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October 10th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

Congressman draws fire for calling evolution, Big Bang ‘lies from the pit of hell’

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) – A U.S. congressman is attracting attention and criticism for an online video that shows him blasting evolution and the Big Bang theory as “lies from the pit of hell” in a recent speech at a church event in his home state of Georgia.

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell,” U.S Rep. Paul Broun said in an address last month at a banquet organized by Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Georgia. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

Broun, a medical doctor by training, serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Speaking at Liberty Baptist Church’s Sportsman’s Banquet on September 27, he said that “a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth.”

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“I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old,” Broun said in the speech, which Liberty Baptist Church posted on its website via YouTube.  “I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says."

Scientists say that the Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old and that the universe dates back 13.7 billion years.

In his speech to the church group, Broun called the Bible the “the manufacturer’s handbook. … It teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in our society.”

“That’s the reason, as your congressman, I hold the holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the congressman, Meredith Griffanti, said that Broun was not available for comment on Wednesday and that the video showed him “speaking off the record to a large church group about his personal beliefs regarding religious issues.”

The congressman’s remarks about science have drawn attention online, with critics taking aim at his role on the science committee.

Bill Nye, the popular science personality, told the Huffington Post in an e-mail that "Since the economic future of the United States depends on our tradition of technological innovation, Representative Broun's views are not in the national interest."

"For example, the Earth is simply not 9,000 years old," said Nye, a mechanical engineer and television personality best known for his program "Bill Nye the Science Guy." Broun "is, by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space, and technology."

Talking Points Memo reported on the church video over the weekend after being tipped off by the Bridge Project, a progressive group that tracks conservative activity.

Most creationists believe in the account of the origins of the world as told in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

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In the creation account, God creates Adam and Eve, the world and everything in it in six days.

For Christians who read the Genesis account literally, or authoritatively as they would say, the six days in the account are literal 24-hour periods and leave no room for evolution.  Young Earth creationists use this construct and biblical genealogies to determine the age of the Earth and typically come up with 6,000 to 10,000 years.

The Gallup Poll has been tracking Americans' views on creation and evolution for 30 years.  In June, it released its latest findings, which showed that 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution.

– CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Evolution • Politics • Science

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    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
    By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.