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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. Bootyfunk

    some members of the congressional science committee believe in creationism and not evolution - unbelievable. basically, they're saying they don't believe in science and want to be on the science committee - makes no sense, kind of like creationism.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • demshavenomorals

      Because, of course, scientists could never be wrong. Scientists also believed the Earth was round, so it must be true, right?

      November 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Scientists also believed the Earth was round, so it must be true, right?'

      why yes, yes it is true, the earth is round, well round-ish but yes more or less round, well done.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Kay

    With all that is going on we are talking about this? Give me a break ! Will the media not do anything to deflect about the important issues and of course to put a republican in controversy

    November 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      pretty important to know which members of our leadership are still living in the dark ages... these guys make our laws. but i guess that doesn't' sound important enough for you. these guys want to teach our children that the earth is flat - might make it hard for our kids to compete in a modern world. so yeah, i'd say it's important.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  3. josh rogen

    I had hoped that Rubio might be a suitable candidate in 2016, but looks like he's pandering too far to the right for this liberal minded anti-big government republican to support.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  4. Michael

    A more credible statement from Rubio would be that our world was created this morning along with all the characteristics and properties that would make a fact based person believe it was created billions of years ago.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  5. gordyb

    We mock the Taliban for their fanatical religious views and yet we have our own american talibans. Science is real, evolution and survival of the fittest is rational, man only being here 10,000 years is not rational, the migration across Alaska into South America is 30,000 years ago. Get into 2012, not 1812.

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

    According to a Gallup poll released today (june 1, 2012) , 46% of Americans believe in Creationism, 32% of Americans believe in god-guided evolution, and 15% of Americans are actually right!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Monopolis

      Thats about right the majority can not have a brain, we need more worker ants then thinkers

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

      Well, it does say in the bible that man was created from mud. I guess the 75% stll have varying levels of mud left over in their craniums.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • demshavenomorals

      Yet, the all important SCIENCE would say that the 15%er's are wrong.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  7. Monopolis

    From a Religious persons point of view, the goal of life is to get to heaven.

    Why then would they rather see a loved one go on vacation then to heaven ?

    if they really believed what they preach they wouldn't be sad when someone dies, ITS THE GOAL the POINT OF LIFE as they preach it.

    thats like a baseball player getting mad they won a game. ( IT DONT MAKE SENSE )

    November 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Shawn9060

      "...if they really believed what they preach they wouldn't be sad when someone dies, ITS THE GOAL the POINT OF LIFE as they preach it."

      Monopolis, that's a really silly argument. If you spend your whole life with someone you love and suddenly they're gone, OF COURSE you're going to be sad that they're gone despite where they went.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  8. Alexander Adderly

    If anyone really believes that the planet is 6000-10000 years old, they are extremely ignorant. If they understand anything at all about science and still believe this, then they are just stupid. Unfortunately, Rubio is ignoring Governor Jidal's plea that the Republican Party move away from "being the party of stupid". It's bad enough that Republicans will more readily cut Education than Defense spending, but the woeful state of America's intellect is not helped by the popularity of Fox News which promotes so much misinformation that a great portion of the country is living in an alternate reality where Climate Change doesn't exist, Obama is a Muslim, Evolution isn't real, Civil Rights are just "suggestions" and the Earth is 10000 years old. Really. Unfortunately, such morons exist inside our government....

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

      See, here's the problem: Fox News bills their fare as "Entertainment", which is why they can get away with all of their specious lies...it falls under the entertainment heading.
      They've won libel suits this way.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      very well said, alexander. conservatives have always been on the wrong side of social justice: slavery, segregation, women's suffrage, the right for minorities to vote, the right for whites and minorities to marry, g.ay marriage, etc. the list goes on. Faux News wishes we were back in the early 1900s when white males ruled all. i don't, and i'm a white male. want to know if you're on the right side of the fence when it comes to social issues - pick the opposite side from the republican party and you're set.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • demshavenomorals

      Such religious intolerance here! People have so much anger against Christians. Why? Unlike the purported "news" that preaches the intolerance from Christians, the whole belief of Christians is tolerance. Do people just plain don't like morals anymore? I suppose morals are a bad thing, right? So, just keep lumping Christians into a group of hayseeds that live in the flyover zone. I would rather live there than with the immoral, narcissistic know- it -all's who have no savior. Lot's of quips from self professed intellectuals. All style and no substance.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      ' the whole belief of Christians is tolerance'
      you wouldnt know it looking at them. can you point a few out?

      November 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Pete

      All Christians aren't hayseeds, only the really stupid one who reject observable reality such as the age of Earth and evolution.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  9. Jackson

    I think they watched the Movementarian episode of The Simpsons one too many times.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  10. J.C.

    At last a group I feel I am a part of...I'm a 15%er!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  11. J

    Why can't this man have HIS own opinion without all the free thinking, love everyone people condeming him? You all need to look in the mirror before talking about how close minded another person or group of people are!!!!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • ReasonableXX

      Because that would be like me having the opinion that the sky is green. It's simply not true. The difference is that I'm not running for president and don't have influence over millions of people. If he was a true leader, he would attempt to educate his people with facts.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      So you'd support thinking like Hitler's because it was his opinion?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      If you abstain from running for public office or having any say in how public education is run, sure, you're free to have your own opinion. But when you have an opinion that is likely to influence the nations education system, it is wide open for scruitiny.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Monopolis

      free thinking is not repeating a book written 2000 years ago.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Buck

      Coming from a non religious person, you make an excellent point. I do find it highly ironic how negatively atheists commenting here are reacting. It's one thing to argue with someone about the mountain of evidence that provdes how old the Earth actually is. But don't bash a person simply because they believe in God. It's just like how certain Christians condemn other religions and atheists.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Larry P

      No one is telling him he can't have his opinion, he just can't jam it down the throats of our kids at school by teaching his religion as science.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      basically, why can't he have his opinion without anyone else having an opinion? he can have his opinion - but seeing how he's a lawmaker, he has to defend it. he makes laws. get it?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • jason

      Opinions are choices – what color you like best. Facts are facts 1+1=2. You can not have a differing opinion on a fact. That's stupid..............

      You're thinking, hey, we don't know everything about how it was created – that is a fact. However, science has proven the Earth's age is close to 5 Billion years old – fact.

      Does this, in any way, rule out your God and your beliefs – NO........ We don't know exactly how everything was started, maybe it was "YOUR" God. This is a fact and an opinion...... The fact is the lack of all the information, the opinion is that "YOUR" God is real.

      My opinion, "YOUR" God gave you a little brain. Not everyone, just you.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  12. goofy

    It is embarassing to realize we elected these people. It isn't what people believe so much - it's the fact that they think everyone else is WRONG. What imperial dictator-type government ever thought that?

    November 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  13. boyblue122

    I dont believe in science. Oww I broke my arm, someone take me to a doctor!!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  14. G

    "Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form ", and in other news, 46% of Americans are idiots.

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

      I'm all for trying to point out to someone that they are wrong by politely debating. But simply labeling people as idiots for their different beliefs is the reaction of someone who isn't confident in his/her own beliefs and self.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Jason B.

      Agreed. I mean good grief...how can you so blatantly ignore all the evidence to the contrary?

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

      I've lived all over the US including the South and never seen a place where the number was as high as 46%. I've always figured telephone surveys must be skewed towards the dim, as most educated people know how many scam artists use surveys to fish for information. Even if you keep calling until you have enough people in the "college educated" category, you're still going to be skewed heavily towards college grads who went to third rate colleges and majored in useless subjects that left them unemployed with time to answer telephone surveys.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Laurie in Spokane

      Is this whole debate for real? Can anyone in their right mind, or with a mind at all truly believe the earth is only 6,000 years old? What is in the water these people drink, or more to the point, what are they drinking? I am absolutely flabbergasted anyone would seriously try to debate this.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  15. slippery

    It doesn't make a hill of beans to someone who can't even analyze.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Smilin' Jack

    Framing the debate as "science vs. religion" misses the point. I was an agnostic when I discovered that the theory of evolution simply cannot be substantiated by the observable evidence. So, it should be framed as "good science vs. junk science" with evolution being junk.

    Besides, during the 1920 Scopes trial, the ACLU argued that teaching only one theory of origins is "bigotry." So, according to that, teaching only one theory of origins - evolution - is still bigotry.

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

      Yet somehow you're smart enough to use a computer...

      November 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Troll Alert!

      see above

      November 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Nope

      "Troll Alert!

      see above"

      You're a dope.

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

      Keep Smilin', Jack.
      The problem with your argument is that there is so much MORE "observable evidence" to support evolution than there is for supporing creationism, for which there is, um, ZERO evidence. Garden of Eden? Nothing. Proof that there was an actual Adam and Eve? Nada. Evidence that God banged it all out in 6 days (and napped the 7th)? Gee... NOTHING. Just a bunch of fairytales crafted by primitive peoples whp were trying to explain things beyond their comprehension.
      In short, IT'S SCIENCE, STUPID.

      Now, please EVOLVE.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • DB

      I'll bet the ACLU said a lot of things in 1920.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Ben

      Evolution is supported by observable evidence. It is not junk science. It is real science. The belief in creationism isn't science, but it is junk. The bible is simply a collection of talking points written by ordinary men hundreds of years after the items contained therein supposedly happened. A complete fairy tale that people follow like sheep.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Thompson

      This is an issue that can never be solved–there are those who have faith in what they are told and there are those who can objectively evaluate the solid scientific facts. I'm sorry but your facts are all wrong. I respect your faith. I don't think there's really any incompatibility. You can believe in the scientific evidence and say that it provides the best explanation for events (and even recognize the deep mysteries that still remain) without losing your belief in your religion.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • jakku

      Observable evidence about creation ?? Have you seen anything being created out of thin air? Please explain.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • callnews

      An ACLU truth. Even they can tell it if you go back far enough. It must have been the "science" of evolution that changed their minds at present.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Criticism of allegory and metaphor as if it were fact continues to be not much of an argument... it was not much of an argument yesterday, and it will not be much of an argument tomorrow.

      Evolution is in a bad position compared to other sciences because it's retrospective. I don't think it's junk science, but it's not at the level of trustworthiness of physics or chemistry either. We *think* we know what happened because there's only one really good explanation that doesn't involve a very active independent creator. But we can't test the mechanisms, we can't fill in the blanks. It's quite rational to arrive at the conclusion that one can't buy it.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I was an agnostic when I discovered that the theory of evolution simply cannot be substantiated by the observable evidence.'
      care to provide us with an example of this stunning revelation?

      'Besides, during the 1920 Scopes trial, the ACLU argued that teaching only one theory of origins is "bigotry."'
      actually no they didnt. It is widley quoted on creationist pages that they did but there is absolutely no evidence it was ever said, and it certainly do not appear in case transcripts.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  17. Freedom FROM Religion

    The GOP (that doesn't mean all Republicans) are really, really, really sad. There are just no words in the vast English language to describe how lost in ideological oblivion these people really are. Even the trolls on this blog are beyond even a hint of rational, logical, analytical thinking with any sort of objectivity. I mean the fact the so many people in this country use the cop-out argument that "it's God's plan" just goes to show the muscle they least exercise happens to be the most important and is the profound reason this country is falling behind so many others where we should be excelling.

    People, the Bible is great story, but that is all it is and ever was is a story. Creationism does not and never has stood up to any experimentation or observation under the scientific theory and any "scientist" who claims otherwise is yanking your chain because those creationist "scientists" leave out HUGE swaths of observational evidence and replace it with assumptions from said 2000 y/o old book. That is not science, in most parts of the world it is called bull shiznit. The best thing any of you can do is throw the bible in the trash because not only is it making you dumber, but you are also supporting a highly oppressive belief system that claims to be a moral piller but then will turn around and conceal the raping of children. Do you really want to support that? If you are rational the answer should be a resounding NO..... if not, then go about your business and realize you are part of a dying breed of ignorance that I for one cannot wait to see be removed (by dying out or forcibly removed).

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

      Barry Goldwater warned the GOP to keep the religious right at arm's length. This is EXACTLY what he predicted would happen if they let them in.

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

      Amen brother.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them." – Barry Goldwater

      November 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in "A," "B," "C" and "D." Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?" – Barry Goldwater

      November 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  18. DB

    It only took about two weeks before the "New and Improved Republican Party!" reverted to their old ways.

    The GOP will never change as long as its primaries are dominated by its most extreme voters. Every single Republican politician is TERRIFIED of getting a primary challenge from their right, and this is the result: relentless pandering to their own extremists.

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

      The thing that the supposedly educated people who like to comment here don't seem to understand is, that this is a MAJORITY view among the actual voting population. Not because of religion, but because of people's natural limitations. Some liberals are well educated; others are just as dense as the densest backwoods hick. If they're not led correctly in a poll, most people are going to say that they have some objection to evolution, and that's probably not fixable simply because it's not a simultaneously accessible and personally relevant concept to most people.

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

      That's a whole lot of words with very little to say. I'm not sure what exactly your point is, but doing my best to try to infer your meaning I'll respond by saying: I don't have to choose between believing in God and believing the prevailing scientific theories about the creation of the Earth. They're NOT mutually exclusive, I can believe God created the Earth and all life on it and still believe the Earth is just as old as the scientists say it is.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Of course. But you propose that they are extremists, and on this issue at least, any and all available evidence says they're not.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  19. boyblue122

    If humans have been created within the past 10000 years then how do you explain cave drawings in Spain and France that are more than 30000 years old. Aliens?

    November 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • TTT

      You must be mistaken. The caves are only 10,000 years old too!

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

      Simple, they'll just explain it by saying carbon dating is a liberal fraud.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Ancient Alens

      Ancient aliens bro. Its all aliens.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Planted by Satan (this was explained to me in detail by a woman I met on a train).

      November 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Why would Satan care?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • DB

      Because if Satan can make you doubt the story of Creation, you might start to doubt everything else in the Bible, too. Then you might reject Jesus Christ as your Savior, and then Satan will have your soul when you die. See how simple it is?

      November 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Larry P

      Gawd put it there, just to mess with yer head!

      November 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  20. An Informed Adult

    Makes sense that Creationism be taught in schools alongside evolution; then, for afternoon geology class, let's make sure we give equal time to the Earth being FLAT as we do to the liberal right scientific assertion that the Earth is ROUND. Geez.. and we pay these people to run our countries? really?

    November 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • jakku

      That is what beats me.. their logic. They believe in Creationism but they conveniently agree with the heliocentric theory and that the earth is round, even though the later two facts are a bit more plausible (there are flat asteroids and heavenly do go around each other sometimes) than creationism which completely lacks any kind of real world proof. Has anyone seen anything being created out of nothing so far? I just cant get it. Religion is for mental and personal comfort. For explaining everything else, we have science. Let us keep it apart.

      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.