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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. CdnJim

    There's no mystery here. Science and the Bible are not in conflict. One is a method of understanding the physical world around us, the other is a collection of stories, mythology etc. That's akin to saying history is in conflict with Grimm's Fairy Tales.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • 21k

      with people like rubio at the helm, our country's history is going to become a grim tale.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  2. Leo

    Oh, this is just priceless s***, you guys...

    Laura, please re-read: He evaded the direct question put to him. If he didn't want to answer, he could've refused. Instead, he dodged. One has to ask why. TTPS, you forget NY in 01. Technically, those were executions.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What are you talking about, Leo?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  3. computerstreber

    I am confused when Christians deny the possibility that the Earth is much older than 10,000 years. For example, look at forensic science. When police discover a fully decomposed body scientist can determine the age of the person using radiometric dating. Many Christians accept this as fact. However, these same methods have been used to calculate the age of the Earth. Yet, many Christians refuse to believe that.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Kipper

      People choose to believe whatever makes them comfortable in the free world. They shop for beliefs the same way they shop for clothes, but perhaps with less rationale.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • John

      @computerstreber
      That is the most puzzling thing about religion. People who are otherwise completely logical, choose to ignore logic when it comes to religion. It's like saying when you're crossing the road from North to South, you have to look both ways before crossing, but when you're crossing from South to North, then you can just close your eyes and walk onto a street and some invisible force will be there to protect you and guide you. Religion upbringing instills a block to even consider other options.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  4. Maria Carvalho

    Another reason to vote against Rubio, in case we needed another one. This man is doing everything to make sure his political career dies before it begins. Bravo Rubio and I repeat: No nos gustas.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  5. Democrat

    I'm glad to see republicans with another biblewhack for 2016 race. It means they will have to wait till 2020 or beyond!

    November 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Folks, enjoy the enlightenment. I am optomistic about the future.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  6. toydrum

    Why bother to ask a politician about science if his background is not in science. That is as stupid as asking the average person on the street a question about nuclear fusion. Opinons do not change scientific fact.

    And, by the way, the word science means knowledge. No scientist thinks they know or can explain everything about their own field, but that doesn't mean they know nothing or are just guessing. There are laws of physical behavior and it is kind of foolish to talk about the magnificence of God's creation while at the same time ignoring that complex and amazing behavior.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      So you think he can bypass a high school science education and serve on the science committee. (That's not serving in the sense of hamburgers)

      November 19, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Rich

      "That is as stupid as asking the average person on the street a question about nuclear fusion"

      Or, as stupid as asking the average American what the three branches of government are. If they even know there ARE three. Forget about them knowing how a bill becomes law. And those people VOTE!

      November 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  7. MaryM

    Poor, poor Rubio. ignorance is not bliss. I chose science. No tea for me, thank you

    November 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  8. Jon

    This just shows that The GOP doesn't get it.

    Our country is finally starting to wake up from its religious daze. Talking about the possible validity of Creationism is a good way to ensure you will lose your next election bid. Afterall, how can you trust a president who believes in invisible creatures, doesn't trust scientists, and believes that a book written by some half-wits 2,000 years ago contains all the answers?

    A person like that shouldn't be trusted to pump your gas.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  9. Winning

    There is no way almost half of Americans believe the Earth was created in the Biblical time-frame of 10k years....No freaking way. All you have to do is be able to read people and know where they stand. No reasonable person can neglect the fact that solid scientific work has led to insurmountable evidence to prove the Earth is much, much older. This recent elections taught us a bit about predictions and outcomes....but BHO knows how to use that to his advantage.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • israel

      consider this, slightly less than half of america voted for mitt romney, and john mccain, now, about half believe the earth was created in 6 days and is less than 10,000 years old....while mitt romney (i hope) does not hold this true it does say alot about the status of our nation

      aka: half of us are idiots/lazy/completely uneducated and not willing to do anything about it

      November 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  10. Jim

    The Democratic CNN attack against a Republican leader has begun, expect more in the future.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Colin

      Rubio says something jaw-droppingly stupid and the press reports that Rubio said something jaw-droppingly stupid. I fail to see the issue.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Kipper

      Looking forward to it!

      November 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      CNN attack ? CNN put those ignorant words in this idiot's mouth?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • israel

      when people say stupid things, especially a public figure such as rubio, who is in the media ALOT, regardless of the network.....it should be expected that when they say dumb things like this (he doesn't know because he hasn't bothered with the facts surrounding our own creation) they be exposed and put in the front of the room with a big dunce cap on their head for all the other people to see just how lame they are

      in all honesty, you don't see this coming out of the left and thats because the left tends to think things through and believe it or not, back up what they say with substantiated facts, it's not that difficult to do but for some reason or another alot of conservative/neoconservative figures on the right just don't do this, the problem isn't that they're stupid, it's that they don't think through what they're saying and more often than not it gets them into deep trouble

      November 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • mama k

      Well he's going to get it from all sides. Why in the hell is he on a SCIENCE committee if he admits he doesn't know SCIENCE??

      November 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Pete

      If he had just said that people who think Earth is only 10,000 years old are complete morons then there would not be anything to attack

      November 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  11. wcnea567

    Its sad Rubio doesn't know science and technology will tremendously change a nation's GDP and economic growth. That clown is not suitable to be a politician much less to be the president of a science based country.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • israel

      correct but arguing over the age of the earth and how long it took to create it will not do squat for our economy, science is important for our economy in other ways

      November 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  12. Rationalintn

    Actually Marco, there is nothing to dispute because the scientists are correct. Please, for once can a politician stop with the pandering to crazies.

    God didn't save the dinosaurs Marco, and he's not going to save you either.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  13. Peter out

    Choosing ignorance does not bring glory to God. Ignoring proven science and pretending that it doesn't exist is a slap in the face to the ONE who created it. Science is a part of the blue print for what God put us on this Earth to accomplish...enlightenment. The Bible was written by the hand of man, which is faulty. Look to the facts for guidance. There will you find God.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • israel

      someone out there understands what science is all about

      November 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  14. Bob Lewis

    Actually, I happen to know for a fact that the Earth is only about thirty five years old and that Republicans and dinosaurs once lived together (although they bickered constantly). Apparently, judging by the GOP convention, they still do.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  15. Belief Blog Bistro

    nope Nachos

    These nachos are smothered in cheese. That’s it. Just lots of cheese. Nothing to say really. Just plain old stupid nachos. You want something good? nope.$6.99

    November 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No one can eat them, though. They're completely inedible as they're totally fake. No real cheese OR corn chips. Just fluff and dryer dandruff.

      November 19, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • snopes

      I'm allergic to those nope nachos

      November 19, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  16. achepotle

    I think now would be a good time to fire up the FEMA reeducation camps across this great nation and start sending these freaks there by the rail car full.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  17. daninsac

    Good Lord, who cares what he thinks about ANYTHING??!!

    November 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not many, if the recent election is any indication. The rubes are done.

      November 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  18. Jim

    He can't even decide which church he belogs to. How can we trust him to make any important decision?

    November 19, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  19. GTA

    Sounds like Rubio is getting ready to be the next Mitt Romney. Never make a commitment to a clear position, and say whatever is necessary to pander to a particular audience.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  20. scottos

    It's totally understandable that weak minded mostly ignorant individuals can't help but fill in any gaps in scientific understanding with god

    November 19, 2012 at 9:49 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.