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Pat Robertson challenges creationism
Pat Robertson: "There was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth, and it was before the time of the Bible."
November 29th, 2012
04:04 PM ET

Pat Robertson challenges creationism

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Televangelist Pat Robertson challenged the idea that Earth is 6,000 years old this week, saying the man who many credit with conceiving the idea, former Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher, “wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years.”

The statement was in response to a question Robertson fielded Tuesday from a viewer on his Christian Broadcasting Network show "The 700 Club.” In a submitted question, the viewer wrote that one of her biggest fears was that her children and husband would not go to heaven “because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.”

“You go back in time, you've got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things, and you've got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas,” Robertson said. “They're out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth, and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That's not the Bible.”

Before answering the question, Robertson acknowledged the statement was controversial by saying, “I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this.”

“If you fight science, you are going to lose your children, and I believe in telling them the way it was,” Robertson concluded.

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.

The Gallup poll has not specifically asked about views on the age of the Earth.

Ussher’s work, from the mid-1600s, is widely cited by creationists as evidence that Earth is only a few thousand years old. Answer in Genesis, the famed Christian creationist ministry behind the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, cites Ussher as proof of Earth’s age. They describe the archbishop as “a brilliant scholar who had very good reasons for his conclusions concerning the date of creation.”

For Christians who read the creation account in Genesis literally, the six days in the account are strictly 24-hour periods and leave no room for evolution. Young Earth creationists use this construct and biblical genealogies to determine the age of the Earth, and typically come up with 6,000 to 10,000 years.

Most scientists, however, agree that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is 14.5 billion years old.

The idea of creationism has been scorned by the mainstream scientific community since shortly after Charles Darwin introduced "The Origin of Species" in 1859. By 1880, The American Naturalists, a science journal, reported nearly every major university in America was teaching evolution.

The question about Earth’s age has been in the news recently. Earlier this month, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida attempted to walk the line between science and faith-based creationism in remarks that that provoked the ire of liberal blogs and left the door open to creationism.

“I'm not a scientist, man,” Rubio told GQ’s Micheal Hainey. “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.”

– CNN’s Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Creationism • Evolution

soundoff (4,408 Responses)
  1. Lordy, Lordy

    What The Hell. First we got old Ratzinger saying Christmas is in September and know Pat saying god did not do the deed in 7 days, I wan't my money back it is all BS.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • John A

      It was done in 7 days, but not on man days (i.e. 24 hour timeline). This is a popular opnion which has its origins (i.e. Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher in the 1600's). Eternity is also described as one day (but it is not 24 hours).

      December 1, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  2. Jason

    Hooray for Robertson the televangelist? Never thought I'd be saying that with regards to a scientific issue.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Credit where credit's due!

      November 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • js007

      I think Robertson was actually trying to accept reality – hooray!

      November 30, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Bill in AZ

      Pat Robertson is very old, and is starting to experience dementia. However, because he was insane to begin with, his dementia is having the opposite effect. The older he gets, the more in tune with reality he becomes.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  3. Yourhonor

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/young-age-evidence

    If you really want to know about this subject and intelligent reasons for the young earth evidence.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • midwest rail

      AIG is the last place to look for intelligent answers to any question.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Oh! Stop!

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster has refuted all your silly creationism.
      RAmen.....Peace and a good ale.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Ray

      That website is a lie being propagated by monied interests wanting to Americans stupider than they already are. There are NO answers in Genesis. It's a tribal myth designed to tell the story of the origin of the Jewish people over the camp fire. The fact that so few people in this country actually understand this should shock any thinking person.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'If you really want to know about this subject and intelligent reasons for the young earth evidence.'

      AIG? that was sarcasm right?

      November 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Mahebb

      "That website is a lie being propagated by monied interests..."

      You realize you just described nearly all academic science, right?

      No? Oh, yeah, I forgot: all "scientists" are paragons of truth, honesty, and objectivity, and no "scientist" would ever let their conclusions be influenced by politics, worldview, or money!

      November 30, 2012 at 3:02 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'No? Oh, yeah, I forgot: all "scientists" are paragons of truth, honesty, and objectivity, and no "scientist" would ever let their conclusions be influenced by politics, worldview, or money!'

      thats right, EVERY scientist that has ever tried to determine the age of the earth was in fact lying for money, that must be it, because you cant be seen to accept that your belief is nonsense, no sir.

      November 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  4. Fran

    What a pity! US the first economy in the world, and the fifty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans. Is it an intelligent culture? Pragmatism is good for economy but not for thinking by yourself...What about classical culture?Have you learned something of the Greek philosophers?

    November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Ray

      Keep people stupid so that they fuel a consumer-dependent culture and make all the smart people rich. That's the American way!

      November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • realitybites

      Sadly Ray, not all smart people are rich and not all dumb people are poor. Jesus was not ,according to what we've been told, a wealthy man. My guess is he was a well connected Rabi and married w/ kids. History was easier to rewrite then. Idiots keep trying to force 2k yrs old revisionist history to work. No they try to rationally revise their ignorance with Creationism. I have more faith in reality and actual history than trying to force a world view that you can drive a fleet of industrial mining equipment through to exist. People are just plain terrified to question what theyve been told reality is supposed to be or rot in hell for daring to. Sad. The simple power of using the word FAITH as a lynchpin this long amazes me.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Mutt

      Like you find in every country, only half of the population has an IQ above 100. Think about the implications for a moment. That's right... that's the 47% that the Mittster got.... CAN I hear an AMEN????????

      November 30, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • Mahebb

      realitybites wrote: "My guess is he was a well connected Rabi and married w/ kids.... I have more faith in reality and actual history..."

      I had to comment, because the irony and is SLAYING me! You do know that your "guess" and your "faith" are mutually exclusive, right? If you REALLY had faith is "reality and actual history," you would never "guess" that Jesus was what you stated he was, because there is absolutely no historical evidence to support such a guess.

      Thanks for the laugh, though! I needed that after wading through all of these other disturbingly closed-minded and vile anti-Christ responses.

      November 30, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • Madcapfeline

      @ Mahebb "Thanks for the laugh, though! I needed that after wading through all of these other disturbingly closed-minded and vile anti-Christ responses."

      Likewise. Portraying christians as the open-minded figures in society is equally laughable.

      November 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • John A

      100% of Americans will die. Nobody has your back outside of God after that.

      December 1, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  5. Otasawian

    Religion is supposed to be a code of conduct for individuals who can't figure out how to act and behave properly on their own, but more often than not it also turns into a belief system for those who can't think for themselves.

    Pat Robertson knows this and has duped his parishioners into sending him money and putting him on a pedestal by telling them what they want to hear over all these years. My guess he probably never really believed the nonsense that he preached but he knew it would get him what he wanted. Now that he is getting older his real beliefs are starting to come through.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • realitybites

      And for buildinig an intergactic space cruiser to bring Jesus the the aliens to prove to them that we are God's chosen creatures. His Marklar is great.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  6. snowboarder

    choosing to believe a literal biblical version of creation is absurd.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • PevanB

      Why? Can you PROVE what you believe in?

      November 29, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Schuyler

      Pevan – You would rather believe something that was word of mouth for hundreds of years before being written down? You can't play a game of telephone with 20 people and get the accurate story.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • John A

      Schuyler – even is someone were to raise from the dead right in your own eyes, this still does not lead people to believe.
      Jesus (Luke 16:31)

      November 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  7. LarryT

    I love it. If a person of faith says the earth is 6,000 years old, he is derided as stupid. If he says the earth is more than 6,000 years old, he is derided as ??? Why don't you people just shorten your comments to "We hate Christians". There was a brilliant parallel of the Bible account of creation and scientific evidence done by a former MIT professor. But of course, he was Jewish and you probably all hate Jews also. Please, for the sake of breviety, just limit your comments to "WE HATE YOU". It will be so much more efficient.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      Every one should hate hinduism, stupidity and hindu Mithra ism, savior ism, called Christianity is master peace of hinduism, ignorance.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Cane89

      Well stated.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Atheist

      OK. I hate Christians. Mostly because they are always trying to foist their ridiculous beliefs on me. Jews don't do that, Hindus don't do that, Muslims don't do that. The only ones who constantly force their beliefs on others are the Christians. So, I hate Christians.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Mr. Black

      It's probably the reason he's a "former" MIT professor...

      November 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you dont sound full of love there yourself larry.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • doug

      Larry, I believe there are lots of stories out there about converting to one faith or another at the point of a sword. You can find fanics of all walks of life who want you to believe their way or die.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • doug

      actually that post was for Atheist

      November 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • realitybites

      Yes Larry well stated. I HATE YOU.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Lori

      You are filled with hate. It's quite evident in your post. And you wonder why we hate you.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • woodstockwoody

      One doesn't get hated by minding one's own business or by pointing fingers in judgment. If you perceive hatred, there's a damn good reason for it.

      November 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Mahebb

      LarryT, that was brilliant! That is exactly what EVERY one of these "discussions" boils down to!

      November 30, 2012 at 3:13 am |
  8. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Finally. A highly visible member of the religious right is at last willing to take a step towards embracing reality.

    Apparently Pat's not so worried about image for the sake of 'sacred cows' in his old age. It's a good thing.

    There is no reason why Christians cannot hold a viewpoint that includes both a belief in God and an understanding that the earth may be 4.5 billion years old.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • JMo

      Yes, there is a good reason that Christians cannot hold both beliefs. As Archbishop Ussher concluded, the geneology in the Bible allows us to determine with reasonable certainty the age of the Earth: about 6,000 years, give or take a few thousand. Science has all but conclusively determined that the age of the Earth is millions of years. Either you choose one of these, or you continue to ignore the implausibility of one of them. Explain how you can believe a book that places the age of the Earth at 6,000 to 10,000 years and believe in science that flatly rejects such nonsense.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The bible doesn't state the age of the earth. It is extrapolated from the 'begat's using a literal interpretation of Genesis.

      There is no reason why a Christian, who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ cannot interpret the Hebrew cosmology stories (they are borrowed from Mesopotamia anyway) as allegory. Why not accept that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and believe that it was formed according to God's plan?

      This is not my personal belief. But for those who profess a belief in God, it is the rational one.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • doug

      JMo
      Many middle of the road faiths do not believe in a literal interpretation of the bible.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Chris R

      JMo,

      What I find most interesting is that you are demanding a higher level of fundamentalism and literalism than many evangelists demand. Look, many religious people view the Bible, rightly so, as allegory, philosophy, and a biased history of a tribal people. What they take away from it is comfort, moral guidelines, and a hope of something greater than themselves. These takeaways do not have to interfere with science or scientific understanding. Different magesteria.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  9. shane

    people that ignore facts doom their own relegion.

    a day as we knoe it is based off the time it takes the earth to rotate. before for the earth was made this scale could not have been in effect. a day could have been billions of years

    November 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • gjw

      Maybe, but those that can not spell 'religion' or 'know' lose credibility when discussing religion and knowlege (about anything).

      November 30, 2012 at 7:32 am |
  10. Peter

    If we examine the chronology records in the Bible, it indicates the age of the world to be a few thousand years. This is also consistent with the available scientific evidence we have. Another person can look at that same evidence and come to the conclusion that the Earth is billions of years old, relying on assumptions which are untestable. At the end of the day it's not a matter of life and death. It's unlikely anyone would be refused entry to Heaven simply because they believed the world is billions of years old.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Pete

      The idea that the Earth is only a few thousand years old is consistent with exactly no scientific evidence.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Abraham

      I guess that explains how one person reads the Bible, or rather a heavily rephrased and pre-interpreted version of it, and decides it's worth believing in while another sees it as the hogwash that it is.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'If we examine the chronology records in the Bible, it indicates the age of the world to be a few thousand years. This is also consistent with the available scientific evidence we have'

      there is no available scientific evidence that indicates the world to be a few thousand years old.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Eric

      All scientific evidence points to the Earth being over 4 billion years old and the Universe over 13 billion years old. No scientific evidence points to any other number. If scientific evidence pointed to 10,000 or 6,000 years, then there would be no "conflict" between Creationists and scientists. If scientific evidence wasn't conclusive yet there would be multiple theories with scientists busy conducting experiments to find discover the truth. But this has been settled for quite some time and scientists are really only working on getting an ever more accurate number.

      November 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  11. MikeHess

    Yes, but he does say the most sensible thing I think I've ever heard him say:

    “If you fight science, you are going to lose your children, and I believe in telling them the way it was,” Robertson concluded.

    I can't say whether this means he accepts the fact of evolution. Don't see how he could cite carbon dating and not accept the actual age of the earth. But it's good to hear a religious figure promoting science. Science and religion are separate realms and should remain that way.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  12. Pander Bear

    Wow. When Pat Robertson starts sounding rational, I'm not sure what to think.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  13. hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

    Playing truth absolute God is the way of hindu atheist, ignorant self centered, secular s, having no knowledge of truth absolute of matter , but they spew their hinduism hypothesis to please hindu soul, filthy desire of their own and their gentiles, slave in hinduism corruption of truth absolute called religions, Way of hindu sanatans, filthy goons playing truth absolute God to humanity.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Pander Bear

      Take your pill.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      hey, its the anti-hindu spouting nutter.
      hey nutter
      *waves*

      November 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Joel

      This guy has a computer virus in his head.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  14. SnapinTurtle

    I am happily surprised he was this forthcoming. Borderlined shocked.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  15. Jer

    Evolution explained:
    Take a bunch of random letters, and stir them over time you get 'War and Peace'. May take a couple million years, but if you scramble them well enough and throw away nonsense pages... it works.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Jer

      Forgot the best part... the letters just appear in a bang.

      The magic is not the result 'War and Peace' the magic is the letters that form words that form pages that form chapters that form the book. Evolution explained.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Since The Big Bang is completely unrelated to evolution, what's your point ?

      November 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Patrick White

      I don't know if your creationist or an evolutionist but you don't understand evolution at all.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • joe

      This makes no sense at all.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Jason

      Except you completely forgot about the whole mutations, survival of the fittest, natural selection, and only works on living organisms parts.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Paul

      sorry, no it wouldn't. give it a shot. start stirring. I'll bet you could stir for the rest of your life and not get a comprehensive sentence. Order and design comes from an intelligent creator. you will not be able to prove one example where that statement is untrue.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Abraham

      But the oral tradition of an illiterate, war-mongering group of bronze age middle eastern tribesmen, cobbled together into an incoherent and self-contradictory tome is absolutely the singular truth in the universe. Because it says so.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Order and design comes from an intelligent creator. you will not be able to prove one example where that statement is untrue.'

      hmm, define order and design? a snowflake has a definite order and design and forms when cloud droplets freeze. no intelligent creator involved there.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  16. Funtimes

    Of course the religious leaders have to backtrack as Science and the mechanics of science become stronger and stronger. With all the technology that proves that the Earth is billions of years old, Religion has had to drum up the ideas to explain it. Such as the 24 hour day not being in place for Gods Plan, the best thing ever was the finding of creatures that pre-date man and debunks most of genesis. Remember God created the heavens and the Earth then later on created man and THEN the creature to serve/feed man. So according to the Bible Man was the first creature on earth now debunked where even the Religious zealots have to admit that was not accurate. The mystical invisible man so many worship was created to keep the peons from interfering with the political forces of those times. Remember too like the mighty game of telephone the stories in the bible were passed down for generations before there was the written word, overtime stories get changed and embellished. The bible is much like the stories written by the brother grimm, stoires with a moral....

    November 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      One has to be hindu ignorant to believe in hinduism, corruption of truth absolute Greek Torah, labeled as Old testament. Nothing is new about this hindusim, absurdity, it was called hearsay by son of Blessed Mary more than 2000 years ago.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Hambugerwannabe

      Ummm no? The Bible states that man was created LAST, not first. So you might want to, oh I don't know, actually READ something before spouting off, hmm?

      November 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • dieseltdi

      Actually depends on which version of the Creation story you use, Genesis Chapter one or two. In one, man is created last, in two man is created first.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  17. regenesis0

    I swear, the world is getting weirder every day.../

    November 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  18. Jeremy Tharp

    Where in the world does CNN keep getting this 14.5 billion years age from? The generally accepted age of the universe in scientific circles is 13.75 billion years. Is it dead on, who knows, but for some reason CNN keeps saying 14.5 billion in its articles, and I can't find any other references anywhere. Wikipedia shows 13.75 with no reference to any real range, and certainly no reference to 14.5. What am I missing?

    November 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Organic1

      The estimated age of the universe is strictly taken from instruments that can see only that far back, it changes the better the equipment we get. So if someone wants to add a few zillion years to it, it is not a lie and just as valid as someone with a really nice telescope. The more we see the more estimates we make, and it is going to be a long time before we can actually see the edges of anything.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • question

      I used a common search engine for "earth 14.5 billion years old" and got 51,800,000 results.

      They were not all CNN.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Presumably they are conflating the age of the earth with the age of the universe.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  19. Pete

    “I'm not a scientist, man,” Rubio told GQ’s Micheal Hainey. “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.”

    Rubio continued, "And I can tell you that I will tell you what I need to tell you and get you to think that I think what you want me to think in order to get the votes to keep my job."

    November 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  20. John W.

    The headline is incorrect. Robertson was not challenging creationism per se. He was challenging young-earth creationism.
    Many Christians also embrace old-earth creationism. This does not include acceptance of evolution, and Robertson's statements should not be construed as accepting evolution.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • guaraya

      Good point. That's what I was thinking, too.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • jvance

      That's a correct analysis, the article could have been more clear on that point.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The article doesn't say that Pat Roberson has embraced evolution.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:26 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.