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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. DisplacedMic

    What a goof...it's stuff like this that keeps me from voting straight republican. This is NOT real conservatism – this is stupidity. Real conservatives need to take the party back from these religious right simpletons

    October 11, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • NoTheism

      who would Christian fundamentalists end up voting for?

      October 11, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Are_you_kidding?

      Might as well eliminate the complete republican base then.It's not a class war.It's a war between the intelligent and the ignorant.

      October 11, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • yang

      as an independent, it is definitely stuff like this that prevents me from voting for anyone but democrats. i would love to be able to vote for the person i think best represents me, but in the congressional climate we have now... any republican vote strengthens these nut jobs. i wish more true republicans would work to banish these people from their party.

      October 11, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  2. Are_you_kidding?

    Seethroughyou makes challenges He/she cannot keep.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  3. max3333444555

    even if you believe the story of genesis, why would you worship a god that wanted to deny us knowledge? better off worshipping the snake.... who didnt try to limit mankind to the mind of a child.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:32 am |
  4. John

    And this is the precise reason that people continue to die each year of cancer and other fatal diseases, why technology in all areas is met with obstruction and why the human race crawls forward rather than in leaps and bounds.

    Religion is the seed of ignorance.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  5. blerg

    know what a lie from hell is? a capitalist christian. complete hypocrisy.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  6. Colin

    Seethroughu

    To get a gauge of just how inane the belief in intelligent design is in the 21st Century, here are some areas they must ignore, any one of which proves beyond rational argument that, not surprisingly, the World did not start about 6,000 years ago at the behest of the Judeo-Christian god, with one man, one woman and a talking snake.

    First and most obviously is the fossil record. The fossil record is much, much more than just dinosaurs. Indeed, dinosaurs only get the press because of their size, but they make up less than 1% of the entire fossil record. Life had been evolving on Earth for over 3 thousand million years before dinosaurs evolved and has gone on evolving for 65 million years after the Chicxulub meteor wiped them out.

    The fossil record includes the Stromatolites, colonies of prokaryotic bacteria, that range in age going back to about 3 billion years, the Ediacara fossils from South Australia, widely regarded as among the earliest multi-celled organisms, the Cambrian species of the Burgess shale in Canada (circa – 450 million years) the giant scorpions of the Silurian Period, the giant, wingless insects of the Devonian period, the insects, amphibians, reptiles; fishes, clams, crustaceans of the Carboniferous Period, the many precursors to the dinosaurs, the dinosaurs themselves, the subsequent dominant mammals, including the saber tooth tiger, the mammoths of North America and Asia, the fossils of early man in Africa and the Neanderthals of Europe.

    The fossil record shows a consistent and worldwide evolution of life on Earth dating back to about 3,500,000,000 years ago. There are literally millions of fossils that have been recovered, of thousands of different species and they are all located where they would be in the geological record if life evolved slowly over billions of years. None of them can be explained by a 6,000 year old Earth and Noah’s flood. Were they all on the ark? What happened to them when it docked?

    Lions, tigers, bears, and wolves eat a lot of food – meat- which means its food would itself have to have been fed, like the food of every other carnivore on the ark. This is not to mention the thousands of species of meat eating dinosaurs, all of whom ate carnivorous dinosaurs which were, themselves, bigger than busses – and they, too had to be fed!

    A bit of “back of the envelope” math quickly shows that “Noah’s Ark” would actually have to have been an armada of ships bigger than the D Day invasion force, manned by thousands and thousands of people – and this is without including the World’s 300,000 current species of plants, none of which could walk merrily in twos onto the Ark, nor the 400,000 species of beetles, nor the gnats that live for a few hours, nor for that matter, human beings! If Noah and his family were on the ark, where do black people come from? Or Chinese, or Ja.panese, or Australian Aboriginals, or the 100s of other races.

    Secondly, there are those little things we call oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels. Their mere existence is another, independent and fatal blow to the creationists. Speak to any geologist who works for Exxon Mobil, Shell or any of the thousands of mining, oil or natural gas related companies that make a living finding fossil fuels. They will tell you these fossil fuels take millions of years to develop from the remains of large forests (in the case of coal) or tiny marine creatures (in the case of oil). That’s why they are called fossil fuels. Have a close look at coal, you can often see the fossilized leaves in it. The geologists know exactly what rocks to look for fossil fuels in, because they know how to date the rocks to millions of years ago. Creationists have no credible explanation for this (nor for why most of it was “given to the Muslims”).

    Thirdly, most of astronomy and cosmology would be wrong if the creationists were right. In short, as Einstein showed, light travels at a set speed. Space is so large that light from distant stars takes many years to reach the Earth. In some cases, this is millions or billions of years. The fact that we can see light from such far away stars means it began its journey billions of years ago. The Universe must be billions of years old. We can currently see galaxies whose light left home 13.7 billion years ago. Indeed, on a clear night, one can see many stars more than 6,000 light years away with the naked eye, shining down like tiny silent witnesses against the nonsense of creationism.

    Fourthly, we have not just carbon dating, but also all other methods used by scientists to date wood, rocks, fossils, and other artifacts. These comprehensively disprove the Bible’s claims. They include uranium-lead dating, potassium-argon dating as well as other non-radioactive methods such as pollen dating, dendrochronology and ice core dating. In order for any particular rock, fossil or other artifact to be aged, generally two or more samples are dated independently by two or more laboratories in order to ensure an accurate result. If results were random, as creationists claim, the two independent results would rarely agree. They generally do. They regularly reveal ages much older than Genesis. Indeed, the Earth is about 750,000 times older than the Bible claims.

    Fifthly, the relatively new field of DNA mapping not only convicts criminals, it shows in undeniable, full detail how we differ from other life forms on the planet. For example, about 98.4% of human DNA is identical to that of chimpanzees, about 97% of human DNA is identical to that of gorillas, and slightly less again of human DNA is identical to the DNA of monkeys. This gradual divergence in DNA can only be rationally explained by the two species diverging from a common ancestor, and coincides perfectly with the fossil record. Indeed, scientists can use the percentage of DNA that two animal share (such as humans and bears, or domestic dogs and wolves) to get an idea of how long ago the last common ancestor of both species lived. It perfectly corroborates the fossil record and is completely independently developed. It acts as yet another fatal blow to the “talking snake” theory.

    Sixthly, the entire field of historical linguistics would have to be rewritten to accommodate the Bible. This discipline studies how languages develop and diverge over time. For example, Spanish and Italian are very similar and have a recent common “ancestor” language, Latin, as most people know. However, Russian is quite different and therefore either did not share a common root, or branched off much earlier in time. No respected linguist anywhere in the World traces languages back to the Tower of Babel, the creationists’ explanation for different languages. Indeed, American Indians, Australian Aboriginals, “true” Indians, Chinese, Mongols, Ja.panese, Sub-Saharan Africans and the Celts and other tribes of ancient Europe were speaking thousands of different languages thousands of years before the date creationist say the Tower of Babel occurred – and even well before the date they claim for the Garden of Eden.

    Seventhly, lactose intolerance is also a clear vestige of human evolution. Most mammals only consume milk as infants. After infancy, they no longer produce the enzyme “lactase” that digests the lactose in milk and so become lactose intolerant. Humans are an exception and can drink milk as adults – but not all humans – some humans remain lactose intolerant. So which humans are no longer lactose intolerant? The answer is those who evolved over the past few thousand years raising cows. They evolved slightly to keep producing lactase as adults so as to allow the consumption of milk as adults. This includes most Europeans and some Africans, notably the Tutsi of Rwanda. On the other hand, most Chinese, native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, whose ancestors did not raise cattle, remain lactose intolerant.

    I could go on and elaborate on a number of other disciplines or facts that creationists have to pretend into oblivion to retain their faith, including the Ice Ages, cavemen and early hominids, much of microbiology, paleontology and archeology, continental drift and plate tectonics, even large parts of medical research (medical research on monkeys and mice only works because they share a common ancestor with us and therefore our fundamental cell biology and basic body architecture is identical to theirs).

    In short, and not surprisingly, the World’s most gifted evolutionary biologists, astronomers, cosmologists, geologists, archeologists, paleontologists, historians, modern medical researchers and linguists (and about 2,000 years of accu.mulated knowledge) are right and a handful of Iron Age Middle Eastern goat herders were wrong.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • mre2

      Nice summary of a tome of information. Sadly, it will fall on deluded ears.

      October 11, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  7. Are_you_kidding?

    Seethroughu–I am still waiting on your debate.@ least present some kind of intelligent challenge without invoking scripture.That's not evidence by the way

    October 11, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  8. Caron

    American Taliban

    October 11, 2012 at 7:26 am |
  9. osocurious

    "...46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution."

    Wow, I find those numbers shocking actually, and a little scary. I would have expected numbers like that in the early 20th century, but not today. I wonder what the numbers are for developed countries.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Ed

      It is horrifying. It's no wonder our students rank so low in science internationally. I think a big part of the problem is that in the more religious and rural parts of the country, biology teachers themselves often don't subscribe to the theory. They "teach" it, if barely, because they have to, holding their nose the whole time. They emphasize the scientifically ignorant argument that it's only a theory, and students are free to (and wink wink, should) reject it.

      October 11, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  10. Last Laugh

    Congressmen Dr. (sort of) Paul Broun will show the proof of his beliefs when he produces a tin plate photo of his great great grandfather with his two pet Brontosaurus', Dino and Brony. Scoff all you want, deniers. LOL

    October 11, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  11. Chedar

    And for Georgia Medical Board to issue an MD license to Broun to practice as a doctor is appalling.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  12. CK

    And people wonder why, as a scientist, that I am an atheist. I just wish that the politicians who believe such nonsense only made laws that affect the same people who believe such things.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  13. opus

    WOW, and I thought all the nut jobs were Muslim. He is living proof there are idiots in our government.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  14. Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

    I cannot breath if I dont abuse others. Please forgive me for my sins. i am consulting a doctor and getting myself admitted in a hospital and i hope i get cured in100 years.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  15. mememememememe

    'The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.' – Neil deGrasse Tyson

    October 11, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  16. Wes

    ... And this is why you people stuck in a past century should stay in your back-woods shacks in the South. This congressman is an absolute embarrassment to the notion of America being an advanced society. He is no more deserving a position in Congress than being able to pass a literacy test to vote. I find considerable shame in sharing the same planet with people of such limited mentality and depth of intelligence. He should legislate from the outhouse.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  17. a dose of reality

    gravity is just a theory too...maybe this idi*t congressman would like to jump off a tall building and prove that gravity doesn't exist!?!?!?

    October 11, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  18. Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

    I am a mad person and abusing others is my passion.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • NoTheism

      ah, yes, truth absolute
      Linking existing things with non existing things is not proof.

      October 11, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  19. Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

    Please ignore me, I am ma.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  20. Chedar

    At this time when American student are rated at the bottom of the academic world, it is ill advised to have Broun in the scientific committe in congress who believe in intelligent design. And for the life of me, the Georgia medical board granted this guy a license to practice as MD is stunning.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:15 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.