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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. tffl

    “I'm not a scientist, man,” Rubio told the interviewer. He's not an economist either, but he certainly acts like he believes he understands _that_. I don't really care how ignorant a private citizen is (well, yes I do, but...) but this clown is a Senator, and one on the Science and Space subcommittee. He is not only ignorant of science, he is an active science denier – it is scary to know that such a person is in a position of power (at least in a funding and budgetary sense, probably others) over something so important to this country.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Tea Partier

      Oh you are so smart and so science driven. Whatever! You should worry about your own thinking because you voted in a fascist dictator! I would rather you hsd psid attention in history class. Had you done that you would have been able to see through obamas fascist demagoguary. But instead you are able to tease powerless Christians that maybe just dont want to see your perverted behavior in public. Yeah you are science driven. Please!!!

      November 20, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • jpeagle21

      I know. Also, remember when Rubio said there were 47 states. And, he pronounced "corpman" as "corpseman". Oh wait.....that was Obama. Nevermind.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Huebert

      TeaBagger

      Rants like that are why most Americans have an unfavorable view of the tea party. Also, you use the word fascist a lot. What do you thing fascism is?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • jpeagle21

      @Huebert – Actually more people identify as "conservative" than they do "liberal" or "progressive". And, those tea partiers that you insult are the ones who took the house of representatives in 2010. In other words, the people put them in place to keep reigns on Obama's spending.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Abraham

      @ jpeagle21 you keep pulling these "statistics" out or your ar*e...do you REALLY think there are more conservatives? No wonder you people LOST!!! Yep, you LOST this last election. That means there ARE NOT more conservatives. I have to say it...you are an IDIOT!

      November 20, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Teabagger. Do you know how elections work? In the USA at least you get a choice, so your "voted in a dictator" is pure nonsense. I'd say it was you who is the demagogue.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Huebert

      jpeagle

      Yes more Americans identify as conservative than liberal, that is true. I self identify as a fiscal conservative. But I was talking specifically about views of the Tea Party, which are mostly negative. Also it is now 2012 not 2010, many tea party candidates lost their reelection bid.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      Tea Patier has no idea what facists means. lol. He/she also has no idea at how the christards are destroying the GOP and turning it into Gods Own Party.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • jpeagle21

      Huebert – A "fiscal conservative" who supports Obama. Now that's funny.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Huebert

      jpeagle

      Pleas show me where I said I support Obama.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      jpeagle21. You seem to forget that it was Bush policies that took us down the path to deficits and debt. Tax cuts, two wars, Medicare drug, etc. all unfunded. Remember Cheney saying debt doesn't matter, and how can we budget for unknown costs.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  2. Rebecca

    This is where Republican issues with truth/facts begin. There is scientific, proven evidence that the earth is FAR older than 10,000 years old - try 4.5 billion years, give or take a few. We have fossils, carbon-dating records...empirical evidence that proves it. It is not up for debate, it is not a question. There is not a grey area. The same goes for global warming. It's a thing, and it's happening - embrace the truth. When there is hard data that creationism is a viable theory, I will listen with open ears. Until then, stop hijacking reason. It's unbecoming.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  3. 1plus1

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qJDd-2tM-A&w=640&h=390]

    November 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  4. Steve Maricic

    Without looking it up, can you say who came up with what is now called the Big Bang theory?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • ialsoagree

      It was a Catholic Priest, but the man's name escapes me. Scientists accused him of trying to inject god into the creation of the universe and laughed him out. Later, the basics of his hypothesis were demonstrated to be accurate with evidence, and science adopted the model as a natural cause for the expansion of the universe.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  5. Newtonslaw

    It may be a mystery to Rubio but not to educated scientists. "Educated" being the operative word here. Look if people think the earth is 5000 years old and the moon is made of cheese it still doesn't change the facts. Sadly, politicians have not only a lack of education but a spine as well. Rubio is nothing more than a street hustler in Florida and soon we'll send him back to school.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • jpeagle21

      Why do you hate latinos so much? "Street hustler"? We all know what you meant by that. Such a racist comment.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      jp, you're silly. There wasn't a thing in that post that was "racist." That you see it that way says far more about you than it does about the OP.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Mark

      Intelligence is knowing why the question was asked in the first place. Clearly I sense a lack of intelligence for deciphering what this question is truly about and it ain't about the age of A floating rock. With that said, age is a relative relationship. We base it on our panet because that is how small and important we are. That is why we do not base it on Saturns orbit. Basically there must be some agreement on what something is for it to BE. If someone believed the earth was twenty nine times younger then what scientists say they would not be incorrect so long as they were basing it on Saturn but we would all say the person was really stupid. So, I believe we all agree on a level of ignorance in order to communicate and those who may not agree we belittle but, in fact, they may be using more intelligence than the masses. Perhaps that is why the really crazy smart scientists are out there and no one can really understand them until we dumb it down for the 99%.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Zeb

      @jpeagle: the poster calls Rubio a "street hustler" in much the same way as one would call Romney a "street hustler", or Herman Cain a "street hustler"..... why do you guys always make this into something it's not?

      November 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  6. Mark

    Uh huh...man wants to talk about economic and social issues in hopes of improving them and some very intelligent reporter asks about the age of the earth? With such people seekignto cntrol who we elect to lead us, perhaps the better question should be, "How much longer do you think our planet will last?"! And we respond to this crap? We are in the perfect place.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Zeb

      Then the smart response from Rubio would have been to tell the questioner that this is not the appropriate forum to talk about the age of the earth, that he is here to talk about economic issues. But he stepped right into it because he did not have the gumption to push back. But he did say he wanted to talk about economic and *social* issues, so the question was appropriate!

      November 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  7. richunix

    @Sumday,

    Read AND undertand the fallacy I posted and you will understand what I said. In short becuase you say there is a god does not prove there is. Tell (us) the differnece between your GOD and the other GODS of the world?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  8. jpeagle21

    Really CNN? You're already trying to tear down Rubio? The election just ended. Calling his church to ask about their beliefs? Really? Did you call Obama's pastor and ask him about damning America or saying our chickens are coming home to roost? You people are the lowest of the low.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Pen

      No, dipsh.its like Rubio are.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Abraham

      @ jpeagle21....YOU are the lowest of the lowest sort of person. You and your supposed christian beliefs...look what your jesus makes you into, a nasty, ugly, judgmental person filled with nothing but hatred.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Bob

      does repeating hannity talking points make you feel good??

      November 20, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • jpeagle21

      @Abraham – Nice post. You can attack Christians if you want. People can look at the posts from me and you and see who is really filled with hatred. I didn't call anyone names. I told the truth. Reporters and journalists who hold one political party to a different standard and try to tear republicans down are terrible people.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • jpeagle21

      @Bob – I don't need Hannity to tell me what to think. I can see it for myself. Go ahead and DVR Maddow's show for your next round of talking points.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Abraham

      WOW HYPOCRITE, CHILDISH jpeagle21.....you're whining like a little baby, "people will know I'm the nicer kid..." LMAO!!!!
      UM, you called Liberals the lowest of LOW, I think people indeed DO know what kind of person you are....

      November 20, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "You people are the lowest of the low." Hmmm. Now who said that? Sounds pretty hateful to me.

      Funny how jpeagle doesn't like the shoe being on the other foot. Your tactics before the election failed, dear. Get over it. They're not going to work this time around, either.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Bob

      Of course you need hannity to tell you what to think – how else would you know what to think?? And what to put in your comment? And how to respond to the replies to your comment. Bringing up something irrelevant, just because a republican is being questioned – straight from hannity; using a tired refrain from half a decade ago – hannity tactic; get nasty when challanged – hannity playbook; etc. etc. etc........

      November 20, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • jpeagle21

      @Amraham – LMAO? Is that what you wrote? Thanks for letting people here know your maturity level. I liked all the caps as well. Pretty classy.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • jpeagle21

      @Bob – Just because something happened 4 years ago doesn't mean it didn't happen. And, the liberal media bias is happening now, and it is very real.....whether or not Hannity says it.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Bob

      there you go again – "liberal media bias" – hannity; sticking to you guns even though it makes you look like a wackjob – hannity. If you sent your initial comment and the following exchange to hannity, he would probably send you a signed copy of his latest rag – heck! he may even name you honorary hannity of the month

      November 20, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • jpeagle21

      @ Bob – You're correct. Hannity's show "gives me a thrill up my leg". I'm interested to see how many times you can write "hannity" in your next post. I think i'll make a drinking game out of it.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • jpeagle21

      WAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I'm a big latino baby! WAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! I'm a stupid conservatrol, repulitard and village idiot! WAAAAHHHHHHH!!! I think people really care what I think!!!!

      November 20, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Bob

      Finally you admit it – wasnt so hard, now was it?? However, the fact that you have an actual fetish – please keep that to yourself.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • jpeagle21

      Bob – dang, no "hannitys". can't take a drink.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Abraham

      I love George Bush! He is the best president ever. Much better than Obama.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Bob

      From the look of things, you dont need me to say anything for you to drink...

      November 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • jpeagle21

      Bob – Oh snap! You got me. I can't hang with you man. Too witty. You must be one of those book smart liberals.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Bob

      I know. Yes, very smart, including booksmart, and liberal.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • jpeagle21

      I'm sure you think you're smart, however your posts prove otherwise. That's the problem with liberals. They think they're smarter than everyone else and think they know what is best for everyone.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      jpeagle21. So were Hannity and Fox News right about the liberal media and their skewed polls? Or did Obama win the electoral college and the popular vote?

      November 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  9. hilreal

    Let's see I guess next week he'ss start going to a synagogue!

    November 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • fred

      Followed by a visit to Billy Graham

      November 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  10. MalcomR

    Terrifying that an a**hat like this has any say whatsoever regarding how my country spends it's science resources. F'ing terrifying.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Religion is Not Heathly for children or ANY living things

      I Concur!...

      November 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  11. kenny

    rubio lied ... to appeal to the ignorant religgy gop base... he knows how old the earth is, a 10 year old knows.... i work with engineers that think the world is 10k years old and that carbon dating and radiometric dating are "tricks" by god to make people "think" the world is older than it is... and they think I'm crazy for not havinng faith... promoting ignorance/anti-science should be a crime

    November 20, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  12. Bliz

    And how old does Obama think the earth is? GQ, CNN, and liberals seem curiously uncurious about this. Can you say "double standard"?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Jesusiscreepy

      Hey genius, Obama BELIEVES in GLOBAL WARMING...so I think he believes in Science...unlike you and your ilk!

      November 20, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • jpeagle21

      Exactly! Thank you! CNN and the rest of the liberal press are terrible people.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Abraham

      @ bliz....Dang you republitards are DUMB!!!

      November 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Abraham

      @ jpeagle21...said as only an ignorant, rude, bullying christian would say...

      November 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Bliz

      wait, do any of you guys actually know how old Obama thinks the earth is? You realize that your name calling didn't actually answer the question, right?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nope. And I doubt he'd be so stupid as to answer the question the way Rubio did.

      Why don't you ask him?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Abraham

      @ hypocrite bliz...do YOU know what Obama believes???? Can you find what he believes and give the reference here????? Don't accuse us of name calling, YOU started it you IDIOT.

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

      Why don't I ask him? Because I don't work for CNN. Or GQ. Or any of the other major news source/publication. Maybe Obama thinks the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Maybe he thinks the earth began the day he was born. For someone who cares so much about what a Senator from Florida thinks about this topic, CNN, GQ, and yourself seem very disinterested in what the President thinks.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Religion is Not Heathly for children or ANY living things

      The reason that educated people are "uncurious" about this is the simple fact that there is NO scientific debate on this issue whatsoever. Current data clearly shows the Earth to be AT LEAST 4.5 billion years old. There are NO valid opposing scientific theories to contradict these facts, so hence- NO DEBATE.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bilz, it's "UNINTERESTED." Not "disinterested." I'm not interested in what Obama thinks about the issue because he isn't attempting to put creationism in the public schools. He isn't on the subcommittee–Rubio is. I've never heard Obama say anything so unintelligent as the quote from Rubio. That's why.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  13. Dan I.

    I'll agree with Rubio on one point. It's a dumb question, what's even worse is that we HAVE to ask it. Why? Because there is a decent subset of the GOP base that actually makes this an issue.

    We shouldn't HAVE to wonder if our potential leaders accept the scientific consensus on issues, but many of them DON'T whether in truth or for political reasons.

    The sad thing isn't that you were asked the question Senator, it's that the core supporters of your party make it so that you have to be asked.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  14. Bob

    That question is too easy to dodge – just ask, "do you believe that carbon dating is accurate?"

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

      Carbon dating isn't used to determine the age of the Earth. And as an aside. Potassium-argon dating uses different principles from carbon dating.

      This might seem like quibbling but it's not. It's the difference between a few tens of thousands of years, and being able to date back hundreds of millions of years.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Bob

      Ialsoagree – carbon dating is more than sufficient to disprove the christian timeline, which is the point of my comment. If he doesnt believe in carbon dating, it is a sure sign that he is one of the wackos.... (so, yes, you are quibbling)

      November 20, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  15. Eugene

    How can US get the economy out of the gutter if they stick to mentality of dark ages? Economy boost requires innovation, ingenuity, critical thinking, educated professionals. Creationists demand from government more jobs and a better economy, but in a same time they shun science – the very fabric of what possibly the only chance US has for decent future.. that seems counter-productive. It's same as demanding from taxi driver to get you to airport asap, and then yell at him for speeding.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  16. Jack Klompus

    The Middle Ages continue to be alive and well in the 21st century. And we still have the hubris to consider the beliefs of some peoples of the world "primitive." Laugh or cry, either response is appropriate.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  17. TC

    A practicing Catholic that attends a Baptist church? Hmmm....makes about as much sense as a practicing politcian that has a moral code. When will people get that these politicians do not really practice religion or hold to a faith that suppports caring for other human beings. Dums and repubes or either atheists or if they do "believe" in God they could care less.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  18. Jim

    CNN making Christianity a ridicule because of his Democrat agenda against Republicans.

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

      ESL Jim or are you just fvcking dumb?

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

      Christianity doesn't need CNN to make it look ridiculous; it does that all by itself.

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

      Hey Yoda, christianity is "making christianity a ridicule" – have you ever read that book they all rave about?? What a joke that is.....

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

      The Biblical explanation for the creation of the earth and humans is believed not only by the Christians but also by the Jews and the Muslims. All of these Abrahamic religions believe on the same facts as presented in the Bible.
      Of course science has a different story to tell us and until someone refutes the scientific basis for the age of the earth and the evolutionary basis for the creation of life the Biblical explanation should be taught only in religious schools and has no place in secular public education.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  19. LetsBeCivil

    I'm tired of being a Mormon. I think I'll be a Baptist today. No... wait... we're moving to Florida; let's all worship god like Catholics instead! Religion: The wishy-washy lifestyle choice.

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

      But what if it is true? What if heaven and hell do exist? Would you not want to believe just to keep yourself from going to hell? Is it not terrifying to you to think....what if it is real???? What if i don't make it to heaven? Scares the heck out of me!

      November 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Religion is Not Heathly for children or ANY living things

      Whynot – I am sorry that you have such a weak mind and such a lack of education. Those illogical, pointless and ridiculous questions do not cause educated people any alarm, nor should they!... Educate yourself and free your mind from the mental slavery induced by religious dogma! Throw away your chains and embrace REALITY!

      November 20, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  20. john

    So tired of hearing about creationist pseudo science. Its a stupid theory and should not be "peddled" in our schools as an alternative to good science. Let's all band together to teach our children the benefits of math and science. Perhaps they will create the next breakthrough that will improve our lives.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Tea Partier

      And vote in a fascist dictator like you did? Yeah that was some progress! You knuckleheads worry about a belief that does not matter either way yet you want to destroy any faith. Why is that? The Left knows that if they remove God then we have NO rights from God and they will reduce all our lives to serfdom. If you believe the Left stands for freedom then why are you persecuting believers? Why is that "liberal"? It is because you are a kool-aid drinker that takes the Lefts propaganda at face value.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bwah! Wipe your chin, TP. Your spittle is ugly.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Pete

      John, I agree with you. Tea Partier I voted for Gary Johnson, and until the Republican Party throws people like you out of it I will never vote for another Republican.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:21 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.