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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. gunnard larson

    So, when he votes using the bible as his guide, does that mean he votes against killing and infavor of taking care of widows, aliens, and orphans? Oh, no he just votes against gays. Because he wouldn't know what the bible actually says if someone hit him over the head with it ever second for the rest of his life.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Greg G. Moore

      The Devil created aliens, too, ya know

      October 11, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • xirume

      I bet ya this santorum licker has never even read the bible

      October 11, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  2. Carolyn_SanDiego

    I can't believe a member of the House Science, Technology, and Space Committee lacks the mental rigor to study and understand evolution – to choose to ignore technical methods to determine the age of a fossil or rock. He is working for the House Science Committee, not the House Religious Belief Committee! So how did he get the job? I'd fire him as unqualified.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Greg G. Moore

      write to Ralph Hall:

      Dear Chairman Hall, This is my first-ever letter to any congressman, which, as I am 45 years old, should suggest how important I view the issue of having Paul Broun serve on this critical committee. The creation of new knowledge, the support of scientific research, and the development of new technology is vital to our economy and to our national security. Currently, accomplished investigators in the U.S. are struggling to secure research funding, and we, as a country, are in immediate danger of losing our international prominence as the scientific and technological leader. To allow an individual such as Congressman Broun to serve on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is nothing short of reprehensible. In this time of challenging resources, we need individuals who fundamentally understand – and embrace – scientific research, the business of science, and its importance to our culture, our security, and our economic growth. I urge you and your colleagues on the committee to find an individual better suited to serve in an effective, informed, and intelligent manner. With thanks, NAME

      October 11, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  3. snowdogg

    He should resign from the Science Committee

    October 11, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • bob572176

      and congress

      October 11, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Mary1972

      I second that.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • xirume

      He should resign from life and jump off a tall bridge.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  4. BadDog91748

    The next thing we'll find out is that he is a charter member of the Flat Earth Society. And to think, he's on a committee with responsibility for science and technology and, apparently, managed to graduate from medical school. He has his head so far...that he needs a glass navel so he doesn't bump into walls.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      His head is so far up his a'ss that it's going to cause a Singularity.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  5. buzz

    can't argue with stupid!

    October 11, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  6. Greg G. Moore

    For those not familiar with the theologian Paul Tillich, he speaks to this brand of fundamentalism. He writes:
    The truth for the fundamentalist is expressed and understood through its appearance in the Bible, a time-bound manifestation that needs further interpretation. Because the answer the fundamentalist provides is based on a historical period that does not reflect the religious situation of the age, it cannot relate the truth to the present time.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • xirume

      Mighty loads of bull excrement.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      I like Tillich. Like Bonhoeffer, I think he was a secret atheist.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Greg, what do you think of Ehrman ?

      October 11, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      psst. I have a cousin named Gregory Moore.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Greg G. Moore

      Fluffy, I'd say that anyone with enough brains to escape fundamentalist influence is OK in my book. Did you ever see Stephen Colber's panning of him, though? Cringe-worthy, but funny.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Greg G. Moore

      xirume: bull, why?

      October 11, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      No. I'll check it out. I like Ehrman, but I've come to a more radical reassessment. I used to dismiss anyone who said Jesus never existed as wacko. (Ehrman could not imagine that). I can. It is entirely possible Paul cooked him up, or a substantial part of the myth system, as a conflation of a few circulating apocalyptic "characters".

      October 11, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Greg G. Moore

      There is a lot of evidence which suggests Jesus was real. The "cooking up by Paul" part may have been the mystical qualities. Nothing like a little human interpretation to muddy the waters.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Name one piece of evidence. I'll refute it. And don't use reference to "Christians", or the Crestus, or the forgery in Josephus, or the 20th Chapter of Josephus reference to James.

      October 11, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      BTW. It's ALL "human interpretation". Who exactly did you think did any of it ?

      October 11, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  7. xirume

    Time to outlaw religion.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      That wouldn't work, but it is time for Free Thinkers, atheists, and agnostics to stop hiding in the shadows and get together to combat the ignorance that abounds around religion.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • End Religion

      If we outlaw religion only outlaws will have religion. I read that on the internet.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  8. Greg G. Moore

    WRITE to Ralph Hall, Chair of the House Science, Space, and Tech Committiee:

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

    October 11, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • I wonder

      Rep. Ralph Hall might need some scrutiny too. He's a 90 year old former Dixiecrat, turned Republican, from Texas.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  9. Dawkins is my homeboy

    How do dipsh•ts like this get elected? What the fvck is wrong with half or more of the US!?

    October 11, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  10. hedge1

    There isn't a credible scientific organization that would accept dating of the Earth by the current radiometric methods. You would need to have a rock (or standard) of a known age to truly study the rate of decay. Try telling the FDA that you have studied how your drug degrades over six months, so you can predict what will happen over ten years and see what reaction you get.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Gadflie

      Sorry kid, you don't get to describe which organizations are credible and which aren't.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Thanks for your input, flat-earther.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • kerfluffle

      Ah, great, so we have no use for ice core samples from Greenland or Antarctica, right? Or clay sedimentary deposits in northern bogs? What about petrified wood? Pangaea? Laurasia? Gondwanaland?

      I don't know whether to be angry or sad at the preponderance of willful ignorance in the USA.

      So I pick angry, and apply shame to every sycophant at every turn.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  11. spellwizard

    If there is no such thing as evolution, how does humans go from using pot-bellied stoves to microwave ovens to cook food, and from smoke signals to using cell phones to communicate??!!!!

    October 11, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • xirume

      There is no such thing as your brain

      October 11, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • End Religion

      all progress was achieved via magical incantations

      October 11, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  12. Reality

    Only for new members of this blog:

    Do doubt Akin and Broun will find substantial Neanderthal markers in their DNA!!!

    October 11, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  13. Mark

    Some one please explain to me how this moron got elected to begin with?

    October 11, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • End Religion

      Because half of us are below average intelligence.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • bob572176

      right wing religious voters or tea party people rush limbaugh sean hannity bill oreilly listeners need I say more

      October 11, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  14. And No Religion Too

    Saddest of all is that this fool was elected by the majority in his area. He has no business in government, or anywhere else for that matter, except maybe getting a job as a barker: "Step right up, get your salvation right here!"

    October 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  15. Margaret

    He just told you who he is, believe him. And this man is on the committee for Science Space and Technology. How does this happen?

    Humans are a strange group, we believe in an all powerful God, then give him simple human abilities. If our God is so all powerful why do we limit Him to the likes of us?

    October 10, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  16. ArthurP

    Organized religion, the Devil's greatest achievement.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Greg G. Moore

      The theologian Paul Tillich actually speaks to this accusation. While you are not far off from the truth, you might consider reading his works. In the meantime, I am struck by this one particular thought of his now:
      The fundamentalist traditionis another force that plays a major force in the subject of this study. For Tillich, fundamentalism fails at both aspects of theology. The truth for the fundamentalist is expressed and understood through its appearance in the Bible, a time-bound manifestation that needs further interpretation. Because the answer the fundamentalist provides is based on a historical period that does not reflect the religious situation of the age, it cannot relate the truth to the present time. Tillich acknowledges that fundamentalism appears during periods of anxiety and turbulence, but he distinguishes this from the religious situation of the theologian.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • xirume

      There exists but a single rebuttal to theology: B.S.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • bob572176

      you might add wall street to that

      October 11, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  17. Greg G. Moore

    I urge every sensible individual to contact Committee Chairman Ralph Hall with a message similar to this:

    Dear Chairman Hall, This is my first-ever letter to any congressman, which, as I am 45 years old, should suggest how important I view the issue of having Paul Broun serve on this critical committee. The creation of new knowledge, the support of scientific research, and the development of new technology is vital to our economy and to our national security. Currently, accomplished investigators in the U.S. are struggling to secure research funding, and we, as a country, are in immediate danger of losing our international prominence as the scientific and technological leader. To allow an individual such as Congressman Broun to serve on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is nothing short of reprehensible. In this time of challenging resources, we need individuals who fundamentally understand - and embrace - scientific research, the business of science, and its importance to our culture, our security, and our economic growth. I urge you and your colleagues on the committee to find an individual better suited to serve in an effective, informed, and intelligent manner. With thanks, NAME

    October 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  18. Wanderer

    When God created Adam and Eve, the world and everything in it in six days, was there any witness?

    October 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • show me the plates,Mitt

      What I want to know is, did they have belly buttons?

      October 11, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • End Religion

      I don't see any evidence in the DNA chain for Snickers bars. It would be silly to think they evolved from mere peanuts and nougat when they have very obviously been created. Their design is too perfect.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Michael Haskins

      Wanderer: Everybody knows that In the beginning there was only a chaos of churning, bubbling water
      the Egyptians called Nu or Nun. It was out of Nu that everything began.
      – Then the sun god Ra emerged out of primeval chaos, he came out of a blue giant lotus flower that appeared on the surface of the water.
      – Ra gave light to the universe

      Whats all this stuff about a buy-bull?

      October 11, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  19. jean

    I have yet to hear a biblical literalist explain which of the two versions of creation in the opening chapters of Genesis is the correct one. They can't both be correct if one reads them literally. I believe there are also two other creation sequences in the old testament that also differ in some aspects and perhaps someone else knows where they are located. It's easier to reconcile the versions if one doesn't take them literally, but figuratively. I don't know how one can take each one literally...unless there was more than one creation.

    Genesis 1:1-2:3 or 2:4-23

    October 10, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • xirume

      There's no explanation. It's all pie in the sky

      October 11, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • eqgold

      Umm, maybe you missed the memo... It's a fairy tale, some nice parables to help the mentally weak know what to do in difficult situations. It was written by people, it's a book, and a pretty old an nonsensical one at that.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • End Religion

      one is for creation of the earth, the other is for creation of kolob

      October 11, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  20. ArthurP

    Actually the country really needs those 46%'ers. After all if not for them then who would do the jobs that require repeating phrases like, "Paper or plastic?", "Welcome to WalMart", and my all time favorite "Would you like fries with that?".

    October 10, 2012 at 11:52 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.