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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. Mike from Seattle

    I just want to know if it's possible to dig a hole to China.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Not from the northern hemisphere ;)

      November 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • PushingBack

      Yes, you just need to be able to calculate the proper trajectory. I would avoid asking Marco Rubio for help with those calculations!

      November 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Not with any current technology.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  2. PushingBack

    This is why America is in the poor shape it is in. We elect people who couldn't think their way out of a paper bag and then we sit and wonder why things are getting worse. Well, it's either that he is that stupid or that he is pandering for a portion of the conservative right's vote. Which do you think? Either way, he's got to go!

    November 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  3. Ferathka

    The fact that their are people that believe the Earth is only 6k-10k years old really confuses me. Yup all those fossils mean nothing. And people in this country wonder why we lag so far behind the rest of the world in science. You keep teaching dumb in schools and that is what happens.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Ferathka,

      don't you know? Satan put them there to decieve those with weak faith.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • BurningMan

      Actually, when I was a Christian, I was told that the fossils were placed there by god to test our faith...such is still being passed today. Truly a sad reality. And it didn't even occur to me that that would mean that my god was dishonest...but we can't question god's plan; it is a mystery.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  4. DKD

    This guy is an idiot. I am a Republican and a Christian and people like this are giving us a bad name. I believe God gave us the ability to think for ourselves so we should instead of listening this these morons. I am an Engineer and believe in scientific facts and in no way does this question my faith in God. We need to learn to think for ourselves and quit electing people like this.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • PushingBack

      Amen to that!

      November 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  5. Lardeau

    In my opinion as a geologist and a believer in God or a Creator, I do not think the solving of the age-old mystery of creation was ever programmed into our brains ( by God ) to KNOW. I accept that. In our lifetimes individually – we will NEVER find out. Perhaps after we die – it might be shown to us. Re the age of the earth. Just look at the thickness of some of those sedimentary formations and ask yourselves how long it would take for erosion to build them up. And sometimes you will see them at the tops of present-day mountains. No – I think we have the age of the earth pretty-well indicated - and it sure as heck ain't 10,000 years !!!! LOL.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  6. Someone

    What is the problem with his answer? I guess some of you can say beyond a shadow of a doubt EXACTLY how the world formed? Really? 100 years from now kids might be learning in school how we used to believe in the big bang. The problem with you liberals is your arrogance. If you had any wisdom at all you'd understand science is always teaching us new things. The only thing I feel safe in ruling out is Xenu's coming here in a giant space 707. Beyond that we have theories, theories and faith or just faith. We all have our set of beliefs. Deal with it.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • snowboarder

      some – nothing in science states that other theories will not be developed, but you can be certain that religious creationism will not be one of them.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • JC

      No wonder you are in decline. How come study and analysis with experimental data has become controversial?

      November 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Huebert

      Yes we have theories. Theories which have been tested time and time again. The age of the earth being about 4.5 billion years is supported by a great deal of evidence. If you find evidence to the contrary you should publish it in a scientific journal. You could be an over night star in the scientific community.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Your religious belief is just as wacky as belief in Xenu.....deal with it.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • PushingBack

      The problem with his answer is that it is wrong and based completely outside a factual realm on this topic. The debate wasn't around whether the Earth was 14.4 billions years old or 14.6.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @PushingBack,

      just as well, since we think the answer for the age of the earth is closer to 4.5 billion years ago. ;)

      November 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • JC

      If your set of beliefs are based on analysis, evidence and experimented, I have no problem looking into it. Unlike science you are a set of ancient beliefs which are not open to any new information.
      Science unlike religion is not a pre determined fact, its a "Process", any new information will rectify our previous understanding.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Xenu

      True, I have my own personal Lear Jet anyway.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  7. grayfox

    Marco Rubio, the GOP's next shape-shifter! "What do you want to hear? I'll tell you that." "What will alienate the least amount of people? I'll tell you that." "Tell you what I REALLY think?!? No way." How many more days till the next election?

    November 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  8. Mike

    Scientific literacy is a key element in a 21st century economy. Rubio's take that answers to basic scientific questions have no bearing on the economy is one more reason the GOP is on the road to nowhere. The US is already well behind other nations in science and mathematics education and it shows.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  9. sandalista

    Can 47% of Americans really be that ignorant?

    November 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Huebert

      Have you ever been to the mid west?

      November 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Someone

      You sound like one of those living off of those of us who are working and contributing to society. 53% of us work so that people like you can have your Obama phones. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • JL

      Can 53% of American's really be that gullible? What evidence do you personally have of a 4.5 billion year old earth? There are 3 huge assumptions associated with radio-carbon dating and if all 3 are not valid, the method is worthless. Furthermore, there is tons of evidence that discredits the possibility of an old earth, one of the more recent discoveries being the presence of helium trapped in ancient rocks from radioactivity. If the rocks are as old as many scientists say, the helium should have dissipated from the rocks long ago.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @JL,

      "there is tons of evidence that discredits the possibility of an old earth"

      Ummm ... no there isn't.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Huebert

      JL

      Continental drift renders the young earth "theory" impossible.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Athy

      The helium is being produced continuously so there will always be some present in rocks that contain radioactive isotopes.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • BurningMan

      @JL may I recommend you pick up a bookshelf from Wal-Mart and fill it with texts other than those written by Henry Morris?

      November 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  10. AngerBot

    Question: How old is the earth?

    Rubio: Absolutely.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  11. Wackadoodle

    He be shillin'....

    November 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  12. JL

    "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"
    If that's not a completely biased statement... How do you know the intent of Creationists? Ever consider the possibility that they see more evidence in support of a young earth than there is an old one and only want students to evaluate the two hypotheses critically rather than be brainwashed into believing evolution and an old earth is fact?

    November 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • snowboarder

      jl – that has been considered and dismissed as untrue.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • WASP

      @JL: it's because they got busted in an e-mail admitting that was their objective.
      they wanted to disrupt science and "help save children from the evils of the scienctific world".

      November 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Wackadoodle

      " How do you know the intent of Creationists? Ever consider the possibility that they see more evidence in support of a young earth than there is an old one and only want students to evaluate the two hypotheses critically rather than be brainwashed into believing evolution and an old earth is fact?"

      Uh, no, because that would mean giving a degree of credence to that wacky creationist camp that is utterly refuted via the bright light of scientific study and investigation. That there are people who are trying to convince others of this "Creationism" theory is a sad indictment of the mentality and the gullibility of far too people in our society.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @JL,

      there is ZERO scientific evidence in support of a "young" earth that is <10,000 years old.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      They call it the Evolution Theory but want it taught as indesputable fact. If both evolution and creationism are to be considered theories, then why not give them equal time? A true open minded intellect would support such an educational environment. Only fear or an agenda of censorship could motivate anyone to reject such an idea.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      JL, There is zero evidence for a young earth. Look up Dover vs. Kittsmiller, the court say right through the creationists argument and dismissed it.

      We should accept young Earth Creationism as a viable theory when they are able to provide reliable evidence that their theory is anything but a joke.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Theories backed by evidence should be taught.

      Hypotheses backed by nothing but the big book of smiting don't belong in science class.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • JFCanton

      It depends what the goal is. There is no reason why intelligent design, which is what non-wacky non-believers in evolution have gravitated to, is incompatible with micro-scale evolution, but it also adds very little to understanding.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • seamn

      What evidence.. I have yet to see one. Red bloodcells in a dino bone was debunked reap the actual paper. Flood water carved the grand canyon..yeah debunked to never heard of water traveling twice speed of sound and being able to twist and turn. As a catholic I belive we were born to explore,learn and if we stop looking for all they hows and whys and settel on a well the bible says so thats it then we will never really come closer to all the answeres that still have yet to be found.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • OTOH

      Spa Knight,

      You do not know the meaning of "theory" in science. It does not mean "a guess".

      "A scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment."[1][2] Scientists create scientific theories from hypotheses that have been corroborated through the scientific method, then gather evidence to test their accuracy."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory

      Creationism is not testable, repeatable, confirmed, nor any of the other requirements for something to be considered a scientific theory. It barely makes it to the hypothesis stage.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Think it would be "observation OR experiment." The foundation of a lot of people's objections to large-scale evolution (or less convincingly to paleogeology) is that it is almost all observation and almost no experiment.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      OTOH – After all that you are going to reference wikipedia as your primary source? This data iassembled on this site is less reliable than how scripture was originally assembled yet that source isn't considered reliable.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @SPA

      Try
      http://www.livescience.com/21491-what-is-a-scientific-theory-definition-of-theory.html

      Since you seem to want to be picky about your sources. However, the fact remains that you are willfully and gleefully ignorant of what a theory is in science.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Pete

      Creationism will never be a theory, it can't be tested, or falsified, thus it will NEVER be considered a scientific theory no matter how much you guys biatch and moan.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  13. The Jackdaw

    Science is a tool for understanding 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 12:17 pm |
  14. Crazy Republicans

    A Landslide Beating in 2012 wasn't enough. We need to keep beating these nuts back in 2014 and beyond, until they come to their senses!

    November 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • PushingBack

      It's a shame all the pretty ones are so moronic.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  15. works4me

    This fukina idiot and his "understanding" of our planets history will all fade away come 2016... with some off us, that is.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  16. cnnmembuh

    I accept both science and religion and really do not perceive a conflict. If you allow that biblical accounts are often allegorical, references to specific time frames and the like are not necessarily to be taken literally.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • skywolfrf

      I agree. The "Let there be light" easily could reference the Big Bang, then out of the void etc is the galaxies and planets forming. When the Bible was written most people couldn't keep goats in a corral so you teach them with stories. By the time Jesus was around they had city states and he taught in parables. One doesn't have to choose science OR religion. But to ignore science, then go full out and give up your cell phones, flat screens, weather reports, GPS etc and crawl back to a cave and take your kids with you and pound dirt.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Someone

      I agree. I do not necessarily see a conflict between religion and science. If there is a higher power behind our world I don't see a problem in believing science just explains how it all works.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Athy

      Seems to me you could always make the bible compatible with science by reinterpreting it as needed to fit scientific discoveries as they are developed. Leads one to question why the bible is even necessary, doesn't't it?

      November 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  17. edzepp

    500 Years ago, the Marco Rubios of the day would have been insisting the world is flat and that the Bible told them so. A hundred years later, they would have cried "heresy" to anyone who dared believe the universe doesn't revolve around Earth. And in the year 2012 there is an American political party that continues to spread and condone ignorance. This is indicative of the "fresh, bold new perspective" that the GOP wants to offer?

    November 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • mike hunt

      the bible doesnt say the earth is flat. however, science back then did. my how science changes.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Wackadoodle

      Science changes because it seeks the truth and reality and is open to growth, and correction, unlike religious dogma which seeks to keep people dumb, intimidated, and under control, while maintaining that it's claims are the one and only truth and there is no other.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • PushingBack

      To mike hunt – actually you have the history wrong. Science was at the forefront of this belief but it was religion that held the truth back. I think I see a parallel to the current story.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Except for that brief foray into eugenics...

      November 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @mike hunt,

      science is not absolute truth. The search for truth belongs in the philosophy department.

      Science is all about our best explanation. When a newer more accurate idea comes along with evidence, we embrace it. So yes science does change – just like morality. They are relative.

      Absolutism in any form is bunk.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  18. Knucklehead

    Wow...this guy has all the bases covered, religion-wise...

    People who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, it's said, but what of those who ignore science?

    November 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Doomed. Period.

      November 22, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  19. sammieb51

    Wow ... another loony tunes reaching for the "presidential" brass ring .... the GOP base is all aflame today, they have their guy!!

    November 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  20. JC

    LOL....He is even worse than Mitt. I can bet that in 2016 Republicans are going to come up with another set of lunatics.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • PushingBack

      It's going to be an absolute riot!

      November 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.