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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. mrdeepblue

    There is NO such thing as a "debate" going on for alternative nonexistent theories.

    Science HAS the ULTIMATE word on knowledge NOT charlatans. End of Discussion.
    Rubio should be fired from the NASA committee where he is NOT fit to serve coffee on.
    CHURCH has NO PLACE IN SCIENCE, or Government.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  2. Evangelical

    Rush Limbaugh exposed this for what it truly is today: an attempt to smear a good Bible-believing potential candidate before he even has a chance to get his 2016 campaign off the ground.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Huebert

      Rubio did a fine job of smearing himself. GQ printed his answer verbatim.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Oh, yes – the highly credible Rush Limbaugh. You put stock in what that bloated, hate-filled windbag has to spew?

      November 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • CK

      Obama said essentially the same as Rubio.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/11/rubio_and_obama_and_the_age_of_earth_politicians_hedge_about_whether_universe.html

      November 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Attack

      LMAO. Anyone who doesn't agree with you is hate-filled. Wow, just wow.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Sen. Rubio (like all politicians) is a publicity wh0re.

      He agreed to do the interview with GQ because he wanted the publicity. He probably expected nothing but softball questions.

      Controversial interview answers sell more magazines.

      The interviewer had read Rubio's book (or at least had Cliff notes). Rubio claims at different times to be Catholic, Mormon and attend a Baptist church. With this mixed bag of theologies, a religious question is not irrelevant or a 'gottcha' question.

      The "how old do you think the earth is?" question clearly caught Rubio off guard. He stumbled around before finally settling on talking points that won't upset fundie voters. He didn't answer the question and appeared to do so in an intellectually dishonest way.

      This was not a liberal smear campaign. It was a rookie mistake by a candidate who is unused to being on the national stage. He flunked this test.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Evangelical

      You just showed some massive projection on that comment. LOL.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @I'm not a GOPer

      It most certainly was a liberal smear tactic by GQ, a known part of the liberal media. Rush exposed it for what it truly was. It was gotcha all the way.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Huebert

      How old is the earth? is not a loaded question. It is a question appropriate for a 5th grade science test.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Evan – how is it a smear campaign when Rubio is asked a question, and he answers it, and GQ accurately records his response, and publishes it. Has Rubio come out and said that the quote was incorrect? No. The only one to blame is Rubio – those were his words – and no amount of dancing around is going to change that fact.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Huebert,

      I think it's also suitable for someone who serves on the Senate Subcommittee for Science and Space.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Huebert

      @GOP

      Agreed.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Evan – So Rubio is a good bible-believing candidate? So then assumedly Rubio believes the following:

      Leviticus 11:13-19 – Bats are a type of bird. INCORRECT – they are mammals

      Leviticus 11:20-23 – Some insects go on all fours – INCORRECT – Insects have 6 legs, not 4

      Leviticus 11:3-6 – hares chew their cud – INCORRECT – hares are rodents, not ruminants

      November 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Evangelical

      It is a smear tactic because liberals love to ask "gotcha" questions to conservative Christians and blow the responses up way out of proportion. The fact was that the same question was asked of Obama who gave a similar answer to Rubio's, but Obama's response was not used to smear him.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Evangelical,

      please describe how "How old do you think the Earth is?" is in any way a 'gottcha' question?

      Rubio claims to be a Catholic. Most Catholics accept the scientific answer that the earth is billions of years old – even if they don't remember the specific number 4.54.

      58% of Catholics agree that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth. (Pew 2009)

      32% of Americans hold a belief in God and recognize evolution as God's method of achieving his creation. (22% of Americans are Catholic.)

      What's so difficult about this question for a serving member of the Senate Science committee?

      November 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Evangelical,

      "The fact was that the same question was asked of Obama who gave a similar answer to Rubio's, but Obama's response was not used to smear him."

      Reference please.

      I suspect Obama actually gave a more cogent answer than Rubio did.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Evangelical

      For the reference, see CK's post above. Also see Rush's 11-21-2012 broadcast.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Here's how it is a gotcha question: If he answered like you all want him to answer, he would be alienated from the conservative Christian base who know the truth. If he answered like he did, you all ridicule him. He cannot win no matter how he answered the question.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Huebert

      Evan

      That is what happens when one choose to be a part of the party of willful ignorance.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Evan – how about Rubio's option of being honest? Of saying, "This is what I believe", and standing by that statement. I would respect the man more if he had said, I believe the Earth is 6,000 years old. He is being dishonest – and that is not the result of any supposed "gotcha" question. His choice to answer the way he did speaks volumes about his character – and lack thereof.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Attack

      I don't see anything dishonest in his answer. He is merely acknowledging that there are many different beliefs on this issue.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Evangelical,

      thanks (and to CK) for the Slate reference it was very apt.

      I'll give an edge on 'style points' to Obama, but like Rubio, he too weaseled out of answering this question.

      Messiah College, Q: Senator, if one of your daughters asked you—and maybe they already have—“Daddy, did god really create the world in 6 days?,” what would you say?

      Obama: What I've said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that's what I believe. I know there's always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don't, and I think it's a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I'm a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don't presume to know.

      Had this happened this week, I would direct the same criticism of the President that I do to Sen. Rubio. He was pandering for the votes of fundies.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Obama was at least slightly clearer on what he believed:

      Obama: "it may not be 24-hour days, and that's what I believe"
      Rubio: "Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that."

      Like I said – 'style points'.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Evan – he was being dishonest by refusing to answer the question. He could have said, there are many differing opinions and beliefs about the age of the Earth, such a A, B, C or D. However, I happen to believe the Earth is "x" years old.

      He didn't say that. Why? Because he believed that there was political risk in being honest, and he valued his political aspirations more than he valued honesty.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Chad

      Q. Senator, if one of your daughters asked you—and maybe they already have—“Daddy, did god really create the world in 6 days?,” what would you say?

      Senator Barack Sen. Obama, D-Ill., speaking at the Compassion Forum at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. on April 13, 2008::
      What I've said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that's what I believe. I know there's always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don't, and I think it's a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I'm a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don't presume to know...

      November 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So, Chard, did you vote for Obama or Romney?

      November 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  3. Corner Cafe

    November 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  4. Henry

    Also, a creationist once said that nothing good has come from macro-evolution. He said that flu shots were micro-evolution. Does anyone know if anything good has come from macro? If so, what is it?

    November 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Huebert

      There is no such thing as micro or macro evolution. That is a false distinction invented by creationist. There is only evolution.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  5. The God's must be Crazy

    "Look! It's a message from the God's!! What are these markings? "C" "O" "C" "A"..."C" "O" "L" "A"!! God's name must be COCA COLA!!" All praise Coca Cola!! Coca Cola!!

    November 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  6. ChadWatch

    Jerry, we know from experience here that Chad can't present any proof. All he will do when you ask is post bafflegab and nonsense, to dodge the question.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  7. bear79

    is it just me or does rubio look like the missing link?

    November 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  8. bob

    Creationists say thing like carbon dating is wrong ( but never bring up that things have been dated about 50 other ways )
    and then proceed to say its only a theory.

    WELL my problem is ..

    They never apply that same formula to thier own silly idea. creationism isnt even a theory its wishfull thinking

    November 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  9. CreatorOfTheUniverse

    Yes i created the universe, but i did not create a corney religion with rituals and magic, come on give me some credit i can make black holes and warp time and space, do you think i would stoop so low to make poeple wear robes and light candles ?

    November 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Than you are irrelevant.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Theo

    I was raised in a box, i never heard of religion till I was let out, and when i was let out i did not know of any religion
    until i was told.

    now im tryign to pick one , but each group has the same proof it is the real one, and each group thinks they are right
    and others are wrong.

    So my choice is SCIENCE

    November 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  11. bear79

    here we go again with this crap! The earth is not flat and it revolves around the sun.! And the earth 4 1/2 billion years old. There's no debate here! Science trumps fiction. Sorry. Get lost bible bangers. Keep your religion to yourself. This last election shows that people don't want god and public policy in the same sentence!

    November 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  12. Billy in NYC

    Does GOD define one day with 24 hours or 10 Million hours or 100 Billion hours? Are we trying to use a human made scale to measure GOD's timeline. Nobody knows 7-days in GOD's eyes is the same as 7-days in human's eyes. Can someone ask GOD to clarify it before we argue? Or we just call it a 7-day Plus Creation with more wiggle room of time.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      Are we trying to use a human made scale to measure GOD's timeline.
      ,
      I dont see why not..it is men who created the god in the first place and wrote about the god. Maybe Santa can answer that question? perhaps Satan? Oh magical sky wizard where art thou????????????

      November 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Theo

      Your trying to make sense and fill in the gaps to a fairy tale, you can apply that same thinking to star wars or wizard of oz

      November 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      The "maybe 1 day wasn't a real day" argument for Genesis is really twisting reality. The much simpler explanation for why Genesis and reality vary so widely is that Genesis was written by a man, a long, long time ago before we knew so much about how the universe was formed

      And the fictional account that he created is nothing more than a snapshot of what we didn't know when he wrote it. And make no mistake about it, he wasn't there at creation, so it's fictional.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • bear79

      LOL

      November 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Ann

      I agree with you 100%, ad that's in a mathematical sense, not biblical! Too often bible thumpers forget that the bible has been translated by man, and until the Catholic church releases all of the scrolls for translation you get whatever translators want you to believe. Weak minded folks never question, they follow. My God has empowered me with the wonderful ability to be thoughtful, analytical, and inquisitive. Ask questions. Seek answers.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • derp

      Actually Billy, christians clearly defined 1 biblical day as 24 hours for 1800 years.

      It wasn't until Hutton proved that the earth was not formed by a flood, and was not 6000 years old that christians came up with the convenient excuse that a day might mean more than 24 hours.

      Intellectually bankrupt dimwits made up a nice excuse because creation as defined by the bible for 1800 years was proven wrong.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Typical disingenuous christian

      I would expect the ultimate source of wisdom and power in the entire universe wouldn’t screw up so badly as to say day when he meant billion years

      November 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  13. Bethes

    What's the big concern? If you ask Obama, he will say it was created on the day he was born.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • The Truth

      ? what the fvck does that mean?

      If you ask Obama he will say 4.5 billion years just like every other reasonable person that has at least half an education.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  14. Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

    One thing we can agree on..it is nice the wackjob mormons have crawled back in their SLC hole. GOP can drop Romney like a kidney stone...pinful but still a relief that they dont have to act nor lie abotu supporting magic under roos wearing seer stone worshipping mormons

    November 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  15. Henry

    Does anyone know the last time the creationists won a trial in the US? Was it all the way back at the Scopes trial, in the 1920’s?

    I heard creationists say that stuff like carbon dating wouldn’t hold up in court b/c it has been incorrect on a handful of occasions and since it is wrong a few times, there’s no guarantee that it has ever been right. When they say this, I would like to reply back with the date the last time creationism was actually held up in court.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      check talkorigins.org for answers to radiometric dating.

      Also, even if the creationists were ever to be able to show science is wrong....it does not prove "god did it', they would still have to make their case.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      The Scopes trial did not uphold creationism – although the judge seemed to agree with it – but the fact that evolution had been taught contrary to the state law. It didn't say that creationism was right.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  16. DA

    Does every have a problem with me b/c I'm religious?

    November 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • DA

      I meant, does everyone have a problem with me b/c i'm religious?

      November 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      People are prone to equate religious belief with 'who they are' personally. I don't think religious belief itself is rational. That does not mean I think religious people are completely irrational, just that specific belief that they hold. You of course should be free to hold that belief, and others should be free to oppose it in the marketplace of ideas.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      Problem??? no...just cant take you seriously. Imagine yoruself in a mental ward surrounded by people who think they hear and see things. Who think invisible creatures talk to them......welcome to my world.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • derp

      I don't have problem with you because you are religious.

      I just think you are stupid.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • DA

      Why do you think I’m stupid? A lot of great men and women believe in God. Do you think Obama is stupid?

      November 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  17. art

    Sorry to say this on Thanksgiving, but here is the sad truth. Voting against these people will never solve the problem. There is only one way they will go away. And it will be very messy.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • rAmen

      why indeed, putting creationists through elementary school is messy. think of all the things they will draw with crayons.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      No kidding....poor creationist kids dive under their desks when they hear thunder...they think their god is mad. lol

      November 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  18. suemac47

    Years ago in the 1980's I was invited to attend a new Baptist church near my house and did. By coincedence the sermon was on evolution. That pastor stood up there and went on and on about "apparent age". He said God put dinosaur bones and other stuff on the planet when He made it 6,000 yrs ago to "test" our faith. He said we should rebuke the evolutionists because the stuff was all planted by God. Can you IMAGINE a god that would go to such lengths to "test" our faith. Guess what. Never went back to that church. Dumb dah dumb dumb, dumb dumb dumb.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • WASP

      @suemac: yeah the southern baptist church i went to as a child proclaimed "the devil did it."
      lmfao. they said "the devil placed fossils here to fool humans." i love the answers they can come up with.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      ... and God made the rocks the fossils are in "look millions of years old".

      The lengths these people will go to in order to maintain the house of cards that const!tutes their belief system is staggering.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Gadflie

      So, they think that God was just flat out lying eh?

      November 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      Baptists period are amazingly ignorant. Wonder if that has anythign to do with the "South"

      November 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  19. ElmerGantry

    Shhhh, quiet all, while chad tallies up all the beats.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Oooops, autocorrect got me.

      ... Begats.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  20. Jesusiscreepy

    @ ElmerGantry, if you mean Xena, the Warrior Princess, then yes. She is God.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Sorry, I was referring to Xenu, Scientology's galactic overlord.

      LOL

      November 21, 2012 at 12:16 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.