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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. Sane Person

    If you believe the bible is literal and is god's word, then you should be okay with slavery, torture, brutally murdering children, forcing women who get r@ped to marry the r@pist, burning children alive, etc.

    If you can't admit that at least SOME of the bible is not god's word, then you are okay with all these things. (You need mental help)

    November 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • sarafalin

      You cannot use logic with wackos. :)

      November 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  2. DJ

    "Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years..."

    Seriously? 46% of you think, what, that there's been a vast conspiracy that includes acts as impossible as digging deep into the earth, in thousands of places, to hide fake dinosaur skeletons? Who would finance an ATTEMPT at such a thing? No one, because such a thing would require so many people and even governments to (never really be able to) accomplish that the secret would have been out long ago. "Intelligent Design" is beyond silly. It's just wrestling things around to fit the human-interpreted view of the bible. Dumb.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Zeb

      One prevailing theory is that "God" deliberately put those old dinosaur bones in the earth to mis-direct us from "his" "grand design"! Or that actually al our dating techniques are miraculously tampered with by (you guessed it!) "God" to confuse us! Truly, creationists will come up with any outlandish theory to keep validating their beliefs.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  3. K BRAGDON

    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. THIS STATEMENT IS TOTAL BS IT HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY

    November 20, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  4. Mason

    The Bible is a bunch of stories compiled by Men...there may be Moral content but there is no scientific content.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • tallulah13

      And that moral content is pretty dodgy.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  5. alberto

    Why can't the Bible coexist with Science. They are both faith based. Neither one is quite correct. The Bible was written by people who believed based on the information of that time. Science is constantly evolving and changing. Both are responsible for advancing human civilization. It is better to applaud the Bible for the good it has done as well as to condemn those who misused it to advance evil causes. The same can be said of science.
    Those who read the Bible as absolute fact are wrong. Those who follow the scientists pronouncements as unquestionable fact are also incorrect. Humans would be wiser to accept the good from the Bible as well as the good from science and advance. We are an evolving species. To ridicule beliefs of a time is empty -headed since all human advancement is built on the past. Instead of being critical about what was written it would be more admirable to write something that could advance human knowledge and improve character.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Elphaba

      The Bible might possibly be a great book for learning how to live a moral life; after sifting through all the crap. But science is fact. There's too much evidence backing up these facts.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • MalcomR

      Your second sentence makes me pity you. Please refine your understanding of modern science to avoid further embarrassment.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Dan I.

      Science is NOT faith based. Faith is belief without evidence. Science specifically REQUIRES evidence in other to formulate a conclusion. Yes science is changing because we develop better equipment, better tests etc. Not because "oh we just think it's this way now."

      Science and faith CAN co-exist, unless your "faith" is so weak that you hold to demonstrably false beliefs no matter what the reality of the world tells you.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Osiris

      You can only advance so far if your thoughts are limited to the parameters set forth by some religious doctrine. Christians for example burned the Library of Alexandria because it's contents challenged and refuted many of the claims on which their doctrine was based. How much advancement was lost just in that one action? How much is derailed still today because of religious activists in government? (think stem cells and Bush).

      November 20, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • alberto

      The reason that I wrote science is faith based is because we accept the results of so-called scientific pronouncements only to find them occasionally in error, sometimes intentionally. When you believe the scientist you are going on faith. When a so-called scientific fact is later over-turned, you reject that "fact". Your reason for believing the previous now proven erroneous fact was a faith in the always correct scientific answer, that is faith.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, science is the furthest thing from faith-based. That which is considered known is based on many factors, all of them tangible, replicable or mathematically solid. Yet at any time, if a better solution comes to light, the old idea is either dismissed or improved upon.

      Religion, on the other hand, is a reflection of a society's morals. The bible was codified, edited and set in stone almost 2000 years ago. Since that time, there has been an explosion of human knowledge. Why should we chain ourselves to primitive, supernaturally-based ideas?

      What is good in the bible is not unique to the bible. People have long known that killing, stealing, lying, cheating, etc. are bad for the health of a culture. These are not biblical concepts. These are human concepts.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, alberto, the scientific community is fiercely self-policing. If someone is putting out bad data,or using shoddy methods, they will never make it past the sort of scrutiny that is required before any idea is published, much less accepted. This is why science is not at all faith based.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Zeb

      Sorry, @Alberto, both are *not* faith-based. Evolution makes assumptions, and then tests those assumptions against current theories and experiments; if necessary refines those assumptions and tests. Creationism refuses to test hypotheses, depending on absolute belief in the written word. Another false equivalence.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  6. evil_atheist

    '“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.”'

    What an idiot. Hey Rubio – can you tell me how magnets work? This is why we need to start electing scientists, not bible thumpers. I will always trust an atheist in office over a "believer" – at least their policies will be guided by reason and critical thinking, not magical thinking and thousands of years of mythology. I doubt we'll ever see a secular (intelligent) electorate in my lifetime, though – these are some scary numbers:

    "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."

    "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."

    We are a country of backwards thinking, mysticism-ruled apes who are no more advanced than our prehistoric ancestors (which the plurality of Americans would deny exist), except for the fact that we wear pants and drive cars.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Tea Partier

      Belief in a religion is not stopping you from doing anything! Idiot! You want to be ruled by science and reason? Truely? So when you become old and infirm science snd reason would conclude you are a worthless bread gobbler and schedule you for extermination. That science and reason will be more than you can handle.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • ialsoagree

      Tea Partier committed the slippery slope fallacy.

      Much more secular countries than the US have higher standards of living than the US, especially for the elderly. This directly contradicts your false claim.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Tea Partier, why would science conclude that someone old is worthless? Science doesn't "conclude" anything in the moral realm, for that we still need an ethical system, whether religious or not. If we have a non-religious ethical system, such as rule utilitarianism, it will very likely determine that keeping the elderly alive and happy is in the best interest of the greatest happiness, both for the elderly and for the young who will one day be elderly. Science just does science. Ethics does ethics, and it may of may not be religious.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Proud Atheist

      Amen to that!

      November 20, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • BurningMan

      @Tea Partier....hmmm, when I walk into the average nursing home in this "Great Christian Nation" of ours, I have to ask how much you and your Tea Party friends care about the elderly...I am amazed at how little conservatives, Evangelicals and the latest version Tea Party members care so little for the living except their own tribe in the so-called "light" of their scriptures....

      November 20, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • xirume

      Hey Tea Partier, learn to write and spell, you ignorant hick.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • numbnut

      I would like to know who and where did Gallup do their survey. The state of Utah, or maybe the deep south, or the bible belt.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  7. Shelia

    The only thing Rubio said that is true is that the debate has nothing to do with the country's economic situation. There is no law that says you have to choose science or faith. However, there is an element in the Republican Party that is making this a criteria for their candidates, which is why it will continue to loose in national elections.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  8. 1plus1

    Rubio, Rubio, Rubio...
    Shall we also teach flat earth theory in school? Shall we also teach that the sun goes around the earth? Should we also teach that the moon is made of cheese? Some uneducated people believe these things, but that doesn't make them a valid topic to teach our kids.. Same goes for creationism.
    On one hand you have evidence, on the other hand you have the telephone game.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Zeb

      ... the moon *is* made of cheese!!! It's just turned rancid and hardened to rock over the 2000-10000 years mandated by creationism..... well, actually there is something out there that keeps eating the cheese and then putting more back in periodically (how else to explain the moon growing from a sliver to a circle, then back to a sliver, then vanishing? Hmmm, methinks a new theory is in place 8-)

      November 20, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Proud Atheist

      Well said.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  9. World Without Religion

    "Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years"...this is the most startling of everything in this article. Wow! A testament to the power of brainwashing.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Osiris

      the problem with religious polls is that folks often answer based on societal pressure or ignorance rather han truly informed and reflective thought. I doubt nearly half the country really believes something so clearly wrong......but then again.....

      November 20, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Tom

      = the republican base.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  10. Elphaba

    Hmmm. Who do you think has the right answers; tens of thousands of scientists from all over the world studying our origins over the last few centuries and coming up with today's scientific conclusions, or one book written two thousand years ago?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  11. xirume

    Rubio: “I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.” and the GOPhers want this clown to run for president? A monkey is better qualified.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  12. Tom

    I'm an independent. I will NOT VOTE FOR ANY A HOLE WHO THINKS THE EARTH IS 6K YEARS OLD.

    I JUST CAN'T DO IT!!!

    November 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  13. Tawanda

    Personally, I don't see any conflict between a belief in God and in science. If God is the creator of all, then he is the creator of science. If there is one thing that I know, it's that the more we learn through science, the more we know that we have yet to learn. A little humility goes a long way.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • MalcomR

      And a little critical thinking erases millenia of human suffering and stagnation. – Science.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • LC

      "Science" didn't create the universe, it just discovers what did and, so far, that ain't God. Believe in God all you want, but science is showing that he wasn't necessary for the creation of the universe, so that does put the two at odds.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • derp

      it's that the more we learn through science, the more we know that god is a myth.

      There, fixed it for you.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  14. Karen Neff

    Spare me your pandering. I am sick to death of politicians, particularly on the right, giving lip service to whatever the religious fundamentalists dictate. Either you believe the earth is millions of years old or you're wrong. It's just that simple.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  15. chris

    Wow, the media already ganging up on Rubio. Must be racist.... Its a bad thing for a politician to more concerned about ABOUT THE ECONOMY than friggin the Earth's age. Liberals are out of control!

    November 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • ialsoagree

      If you refuse to accept the principles that have led science to a well supported estimate for the age of the Earth, you are also rejecting the principles necessary for our modern economy to work.

      Someone who rejects the principles that enable our modern economy to exist is incapable of assisting that modern economy.

      I would not hire a caveman to help us build an economy, and Rubio's opinions remind me very much of cavemen: outdated, ignorant, and lacking any reason or logic.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • 1plus1

      Chris, It's important to ask these types of questions as we vet our future leaders. How can you get behind a leader if he believes in bat shˆt crazy shˆt? I'm still having flashbacks of Mitt in his magic underwear.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  16. eeyore

    ...and this is why this country is so backwards and falling behind the rest of the post-industrial countries...and why is it that these...nuts...will use rules of evidence and "science" to back claims of biblical proof...but reject the same critria when it is used against them? hypocracy? double talk?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Dr. Marc

      When God created the heavens and the earth, He created them fully mature. While they may look 4.5 billion years old, in actuality they are only 6,000-8,000 years old. If God had created Adam as an infant, he would not have survived; he was created fully mature. In like fashion the earth was created fully mature. If we had seen Adam on the day of creation we would have said he looks to be around 30 years old...fully mature; but he was actually one day old. I don't have a problem with a scientist saying the earth looks like it is 4.5 billion years old. But to declare such a statment is preposterous. It violates the scientific method...which requires personal observation. Only God was there and He has declared the age of the earth. Evolution is more an attack on the existence of God and His authority over the earth and all of mankind than a scientific argument. If God exists..and I beleive He does, we are under His authority. God-haters will do anything, believe anything else and say anything to escape this truth.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Religion is Not Heathly for children or ANY living things

      "Dr" Marc – I am sorry that you have not had an adequate education to evaluate facts and reality! Your foolish claim, "It violates the scientific method...which requires personal observation" is not a requirement of the scientific method! Please educate yourself and avoid looking so foolish in the future...

      November 20, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  17. sdmco

    The GOP doesn't stand a chance nationally until they begin to dip their toes back in to reality.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  18. MalcomR

    This is ridiculous. The age of the oldest rocks is known PRECISELY to within a few tens of millions of years, as determined by several different radiometric dating methods. Also, stellar evolution, geologic models, cratering rates, etc. let us know WITH CERTAINTY, that the solar system and the Earth is well over 4 billion years old. Any modern human in a position such as this guy, is either willfully ignorant, or just plain lying. What else would we expect from our politicians?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • davidtutwiler

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v4/n4/assumptions

      November 20, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • MalcomR

      Answers in Genesis? Go back to the dark ages please.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  19. CJ

    i am not a Rubio fan, but i would have to agree, the age of the earth (nor us coming to know it) has anything to do with the deficit we are in at this point in time! maybe someone can figure that out before the earth gets too much older???

    November 20, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • MalcomR

      What sort of results do you expect from people who are too stupid or blind to facts, regarding the economy?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • ialsoagree

      The principles use to derive the age of the Earth are the same principles use to create the economy of today. Without those principles, we wouldn't have things like modern medicine, or electricity, or boats and cars.

      To deny the validity of one is to deny the validity of the other. You're welcome to think that we don't know the age of the Earth, but if you do, you have no logical ground to stand on when you claim to know whether a plane will be able to fly or not. It's the same principles use to determine both, if they don't work in one case, they don't work in the other either and we're just "getting lucky" every time a plane doesn't crash.

      Tell me, do you want someone who can't give any logical reason why planes don't fall out of the sky to be in charge of fixing your economy?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Mike

      People who "know" the Earth was created 4.5 billion years ago are displaying just as much faith as people who "know" it was created 6,000 years ago. There's no way to verify. All we have are scientific models that present best guesses based on the limited abilities we have to measure the limited variables we have identified. As we identify more variables, and as we invent better means to measure, those models, and the best guess they represent will change. THAT is Science. Science isn't about "knowing" anything. It's about being reasonably sure that the answer is something close to what the model predicts, at least until we have better data available. So, quite honestly, his answer is correct... no one can know how old the Earth is. No one will *ever* know how old the Earth is. All we have is a best guess on current models and data.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  20. ScottM

    Science sent men to the moon, religion sent them into the Twin Towers.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Tom

      Just about sums it up doesn't it?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:37 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.