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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. SB1790

    Please GOP. Please run this nit-wit in 2016. He'll do so well with the under 30 crowd and looks as promising as Dan Quayle in regards to media fun.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  2. Jason

    What does it say about our society when you have to pander to people who believe the world is only 8,000 years old? I don't know whether to laugh or be terrified, but I am leaning toward terrified.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • rc

      is this mcintosh?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  3. Dr Tom

    And God shall come down and make it that the votes in Florida shall be counted properly and on time without spending money on enough voting machines and voting locations or allowing enough early voting. Man does not need to use science to get things done, just pray.
    How did that work out, Mark?

    November 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  4. helpful hint

    When I was in school the earth was estimated to be a million years old. Now the earth is estimated at billions of years old, the planet really aged these last 50 years.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Penster

      You must have gotten dumber in the last 50 years too.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • snowboarder

      helpful – it really is amazing to contemplate the advances in human knowledge in just the last 50 years. good point.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You must be pretty old.

      In 1862 Kelvin estimated the age of the earth to be 98 million. He later revised his answer to be 20-40 million.

      It has been a *very* long time since people thought it was only a million years.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Fact Check

      What school did you attend 50 years ago that taught you the earth was a million years old? Mine taught me the earth was about 10 billion years old, although the estimate now seems to be stabilizing around 14 billion.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Huebert

      Science is a self correcting process and in 50 years new information may come to light that will force us to revise our estimate of the earth's age, though I doubt that will be the case.. However it will no where near 10000 years.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Isn't it amazing how much we can learn with science?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Dan

      Dude, you went to a really bad school. Geologists have estimated the Earths age at about 4.5 billion years for over a century. You should immediately forget anything you learned at that school.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  5. jknbtjknbt

    the "long day" interpretation of the genesis account removes the scientific difficulties believing in the literal interpretation of the creation account.

    go to the Reasons to Believe organization website for more information.

    yep, I am one of the 46% that believe God created the universe. He did it in seven ages, not seven days.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Do you believe in the story of Adam and Eve?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • snowboarder

      jk – it is fascinating to watch the logical gymnastics of theists attempting to shoehorn their beliefs into reality.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Fact Check

      No, way more than 46% of Americans believe that "God" created the Universe. The horrifying fact is that 46% of Americans believe He did it in the last 10,000 years in six 24 hour periods. Nice try, though, with the rationalization of Six Ages [I believe Zeus rested during the Seventh Age.] Incidentally, all major Christian sects will stand by your interpretation, right? This isn't your personal reading of God's Holy Word, right? In fact, it is the uniformity of opinion of those that believe in Jehovah/Allah/God that allows us to know the Mind and Character of His Person, since he touches all His Followers to lead lives of love, mercy, kindness and compassion, the power of His Transforming Touch evident now in, say, Syria, Israel or the United States.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • JFCanton

      It's interesting that the Genesis/Mesopotamian account got the order right. How did other cultures do?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  6. JeramieH

    My personal faith tells me that 2+2=5. I demand equal time in math classes for my belief.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  7. Free Pizza

    Is Rubio already campaigning?

    November 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  8. athiest

    While it is laughable grown adults still believe in make believe and fairy tales, at least this guy wasn't as big of an idiot as other politicians who openly talk about religion and their beliefs. I for one would not want a religious wacko, whose political agenda might be infuenced by their pretend religion. I want someone logical who will stick to the issues. The guy in this story tried to keep them seperate. Obviously he is a religious man as he tried not to offend those of religious character.

    The world needs to grow up and realize that we the people are all we have. It's time to live in a grown up world where actions have consequences, and don't think some fairy tale in the sky is going to save you. It's up to you.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • *

      * atheist (not athiest)

      November 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • snowboarder

      actually, he is worse because he is intentionally downplaying his religious beliefs to appeal to the widest range of voters.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  9. Randolph Peters

    Age of universe = 13.75 ± 0.11 billion years, not 14.5 billion years. Get your scientific facts straight. Sheesh!

    November 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  10. Chris

    It is clear 46% of Americans are not, or did not, pay attention in school.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Free Pizza

      Pay attention about what?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • JC

      Majority are dropouts

      November 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  11. Sly

    Rubio is correct. One of Man's greatest accomplishments was when thousands of humans worked tirelessly for months manufacturing millions of fake dinosauer bones and burying them, sometimes deep in mountains.

    These fake bones are amazingly realistic, fooling all scientists and all humans.

    There never were any dinosaurers, since the world in only 9000 years old.

    There never were any Romans or Greeks as well – these same conspirators created fake historical records.

    All scientists lie ... well known fact.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  12. scott short

    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.

    Well thats a big frigging Lie. I dont know of anyone that thinks this. So the 46% is way way out of line

    November 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  13. ECG

    I am a geologist. I find it comical this is still being debated. Science and technology runs the world of today. People need to accept this, it's not a bad thing to accept science.. It's actually pretty cool. Trust me

    November 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Penster

      I trust you. I trust data, proof, and evidence. All things science is based on.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  14. ART

    What he should of said is hey man i'am a rethuglican and i don't beleive in science, we like to stick our head in the sand and ignore facts.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Free Pizza

      Rethuglican? What is that? Is that something delicious?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  15. B.

    Mythology reigns and may eventually be mans’ downfall..

    Science is about proven truth.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  16. Mike

    If the GOP thinks they can put up a token Hispanic like Rubio and think they'll win 70% of the Hispanic vote they are as delusional as they are about the 10,000-year-old Earth.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Ronnie

      Agreed, but I'm interested to see what develops with George P. Bush.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • angel tur

      II am Hispanic, and I endorse this message.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Paco

      I am Mexican and I like tacos.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Momof3

      No more Bush(es) in the White House, unless they are potted on the porch or planted in the yard!

      November 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  17. Doug

    My favorite part is that the almighty, all powerful, can do anything 'god' is pooped after 6 days of creation. I mean, come on already.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Archivedd

      I like how he talks to himself throughout the process and has to validate everything he does. "Ok, yeah, I made the sky, that looks good. And some animals, they look good..."

      November 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • JeramieH

      Why did it take him 6 days? Couldn't he have popped it into existence instantly?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • JFCanton

      The story was retold by Jews with a Sabbath, of course it would take 6 days and end with a seventh of rest. In the preceding (much messier) Sumerian legend, Marduk didn't rest.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  18. alberto

    All this talk of God when no one knows what God is. Giving Creation a name and idea that simple people can understand does not make it so. A power of some kind created the Universe and life, at least on earth. Was it a conscious deliberate power? Who can know for certain. Science has no proof. The Bible has only simple explanations useful at the time but written by people, mixing opinion, belief and history. When science contradicts the Bible some people get sore. When the Bible says things that science disagrees with other people get sore.
    The unknown forces that created everything are still a mystery. Call them what you will (God, The Force etc.) but there are unanswered questions. Trying to show how smart you are because the Bible has the wrong numbers or asking the Bible believers about 65 million year old dinosaurs is not showing brilliance, just that you are a first grader laughing at the kid still in kindergarten. Lot's of opinions but very short on real answers does not make you smart, just someone with a stronger belief in something that may or may not be correct.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Greg

      When we identify the exact natural processes involved it won't be a god. What's so scary about accepting that it just happened naturally?

      November 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • snowboarder

      alberto – nearly all things once attributed to divine intention have been determined to be of natural origin. this trend is not likely to miraculously reverse.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  19. revkurt

    I am getting so sick and tired of the right winged evangelicals getting the religious spotlight on CNN and other new forums. There are an overwhelming number of Christians who fully endorse the scientific explanations of the origins of the planets and the universe. Why do our voices never get heard on this, and other issues? These people and their lack of thinking do not speak for all of Cristendom. Quit allowing them to make us all look like a bunch of morons.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Huebert

      They are YOUR brothers and sisters in Christ, It's your job to stop them from making you look like a bunch of fools.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Atheism is for everyone

      Simply answer, you guys keep electing them. And before you jump all over me, know that there are plenty of issues I side with conservatives on such as crime and wasteful government spending. (By the way, education is not wasteful) I simply refuse to vote for any of these religious nutjobs that have hijacked the Republican party. I certainly do not agree with everything the Democrats are doing but at least I don't have to worry about god telling them to start another war.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • JC

      Those voices are not heard because you keep electing idiots. Why do you give idiots a platform at first place?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Peter

      Great point!

      November 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @revkurt,

      "There are an overwhelming number of Christians who fully endorse the scientific explanations of the origins of the planets and the universe."

      Unfortunately, it's not an 'overwhelming' number. According to Gallup, it's only 32% of Americans. I really don't understand why it isn't more. The grasp that fundamentalist preaching has on the evangelical protestants such that they willfully ignore obvious observations that the earth is very, very old is truly staggering.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  20. ….God is greater than man

    Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the mult.itude of his bones with strong pain: So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness. He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Penster

      Man created god. All mysteries of god answered. Fin.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • MnTaxpayer

      who-eth give-th a rip-eth.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • JC

      You have major issues.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      You do know that God's a woman, right? Only women can "create" life.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • chelle52370

      "And the Lord spake, saying, ´First shalt thou take out
      the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less.
      Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the
      counting shalt be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either
      count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is
      right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be
      reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards
      thou foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.´" LOOK! I can quote silly stuff too!

      November 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • snowboarder

      one fact is indisputable, with the myriad of deities, religions and doctrines today and throughout history, man is very adept at inventing god.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      You go ...God. And I'm sure you're correct that the Lord your God just happened to speak in King James English. Who knew he was a Brit!

      November 20, 2012 at 1:16 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.