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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. Matt

    There is no Controversy. There is either Science or Ignorance. What most of us perceive as known Science, the Ignorant perceive as Controversy.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  2. tony

    @ was blind, but now I see

    . .. What pray-tell exactly is a proven theory anyway? .. . . .

    The fact that you can type from home and post comments here proves several thousand or so sci theories that are needed to make that happen. And I know you faith that that you can keep on doing it.

    And the fact that you can "see" the sun rise every morning DOES PROVE that the Sun at least, is already a coupla million years old.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Dom

      Can ya'll please go read Carl Saga's "A Pale Blue Dot".

      November 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  3. Loyalright

    Suppose you are wrong and there is a real GOD that created you, me, and everything around us. What do we Christians have to lose and what do you have to lose by not believing?

    November 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • End Religion

      Known as Pascal's Wager, an inelegant, amateurish and possibly immoral argument for conversion.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager

      November 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • tony

      Disaster if Allah is that God.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Duke

      Wikipedia. Known as an unacademic and often unreliable source of information.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Is that what you do? Don't you think your god would see through the ruse?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Chris

      Surely if your god is so all knowing and wise he would know that deep down inside you are only hedging your bets and send you to eternal damnation.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Duke

      Clearly an eternal equation relates to questions that deal with possible eternal consequences or uncertainties about the beginning and end of time.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Matt

      @Duke. He didn't have to site Wikipedia at all, dummy. Pascal's Wager is common knowledge among anyone with more than a 6th grade education. The fact that you aren't even familiar enough to understand this and therefore attempt to question the citation shows just how incapable you are of adding to this conversation.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I'd say Wikipedia is lot more accurate than the bible on just about ... everything.

      Certainly it contains inconsistencies and inaccuracies. But at least it gets corrected with a peer review process. The bible is stuck with its inconsistencies. Given the mult!tude of translations, the bible isn't even an accurate reference for ... the bible.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Garth

      If we could honestly ask ourselves what humanity would have to gain by realizing that gods are mythical beings created by primitive or deluded humans it would be clear that the potential benefits are nothing less than enormous.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • deserthermit

      He should at least grow a pair and answer the question. Even if I already know his delusional answer.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • End Religion

      There is no source in existence that is correct in absolute. Wikipedia is one of the largest, and I feel most neutral, sources of information available to easily gain knowledge on a topic. None of us has time to go resource tomes in the library for a month just to reply to a forum post. If you don't like Wikipedia's definition go source your own.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  4. tony

    @ was blind, but now I see

    . .. What pray-tell exactly is a proven theory anyway? .. . . .

    The fact that you can type from home and post comments here proves several thousand or so sci theories that are needed to make that happen. And I know you faith that that you can keep on doing it.
    DOES PROVE that it is already a coupla million years old.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  5. Ian

    Don't Christians and atheists face the same dilemma?

    If "God" exists, who or what created God?
    If the universe always existed, who or what created the universe?

    I will never understand the entirety of theological thought or quantum physics, but cause and effect at least makes sense.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Don't really want to go into it, but there are problems with a cause for time.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Ian

      Please do. Learning is always worthwhile

      November 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Mr Dextrose

      Then I suggest you read Lawrence Kraus's "A Universe from Nothing". No creator required.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Mr Dextrose, I love your name AND your style.

      I would explain why, but I'm too tired.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "I don't know" is a perfectly reasonable answer for something that has not been proven and to withold belief until such a time it is.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      One of the properties of a cause is that it precedes its effect. How can the beginning of time be preceded by anything?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Duke

      If God exists, then God is not of the natural or of "matter." Thus, God would exist in the Supernatural and not be constrained by time and therefore God would be eternal–not requiring a creator.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you don't believe that God exists, Duke? Otherwise, why the "If"?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Ian

      Tom, would you then say the beginning of time is a self-existing state?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Duke,

      You have just defined god in such a way that anyone would be delusional to think such a being "exists".

      November 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Ian-

      Actually I hold with the idea that time doesn't have a beginning, much as sphere does not even though it is bounded.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Duke

      The only thing delusional is to presuppose that you can know of a certainty something that has an eternal equation. I suggest "if" because most people who claim not to believe in "God" actually do believe in the supernatural. They just don't recognize it. I do believe in God. But, I am not so insolent in my thinking to ignore the possibility that what others may suggest to be true, with sufficient cause based on rational and logical thinking, could persuade me to alter my specific belief.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What, pray tell, is an "eternal equation" Dukie?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Duke,

      Is your belief in a god that is supernatural and beyond time and space based on reason and logical thinking? If so please explain.

      Yes there are atheists that believe in supernatural non-sense....and they are wrong to do so.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Ian, as an atheist I do not say that god does not exist, I merely disbelieve in any gods proposed to exist by humans. Sure, there might be a god, but if he exists, it's irrelevant at this point in time. God seems invisible, so either he doesn't exist or it makes no difference if he does.

      It's honest and extremely simple to say, "We don't know" when it comes to mysteries about the universe. The answer "big invisible sky wizard daddy did it with magic spellz" is a bit much, doncha think?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Duke, I can be persuaded, but not by stupid bull sh!t. I require measurable substance. Nothing to measure? Nothing to believe.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Duke

      Already been there and done that Cheesemakers. Go to page 46.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Duke, on page 46. you talk about using "faith" but that's just plain ignorant. Anyone can use faith for any proposition so it hardly does your belief any good that it wouldn't do anyone else for their belief. I can have faith that gravity is produced by invisible fairies. So fvcking what?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Duke,

      I did, all I saw was basless assertions that your tried to wrap in science. Your arguments boiled down to "you can't prove otherwise, so it is reasonable for me to believe in a supernatural being outside of time and space".

      That is an argument from ignorance fallacy. No one has ever observed or proven that there is such a state as "beyond time and space". Then when you are coronered you throw out this doozy.

      "But it takes faith to comprehend these things. Just as it takes faith to believe in methods that you CANNOT observe for 100% accuracy."

      Religious Faith is pretending to know something you don't know. As such it is a self deluded state of mind. You have convinced yourself to believe something without logic and reason AND convinced yourself that it is logical to do so.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Duke

      Let me rephrase. Even Wikipedia, an often unreliable, considered an unacademic source did not refer to Pascal's Wager as "inelegant, amateurish and possibly immoral argument for conversion."

      November 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Wiki often does not state what it should. Blessed / Cheesemakers's reply to you above was brilliantly stated so that even you might "get it" with a few more reads than the rest of us need. I suggest you take the time and effort.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Duke

      How come so many of you so called intellectuals misuse the ignorance fallacy. The ignorance fallacy relates to an argument NOT grounded on any logic or rationale, but because there is no proof otherwise it suggest it as a truth. I have suggested that some supernatural force must have predicated the natural because something unnatural must have come before the natural. My argument is based on a level of logic and rationale that merely asks for an alternative a of more likely occurrence. None of you provide that.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "I have suggested that some supernatural force must have predicated the natural because something unnatural must have come before the natural."

      Duke,

      You can suggest anything you want, that does not make it true. You are ignorant of anything actually being supernatural, you only suggest it as an answer to a question that has yet to be answered. So you are by definition arguing from a position of ignorance.

      And I am not an intellectual, never claimed to be one. Why when you make claims for something being real that you have no way of knowing is actually true, and you are called on it do you then resort to an ad hominem of essentially implying that those who disagree with you are 'snobish intellectuals'. If you can show that your belief in god is in fact based on logic and reason than do it. Saying in any way that in order to understand your position one needs "faith" is just admitting it is not based on "logic and reason", it is based on supersti.tion.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      What Duke and those who "reason" like him fail to understand is that THEIR OWN EXACT LOGIC demands a "super-supernatural" realm and creator for the "supernatural realm" and god to make this natural realm. And then where do you stop? You can't have it both ways, christards, if everything requires causation, then there's an endless causality chain that is just as mystifying or more so than the mystery of the universe's existence without a "supernatural" causation. Duh. Think a little bit, sometimes.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • End Religion

      It's inelegant because it's one of the first arguments a religious weasel makes in his sheepish defense of something he doesn't strongly believe in himself. It is amateurish for the same reason. It is immoral because religion considers gambling so, and Pascal's Wager is essentially that an adherent has whittled his reason for faith down to a wager.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  6. Steve in seattle

    Radiometric dating is a trick... That a powerful evil angel that fell from the sky came up with to trick people so that they couldn't get into heaven. Because....er... He wants to cook them in a lake of fire...because.... Umm....he is a bad guy... And then there is this good man in the sky called "God" that is all powerful and good, but is waiting for his son to be reborn so that the final battle between good and evil can take place. And humans are going to play a huge role in that... Because although there are trillions of stars and planets, only ours has life and we are modeled after God...

    Or maybe there are such things as atoms and radiometric dating... And perhaps science is right.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  7. Chris

    If republicans ever want to be taken seriously again, they need to stop pandering to these religious nuts. Everyone knows that 80% of these replublicans really don't believe in creationism but have to to keep regurgitating this rubbish so their base approves them. It is really time Republican politicians need to aim higher... For a more intelligent constiuents... They would be amazed at how many democrats would convert.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  8. t3chn0ph0b3

    So much for the presidency.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  9. jack

    IDIOT!

    November 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  10. Walt

    I'm surprised to even be reading these conversations.. What are you people thinking?

    November 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  11. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Can't we just teach that the Universe was created in the sense that a tropical depression creates a cyclone? Someone left this, not sure where it's been and I haven't had a chance to spray it down with the appropriate disinfectant:

    "1. Scientists (Borde-Guth-Vilenkin) have proven that our universe has a finite past, that it has a beginning, and that it it meta-physically impossible for nothing (non-being) to produce something. In other words, an external causal agent is absolutely required" 🙂

    November 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • mama k

      Yeah that quote sounds very Chardonian.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • End Religion

      Chad posted that elsewhere

      November 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The italics and the smiley emoticon would be an indicator of a particular style.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  12. Walt

    Neither religion or earth exist. It's all just your imagination.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • End Religion

      agreed, now please send me all your imaginary money.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  13. Nogodupthere

    Rubio. Don't be estupido. The hillbillies know that you are a not one them. So just say 4.5 Billion years. They need you more than you need them.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  14. goo6er

    About half the people here in Iowa are infected with the god virus, so they'll eat this stuff up. When Rubio tries to equivocate and appeal to both sides of the argument, you know he's thinking about running. He wouldn't want to alienate potential voters, even if it means he compromises his beliefs.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Athy

      Unfortunately, those may really be his beliefs.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  15. MissouriBoy

    No problem. Give equal time to all possible earth creation stories. Don't isolate on Christian and Jewish earth creation story from the Bible or Torah. How about the Hindu earth creation stories? Buddhist stories? Shinto stories? Greek earth creation stories? Norse earth creation stories? American Indian earth creation stories? Just include them all in the science curriculum of public schools. Yeah, that makes sense...

    November 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Planet Kolob

      You might as well throw in the Battlestar Galactica creation story for good measure. That will make the nerds happy.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • aktap

      And Lexx too, the giant Bug spaceship.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  16. Dave

    As a former Republican, I think the party should be intellectually honest with itself and simply adopt the slogan, "ensuring Democrat victory since 2008." That way, my grandchildrens' generation will be able to pinpoint when anti-science agendas became more important than America to those who remained Republicans until the bitter end.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • End Religion

      What might be really interesting is if the Republican party gets so polluted that it actually begins to die. The rise of the party that takes its place may then be so anti-religion and humanist that it steals some Democrats away. Then if the Democrats actually sense election trouble they could begin pandering to the religious, restarting the cycle. Of course this would take quite a while.... I don't know of many non-republicans who would be able to wear the republican label until the stink wears off.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  17. Optic

    The bible thumpers always come up with some weird arbitrary criterion for science to achieve before proof of theories occurs, then of course doesnt apply any of the same criteria to religion.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  18. bad2worse

    46% of Americans are illiterate!

    November 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  19. Research

    This what the left does. Make candidates DOA on issues not political until they find ones they can defeat. Consider it a badge of courage Marco that they come after you.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  20. End Religion

    His fascination with prime numbers distracts him from his religious delusion which distracts him from reality. It can be tough to form cohesive sentences under such a chain of duress.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:46 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.