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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. Miss Kat

    He can believe anything he wants. It's just not aligned with my beliefs, which is why religion and public policy should not mix. Period!

    October 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  2. GY

    Here is a great debate on the subject of evolution on Kent Hovind's radio show.

    He gets destroyed.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83NLkGZHTSw&w=640&h=390]

    October 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • GY

      Parts two and three are on youtube. Everyone should view this and if anyone still doesn't believe in evolution is just ignorant .

      October 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  4. Joe (Houston, Texas)

    But women being able shut that whole thing down...TRUTH!!!

    October 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  5. GY

    I don't understand why somene cannot believe in God and believe in evolution.

    I know the bible says that God created the earth in a matter of days but that obviously didn't happen. Should everyone who still wants to be a Christian HAVE to ignore science?

    October 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • juny1958

      as a former atheist, I found it convenient to wanna discount God.....his principles interfered with my moral life, or lack thereof. I also know that when I encountered believers, they instilled in me such hate and disgust.......like I said, I am a former atheist.....there are myriad of evidences for the deity of Jesus Christ, if you are willing to investigate them. But be carefu, it may change your life.....

      October 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "his principles interfered with my moral life, or lack thereof"

      really? sounds like you were a mucked up person then because hey im a law abiding atheist that doesnt feel the urge to be immoral.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  6. mique

    This is why I cannot consider religion to be harmless.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • MrHanson

      You better start killing Christians then to spread your atheism.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  7. alinaw

    I am sure when people stand before God they can say you do not exist. The universe was created from energy we do not know from where it came but exploded. Then all this energy became galaxies, stars, planets and started obeying laws of gravity and physics all by itself. Also, there were these chemicals that somehow turned into self replicating molecules. Not only that, they became RNA and DNA with preprogrammed code to create cells of bone, muscles, skin, organs and even eyes and ears. Alll working together to give animals life through complex functions like eyesight, digestion, hearing, reproduction (male and female separate), breathing, sense of touch and feel. Muscles and bones coming together for complex movements. You see God, the universe came together all by itself.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      alinaw

      Just because we don't know every answer doesn't mean that "big, invisible, sky wizard did it with magic spellz" is a correct answer.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • shut up, troll

      .

      October 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • MrHanson

      No it was mother nature and her majic wand of accidents. Or maybe it was tinker bell and her mutation wand.
      See Moby Schtick, I can come up with stupid charachers too.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "and started obeying laws of gravity and physics all by itself"

      this one line gave us all the info we needed to know that the rest of your post was nonsense.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "MrHanson

      No it was mother nature and her majic wand of accidents. Or maybe it was tinker bell and her mutation wand.
      See Moby Schtick, I can come up with stupid charachers too."

      nice to see you admit that 'god' is a stupid made up character.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • MrHanson

      So not believing in a purposeless universe where we don't really exist and there is no such thing as free will, is stupid?

      October 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Vlad the Impaler

      See, here you go again – mixing up evolution and origins of life. A seasoned creationist would not make this mistake. Arguing intelligent/god design in latter case is much easier, evidence for evolution in genomics era is pretty unassailable. And don't think that learning a couple of acronyms will get you far in scientific debate.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "MrHanson

      So not believing in a purposeless universe where we don't really exist and there is no such thing as free will, is stupid?"

      okaaaay, who said anything about us not really existing? and its because there is no god that we have free will. If god existed that very idea would become invalid as god knows everything that will ever happen so therefore knows your entire life before you live it. You are just going through the motions that have already been pre-determined and thus free will is an illusion.

      October 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  8. Jon

    This is pretty stupid. I believe in a God so powerful that he can in fact create natural processes such as evolution, and that he has done so. I believe we are part of that. Why does evolution rule out God? It does not; how powerful to create a planet and living organisms on the planet that can adapt; it ensures life will continue on that planet because climate changes won't wipe out all life. That is power beyond my comprehension...but if my fellow Christians continue to chose to limit God...well...lets see how well that turns out.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • nmmell08

      As a scientist, I can understand that point completely. We still cannot figure out the Big Bang, there is so much we cannot explain right now. So if you want to beleive that god set up these principles, its a valid opinion

      October 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • OOO

      Wouldn't it be better to say "I dont know" rather than "I believe a supernatural bieng did it"?

      October 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • alan

      IF we define "God" as "that which we do not yet understand" (sort of like the variable "X" in Algebra, what you say makes sense. As to a human-like being who is intimately interested in the day to day twists and turns of 6 billion people on a no-name globe in a non-interesting portion of the universe, that's a harder to swallow stretch (at least for me.)

      I'm actually scared by folks like this congressman. Sorta reminds me of what the American Taliban would look like.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • nmmell08

      To OOO, yeah that is a valid thing to say of I don't know. But there are dozens of stories of scientists finding god in their work. And the presence of a soul apperently, the study that said their may be a soul is scruntinized right now but it is an interesting idea if it can be prooven over and over

      October 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  9. Carlton Berry

    You make the statement as fact "Scientists say that the Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old and that the universe dates back 13.7 billion years." You do not point out that scientist are all over the board on how old they THINK the earth is. But you present as a fact that he is wrong. Are you a scientist? How old do you KNOW the earth is? Actually those scientists you are quoting give a date from 16 billion to 4.5 billion. History often debunks there dating resource (radiometric dating). If you are willing to look at some other scientist views look at: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/05/30/how-old-is-earth

    October 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The age of the universe is determined by several different methods, as is the age of the earth. The more ways we measure their age, the more we refine them..................and guess what? The same numbers keep coming up with every new method that comes along. Books with fairy tales are just that.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • nmmell08

      A) Your link is biased. Look in genesis? That is not real science. B) I'm preety sure the age of this planet has been figured out to be 4.5 billion years old with somwe good confidence. C) 16 billion is likely the age of our universe

      October 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • ME II

      Just curious, how can you trust the "science" form AIG, when they pretty much state that they disregard some evidence?

      By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
      (http://www.answersingenesis.org/about/faith)

      October 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      answersingenesis huh? well that must surely be an unbiased site that will provide me with purely factual answers with information from both sides of the argument.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • JR in TX

      Carlton I have no idea how old the earth is and I really don’t care. However, I do believe that the earth’s age is probably closer to a few billion years than a few thousand years. I also find it rather hard to believe that earth, all of the animals, and man were made in 144 hours.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  10. JR in TX

    Most people in the South believe whatever they are told in church. They are really that gullible. Most people in the South are fat as well. I don't know if there is a connection there or not..........just an observation.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • VanHagar

      JR is from Texas. Texas is part of the South. JR probably believes whatever he was told in church. JR is probably fat. Just an observation.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • JR in TX

      VanHagar you confuse observation with speculation. I do not go to church nor am I fat. I do however live in the south and I am surrounded by fat people who go to church and believe literally everything the preacher tells them.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • VanHagar

      I haven't confused anything...but you have most certainly missed the nuance of my remarks...that your "observation" with respect to what people believe (or not) is based nothing more than mere speculation. Will you truthfully tell us that you've made a true study of the issue, or, in fact, are you only giving your "observation" and if the later, then isn't it fair to say that you make public your observation based on nothing more than your bias?

      October 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  11. Vlad the Impaler

    Did he go to medical school on the short bus? Maybe doctors like this are the reason the hospitals became the hotspots for rapidly evolving pathogens – them don't get evolution...

    October 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  12. lamb of dog

    http://science.house.gov/contact-us
    http://paulbroun.com/contact-us
    This committee is trying to silence the complaints. Don't let them get away with it. They have already removed the contact links on google.
    TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  13. Dave

    The US Rep has the right to express his opinion just like Atheist. Sorry to disappoint you but that the way it works in the USA. Obama can play the race card telling audiences that Katrina survivors were treated differently. That's OK...right.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Ronald Raygun

      for starters it is fact that katrina was treated very unfairly as even stated by the bush admin. second opinion is NOT based in fact where science IS based in fact. this man should not be on any science administration another fact

      October 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      He does. But he is still a MORON.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • JohnRJohnson

      Of course, that's not the point. This isn't a theocracy where lawmakers have to consult a holy book before passing legislation. This is a secular society that was designed to accommodate any belief or no belief at all. When a member of Congress who heads a committee, especially the SCIENCE COMMITTEE, talks like this, it is a problem.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yes, he can express his beliefs, and we're glad he did. We want to know when morons like this have way too much power and operate outside the law (making decisions based on the bible instead of the const itution). Now it's our turn to express our beliefs and get him the fvck out of office for being a braindead nitwit.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • hidave

      Hi Dave,

      The issue is not "Rep" Broun's right to voice his opinion, however devoid of factual evidence it may be. The issue is "Rep" Broun having a prominent seat on the House Committee on Science and Technology, and thus having a say in science/technology public policy.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Alverant

      He does have the right to his opinion, but not to make his religion public policy. He is on the science council and he should offer scientific evidence supporting his claims. He has not and cannot so he should resign.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Vlad the Impaler

      Sorry, friend, it is not the same as simply a belief. This so called Dr. claimed that he discovered "data" "as a scientist" supporting the literal biblical account of genesis. This is a false claim – he is not a scientist, he misrepresents his status as much as he would by claiming he was a trained fighter pilot. He can believe what he wants and has a right to state it, but I am not sure he got to the science committee by stating he believes that one of the core concepts of modern science is a lie from Hell.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  14. Eldrick

    What a complete moron, like many of his religulous compatriots. It apparently takes one to elect one. He should be ashamed to call himself a "scientist".

    October 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  15. God / Allah / Yahweh / Great Pumpkin / Lord Bubba

    "Broun called the Bible the “the manufacturer’s handbook. … It teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in our society.”"

    Cool! In that case, anyone want to sell me their daughter? 5'8", blond, early 20s would be nice. Please send naked photos. I'll be busy the next few days on a foreign trip to buy some new slaves. Oh yeah, I don't like eating shellfish either.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  16. klur

    Yikes- and he is a doctor and on the House Committee for Science and Technology. Scarey for the US.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • alan

      Sort of like putting a prominent KKK member in charge of Civil Rights...

      October 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Walter Freeman

      And even more scary is that his party thinks it's fine for him to head a Congressional Committee.

      October 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  17. Ryan

    ... at first I thought I was reading an article from the Onion. Then I realized this guy is for real.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  18. neo

    People like this congressman give other people bad reputations. One can be conservative without being a bible literalist. I am neither other than being fiscally conservative, which everyone should be as all that means is be careful with finances.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  19. MTW_SR

    I stopped reading this article when he sad he believes the earth was created in 6 days. That tells me all I need to know

    October 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  20. Joe

    I had to stop reading when it said a guy who doesn't believe in evolution or the big bang theory is on the House Committee On Science, Space, And Technology.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Dave

      Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Alverant

      Dave, Broun isn't being persecuted, he's doing the persecuting. He wants to make outrageous claims sans proof then whines when he's called out on it. Christian privilige must end. Equal treatment is NOT persecution.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • nmmell08

      Um Dave...time for a reality check. A) This is not a religious nation, a christain nation, or anything like that. We are a secular nation, therefore religion should not be dictating politics. B) He serves on the science committe, he should have a basic sense on how science works. C) I have looked at the creationist/intelligent design points? There absolute bs. Seriously one of the textbooks said electricity is unexplainable, I'm sorry but I think Franklin and Tesla figured that one for us. It's the flow of charged particles. That is electricity

      October 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
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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.