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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. ron

    This guy and Todd Akin serve on the House Committee on Science....?

    October 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  2. Fionaredux

    Downright scary that this guy got elected to office. No wonder he's not a practicing physician.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • adh1729

      What are you scared of? I am a physician and believe in God as creator. Do you think that makes me just suddenly lacerate the aorta in the operating room? Are you aware of Isaac Newton's religious beliefs? Did they make his science second-rate? What silly planet do you come from? Who cares what was here a billion years ago or not - it makes little difference here and now.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • TopView20

      Well said. This is a scarey man to have in government!

      October 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      adh, do you think Broun is playing with a full deck when he says that evolution and the Big Bang are "from the pit of hell"? Is that what you believe?

      October 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • adh1729

      I wonder if any of you realize that Presidents Washington and Lincoln were religious. Did that make them crazy?

      October 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why don't you answer my question, adh?

      October 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • jungleboo

      @adh: In case you never noticed, Sir Isaac Newton lived at a time when he did not have the freedom to state his private thoughts about the Universe's origin. He lived at a time of ZERO tolerance for thinking outside of the box. So he just did his research and did NOT prance about making a target out of himself. So please don't use him as an example of your religious underpinnings.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      adh, Lincoln was not a particularly religious man, and we are talking here about a sitting member of the House of Representatives in the year 2012, not 1861,

      October 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession." President Abraham Lincoln, who by the way NEVER officially joined any church in his life.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      As others have suggested, the gentlemen named above, and any contemporaries anyone else wants to attempt to use as further examples, lived when one could be put to death for telling the truth (there is no proof for any god) or they were simply going along with the custom of the day. There is no excuse to continue the charade of religion in the 21st century.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • adh1729

      To Tom the Piper's Son: I believe in the New Testament and believe that Jesus was a special person who came from God. He said nothing about the Big Bang, for or against. Science has supported the Big Bang; so I am fine with it. The Bible talks about God putting a woman and a man in a garden and creating many species of life, and implies it occurrred about 7,000 years ago. Science can't disprove that God made an Adam or an Eve anymore than it can disprove that Abe Lincoln said "Fourscore and seven years ago" at Gettysburg. The problem comes when people extrapolate things out of the Bible. The Bible never says life didn't exist a billion years ago on the earth; it says nothing of dinosaurs; etc. etc.
      It must be recognized that evolution has problems also. It is not a fact, because it was never witnessed. Explain to me why so many fossils and fossil fuels contain detectable carbon-14 (if millions of years old, they should contain none). Explain to me why some primitive cultures 1000 years ago have pictures of dinosaurs. Explain to me how the first female evolved oxytocin fast enough to deliver the first baby, or if the first male evolved biological Viagra fast enough to get an erection, so the race wouldn't go extinct. I think any fair person should admit that there are some things which are controversial and which science can't determine with certainty. I could go on forever in this vein but you hopefully get the gist.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You've stated your beliefs, but you haven't answered the other question: do you think Broun is a reasoning, rational human and capable of making good decisions about science when he makes statements like that?

      It's fine with me if one believes in a god; it's not fine when one goes off the deep end and claims that evolution and the Big Bang are lies from the pit of hell. Someone with such extreme and unfounded views is dangerous to a secular government.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  3. jms4177

    Look where he is from. I live in the heart of the south and a lot of people think that way.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  4. mindstorms

    There is systemic inadequacy to appreciate critical thinking by some in this world which leads to this kind of knee-jerk emotionalism. Although many religious people may claim to be educated — the basic premise of education is the ability to question, critically analyze, and tolerate views with which we may not agree.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  5. Tom Adams

    Another idiot. How many of these nuts do the people need to see before they wake up an realize that they need to be replaced with thinking people. Science isn't based on polls, but on actual facts.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  6. Answerman28

    Its staggering that this guy is in office. They couldnt have elected a more clueless, delusional egomaniac if they tried. He is praying on very stupid people and he knows exactly what they want to hear all in an attempt to try an keep himself in office. All religions are a pack of lies straight from hell and the resultant death toll are some VERY REAL numbers. I'm really embarrased for my country.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Correction

      'preying'...not 'praying'. What is that saying about stones and glass houses?

      October 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  7. Stupid is as stupid does

    Good grief. What an embarrassment.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  8. Ron

    What a nut. I mean to be a grown educated man and believe such brainwashing nonsense. Broun, fortunately, does not represent all Christians.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Not only does he represent all Christians, he represents all Americans – and on the House Committee for Science, Space, and Technology, at that.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  9. thecollegeadmissionsguru

    Just another Southern Christian Fundamentalist who has purposefuly rejected hard science for the nonsense of religion. The South is FULL of these guys, the problem I have is that this one serves in the US House and on the Science committee.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      What one says in private and "off the cuff" is very often what one truly believes in his heart. This man is a challenge to the all that we stand for in this country, and should NOT be allowed to serve, VOTE HIM OUT, people of Georgia!

      October 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Here's where to make your complaint:

      http://science.house.gov/contact-us/email-us

      October 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Thank you Rufus, I did make my complaint just now. Thanks again.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  10. JohnK

    And this idiot is a doctor? Like most born-agains, he is living in a dream world.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  11. Captain Ron

    Take this idiot out to the Grand Canyon and have him explain how that big ditch came to be in the last 9000 years.. Or the islands of Hawaii.. Or the Great Lakes, which are leftovers from the last ice age.. Take him in to the Science Center in Chicago and have him explain the skeltal remains of a T-Rex.. How can people just keep putting their heads in the sand?

    October 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Captain Ron,

      simples! "God did it"

      There's really no talking with these people.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • sam

      $10 says he answers with "Noah's flood did it!!"

      October 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  12. Pro Science

    Imagine if the Bible claimed the world was flat!

    October 10, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Bruce

      It did.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      It still does.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Bruce...prove it. The verses usually relied upon by atheists stem from clearly biased interpretations (i.e. the Bible's reference to four corners is clearly a references to E S N & W, yet atheists choose to say that that proves the Bible says flat earth–that's just a childish and nonsensical interpretation).

      October 10, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Pete

      At some point Jesus and Satan climbed a mountain and the bible says they saw all of the Earth. This could only be possible if the person who wrote that part thought the Earth was flat.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  13. AmericanLiberal

    bla bla bla...
    it's the only horse running, so we have to support it
    The science has moved on past evolution, we know
    but we haven't found another story to explain the obvious away yet, so we're keeping this one for now
    Intellectual Bullying – telling unlearned children this outdated theory, when we know better

    October 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • NoTheism

      Nonsense
      Here's the definition of a scientific theory from Wikipedia:
      "A scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment."
      Also, the theory of evolution is the backbone of the science known as Biology.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  14. retphxfire

    When we were stationed in Illinois, we went to a First United Church of Christ, a rather conservative congregation. The Pastor made the point that much of the stories in the Bible were parables, that reasonable Christians understood that the world wasn't really made in just seven days, but over a period of time (that probably included the concept of evolution), with each day representing the initial implementation of a stage in evolution of earth...whew. The idea that so many on the Christian Right have as much intolerance, desire to force the US into a right-wing theocracy and the attempts to censor any opposition makes you think of both the intolerance of extreme Islam and 1930's Germany.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  15. Greg Walton

    "Forgive them, for they know what they do". He's an idiot, and has no idea he's an idiot. So impeach the clown, and forget about him.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  16. TAK

    Not only did this man get elected but he's also on the science committee? I've now officially lost faith in democracy.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Don't give up on democracy – give up on believers and their myths, regardless which party they belong to.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • just sayin

      He deserves to be the head of science. He speaks only the Truth. just because it doesn't sound right doesn't mean it's wrong! There's your sign. ROMNEY/RYAN 2012

      October 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @just sayin, you are just saying something that is fundamentally a lie. This man has a right to his own opinion, not his own facts.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      I wonder what Captain "Asshole" America would just say about this...

      October 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @TAK,

      proper science education is what can save democracy.

      This is why the fundies fight education as hard as they do. It is what keeps them from implementing the theocracy that the American Taliban prays so hard for.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  17. Answer

    The sooner this current generation of religious idiots die off – the better it is – for the whole world.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  18. zapper

    And people lament that new generations of Americans are increasingly less educated than those from other nations.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Unfortunately its true.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  19. lamb of dog

    http://science.house.gov/contact-us
    http://paulbroun.com/contact-us
    706-369-9039
    Paul@paulbroun.com
    They don't want to hear what you have to say. All the more reason to tell them. Be loud, email or call these guys. They need to be put in their place. Don't just post here.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  20. lamb of dog

    Sounds more like a witch doctor.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:07 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.