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Rubio ignites debate with answer about creationism
November 19th, 2012
04:19 PM ET

Rubio ignites debate with answer about creationism

By Dan Merica and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio attempted to walk the line between science and faith-based creationism in remarks that that have provoked the ire of liberal blogs, leaving the door open to creationism in responding to a recent question about the age of the Earth.

When GQ’s Michal Hainey asked Rubio, in an interview released Monday, “How old do you think the Earth is,” the rising Republican star described the debate about the planet’s age as “one of the great mysteries.”

“I'm not a scientist, man,” Rubio told the interviewer. “I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.”

“Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras,” Rubio continued, “I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.”

Most scientists agree that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is 14.5 billion years old. Christian Young Earth Creationists, on the other hand, argue that the weeklong account of God creating the Earth and everything in it represents six 24-hour periods (plus one day of rest) and date the age of the Earth between 6,000 and 10,000 years.

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Left-leaning blogs and sites like ThinkProgress and Huffington Post jumped on Rubio’s comments, with the Zack Beauchamp from ThingProgress writing, “To suggest we can’t know how old the Earth is, then, is to deny the validity of these scientific methods altogether — a maneuver familiar to Rubio, who also denies the reality of anthropogenic climate change.”

Rubio is regarded as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, though the senator says his visit last week to Iowa, home of the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, had “nothing to do with 2016.”

His response to GQ’s age of the Earth query has also provoked questions about his political aspirations. Dave Weigel of Slate writes, “How can you read that and not think ‘Iowa’? ” The state is the first to hold a presidential caucus in 2016.

Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years, according to a survey released by Gallup in June. That number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years, since 1982, when Gallup first asked the question on creationism versus evolution.

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The second most common view is that humans evolved with God's guidance - a view held by 32% of respondents. The view that humans evolved with no guidance from God was held by 15% of respondents.

The Gallup poll has not specifically asked about views on the age of the Earth.

Rubio attends a Baptist church in southern Florida but also considers himself “a practicing Catholic.”

He was born Catholic, but his family converted to Mormonism when Rubio was 8 years old, according to Rubio’s recent memoir. The family left its LDS faith behind when it moved from Nevada back to Florida and Rubio was confirmed in the Catholic Church.

Catholic teaching is that science and faith are not at odds with one another and it is possible to believe what scientists say about the Earth’s age and in God. But many evangelical churches, including Baptist ones, promote a version of creationism.

When CNN reached out to Rubio’s Baptist church in Florida on Monday, a person answering the phone would not comment on its teachings about the Earth’s age and said that a church representative was unlikely to be available in the near term.

During the GQ interview, Rubio argued that “there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all.”

For the past 30 years, the “equal-time argument” –- the idea that Creationism taught alongside evolution -– has been popular method for Creationists to advance their cause. In the late 1980s, some state legislatures passed bills that promoted the idea of a balanced treatment of both ideas in the classroom.

In 1987, the issue made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where a Louisiana "equal-time law" was struck down. The court ruled that teaching creationism in public school classrooms was a violation of the Establishment Cause in the Constitution, which is commonly referred to as the separation of church and state.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Creationism • Politics

soundoff (6,211 Responses)
  1. amy

    He puts the duh in Florida.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Lori

      Oh, that's rich. LMFAO!

      November 20, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  2. kenny

    its pretty sad and pathetic how ignorant religious people cause so much pain and suffering. their simple minds think a war is ok even though they know women and children WILL be muurdered. they are filled with so much fear that it grows into anger and hate and suffering. thankfully religion is dying all over the world. technology spreads knowledge and a SIMPLE FACT like the age of the earth that EVERY SCIENTIST agrees with will OVERPOWER religion and its ignorance and all of them will CEASE TO EXIST...

    November 20, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Val

      That's just SOME religious people, you mean?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • mrj138

      Remember when they burned people at the stake for saying the Earth revolved around the Sun.......

      November 20, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • kenny

      not SOME ... IGNORANT religious people ...

      November 20, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  3. Joe

    Wow, talk about faith. So I believe God created the world per the bible.

    But the scientists believe something happened 14 billion years ago to create the universe. Then something else happened 4.5 billion years ago to create the earth. And then some cell mutated and mutated to make fish and monkeys and presto humans were "created". What a theory!

    I guess I am just lazy, as that would require so much more faith in science. Science which is the pursuit of knowledge in testable explanations.

    I will stick to God and the Bible.

    Thank you very much

    November 20, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • mrj138

      Yes – you are lazy and ignorant that you would rather just believe fairy tales (and regardless of whether you believe in God or not, the book of Genesis is a fairy tale) than demonstrated, proven science. You can't even describe it right – you are what is wrong with half of this country. Mouthbreather.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • B

      Thank God the Catholic church, the original Christian church and the ones who WROTE the New Testament, aren't so stupid. The Catholic church values science and religion and understands the difference.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • GuyinCanada

      Thats your opinion and you are welcome to it. But before you completely write off science please do as much research as you can. You'll likely find Einstien, Darwin, Newton, etc are much more worthy of praising.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Science is the tool by which we understand the universe. It has no agenda, although admittedly, sometimes those who use it do. Science is supposed to be empirical; its results repeatable, testable and predictable. When those using science to understand the universe sketch an outline of the history of everything, it is not a guess; it is based in empirical evidence. To dismiss it in favor of “God”, whatever he may look like to you, is to take the easy way out. To say, “God did it” is to tie off all the loose ends you do not understand with a magic wand. I think that in today’s day, with the information that is available to us, we owe it to ourselves to try a little harder than that.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • John

      A natural beginning to the universe as opposed to some super being somehow existing BEFORE time and space came into existence with enough magic to create an entire universe out of absolutely nothing ... just to keep an eye on one particular group of desert goat herders living in a backwater part of a backwater planet in one galaxy out of billions?

      Oh yeah, that makes a whole lot more sense!

      November 20, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • ialsoagree

      Argument from incredulity.

      Your lack of understanding of the theory of evolution doesn't make it false.

      By the way, "the bible" is not an explanation of anything. Please point to the section of the bible that explains the *MECHANISM* by which the universe was created, such that we can build a computer model based on scientific principles derived from the bible that will model the creation of the universe.

      You can't, because the bible doesn't explain how such a thing happened. It just says "god don it wid magiks!!!"

      November 20, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Faith is believing in something you can't prove or can't see.

      Science proves things, so there's no "faith" involved.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Dr Tom

      There is nothing in science that says that your religious beliefs are wrong. Religion is based on faith and miraculous happenings. Science is based on observation and logic and does not use faith or miracles. Don't apply science ot religion or religion to science. Only science, not religion, should be used by our political leaders and taught in our public schools in this country. If belief in Science would not allow you to continue in your religious beliefs, I can only pray that some day your religious faith will grow strong enough for you to see the light.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  4. pkMyt1

    Romney tried to walk this same line and look what happened to him. As long as these GOP folks are willing to be hand puppets to the far right they will be marginalized. If he really believes that the Earth is only about 10K years old then he needs to say it. I'd have more respect for him then.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • mrj138

      Your 2016 GOP frontrunner ladies and gentlemen!

      November 20, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  5. CommonSense

    Facts are, simply, facts. If your belief system does not accommodate facts, then it is not a belief system, it is ignorance.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  6. The Jackdaw

    A great mystery? This kid failed science class, clearly.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  7. ronmexico99

    And the GOP wonders why it's losing ground with average Americans. Hey Senator, let me explain SCIENCE . . . . it's just magic without the lies.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Big Joe

      According to Gallup, there is no such thing as an "average American" when it comes to creation vs evolution. When 47% believe one thing, and 47% believe the opposite (32% for God-led evolution and 15% for non-God-led evolution), it's clear that "average" has nothing to do with it.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  8. Tim

    What a bunch of nonsense and waste of news space. How about reporting on something relevant?

    November 20, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Dr Tom

      This is very relevant if this guy decides to run for National office (or any office). His decisions will be based on his religious beliefs rather than science – or at least he'll give them equal weight. JFK would never have been elected if he said that.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      I don’t think that the stark stupidity of our nation’s leaders is irrelevant.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • mrj138

      This is absolutely relevant – this guy is apparently a religious wacko who ignores clear science because it doesn't mesh with his beliefs.....wonder what he thinks of global warming

      November 20, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  9. frank

    Come on Marco. No questions here. Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Period.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  10. Daniel

    Just.... wow. How can you possibly honestly believe that only 10000 years have gone by since the 'creation' of the Earth? How do you look at something like the Grand Canyon and think 'oh yeah... 100 centuries can easily create something like that... when our photographs on the place from a century ago show almost ZERO change in it other than 'man made' ones? People wonder why our 'STEM" subject test scores keep going down?

    November 20, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  11. USA401

    There is more evidence indicating the earth is greater than 10,000 years old than there is it was created in 7 days.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Dr Tom

      More being more than zero, as there is zero evidence that it was created in 7 days.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  12. josephS

    I think unless Rubio has made a big deal of pushing creationism in the shcols, this is not an issue. It's not farfetched to think the far Left will use it to distract from Rubio's main point, which is that it doesn't mean squat in relation to jobs and the economy.
    And let's not be confused here, there are plenty of liberal, church-going evolution "deniers" or skeptics out there. I would wager large percentages of African Americans and Hispanics, currently solidly in the Democrats' camp, fall into that category as well.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Saraswati

      It is a big deal if he's going to allow public schools to waste valuable science class time teaching religion. This is a hint that he may do so, weakening our children's already sketchy scientific skills.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Dr Tom

      The problem is not just Rubio thinks the age of the earth is, the problem is what he thinks of science. The are many other scientific issues that are relevent, eg, global warming. Scientific studies of global warming talk about the variation of the earths temperature over millions of years – oops. (Maybe Mark's just watched too many episodes of the Flintstones.) This guy does not belong in any position of government leadership. Even the Pope understands this better than he.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Kris

      Yes, african-americans and hispanics as a majority are solidly in the Democratic camp, however I would easily say the majority are NOT liberals for the very fact that they're so religious. The trend tends to be more religious = more conservative. There are liberals in there, of course, but don't try and lump Demcrats with liberals. They aren't the same. Neither is being republican and conservative.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Dr Tom

      -> Kris: Democrats are generally more economically liberal and Republicans are more economically liberal. That is a generalization that holds up quite well, almost by definition. Socially-liberal or conservative, not so much. And even within the economic and social spheres, there are sub-groups. And there is also the matter of definition. If you think pot should not be illegal, is that a conservative or liberal view point. Remember, conservative means more freedom and less government control – or does it????

      November 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  13. tam

    What about the billions of people on this earth who are of different faiths (many older than Christianity) and who don't adhere to the Bible (uh, not written at the time of creation, and not written by Adam and Eve, either)?

    November 20, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  14. Matt

    While the answer to this question does not have anything to do with GDP or economics, it does say a lot about someone's ability to think objectively and rationally.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Big Joe

      Judging from his response, it sounds to me like he was thinking "politically." Giving non-answers to questions has a long and glorious history with our American political system.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  15. Dr Tom

    Mark Rubio has just indicated that he is not qualified to be President. He cannot maintain his religious beliefs and still have his governing based on science and logic. "I am not a scientist man." says it all. The age of the earth is not a debatable question.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • DaveM

      Agreed. He is an educated man but he is just pandering to the psuedo christian idiots...

      November 20, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Borealbob

      Rubio is just another feckless Republi-t-a-r-d. Anyone who "believes" that the earth is 6,000 years old is not qualified to be dog catcher

      November 20, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Big Joe

      Considering almost half of Americans believe the earth is 10,000 years old, and almost half believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old, I'd say the matter is "debatable." It's even "disputable." The question is, is it "refutable?"

      November 20, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Dr Tom

      Because almost half the Americans believe the earth is 10,000 years old that means it is debatable or disputable? Is that how science is done. That just means that half the Americans have a poor scientific education. How about we just take an average of what everbody believe the age is – does that sound scientific to you? For those who need help with arithmetic, that comes out to a little under 4.5 billion years old. By the way this has nothing to do with your religious beliefs.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  16. Arrowz

    Sounds like he gave a good answer to someone who was overstepping their interview bounds. Step off.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Dr Tom

      What were the interview bounds? You must have some inside information that is not given in this article.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  17. Dave

    Come on Mark. We're counting on you to be one of the GOP's progressive new leaders to restore this party into what it can be. What it is now is unsustainable. Man up and stop pandering to outdated fundamentalist right-wing paradigms.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Dr Tom

      Mark Rubio a Progress GOP leader? He's a Tea Party favorite. And the Tea Party, which started out as an ultra-Conservative economic group is now kissing up to the religious right-wing and Rubio is going right along with this. If the GOP ever wants to become a major national party again it is going to have to dump this right wing religious agenda and Rubio along with it.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Dave

      I think this man has potential. Sure he has hitched his wagon to the Tea Party to elevate his stature and visibility. But he can reform himself in a progressive thinker/doer. If he doesn't then I will be proven wrong.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  18. Sickened

    Right dum dumb. Religion, faith and belief is PERSONAL thing and should NEVER enter into politics. We don't elect Saint to political office so stop the shenanigans. Run away from politicians that speak religionese. But the GOP is not listening....

    November 20, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  19. pjoe

    Genesis 1:1 just says who created the heavens and the earth. It doesn't give a date ... it just says, "In the beginning". There could have been millions of years between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. It won't hurt my faith at all if the planet was created 4.5 billion years ago. Whenever it was created, the Bible just says that God was the one who created it.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Dr Tom

      Don't mix up science and religion. They exist in different realms.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • sybaris

      Circular logic, "It's [Bible] true because it says it is, because it says it is, because it says it is.............."

      November 20, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  20. DAVID MANN

    If God is "Almighty" why did he need a day of rest?

    November 20, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Big Joe

      The Bible doesn't say God "needed" a day of rest. It said "God rested." If you care to read further than Genesis 2, you would learn that God rested as an example to man that rest is a necessary component of work.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Robert Brown

      The eternal God, though infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, yet took a satisfaction in the work of his own hands. He did not rest, as one weary, but as one well-pleased with the instances of his own goodness and the manifestations of his own glory.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Ben

      Big Joe
      God rested on the seventh day which is why Jews should also. This is the "message" of the Genesis creation myth, right?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:58 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.