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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. badskippy

    it's funny that ultra-conservative christian leaders denounce islam and it's oppression, and it's ridiculous oppressive religious laws in countries that they run (e.g. Iran, Pakistan, Afganistan, Gaza strip, etc etc etc). yet they see no problem attempting to do the exact same things here; pushing laws based on their religion, oppression of minorities and those considered "sinners", and their extreme intolerance of anything that doesn't conform to their narrow view. EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS ARE NO BETTER THAN HARDLINE MUSLIMS.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • The Truth

      There are no mirrors in HypocraCity...

      They refuse to do any self examination on the basis that doing so would show a lack of faith...

      November 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • hoser

      I think I love you badskippy.
      Pat Robertson they have nothing on you buddy...can you imagine what he'd of been like if he were born in Iran
      his rants are bad enough with the BS he spirts here from the religious right right right right...far enough yet.
      if he were Iranian WOW there woudl be no limit on his virgins

      November 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  2. ART

    I'am sure MIke from Naples is also sensible and balanced , hah hah hah

    November 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  3. jrm03063

    Is this man really a serious candidate for Federal, let alone state-wide office in a modern nation?

    November 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Immigration won't be on the table for Rubio to talk about so that leaves he and the GOP nothing again.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • hoser

      Oh Sarah where hath thou gone...get on the moose and ride back in here, at least we'll have something nice to look at – just don't talk

      November 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  5. Jerry

    Has Pres Obama EVER been asked that loaded question. If so, what was his answer? Any one on the left, please feel free to respond. And please don't reply that we don't have to ask because we know the answer (unless you are Carnak).

    November 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Sly

      Jerry, its even worse than that! Karl Rove claims to have photo's of President Obama helping bury fake dinosauer bones all over the world to fool people.

      Obama should be impeached for participating in the Great Dinosaur Bone Burial Fraud. The man is an outrage!

      November 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Bob

      We don't have to ask, we already know the answer.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Huebert

      "How old do you think the earth is?" is not a loaded question. It is a good way to determine one's scientific literacy.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Evangelical

      I would very much like to see Obama asked this question. I would like to know whether Obama is a Christian or just another poser out to destroy the United States of America.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I would like to know whether Obama is a Christian or just another poser out to destroy the United States of America.'

      sigh, yes thats right, out to destroy the US, thats the goal, because thats what non-christians are out to do.
      Its like dealing with kids, it really is.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • hoser

      SLY those bones must be on every golf course in the country..no wonder his bag seems too big for 14 clubs

      November 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • wally

      Jerry, it's not a loaded question, it's an easy one. No big deal for anyone that actually reads a text book. And I doubt that Obama, unlike Rubio, would feel the need to try to appease the Creationist loonies; they hate him anyway, so what would be the point. The mistake Rubio is making is to thing there are enough of them out there to be worth appeasing. I think November showed that in Florida! (unfortunately still too many to believe possible in this age)

      And Evangelical, you seemed to be confusing your brand of brainwashed with the rest of Christianity which has no problem with God and the Bible, and a 4.5 billion year old Earth. They are not actually contradictory – you should relax and enjoy your God and trust that He has no problem with evolution, so you shouldn't either. (I imagine he does have a problem with us trashing His planet's climate and showing such disrespect to His work. But you guys don't get that either.)

      November 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Pete

      Cedar rapids, more like brain damaged children.

      November 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  6. WV Gleeman

    Marco; Instead of crazy talk you should change every questions into a chance to talk about immigration. It's your party's only chance at survival.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • The Truth

      "“How old do you think the Earth is?"

      "Well, thats a good question to be asked of educated immigrants who have a pathway to citizenship who come to this country to answer those same questions, we need more archeologists, scientists and engineers to compete on the global market..."

      "Yes, but how old do YOU think the earth is?"

      "I'm sure that someone will be able to answer that question someday with enough research and enough faith and a better immigration policy in place..."

      "Okay, but how old do you think the earth is RIGHT NOW?"

      "Next question please..."

      November 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  7. paul

    If repugs could believe in human achievement and science as much as they believe in a creation myth it would be a start toward becoming a party people othere than old angry white guys ( I'm an old white guy, just not angry) could believe in.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Evangelical

      I'm sick and tired of your ilk calling fact fiction and fiction fact. Creationism is NO myth; it is the truth.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Bob

      Creationism is the biggest MYTH ever foisted off on ignorant bible bangers.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Huebert

      Evangelical

      No matter how loud you scream, you will still be wrong.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Creationism is NO myth; it is the truth'

      okaaaay. anyway, moving swiftly back to the land of reality.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Joseph

      A very wise man said "The good ting about science is whether or not you believe it, its still true."

      November 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Cubana

    I think he gave a great answer. What does it matter, he's a politician. And whatever his belief is, it's no one's business. Only where he stands on economy, and driving the country forward.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Billy Bob Cletus Feckwood, III

      Actually, when he's on the Science Committee, he should not be an ignorant anti-science person.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Sly

      He is a brilliant man, and his ideas make sense.

      I especially like his theory that millions of fake dinosauer bones were buried during the 1600's, all over the earth. I do wonder about his idea that they used tractors to bury them, but aside from that, this man is right on.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Huebert

      He is on the science committee and controls our countries funding of scientific research. If he does not believe basic science how can he be expected to make good decisions?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Dan

      Why would his personal opinions not matter? A politicians personal opinions are what shape their decisions. You say that only the economy matters, you do realize that there are a lot of conflicting economic theories, and that one's personal opinion would be a factor in driving the country forward. Oh, you don't realize those things? You're probably one of the people who thinks the Earth is only 10,000 years old. "Evolution is a theory, DERP!"

      November 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • The Truth

      It would be like putting a flat earth & fake moon landing conspiracy theorist on our NASA congressional budget commitee...

      November 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • intothemoonbeam

      He's on a science committee genius, that's why it matters.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • wally

      Wow. That's pretty scary. You think this guy should be in charge of billions of dollars in science funding? Sure, if he was only on the dinner committee or the parking committee then perhaps his opinion on science might not be that relevant.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  9. Sly

    Still wondering who buried all those fake dinosauer bones.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Huebert

      Satan.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • hoser

      Obama while he was playing golf...that should have given him plenty of time

      November 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Jesus

      Guilty as charged!

      November 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  10. jrm03063

    This would have been a dumb question IF Mr Rubio hadn't managed to give such a shockingly DUMB ANSWER!

    November 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  11. Evangelical

    The age of the earth, the big bang, and evolution are among the biggest lies big science has ever told. Satan is really having a field day fooling all you poor wretched people.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Sly

      The biggest lie was the manufacture of millions of fake dinosauer bones. This is an outrage.

      But I agree – these people are fools. Don't they realize there are thousands of gorgeous virgin teenage chicks in heavan, and no marriage, and no laws againest having them?

      Heaven will be fun – I'll be breaking Wilt the Stilts '10,000' record within a month.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • jrm03063

      I didn't know the networked reached that far down – tell us more Scratch!

      November 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you know the big bang idea was put forward by a catholic priest right?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Evangelical

      So what if it was put forward by a catholic priest? Catholics are not Christians. They are idolaters who are too soft on sin.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'So what if it was put forward by a catholic priest? Catholics are not Christians. They are idolaters who are too soft on sin.'

      ah a troll. ok, makes sense.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Joseph

      And you are in a place to determine how to handle sinners? False witness? Sounds like typical, on-the-way out GOP bologna. Your mindsets will be the next dinosaurs. Extinct.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  12. wade

    Another question they'll never ask a Democrat. It's OK to question someone's religion, so long as they're Republican

    November 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Huebert

      Yeah, no one ever questioned Obama's religion.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • chlem

      we aint gotta queston it cause hez a muslin!

      November 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • kd1010

      You can't be serious.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  13. rlj

    And here I was thinking that Rubio was going to be the next big threat to the democrats :)

    November 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  14. Barry's Brother

    What an asinine question to ask. Whoever hired the "journalist" that asked "Hey – how old do you think that question is?"

    November 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Billy bob

    4years til another election and CNN is already trying to slash a republican candidates tires over a pretty diplomatic comment

    November 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • The Truth

      There is no need to slash the tires on a vehicle with square wheels... it's not going anywhere anyway...

      November 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • wally

      "diplomatic"? Come on, either he's too stupid to be a governor (he really doesn't know how old the Earth is) or he is trying to suck up to the creationists who he thinks may hold his political future. I know CNN and others keep trying to convince America that we are stupid and believe this junk, but in our hearts we are smart enough to know that the scientists have it right (or close anyway) and just because we don't understand every aspect of the "proof" behind it doesn't mean it is wrong. I personally have faith in the scientific community and my fellow Americans.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      It is amazing how the right want to blame CNN for stuff.
      In this case....Rubio's answer, to a question in GQ, is apparently CNN's fault.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • wally

      That's right. Blame the Media. How well did that work out for the GOP? Oh wait, the media didn't trash talk the GOP nominee, the GOP did it all by themselves, and then when they stopped, he just kept opening his own mouth. But it was close – scary that so many don't get it.

      I am really truly hoping that the real Republicans will finally grow a spine and tell the nut-jobs to sod off so they can get back to the real ideals of being conservative, which has nothing to do with Satan, and everything to do with the economy. Alas, Rubio trying to appease the Creationists just tells me that we will have another GOP bashing in 2 and 4 years and then maybe they will start listening.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  16. jameycarothers

    Anyone who attempts to legitamize creationism does not deserve to hold public office as they are a danger to society.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Sigh

      Over exaggerate much?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Creationism is fact. All the rest are just the theories of fallible men. Do you really want to deny our children the truth?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • I wonder

      Sigh,

      Speak redundantly much? "Over exaggerate"?

      I much prefer under-exaggerating!

      November 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • John B

      I do not think they are a danger to society but they do look pretty stupid for believing in total non sense.. The Bible is a great story but so is the Cat in the Hat.. does anyone see 6 foot tall cats walking around ?? Religion is for the shallow minded and pathetic..

      November 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • hoser

      Go johnny b go johnny go go

      November 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • wally

      @Evangelical who said "Creationism is fact. All the rest are just the theories of fallible men."

      Seriously? You put more credence in the writings of "fallible men" that are in the Bible? Wow. I guess it is faith.

      But please don't use the word "fact" since it just belittles anything that follows.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  17. rlj

    He missed a turn on the way to the bible committee and ended up at the science committee? Who let him stay?

    November 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  18. Wade

    I have always felt it takes as much faith to believe something was created without God, as it does to believe something was created with God. Carbon dating, for example, is only useful for something a few thousand years old. The further back you go, the less reliable it becomes. To calculate something millions and billions of years old, we use other methods such as radioactive decay. Methods based on assumptions since we obviously don't have scientific data a million years old to prove the assumptions. Radioactive decay, for example, is based on the assumption that the decay of certain radioactive elements is constant verses decaying rapidly at creation or changing imperceptivity over time. And when things don't match up with what scientists "believe", elements are created to try to explain the discrepancy and scientists then look for evidence to support their explanation. Things like the missing link and dark matter are two such examples.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • rlj

      That "argument" decays faster than any known radio-active material.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      So atheists and theists are equal?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Wade, just because some mysteries are still mysteries does not mean that "big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spellz." Not knowing with 100% certainty does not make god more or less likely. Science invites criticism and through rigorous testing and multiple methodologies comes up with the most likely models that prove their worth through various predictive methods.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • John B

      So you'd rather believe in a magical man that lives in the clouds ? Really ? Have you seriously lost your mind ? When you compare the two.. which one sounds more ridiculous ? I personally find it beyond crazy with all that we DO know, and all the things that have be proven wrong about religion, that people still believe the earth is only 6000 years old and was created in 7 days by a magical being living it the sky.. its borderline pathetic....

      November 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Rob

      Please explain to me what the missing link is and where you think the gap is in biology's current model of human evolution is.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • fred

      Just because you don’t understand the science doesn’t mean it’s not valid, or that it takes faith to believe the results.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • ME II

      @Wade,
      While we don't have records billions of years old, we do have evidence that is billions of years old, e.g. rocks, meteorites, lunar rocks, which can be used to study the conditions at that time.

      When things don't match up in science, of course they try to explain the discrepancy, that is what science is, explaining how things work.

      I can't speak much on dark matter, but "the missing link" was not "created" to explain a discrepancy. There are many transitional fossil that show the progress of evolution, but due to the conditions necessary for fossilization it is unreasonable to expect a complete chain of fossils from modern man back to a previous ancestor.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      sorry wade but scientists dont make 'assumptions' as to the decay rates, they really dont.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Ticktockman

      You are clearly not a scientist, and what you feel has little to no bearing on what is. Science has proven its worth time and again, as it can be judged by its results. Science is based on observations, provides tools for testing, allows us to make educated predictions, and provides for self-correction when new evidence arises. For instance, dark matter is a postulate to account for the mass needed to provide sufficient gravity to keep galaxies together. If tomorrow, another discovery is made that negates the need to postulate dark matter, then the dark matter postulate will get rejected. True scientists, unlike creationists, make conclusions from the known facts; creationists try to twist facts to support their own religiously-motivated conclusions. The technology we have today was made possible by science. You can read any "holy" writings for a million years, or pray until you pass out, yet the internet will not magically appear, vaccines will not spontaneously materialize, nor will weather predictions be any better than blind guesses.

      Religion is the opposite of science. Religion requires belief, despite any evidence to the contrary. And there is no self correction mechanism in religion. If reality contradicts a religious precept, then religion demands that reality be ignored. This is why true religious adherents are so singularly closed minded, and why the bad ideas fostered by religious thinking – like creationism – repeat themselves over the course of centuries.

      Attempting to bring science down to the level of religion is just further evidence of the intellectual poverty of religious thinking.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • wally

      You guys are all trying to use logic to explain to poor Wade what he has no interest in knowing. It's really cute.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  19. Commonsense

    Only in America do we fan the flames of economic collapse with idiotic religious "debate". Most advanced country in the world my butt.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  20. Casandra

    Until idiots no longer lead the GOP, I just can't vote for them.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Ricky

      So very true!

      November 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • hoser

      well you have to choose the idiot from one side or the other

      November 20, 2012 at 2:39 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.