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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. juny1958

    there is an old scripture that some of you more arrogant should take heed......." the fool says in his heart there is no God"

    November 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Observer

      juny1958,

      There's an old scripture that says that a virgin has to marry ANY guy who r@pes here.

      So what is your point that implied value to old scripture?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Whoa Nellie!

      Pretty safe bet that was written by a religious person.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • LC

      juny1958
      That use to be true before science discovered that the world runs just fine without any God needed. Now it's perfectly reasonable and logical to live as though no God exists, however you may be called a "fool" should you insist that God exists without any evidence to support that.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • End Religion

      yeah, we don't hear that "fool" scripture 10 times a day, do we? And then we usually go on to outwit the OP while teaching him something about the bible.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  2. Homer10

    Oh Rubio, don't play that game. Scince will make you look like an idiot. Idiots don't get elected.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  3. Lindalou

    I'm sick of politicians pandering to religious groups to garner votes. He doesn't even sound like he believes his own explanation. He's dancing around committing to any one theory...a true GOP candidate Mr. Rubio.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  4. Sam

    What shocks me the most is that 46% of Americans really believe the Earth is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. Almost half of the American public is really that stupid and dense. Believing in God is one thing, not being able to understand science is another and completely ridiculous.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • sq

      really like to set yourself up as self important and superior, don't you?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • LizT

      Amen to that! People can be frighteningly ignorant!

      November 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Sam

      Sq, how can you deny the proof of how old he Earth is. Where do you think the dinosaur bones came from. Do you not believe in carbon dating. I would like to know your thoughts on the dinosaurs.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • sq

      Sam,

      have you ever traveled to the creation museum in ky? it's all explained there about dinosaurs and how they were contemporary with man.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • art

      The creation museum?? Wander back into the mountains, you assbackward hillbilly trash.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  5. foolsage

    By God let us return to the bronze age. It was more sane than this age.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • sq

      Amen. And more moral.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Observer

      sq,

      God supports slavery and discrimination against women and the handicapped.

      So that's your idea of "moral'?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  6. sq

    Science cannot cure cancer. Massive fail.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • manbearpig

      Neither does prayer, despite what that guy jesus said about its power. And science does not claim to be omnipotent.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • dhkeith

      Neither can religion. What's your point?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Jim Hahn

      Science has already cured some cancers, but not all. Definitely without any help from some imaginary deity in the sky.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  7. sq

    Hitler used science when deciding who would go to the gas chambers.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Well you used science when you posted this on the internet using your computer....that makes you the same as Hitler.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Observer

      sq,

      Hitler was raised as a Catholic and frequently expressed his belief in God.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, he even purchased machines from IBM to decide just who that would be.

      IBM happily sold their machines to the Third Reich. Back in those days they also sold the consulting work to program them, so you can imagine that IBM employees even understood or could guess at the purpose.

      Capitalism at it's finest.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  8. manbearpig

    "Well, that's one of life's great mysteries too..."

    November 20, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  9. Jerry

    Seem to recall that Pres Obama and his family attended Rev Wright's church for a couple of decades, and The Prez concluded his oath of office with "so help me God", a phrase not required. Was Mr. Obama pandering to the religious zealots as Rubio has been accused of doing, or does he believe this religion crap?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      My guess is he was pandering, most politicians do. The really scary ones are those that actually believe it.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  10. Colin

    Christians should not be allowed to vote, then politicians would not have to act like they are as dumb as them.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Not genuine.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  11. Observer

    Is there any chance that Rubio can figure out if the Noah's ark story is true?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  12. DWWAJW

    Wow...it sure didn't take CNN long to start targeting potential GOP candidates for the 2016 election.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  13. sq

    Science is dumb.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • snowyowl

      Genius, not.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Jim Hahn

      Belief in some imaginary deity is even dumber.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  14. Mark

    AH! A CNN story you dont have to to be signed up for social networking to post to!

    Are you seriously trying to tell me that beings that cant figure out how to live in peace can figure out how old the world is, say that man is causing global warming, and insist there is a God and not believe in any other older religions?

    Damn we are a stupid race...

    November 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  15. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning

    Anti-atheist extremists are plotting again 🙂

    November 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You have to face the issue of special pleading.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  16. deserthermit

    This moron has no place in our government.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    you have to forgive me. i'm drunk again tonite.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, look. I shot, I scored! I win.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      really, really drunk

      November 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  18. dakota

    How is this even news-worthy? He's right–we live in a place where people should be able to explore all the possibilities and then make an informed decision. I don't think this is some spark of controversy between the Creationists and Evolutionists. Let's recall that at one time scientists believe the Earth was flat... I care more about where we are going than when/how we started. Come on.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • On my knees for God's pleasure

      Dakota, well for 1 thing, when all evidence points to a position being wrong, then it is not worth having around so people can explore it.

      Another thing, you aren't even talking about "all possibilities", there are literally hundreds of creation stories that would have to be observed carefully.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Dakota

      @OnmyKnees,

      I'm not saying one way is right or wrong. I think people should make that choice for themselves. Creationism or Evolutionism. It doesn't matter. The world's still here. Let's stop it from being toasted to death by the sun.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Dakota,

      It does matter, if you want to stop the sun from toasting everything. Many creationists don't think we have to do anything to stop it because either it is "god's will" or "their god will protect us". These are people in positions of power, not just local nutjobs.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  19. joe

    It is astounding that people choose Faith over science in the 21st century. The question of age of the earth should be a litmus test. Any answer below "billions of years" should automatically disqualify any politician from office. Period. Then they should be fed to the lions – not the ones from Detroit either.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Bill

      Joe, care to venture a guess as to how many times scientists have changed the estimated age of the Earth? Let's just call it "several."
      Every time science finds new information that doesnt fit with their age estimate, that add another few hundred million or a billion years onto the estimate to explain away the new discovery.
      So you'll pardon me If i dont fully embrace science as absolute fact.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Athy

      Bill, that's the beauty of science. New data are always welcome and incorporated into existing theories. What would you like us to do with new information, ignore It?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • joe

      @ Mr. Bill.... Heard of carbon dating? BTW... Call Exxon. Ask them how long it took to "cook" the oil the fine Christians make into gasoline to put into their cars to drive to church. Have a blessed day.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  20. On my knees for God's pleasure

    No controversy, the world is 4.5 billion years old.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Bill

      As of when?
      About 20 years ago scientists said the earth was 2 billion years old ... then 3 .... and now 4.5 billion ... wonder what it will be next year.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • manbearpig

      So, Bill, you mean science revises itself as we learn more? How unsatisfactory. Sounds much worse than reducing yourself to the level of a bunch of Bronze Age Middle-Eastern goatherders.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bill,

      the age of the earth was estimated at ~4.5 billion years in 1953. There have been minor revisions to the numbers in the past 59 years, but it really hasn't changed much since then. It's a pretty stable estimate as it turns out.

      Will someone come up with a new more accurate answer one day? Maybe. You can bet it won't be <10,000 years.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.