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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

soundoff (5,886 Responses)
  1. globewatchers

    Paul Broun, is a perfect example of "you can dress him up in a suit and tie, but you cannot make him think."

    October 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    Consider these quotes, and how you might feel if you lived in a country where these sentiments were mainstream:

    “Our leader was not elected…he was appointed by Allah.”
    “Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of Allah…must be denied citizenship."
    “I, your Provincial Governor, do hereby proclaim… a day of prayer and fasting for our country.”
    “Allah called me to this government position…my family fasted for three days to make sure it was true.”
    “"I would not put a Christian among my advisors, or in my government."
    “(our founding doc.uments) are quite clear that we would create law based on Allah of the Qur’an and Sharia Law, it’s pretty simple.”
    “I hope I will live to see the day when…we won't have any public schools. The Mosques will have taken over them over again and Imams will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
    “There will never be world peace until Allah's house and Allah's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world."

    These statements should rightfully alarm you. Now consider this, YOU DO live in that country, and these are not Taliban quotes. In the above quotes the religious references have been changed. They are quotes from prominent, politically powerful Americans who would establish religious control over America’s government. Here are the actual quotes:

    “George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States, he was appointed by God.” –Lt. General William Boykin, US Army
    “Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship." –Gary North, Inst.itute for Christian Economics
    “I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim August 6, 2011, to be A Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation.” –Rick Perry, Texas Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate
    “God called me to run for this office, and my husband fasted for 3 days to make sure it was true.” –Michelle Bachman, US Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate
    “"I would not put a Muslim in my cabinet, or in my administration." –Herman Cain, Republican Presidential Candidate
    “(Our founding doc.uments) are quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 commandments, it’s pretty simple.” –Sarah Palin
    I hope I will live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken over them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" – Jerry Falwell
    There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world." –Pat Robertson

    These statements should be no more frightening in an Islamic or a Christian context – this kind of rhetoric is a serious threat no matter who it comes from. Theocracy is dangerous no matter whose God is invoked. We hear these things from pious politicians every day and are likely desensitized to them, but even momentary consideration reveals them to be un-American to the core. Religious fundamentalists make no secret of their goal of controlling our government and establishing their narrow beliefs as law. We must not let that happen – not here, not in our country.

    It happens in small steps – the Ten Commandments in courthouses, prayer and creationism (“Intelligent Design”) in schools, revising science, history, and civics textbooks in Texas, State-endorsed prayer rallies, faith-based initiatives, and on and on – and because these steps may individually seem harmless, many people underestimate their consequences. That is why we must stay alert and fight to keep church and state separate. We should shudder whenever a politician or policymaker alludes to his or her religious beliefs as a justification for public policy. We should be deeply suspi.cious of anyone who claims to be chosen by God to lead us. We should aggressively defend our free society against any religious group who would hope to gain control over it.

    Do not underestimate the importance of defending the separation of church and state. Stand up for it at every opportunity with your voice and your vote.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Incredulus

      Remember that for the first 100 years of the United States there was no god on our money and there was no pledge to the flag (icon).

      October 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      oh i like that post, that was a good post. nice one.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • xirume

      Excellent, excellent post. Thank you kindly.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  3. A.T.

    Hell is having to endure such ignoramuses here on earth!

    October 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  4. Colin

    Please be sure to update his Wikipedia page.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  5. globewatchers

    Paul Broun is the perfect example of you can dress them up in a suit and tie but you cannot make them think.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  6. ooshie

    To be fair, I'd bet a strong majority of Republican congress members disagree with Broun completely. That said, the fact that there are GOP congress members who probably do agree with him (though small in number) makes you wonder, why does the GOP have a tendency to attract people like this? What does it say about the GOP party? To me it says that as a voter you should steer very clear of the GOP.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      but a majority of the Republican base agree with him ...

      October 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  7. Concerned Citizen

    I don't understand why people here keep saying he has a right to his opinion and belief. It's just such a stupid and idiotic response I thought I would do more of a general reply.

    Everyone is allowed to have their own beliefs and opinions, that's what makes america great and allows people like me to post my own thoughts without fear of being sent to a gulag.

    However, science should not be equated with "belief" and "opinion" the same way faith is. I don't believe that 2+2=4, that's just fact. Furthermore, people can choose to live in ignorance all they want and reject the notion of evolution, the big bang or both, but an elected official should know better, but in lieu of that they need to A) keep their personal opinions to themselves and B) not position themselves to be on a committee they are in direct opposition with.

    This man is an idiot, plain and simple and should resign. This has nothing to do with stopping him from believing in something or having his own opinion, it's about protecting truth from lies.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  8. abbydelabbey

    The danger of theocrats can be found in such politicians - America is not a theocracy - at least not yet - but give guys like this a chance and it will be.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  9. Hi

    "Arlen Crawford

    I find it so sad that Rep Broun is being criticized by so many people in this forum who can only make themselves appear intelligent (an optical illusion, most definitely) by cutting someone down for his views. There is a plethora of evidence on his side. Look around you. To say that we have evolved to this degree is parallel to an explosion at an auto parts store producing a car. And the name calling, totally ridiculous. "And when the gunfighter was finished, he threw in his hand." Horace Greeley"

    Well, Mr. Crawford, what is the parallel you would assign to believing an unseen figure in the sky created the entire world you see around you in 6 days? Do you believe David Copperfield can make thousand foot tall buildings disappear with the wave of his hand as well?

    You know, it is possible to have faith in God and also not be a brain dead science denier for the sake of politics.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      there is NO evidence on his side ... only "belief" ...

      October 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • sam

      He can have all the views he wants. But being on the science committee and using idiotic language saying things are' lies from hell'? Please. He has no place in any office.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Hi

      Yes, I know there is no science on his side. The first part of my post is a quote from an obviously deranged individual who posted earlier in this comment section.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  10. Dyslexic doG

    Christianity: a religion based on an invisible sky daddy that impregnated another mans virgin wife to recreate itself then "sacrifice" itself to itself to atone for a faulty creation it made but knew full well before hand that it's creation would be faulty.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Keldorama

      *another 90-year old man's 12-14 year old virgin wife*

      Fixed.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  11. Bill Graham

    I have no doubt that if more guys like this are elected, we will see evolution outlawed once again.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • fintastic

      Maybe we'll outlaw electricity.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • fintastic

      I don't believe in electricity.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  12. Gregg

    "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."

    Of course they ignore passages in the same tests of Genesis, which talk about the firmament which forms a kind of "vault", and that the stars are just little lights placed upon the inside. And of course, bits of biblical cosmology in Genesis involve a geocentric model of the universe.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  13. Dyslexic doG

    a religion based on an invisible sky daddy that impregnated another mans virgin wife to recreate itself then "sacrifice" itself to itself to atone for a faulty creation it made but knew full well before hand that it's creation would be faulty.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  14. theshadowsmoon

    This is the best example of why there needs to be a complete separation of religion and government. And why is this idiot still on the House Science, Space, and Tech committee?

    October 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Gingeet

      Kick him out! My question is that if all this "Science" is from the pit of hell, why then is he a member of the committee? Looks to me like he's trying to sabotage our advancements as a nation... traitor anyone?
      He should be considered a homeland terrorist!

      October 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    the upcoming election will prove two points.
    (a) that christians are believers according to convenience, and
    (b) that republican christians are republicans first and christians second

    Romney is a mormon which is a religion that, as well as co-optingsome parts and characters from the bible word for word, also contradicts and makes a mockery of so many key christian religious beliefs that it should be a bigger issue to christians than gay marriage and abortion. But ... the same way as christians always pick and choose which parts of the bible to loudly proclaim and which parts of the bible to pretend don't exist ... they will ignore all these issues and vote for Romney anyway.

    What do you think God/Jesus will think of you if you give your vote to a man who truly believes that he will one day be a God? Or a man who truly believes that Joseph Smith, a 19th century reknowned con-man, is an equal of Jesus?

    Go on christans, pretend you never read this post. Find some obscure bible quote that will justify you supporting a cult. What a joke!

    October 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  16. lamb of dog

    The committee doesn't want to hear what you have to say. All the more reason to make some noise.
    http://science.house.gov/contact-us
    Email these guys and let them know how disgusted you are.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  17. Chris

    And this man's thoughts and convictions are lies from the pit of his rear. Let's get this no talent a–clown off this scientific advisory board and throw in someone with some scientific literacy.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.
    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.
    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Colin

      Hmm, that looks familiar

      October 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  19. Conrad Shull

    Christians who read the Genesis account and the rest of scripture literally don't, actually. Like all who don't dismiss the Bible entirely, they pick and choose. They are liars, or simply delusional, if they claim they don't. They don't pick those things that would get them imprisoned or killed.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  20. Michael

    Why, if under creation account, if the sun, moon & stars not created until the 4th day.
    How can you assume one day is a 24 hour period? Or even a year? Why can't God's day be a millinieum or even longer.
    You can still believe in a divine being, without rejecting evolution.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiosity Law #7 – If you think the bible is historical fact of the creation of the Universe, Earth or Mankind and believe without a doubt that some Jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat of his flesh, drink of his blood, and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master; so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a sinful woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree! Then you are an award-winning retard.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Amniculi

      No, no you can't. I don't care what Christian-or-any-other-religion-apologists say – science and religion are not compatible.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • GY

      I agree with Michael. I’m a Christian and I don’t believe that everything in the bible is supposed to be taken literally.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Tom

      How can you create light before you create the light source?

      October 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • birch please

      GY, yep just pick and choose. Thats what everyone else does with a book(s, if you also include the koran) that OKs genecide, slavery, stoning, killing children .... and ... peace, love, meekness, respect, etc..... ie it is all useless unless you are trying to justify something to fools.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • OOO

      GY,
      Then how do you decide what should be believed in the bible? All the stuff that you say should not be taken litterally, once was. Then science relegated it to a huge pile of metaphores. It's a one-directional proposition and has been since your religion started. It has never taken a single step back.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • GY

      I cannot explain why that stuff is in the bible but I still believe in a higher power. I never once interpreted the creation of earth to be a literal one in the bible.

      I remember in high school, I had this real miserable woman as a biology teacher. She was understandably upset that a school board in Kansas OKed creationism. That day she came before us and said the bible was not suppose to be taken literally which was kinda surprising since she was talking about this in a public school. I remember her saying, “Who’s to say what a day was?”

      October 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "I’m a Christian and I don’t believe that everything in the bible is supposed to be taken literally."

      My wife's family would say that means you are not a 'true' or 'real' christian. Apparently they keep track of what makes 'real' americans, christians or republicans. They meet all the criteria for all 3 of course.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • OOO

      GY,
      So because "who's to say what a day was", you believe in genesus?

      October 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • GY

      @ Cedar

      I guess they would then be fans of this congressman.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • GY

      @OOO

      I haven’t read it in quite a while but I assume there were be parts I would believe are to be taken literally and some that are not. What’s the big deal anyway. Why do you all care what I think? I barely care what I think and I’m me.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Mixolydian

      So, basically what you're saying is that it's a myth. I agree—how could it possibly have been anything else? It is interesting that folks in the Bronze Age started to formulate hypotheses about the origin of the universe, life and humankind. However, the bible is no better an explanation of astrophysics or evolution than Sleeping Beauty is an authority on developmental psychology, or Verne's Journey to the Moon is an aeronautical engineering manual.

      October 11, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • GY

      I believe God might have created what was the universe before the big bang but after that, I agree with science.

      October 11, 2012 at 8:08 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.