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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. E

    To think that 47% of Americans are completely clueless and completely delusional is very sad. And these people will pass on delusional ways of thinking to their children. I implore the people of this planet to stop lobotamiing your children with the false belief of religion, There is no GOD wake up!

    November 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Franco

      The fool has said in his heart that there is no God.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • sick of christian phonies

      I can't believe that many people really believe that nonsense. It's called "lip service". They just say that when someone asks in case god is spying on them.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Colin

      Franco, what do you think the bible would say "A scientifically educated, open minded rationalist says in his heart there is no god." ?

      November 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Nunya

      Wake up to what? A belief that this is all there is? If there's nothing better than this to look forward to then we might all as well end it now because the way this world is turning out is an embarrassment to the potential of human's existence. Faith in a religion is all that separates us from animals, which as you can see, is what the mindless world of reality television is reducing us to. Mindless robots doing what we can to do have ourselves go viral, with little regard for how we hurt ourselves or others. I'd rather stick with religion and be wrong than doubt my faith and be wrong, at least I have hope.

      November 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • sick of christian phonies

      "The fool has said in his heart that there is no God." The gibbering, delusional idiot that chooses to remain ignorant and stupid has said in his heart that there is.

      November 19, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Hey, Franco: can you also quote from other works of fiction?

      November 19, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  2. michael

    some people feel the need to fit everything into their little box of beliefs. rather than open up thier minds its safer to close them down.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  3. Mohammad A Dar

    it is always Republicans, making moronic statements.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Moe Ha Med

      Allah said you should suckle my balls.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Lol! Allah also told you, last time, to put a boot in your ass? forgetting fast my Republican friend ehh!

      November 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  4. TDVA

    Rubio is a prime example of why the Republican party is so broken. He was a glowing disappointment at the convention and this just goes a few steps further. Its very difficult to mix religion and politics and his attempts are as lame as so many before him. If the Republican party wants to ever win another presidential election they will have to weed themselves of the extremists in religion, guns, abortion, and a few other areas.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  5. Miquel

    Will the GOP ever learn? Rubio is cut from the same mold as Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, and Bachmann. Same message, this time from a face of color. They think they'll pick up minority voters by instructing a Latino candidate to spew the same divisive and intolerant message of the old guard GOP. Thing is, we minority voters aren't stupid. It's not the color of the person delivering the message that we look for – it's the message itself, idiots. This minority conservative-leaning independent voter will not fall for the same crap again, GOP.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      One more religion-brainwashed Republican who will never see the inside of the oval office.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  6. Teri

    With all of the problems and uncertainty facing our country......this is relevant because......? The main stream media needs to take a flying leap!

    November 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      This is relevant because this is a secular country, and it's important to be able to weed out the idiots before they advance too close to the white house.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      The country is facing problems and uncertainty because of the number of elected officials who still take their marching orders from a 2000 year old collection of gibberish written by bronze age goat diddlers

      November 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      If the GOP reject science how will we ever deal with climate change? Well I know the answer for low elevations- drowninng.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Pete

      This is relevant because anybody who says the the age of the Earth is some great mystery is a complete moron.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  7. Bill C

    JAFI, Carbon dating shows distinctly that there are a lot of things on this planet alone older, way way older than 10,000 years.

    So say scientists are a billion years off, Shucks Earth would still be 3.5 billion years old. Even if 3 billion years off 1.5 billion is a lot of years of existence, not even close to the creationist views. The fact remains that politicians need to get off the religious beliefs as political point makers, and focus on making the US great again. Let people be free to express whatever religious beliefs they wish and STOP trying to push their beliefs on everyone else.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  8. PN_NJ

    Will we see below mentioned incidents in America, if we have more of such Politicians as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-20321741
    Woman dies after abortion request 'refused' at Galway hospital.
    Further details on this story:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/18/savita-halappanavar-death-abortion-ireland-change

    There should be distinction between private life that is religion and public life that is politics. I know, in America, there is great divide on this subject, where people even deny science to get votes (as mentioned in this story/Florida Sen. Marco Rubio comments). I also understand that the non-educated people following such an agenda. However, when even educated people accept everything science has proved, except where its not convenient as per religion, that just amuses me.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  9. Chris

    Come on people. Marco Rubio gives you an answer and you can't do anything but scoff at it....what a bunch of morons. I'm pretty sure most of you can't solve Maxwell's Equations but that don't prevent you from turning on the lights. You can't likely solve a 2nd order differential equation either describing mechanical motion but you still get on the road each day in your vehicle. The point is most politicians could not be expected to pass a high-school science quiz (yea Obama included)...so I personally don't see the logic in raking Rubio over the coals when 95% of the rest of them (and possibly the US populous as well) are just as clueless.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • MalcomR

      You really don't see the point? And you think that it's unreasonable for a science committee member to have enough education to be able to assess the strength of a scientific argument? Really?

      November 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Most politicians could not be expected to pass a high school science quiz???? Are you freaking kidding me? I would bloody well expect them to pass not only high school science, but math and English as well.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      How is it moronic to scoff at moronic remarks. Someone who could pass a high school science exam would know his answer is not correct. I for one think that our elected representatives should have as much education as possible, not this GOP race to the bottom where science is concerned.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Chrissie, dear, you can't even write a grammatically correct sentence. Figure it out, honey. You're not the end-all or be-all, dear.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • michael

      the point is not that we cannot all solve these problems(including you) the point is he that he cant state his view clearly. or could in fact not beieve is evolution and is rejecting science. scary

      November 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      We should vote for an idiot because the country is full of idiots? First of all you're statistic is completely absurd and obviously invented for the sake of your comment. Secondly, regardless how many idiots there actually are in the country, it's still a valid persuit to find intelligent candidates to sit in the oval office.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  10. chuckswagonwagon

    Here's a question to stir up strife amongst people! It's relevancy to your actual existence is minimal considering you are here. Take it by faith it is what God said it is just as He said Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bare false witness (lie), and love thy neighbor, etc. By all means don't stop at these three simple commandments but search for more truth.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Like thou shalt take thine unruly and disobedient child to the edge of town and stone them to death? Like thou shalt commit genocide, then take the surviving virgin girls for your own?

      November 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Bill C

      Man said this stuff, not something called god. It is based on stories passed down from generation to generation, long before the notion of a christian god.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • eldono

      Search for the truth? Such as the truth that there is no evidence of the existence of God nor non-existence of God?

      November 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      There is no indication that, if there is a character out there who created the universe, he also happens to write books for the bacterium that live on earth.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  11. woody

    What Rubio is actually saying, in political double-speak, is that he doesn't want to annoy annyone as he quietly tiptoes into the 2016 election...he wants all the votes, the big tent idea. A slippey stump jumper from day one...watch out for this guy...he makes old Romney flip-flop seem positively conceret in his views.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  12. Mandy

    I see nothing wrong with what he said, good god. Science isn't infallible and no, we will never know the age of the earth. Rather, we can make educated guesses based on the facts we have at the time.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Colin

      Great. So what facts lead you to consider a 6,000 year old Universe as even a credible theory meriting serious consideration?

      November 19, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Mandy: do rabbits chew their cud? Are bats birds? Did some old guy a few thousand years ago build a boat big enough to put two of each animal on earth on it, then float around for a year? Does the sun revolve around the earth?

      I suppose we'll never know the answers to these vexing and difficult questions, given that the bible takes one position on them and science takes the opposing view. Gosh – what is a person to believe, especially if they are an elected representative and they sit on the Science sub-committee.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you're convince that we'll never know? And you come to that conclusion how, exactly? Got a crystal ball, do you?

      Idiot, you don't have a clue what we might yet know. What we DO know is that earth is far older than the Chrstards claim it is. What we DO know is that evolution occurred, is occurring, and will continue to occur. What we DO know is that you idiots are morons who don't have a leg to stand on. If you did, you'd be able to cite proof and evidence. You can't because there isn't any.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Franco

      I totally agree with you. Just the other day anthropologists just discovered that humans were using pointed stone spears 200 thousand years earlier than previously thought. Science "fact" changes with new discoveries.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Which proves nothing, except that science advances, while religion is static and stale.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • fuzzy math?

      This thinking of yours, or lack there of, is exactly why our Country is at risk of losing its place in the world. There may be a debate as to whether the earth is 4.5 billion years old or 4.45 billion years old, but there is certainly no debate as to whether or not the earth is 10 thousand years old. If you think there is, then you are part of the problem. End of discussion.

      November 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Franco

      You are mislabeling a fact in science. A fact in science is merely an observation. Things falling to the ground, for instance, is a fact, and Gravitational theory is model that surrounds it. Now, we have found new evidence that points to humans using stone spears earlier than what we thought. In what was is this truly significant though? What scientific theories would this effect in any significant way?

      November 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  13. higgs boson

    when these young earthers find an arrowhead implanted in a dinosaur fossil will someone call me

    November 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  14. Al

    Oh the irony, that you have to be such a retarded monkey to not believe in Evolution, Geology, Cosmology...

    November 19, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Au contraire. You'd have to be an idiot to believe in anything else. You're proof.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Al

      "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son" Surely you misread it???? "to *not* believe" – otherwise what you wrote doesn't make sense.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  15. routt66

    I am assuming that all of you blogging here are in that 15% that the article states that believe that God had nothing to do with making the Earth. If Elections were decided online, the Republican party would never win again. All the ignorant people who don't believe in science couldn't vote because they can't figure out how to operate a computer (which science provided them).

    November 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Dump hinduism, illegality of Evolution, way of hindu's, deniers of truth absolute GOD, sons of LANGOOR, SELF CENTERED

      Can you explain us why language of computer is based on 16, not less not more, Mr hindu, ignorant, lover of science.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      can someone explain to me too why language of computer is based on 16, not less not more?

      November 19, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Pete

      It is obviously based on 16 because god made computers. Duh.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  16. Kristal

    lol this again u can prove science but You can Not prove religion at best it's all about faith

    November 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  17. Syd

    Religion is deliberate organized mass insanity. It will be our undoing.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  18. TReward

    I once shared Rubio's Mormon faith and was taught that the earth was only 6,000 years old. The LDS church has backe away from that belief, and have even tried to erase it, but I'm relieved to hear that it doesn't figure in Mr. Rubio's worldview--you don't have to be a scientist to know the earth is older than 6,000 years!

    November 19, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • JacinJax

      We don't know what he believes and that's the point of the article. He never answered the question of what he believes. The Catholic Church and the different sects of the Baptist Church all teach different things. He says he's Catholic but goes to a Baptist Church. What does he believe? And will he like many Christians try to impose that believe on others. Until he answers those questions he cannot be trusted.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  19. floridasboy

    I am a God fearing Christian... but for a group of fellow Christians to tell God how long a "day" in his glory is, I'd take a few step away. The heaven and earth that he created, with the sun, moon, other suns(stars) and everything in between was his plan and done to his timing.... telling God how to run his own show is bad business. Personally, I'd put Earth at around 7 billion (earth) years from having been a molten mass, and all else is history.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Why do you fear god?

      November 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  20. DavidE7

    Rubio is right. In science, we make a distinction between observation and inference. We place a different level of confidence on those things we can observe directly and the conclusions we draw from our observations. We find a lot of evidence that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, but none of us was there when it formed. Many times in history, scientists have led us to believe one thing when another was true. For example, science used to believe that a substance called phlogiston was released when matter burned. But that turned out to be false. Also, it was once common knowledge that life arose from maggots. And some truths seem almost beyond us: it light a wave or a particle?

    It is a hallmark of the good scientist to have humility and keep an open mind. Those who get upset when others don't share the accepted conclusions of evolutionists usually have political reasons. For the rest of us, a little tolerance is advised.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Colin

      Agreed, now apply the same standards to creationism, particularly the requirent that theories be based on evidence, not mere religious convictions.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      When people do not accept the conclusions based on solid evidence for evolution based on non-science and religion they deserve to be mocked. Especially when someone like Rubio is on a Senate Subcomittee for Science and Space. I don't want someone who doesn't know science or good science methodology to be involved in making laws in that area.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • floridasboy

      Light is a particle that moves in a wave. Like a platypus.... just when we think we got it all figured out, WHAM!

      November 19, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • MalcomR

      You clearly have no idea what const.i.tutes a well established modern scientific fact, or how it is determined to be such.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • CAWinMD

      You are right that there is a difference between observation and inference, but not all inferences are created equally. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that the Earth was created around 4.5 billion years ago. However, there is no proof that God created the Earth 6000-10000 years ago except for a story in a book. Rubio wants us to believe that since they are both theories, they have equal validity. They are not, because of the lack of proof for the creationist version. Bring some testable proof of that, then we can have this conversation again.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Mandy

      Well said, David!

      November 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Nice comment David. Now then, are the religious equally capable of accepting that they might be wrong?

      I don't hardly think so.

      November 19, 2012 at 9:01 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.