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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. Tom

    Until the GOP distances its self from ignorant religious beliefs, or at least has enough sense to stay quiet about them, no GOP candidate will ever get my vote again. They completely blew it this cycle with this social conservatism crap, and I want nothing to do with them, (or the Dems either as far as that goes).

    November 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  2. Mysteryman

    The mystery here is how this moron got into a position of political power believing sincerely that the world is 6000 years old. We know he does...that is why he skirts a direct response because he knows it sounds just that stupid. We need to show the world we are not a country that relies not on mythos, but fact and reality. We know he's trying to get into a position to run in 2016...so we need to start NOW to get him gone from a political platform where he can continue passing on the religious dribble.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Reveal

      What do you have against persons with different opinions than yours? What if you're wrong? Wait to you land in the pen where you'll find Jesus there just like the rest of the intolerant criminals.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Mysteryman,

      in fairness, he doesn't say he believes the earth is 6,000 years old. He avoided answering the question to pander to fundie voters.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  3. Ken in MD

    Since when is it ok to "believe" in something that is factually innacurate? That's like saying "I don't believe that Julius Caesar is dead." Whether you believe it or not, the facts are the facts. And the fact is that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Sly

      Julius Caeser never existed – earth was manufactured in 449 BC. That is when God made it. I have proof, but I'm not sharing it with anyone.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Do you have a receipt? If not, then there is no proof. I, on the other hand, have a letter from god. I know it's authentic because it says that it's an authentic letter from god, and that everything in the letter is true, because it says that it is true, and this letter states, as a FACT, that god (along with his erstwhile servant Skippy the Magical Wonder Stoat) created the Earth on Tuesday, January 17, 45 BC, at about 3:17 Grenwich Time. Says so right in the letter. True.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Earthwear

      Who says the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. How did they calculate that? This is all science fiction.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Pete

      Well I cruised by in my spaceship about 4.6 billion years ago, and saw nothing, but about 100 million years later I cruised by and there was a big molten rock so I named it Earth.

      November 21, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  4. Gopi

    Did Romney mean this 46% (misquoted – as always as – THE 47%) in his popular pre-election speech?

    November 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  5. Brother Maynard

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

    Final results of the 2016 Presidential election
    Marco Rubio – 46%
    Joe Democrat – 54%

    November 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Mother Earth

      Are you saying that 54% believe humans were created from rock and water?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Nope

      "Are you saying that 54% believe humans were created from rock and water?"

      LMAO! LOL! That's got to be the stupidest comment yet. LOL!

      November 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  6. angryersmell

    Unbelievable that anyone can still mention that there's a "debate", especially a supposedly educated public figure, and still keep a straight face. You know he's lying to you, right? You know he doesn't believe this trash, right? That he laughs at you when the cameras are off? This isn't a "faith" issue, there is no debate and don't even mention this "left" and "right" garbage anymore either. Here's the dynamic of the "debate": delusional buffoons clinging to gross distortions of old myths VERSUS everyone else. This planet is not the center of the solar system, contraceptives are not evil, and the Earth is not 5000 years old. I know it. Anyone over the age of 4 with an IQ above 70 knows it. God knows it.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  7. iSkater

    The problem isn't the politician... the problem is the party. Rubio sounds like he was clearly doing the familiar dance all Republicans do these days. Between the Tea Party and the Evangelicals politicians have very little room for nuance when it comes to their pet issues. He clearly sounded like he was dancing around the subject. The real "great mystery" is why people don't see it! I personally think every debate should begin with a show of hands on who thinks people and dinosaurs coexisted!

    November 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  8. Sigh

    When Christians stop caring what candidates believe or don't religiously and atheists stop irrationally claiming any supernatural belief makes you a danger to society and unfit for office, that'll be a good day.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • The Truth

      What kind of confidence would you have in a judge who gave harsher sentences to people who walked under a ladder or broke a mirror? Would you like to be judged by someone who was knocking on wood to make sure no wood demons were listening or threw salt over their shoulder to blind the devils following them? I didn't think so...

      November 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Primewonk

      When religious fundiot nutters stop trying to force their idiotic religious myths into our laws, our government, and our schools, then it will be a good day.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  9. stevenbeto

    If we are serious about the idea of separation of church and state then I agree that the question of the earth’s age in this context may have been inappropriate and best left unanswered. Although I do not agree with Senator Rubio on matters of religion, I suspect that his perspective may still have value in any discourse on events that affect our nation and the world and I welcome his opinion on such matters.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  10. Michael McCarthy

    A belief in science should be a litmus test for anyone holding national office... period. One cannot be fanatical enough about one's religion to reject scientific evidence in the name of blind faith and be expected to protect the rights of Americans. I suspect Rubio, like most Republican politicians, is just a liar and does actually believe in science. But if he doesn't have the courage to state that, or if he really believes what he's saying, he has no business holding national office.

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

      When has science ever saved a man's soul? Science is full of theories, and in some cases, outright lies.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • jesucristo

      When has a soul been saved? Prove that Sherlock

      November 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Mysteryman

      Man has no soul. Get over yourself. You are not important in the scope of the universe. You are an accident, nothing more.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Ken in MD

      You are assuming a soul exists. This has never been proven, it's only a belief. We're talking facts here, not beliefs. A belief is nice, but when a fact supersedes it, it's time to give it up.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • kalo

      Who said religion saves souls? Who says Zeus isn't still around 'legitimately' R wording women right now? Who says Jesus was an original thought (There was a 300 year older version of him in Egypt), who says that people 'being saved' is not their own mind needing a wall to break off past actions from new?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • xirume

      @Evangelical: prove conclusively and provide indisputable evidence that religion has saved any man's soul.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Evangelical", but a soul is a conceptual element of mythology and therefore cannot be "saved". Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL".

      November 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Evangelical wrote, " Science is full of theories"

      And from Evangelicals post, he/she doesn't even have a fucking clue as to what the scientific definition of theory is.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  11. mike

    Rubio argued that “there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created

    THE BIBLE STORY IS NOT A THEORY, IT IS A CONCOCTED BASELESS STORY. IT IS NOT A THEORY. The harm of religion is that is is subterfuge, is introduce confusion. It doesn't have to kill science, it only needs to starve it by causing mis-information and confusion. Religion is a threat to all future generations.

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

      The only people who maintain that science and religion are irreconcilable are those who make a living off of these "disagreements".

      November 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Mysteryman

      The bible is most definitely not a theory. It is a hypothesis. HUGE difference if you know what the words represent. Unfortunately, most believers have no idea of that.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Humans are a threat to their own future. Greed and desire for power. Islam and Christianity are religions of peace, as well as other religions of the world. It's the People who use religion for purposes of gaining power, and to destroy their enemies. These same people use science to do the same. If you take religion out of the equation, you would still have conflicts. You can take away ideology as well, still conflicts. As an example, families with the same ideology and race, even without religion, still have problems getting along....

      November 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • mike

      Science is itself the practice of learning for yourself how the world works. That practice leeds to knowledge (which itself is a sin according to good ole religion) and that knowledge enables mankind to feed it's starving billions, to save the sick and injured, to allow the world to communicate. religion does absolutely nothing positive for the world, it's only purpose is to divide people, to pit them one against another.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Mysteryman

      VOICE...you're not serious..."religions of peace?" Really? Crusades? Jihad? Really peaceful stuff, that is. I would rather not partake in your idea of peace. No religion is peaceful.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  12. jucluva

    my kids are starting kindergarden in a couple of years, do I have to worry that these creationists try to impose their ignorance on my children, or will this crazyness pass?

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

      yes, you must take an active role in your school and ensure they do not introduce creationism. Look up Supreme Court decisions to back up your position – creationism has not place in public education, it is not science, it is religion.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Jason

      jucluva, forget about the creationist boogeyman. It's just a favorite political punching bag for the left. Nobody can name one school district in the entire United States where creationists have their agenda taught in the public schools. It's game over for creationists. Now can we move on to talking about how we're going to pay off $16 trillion in debt with an economy that has been sputtering for 4 years?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • jesucristo

      Economy that was tanked by Boosh and debt intelligently designed by Boosh

      November 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • angryersmell

      @Jason – The Boogeyman is a mythical creature, but unfortunately creationists are not, and they haunt those who lean both left and right.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Mysteryman

      Creation is no more of a factual thing than Rah, flat-earth, and Santa.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'It's just a favorite political punching bag for the left. Nobody can name one school district in the entire United States where creationists have their agenda taught in the public schools. It's game over for creationists. '

      Ha, ask the people in Texas if its game over for creationists. Heck last year they tried to introduce 'intelligent design' (othewise known as creationism in a groucho marx disguise) into their school system. They keep trying over and over.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  13. jesucristo

    Hes right science and understanding has never contributed to the economy, just ask rubios biggest business in fla, nasa

    November 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  14. Voice of Reason

    I love liberals when they say "Most scientists agree" (that the Earth is 4.5 billion years). I'm SURE he did thorough research on this subject and polled all of the scientists. Dan and Eric are making stuff up. Inaccurate research when they state that the universe is 14.5 billion years old when "most scientists agree" that the universe is actually 13.75 billion. Lazy...

    November 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Get a Grip

      VoR – you are so full of it!!!! Everyone and their little brother knows the universe is 13.72 billion years old.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Cyle

      most scientists do agree that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. the universe, from our perspective, is between 13.5 and 15 billion years old. it's our best guess as "time" is not a constant.

      we are still learning about the nature of the universe. we are going to stumble along the way. but with every new discovery we understand a little more.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Mysteryman

      Hey VOICE...I am sure all those robed dudes in tents who first penned the ideas of the bible did some research. Like Amos: "Hey...what's that light up in the sky" Judah: "Gee Amos...I dunno...it must be a hairy white dude named Jeebus come to save humanity" Amos: "Boy Judah...what an idiot you are...but it'll sell books."

      November 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • angryersmell

      When Columbus set out for China, he ended up being a few thousand miles off, and he hit another continent entirely. His calculations were wrong, yes, but he still crossed an ocean on a round planet and hit a giant island, just like he guessed he would. That's like guessing the Earth is 14.5 billion years old, and it turns out to be 13.5. If it ends up being 5000 years old, that would be like him guessing he'll hit China, setting sail and just as he is waving goodbye, the Jolly Green Giant rises from the ocean, eats the Santa Maria, and proclaims himself King of Spain.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Cyle. You seem smart. I have something that has puzzled me for ever. If we have light which reaches us from a galaxy which is almost the age of the universe, let's say 13.3 billion years old, how did we get that far from that galaxy? We must have been traveling faster than the speed of light from the big bang, and slowed down just in time to watch that light hit us today? I think this theory is screwed up... Shed some light on this one.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • angryersmell

      ...Earth...Universe...whatever. So I was a little off. Creationism is still stupid.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Michael

      @VoR – I'm not an astronomer or any form of scientist, but I will attempt to answer your question, to wit: "If we have light which reaches us from a galaxy which is almost the age of the universe [snip] how did we get that far from that galaxy?" The universe has expanded in all directions from the initial point (IP). Light from a galaxy that was forming 10 billion years ago travelled in all directions. We are not on the edge of the bubble that is expanding and since the universe is expanding in all directions (more or less) a 10 billion light year figure is relatively easy to accept. Just my $0.02 worth ...

      November 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  15. Jason

    I'm glad Rubio is being called out for kow-towing to anti-scientific religious notions. Now if we could only unseat all politicians who believe in non-scientific notions like an "unwritten social contract", we might start getting somewhere.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  16. Jesus was a space alien

    As long as GOP is fact and science challenged they will be election challenged.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  17. DOUG

    This thread shows that Obama is not the only Democrat who wants Americans to face punishment for their poltical views. Democrats, as tolerant today as they were in all white 100 years ago.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • jesucristo

      When the earth was just a toddler

      Dumbaz righties want tolerance of their fantasies

      November 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  18. MeanOldMan

    The last thing we need in politics is more science denying ideologs..

    November 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Science "theories" have been proven wrong time and again.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • kalo

      @ Voice of Reason go jump off a building, I hear gravity is just a 'theory' you should test it.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Huebert

      VOR

      What do you think Theory means?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Mysteryman

      Hey "VoiceofReason"...science evolves and theories are UPDATED when better data is collected. The bible is stagnant until some guy changes passages around to suit his needs (i.e. King James) politically. We know theories are set up to be proven wrong or modified. The bible is set up to be circular in references and totally unprovable in any dimension or facet.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Which God?

      Voice of reason =voice of ignorance.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  19. Floyd Johnson

    I recently enjoyed a tour of a cave in Arkansas. The guide was trying to balance these views, "and this feature is from about 30 million years ago, or maybe 5,000 years ago, we aren't really sure".

    November 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Sly

      There is nothing to 'balance'.

      Cave drawing, dinosarauer bones, carbon dating are all hoaxes, planted by humans in 1614. Millions of fake dinosauer bones made from carbon-resistent plastic.

      Teachers are in on the hoax as well. It's a travesty.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • End Religion

      holy cow...

      November 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Mysteryman

      Sly...are you joking or are you really that stupid. If the latter, please go take some real science classes, chemistry, biology and get a better fitting tin foil hat.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Michael

      1) Plastic is a 20th century invention
      2) Plastic, by its very nature, is organic, ergo, contains carbon.

      What an Ultra Maroon ... naDev vo' yghoS, P'taK !!

      November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  20. Joe bob

    Let me say this as CLEARLY AND LOUDLY AS I POSSIBLY CAN

    November 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Joe bob

      KEEP YOUR CHURCH OUT OF MY GOVERNMENT!!!!

      November 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • mike

      AND KEEP YOUR CHURCH OUT OF MY CHILDREN'S EDUCATION !!!

      November 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • End Religion

      and KEEP YOUR PRIESTS OUT OF OUR CHILDREN!

      November 20, 2012 at 3:07 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.