers a conflict with one of her teen-aged students, Micah Staab, played by Jarrett Sleeper.
The drama escalates in her dealings with the character of Gene Dinkel, a local man played by Time Winters. Dinkel comes to the classroom bearing a homemade pie, clearly designed to disarm the teacher and sweeten her into apologizing to Micah and his classmates for uttering the offending remark.
Trieschmann, a believer, said she treats each of the three characters with an equal measure of criticism and compassion.
"I don't believe that [the theory of] intelligent design has a place in the science classroom," Trieschmann said. "I am a Christian who believes in the separation of church and state."