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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. sheetiron

    Yes I believe in creationism, yes I go to church and have been going there for quite a while. Yes I believe in the Bible and it is the foundation for my beliefs. And yes, as much as it may perplex you, I am a young adult. No I was not brainwashed by my parents or teachers. No I am not an anomaly. No I am not an exception to the rule.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Huebert

      Don't be proud of your ignorance.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • helpful hint

      Why not huebert, you are.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Nope

      "Why not huebert, you are.'

      You're a dope.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Theo

      So you think the world is 6000 years old ?

      Do you also think Adam and Eves kids inbred to populate the earth ?
      Do you think 8 people could get 6 million animals on one boat ? ( how would they feed them )
      Do you think that snakes and donkeys can talk ? ( but they dont talk today )
      Do you think a GOD parted seas ? why not just transport them with magic ?

      I wont even get into the 4 corners of the earth or the explanation that heaven is above the clouds

      November 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • ^

      Huebert is not the ignorant one here.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • sam

      Thanks for being part of the dumbing down of America!

      November 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Huebert

      @HH

      LOLZ

      @Everyone else

      Thanks 😀

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

      Unless you invented Christianity, you have been brainwashed. If a child was raised from birth and presented with the currently known facts of the universe, they would not magically come up with a belief in Christianity on their own.

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

      The Bible happens to be a part of the universe, though. It may not be scientific evidence, but that's not what everyone is looking for.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Freedom FROM Religion

      @ sheetiron

      I'm sorry but you have been brain washed, you just don't realize it as a crazy person never realizes or accepts they are crazy. The fact you profess with such gusto that you are a christian and a creationist says that no matter how much evidence to the contrary of your beliefs is made available (and there is already volumes of information) you will never accept truth b/c you have been engrained and programmed to believe one set of precepts and only that set. That in its very definition is brain washing. Not to mention the circular argumentation that presents itself by such a belief is astounding... it is or exists because god did therefore it is and exists because god did... etc. There is no way forward or progress in that line of thinking and if we had never broken out you would not be sitting there at your computer typing away profession of faith because all of it from the car your drive, the computer in your room, your cell phone, the food you are eating (agriculture), microwave oven, various materials including your clothes, and the doctor you see when your sick is all based on science and it is all very much, in such a sublime and harmonious way, interconnected and that is why we know science to be more true than what any one book written 1800 years ago could ever tell us.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  2. Reality

    Rubio, Rubio, Rubio wherefore art thou???

    Mr. Rubio might be part Ne-anderthal making his education a bit more difficult. Maybe all political leaders should have their DNA checked for this. Tis rather inexpensive:

    As per National Geographic's Genographic project:
    https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/

    " DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.

    "Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000+ years ago, with the first modern h-omo sapiens appearing in Africa some 200,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.

    Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.

    It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

    For your $199 and a DNA swab:

    "Included in the markers we will test for is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our h-ominin cousins, Ne-anderthals and the newly discovered Denisovans, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago. As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were still alive and well in Eurasia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA. With Geno 2.0, you will learn if you have any Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in your genome."

    Mr. Rubio would be wise to check the human evolution time line featured at before his next news conference. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_human_evolution#First_living_beings

    November 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Michael

      Every human being can be traced to ten lineages; some of said lineages left Africa. Every American that is of European decent has between 2 and 4% Neanderthal DNA. That's evolution, folks. And for the record, if the Earth is but 10,000 years old, how is it that ice cores pulled from Antartica stretch back 440,000 years?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  3. Derek

    The scariest thing about this entire article was that it says 46% of all Americans believe the earth is 6000 years old. That, to me, is absolutely incredibly stupid.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • chet

      What do you mean by Earth? As we know it – or a molten ball?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chet,
      What are you asking?
      The Earth's surface hasn't been molten for 4+ billion years, I think.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  4. Alan

    scary.....hard to believe people actually take the fairy tales in the bible as factual......

    November 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  5. S Kyle

    The Republicans really need to learn to accept scientific fact if they want to survive the coming years. Americans are becoming more educated, not less educated. Fewer people believe in God than ever before in America. You cannot keep basing your beliefs on religious rhetoric and expect to attract new followers. Humans, as a species, continue to evolve. We will never go back to the 1950s; so, stop trying to make it happen.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  6. Bob

    "on the other hand, argue that the weeklong account of God creating the Earth and everything in it represents six 24-hour periods"

    Uhh 24 hour days didn't exist before the earth did, 7 days ??????? what about the gabiilion of other things in universe, did god just snap his fingers for them ?

    November 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  7. Ali G

    What is our President's answer to that question? How about asking him along with all elected officials? What do you say to them when their answer isn't much different? Nah, then it doesn't matter. As a scientist, I find that you're a bunch of hypocrites.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Huebert

      If Obama was asked how old he thought the earth is, and gave an answer different form "about 4.5 billion years" I would loudly denounce him as either scientifically illiterate or a pandering fool, same as I do with Rubio. Happy now?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • ME II

      "I do believe in evolution. I don't think that is incompatible with Christian faith, just as I don't think science generally is incompatible with Christian faith. " – Barack Obama
      (as quoted on, http://www.nature.com/nsmb/journal/v15/n10/full/nsmb1008-999.html)

      November 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  8. Gelli

    I think it is a real pity that the party that is closest to my political views in so many ways has this medieval view on science. It is true that science does not know the exact age of the Earth or the Universe, but it is absolutely certain, beyond ANY shadow of a doubt that it is NOT just 6-10000 years old!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  9. G Smith

    Rubio is the token GOP "Latino"....

    His policies are the same GOP rehash with the possible exception of his Immigration stance...but that's it.

    His ambition is too obivious....And his statement on creationism versus scientific evidence shows he is not ready for big time national politics

    November 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  10. Cyle

    put this in perspective...

    you believe that a woman made out of some guy's rib ate some magical knowledge fruit because a talking snake told her to.
    but you won't accept the word of peer reviewed tested science?

    November 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  11. Michael

    If the church wants to teach Creationism in the classroom, then Evolution should be taught in church. What's good for the goose and all that ...

    November 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  12. Dunlar

    He also leaves cookies out for Santa, just in case....

    November 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  13. Theo

    One last thing - Would an All knowing GOD, put us on a planet and want us to reject science ?

    OR more LIKELY

    Leaders that warped religion into what it is, didn't want people thinking too much ?

    November 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  14. Jay

    It's pathetic that in this day and age that we still have legislators that believe in a Hebrew story rather than actual science. Genesis is a story and nothing more.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  15. PLES

    Let the takedown of Rubio begin. Never too early to paint the Republican as out-of-touch. Good work, GQ! Never mind that pesky unemplyment rate, that unbelievable debt, that unfair tax system that allows half the country to live off my hard work. No, GQ and media, you keep going after Rubio. By the way, don't scientists "revise" the date of the universe every six months or so by, like, a BILLION years? Yeah, that's good work.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Michael

      Nope, the age of the universe has been fairly well accepted to be between 13.6 and 14.5 billion years for some time now. Just like the age of this rock has been 4.5 billion years. For those that are not conversant with the Age of the Universe argument, it is difficult, at best, to see beyond when the first stars lit up. So is it a WAG? Yes, but a statistically plausible one and one much more based on reality than 10,000 years. I always ask, "What about T.Rex? Where'd the oil come from?" The response I usually get is that the earth was created with fossils, oil, natural gas, et al, in place. Uh huh, sure it was. FAIL

      November 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • sam

      Idiot.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • ReasonableXX

      You have bought into the dumbed down, old-school conservative talking points. They are hollow and meaningless. They are the reason conservatives lost the election. Respectable republicans, not the neo con trash that currenlty dominates the party, are ashamed of people like you.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'By the way, don't scientists "revise" the date of the universe every six months or so by, like, a BILLION years? '

      er, no, no they dont. But this was talking about the age of the earth however so not sure what the universe age has to do with anything.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  16. Kitty

    You know, I'm atheist. A real one, not one of the zealots. I don't believe in a god or gods or whatever. I don't care what these guys and women in politics think about religion, I really don't. They need to just do their jobs. Stay out of our homelife, go to work and do your job.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  17. Donnie the Lion

    Knowing the age of the Earth is not nearly as important as knowing the age of the sun.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  18. tartan

    Oh please. This guy is kowtowing to the fundamentalists. I went to a Catholic high school where evolution was taught without reservation. The Church worked it's way through the whole Darwin debate when Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and paleontologist, published "The Phenomenon of Man" in the 50s. The Bible is a glorious metaphor. Let there be light = Big Bang.

    Pity poor Richard Dawkins, the scientist who thinks he's proved a negative.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  19. Theo

    I find it funny most creationists find the idea that we evolved from lower lifeforms revolting.

    BUT THEN

    They embrace the idea that we descended from inbreeding, ( Adam and Eve's kids did have to "do it" to populate the earth )

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

      Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
      Genesis 5:2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bob

      I can quote some star wars too, ( quoting doesn't make something true )

      November 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Theo

      @roboflavin so your saying god created adam and eve, now think this is hard part

      HOW DID THIER KIDS HAVE KIDS ? ( Hint = INBREEDING )

      November 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • chet

      We still have them lower life forms – most of them are in Washington DC representing us

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

      Is the “them” plural because of adam and eve, or because of more than one male and more than one female? When cain was sent away, who were the people he was worried would slay him?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • blighter

      "31. Upon approaching the Hill of Halubedahal-Shalamalamadingdong, Jesus the Lord bid His apostles to form a circle around Him. And there He did speak: 32. 'And now let those of true faith extendeth thine right leg to the center of our Circle of Spiritual Truth. Withdraw thine right leg, then return thine right leg to the Circle, and then shaketh it to and fro. Ye must do the Hokey Pokey, then turn thyself around. 33. Do this is remembrance of Me, my apostles, for this, I say to thee, is truly what it is all about.'" -St. Barney the Dinosaur 6:31-33

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

      I find it funny that the same person who denies evolution and embraces a Biblical figure who taught "feed the poor" and "love your enemies" nevertheless embraces Social Darwinism and endorses scorched earth foreign policy.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • ME II

      @riboflavin,
      Theo talks about Adam and Eve, but I thought that Noah's flood also restricted humanity to inbreeding since the only ones that survived were Noah's family. Is that not the case?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • riboflavin

      Cousins yes, brothers and sisters no.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you are right MEII......it seems god likes him a bit of incest.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • ME II

      The word "inbreeding" often encompasses cousins, I think, first cousins anyway.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  20. Jim

    Believing in delusional dogma such as Creationism s about as credible as believing the Obama administration is transparent or that he'll actually create jobs in his final term. When is our species going to grow up?

    November 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      When people such as yourself stop drawing ridiculous comparisons between a belief in Creationism and support for Obama?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Dunlar

      Yeah, not a strong 'tie in', buddy...

      November 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • chet

      50 foot – yuppers.. proof is

      November 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Akira

      Derp.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:44 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.