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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 • Evangelical • Evolution

soundoff (4,401 Responses)
  1. Tom

    It's amazing to me how many of you do not realize that a good number of Christians believe in an old earth. This is nothing new. This is probably one of the few times I can say amen to something Robertson has said. Divine revelation and general revelation are both sources of truth. You should stop wasting your time slashing through Christian strawmen...deal with some credible Christian scholars ie: William Lane Craig, Dr. Hugh Ross, Alister McGrath.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'm guessing the people who you're talking about grew up in places where the young earth christians were the majority.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Athy

      It's the other nonsense they believe in that bothers me.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I agree, Athy. It's the crap most of them blabber day in and day out about social issues that really gripes.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Raymond J

      Cool, looks like everyone agrees to quit the strawman bs and go after more legitimate areas of criticism.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • lol??

      Civilization!!! I FOUND IT!!

      November 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  2. Rick

    good for you Pat. 'bout time.....

    November 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  3. lol??

    Civilization!!! I FOUND IT!!

    November 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You can't even find your own balls.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  4. Dorris Pastor

    If we shed the deception of Satan's creation, radioactivity, we can accept what was clearly seen through the clean physics of Lord Kelvin. The earth is no more than 400 million years old.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • sweetenedtea

      I love it when people are sufficiently educated to make semi-obscure jokes like this. :)

      November 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  5. Reasonably

    I want it to remain a mystery. At least by carbon dating standards anyway.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Saraswati

      :)

      November 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Athy

      Radiocarbon dating is good for only about 50,000 years. The earth is about 100,000 times older.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • bob

      @Athy: That is radiocarbon dating. You've clearly never heard of U-238 dating or rubidium-87 dating, both of which deal with long-term half-lives.

      And I do believe in God, evolution, and all science. It's not impossible.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  6. Consequence

    What a dufus the writer is. Challenging the length of time it took is not challenging creationism, it is merely challenging the idea that the world was created in six earth days. in fact, Genesis' account from ether to light, from light to seas, from seas to land, from land to grasses and plants, from life in the seas to fowls in the air, from life on land to the creation of man – strikes me as having all the basic ingredients and in a similar order to what science has discovered. Not bad "guess work" for Hebrews thousands of years ago.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • sweetenedtea

      Er...science hasn't discussed "ether" (as in the primordial substance between stars) in a century. At no time does it claim light became seas (nor does liquid water predate a solid planet.) The "fowls in the air" came well after the life in the sea began migrating to land (dinosaurs predated birds.) And the whole "creation of man" thing is the sticking point, is it not? Science considers man an evolutionary product, not a ready-made species from the start. Now, I'm not going to get into the question of divine agency - I have no proof one way or the other - but the current state of Biblical studies and creationism on the whole tends to leave little room for compromise with science.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Consequence

      sweetenedtea: what ancients learned thousands of years ago does not have to be said the way modern science describes it. in any case, genesis does not use the word "ether", I chose it. Genesis describes an earth without form, a void, a darkness upon the face of the deep. Then came light (energy upon which to build planets and, later, life itself). What could be the use of hydrogen and oxygen in the building of a planet to house life? that rain from above filled the earth below. the division of the water below from that above into the seas. the land appearing from the sea and, in their order, sea beasts and creatures, the fowls of the air and the beasts and creatures on the land – culminating in the development of man. These are the essential elements of the Creation story...that long before man, many things had to happen and be put in place. How long it took enjoys wide opinion, even among scientists, but that the tremendous energy set off by means we do not fully understand or comprehend was a necessary step all fully agree. In turn, this abundance of energy and light set in motion forces which created our planet and showered upon it the rains from which life began and man its crowning achievement. The ancients understood the general beginning of things pretty well and that is why the book is called Genesis.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  7. aurelius

    One way to measure the sanity of the average American is find out if he ever spent any time watching those evangelists. The world can't decide whether it's a comedy or a tragedy. But we all agree, it's sad in these day and age.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  8. Segundo

    Pat 1, Rubio 0.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  9. KC Yankee

    The right reverend Pat Robertson never believed any of that nonsense he spouted on The 700 Club. The guy is a Harvard trained lawyer who was so lazy that he figured out a way to make tons of money that was a lot easier than actually practicing law: get gullible fools to send you contributions by telling them to "put your hand on the television sinners, and you will be healed."

    November 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  10. Randy in Dayton

    Pat should remember how God, as an eternal being would give us the best reference we as mortals can see time as. For God, 1000 years is but a day in time. The earth was formed in several thousand years from the Bang Theory. After witch He brought forth life. After some time, He wanted more. He wanted children. He knew the form for us that he had in mind would make us food for some of the life forms already here. My studied guess is that he chose to toss one of those rocks still out there from earths creation back into the earth and wipe out some of what He made to begin again, this time as a home that would sustain the breathing form He had in mind. In His own image. Life outside of Eden was harsh, and it would seem we had to de-evolve to survive to re-evolve. Time before man was not relevant to the Bible, as this book is the story of man. 30,000 years seems about right for us to have been here. It has taken that long for us to learn to use the knowledge and gain the understanding we have today of the world around us. There is much we still yet do not understand. How could a man that lived 900 years ago know and describe the incident we all know as 911? He knew about when and exactly where this would take place. Terror from the sky to strike the twin brothers in the new city of york. New York City USA. If there where no God, how could he possibly know this 900 years before it happened? To know such a thing in such advance could have only come from knowledge of an eternal being that saw this coming and passed on the information. Just because we do not understand something fully does not mean we should ever doubt our Lord. There is truth to science and religion. We need to respect them both.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Athy

      Bullshit.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Bruce Mc

      And who or what created this all knowing being?

      November 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • sweetenedtea

      You know, even an ardent Christian - or especially an ardent Christian - should take issue with this story. It heavily implies that God is neither omniscient nor infallible, which tends to undercut one of the basic tenets of Christianity. There's a reason why the gnostics didn't survive the early era of Christianity.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • pastapharian

      Amen, Athy! Couldn't have said it more eloquently than that if I tried :)

      November 30, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  11. Mr Mark

    What's it say about the Republic Party when Pat Robertson embraces science more than does Marco Rubio?

    November 29, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • == o ==

      Exactly – I was just thinking along those lines.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I think it's the beginning of a shift. The way the US system is set up we will always have two parties, and they will always split the vote very close to 50/50. The choices are for one party to shift when the other does, or for one of the two parties to be replaced by another...that's it.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Raymond J

      I am not sure I understand the criticism of Rubio, he just basically said he didn't want to comment on a religious issue and tried to switch to a topic (the economy) that is more appropriate for a politician. I think that the beliefs of scientologists are at least as ridiculous as those of young-earthers but that doesn't mean I need a politician to publicly demean them.
      I could see being peeved if he had spouted off one of those ill informed and hilariously offensive politician opinions on science/religion that we all love to hate but thats not the case here.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • pastapharian

      RaymondJ: This is the fallacy of false equivalence at work. The two sides of this debate are not equal. There are decades of data and scientific evidence supporting evolution, and NONE supporting Creation. This is not a valid comparison.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  12. Observer

    My only reaction to this article is sadness that some poor woman would be worried about her family going to heaven because they were bold enough to question dinosaurs and where they fit in the Bible. It makes me sad that people have been wasting their lives worrying about this kind of garbage for hundreds and thousands of generations. Free yourself people from the oppression of some religion! Think for yourselves, not how some outdated system of mythology tells you to think. Take responsibility for your own lives and actions, don't force yourself to conform to some rigid, inflexible system of beliefs that we clearly have advanced beyond.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • pastapharian

      Amen to that!

      November 30, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  13. The Truth

    That has to be the first smart thing that man has ever said in his life.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  14. ponomo44

    http://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/book/e/33/t/How-Evolution-Flunked-Science-Test.aspx

    November 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  15. Victor Labrada

    I'm not sure how Pat Robertson challenging the notion that the earth is 6000 years old is challenging creationism. I'm supposing the editor is completely ignorant of the different beliefs about creationism. This would be like saying that China is challenging communism because it trades with the US.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Butthead

      Uh, isn't that one of the main ideas behind Creationism – the age of the earth? huh huh huh

      November 29, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • John A

      Butthead – not really. You can be Creationism and believe God made the universe in 6 of His days on His timeline (not trying to box him in and make it on man/woman day and time). For example, eternity is described as one continuous day. Some days are equal to man day on Earth (i.e. 24 hours) in the Bible, others are not.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Saraswati

      I think (hope) Butthead was pretending to be the stupid Butthead from B & B and likely doesn't really believe that.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  16. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    Genesis 1:3-5
    And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

    Genesis 1:14-19
    14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

    1. Why does it say "god" "created" light on the first day and then again on the fourth day. What was the source of light on day 1? Why was it necessary to recreate it 3 days later?
    2. Why on the fourth day does it say "god" "created" our sun AND the stars and yet it does not acknowledge that the sun IS itself a star?
    3. If there were "lights in the sky" to separate day from night, then how can any bible-thumping retard claim that a "day" is not 24 hours? Did the laws of physics change from what they obviously are today?

    November 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • ShannonCT

      Yeah, I can't blame ancient nomadic sheepherders for not correctly guessing that flowering plants appeared after creatures in the sea and on land, but you'd think at least they have enough power of observation to notice that you can't get day and night without the sun and moon.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Jill

      You have to think of it like Edison. He created light on the first day to see if he could do it. After His success, He put it aside – He wasn't ready to put it to use yet. Maybe He hadn't thought of a use yet. How can we possibly know His thinking and purpose.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Athy

      Wow, that's a stretch.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • CatSh

      Jill, where does it say that in the Bible?
      You are rationalizing to cover the holes. The truth doesn't need rationalizing. It can stand without your help.
      Jesus said seek and ye shall find. So we are supposed at ask questions, not invent answers.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      It is admittedly easier to view "god" as more analogous to Edison, since after all, Edison was more of a tinkerer than a learned man, like say, Tesla. Edison would just try one thing after another (more or less blindly) until something worked. And given all the blunders in this "wonderful" Universe of ours, I can see that, Jill. Thanks for the input. Heh heh.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • TimTripod

      These are possibly the worst arguments against creationism I've ever seen. I mean, seriously, do you really think this would convince anyone who doesn't already think the same way that you do?

      November 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      TimTripod: The bible if rife with contradictions and misinformation. This is just ONE of many examples. Read it sometime.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  17. Tony

    "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change."
    ~~~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

    "If science proves some belief of Christianity wrong, then SCIENCE will have to change."
    ~~~Christian version of same quote

    November 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  18. Dave

    Lets show some humility people... We need to accept that we'll NEVER understand it all . Consider infinity, and the concept of time itself, the hundreds of TRILLIONS of stars that are visible – and consider the INFINITE number of stars that are not... We are not supposed to have it all figured out... We can't... So, lean not on our own understanding... It's OK to not have it all figured out... As a bible-fearing Christian I'm comfortable with faith in knowing that God is in control... because we air breathing, carbon-based organisms on the earth called humans certainly aren't... That is the essence of faith... Debate is good, but at some point accept the hard evidence that we don't know it all, and never will... and it's ok...

    November 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • joey

      I'm OK with that, but please re-word that to go with the song at the end of The Meaning of Life.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • ShannonCT

      We don't know everything, but we do know that much of the Bible is wrong, and certainly not inspired by the creator of the universe.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Athy

      But we're learning more all the time. And religion is just getting in the way.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Dave. you understand the world today because folks have figured things out, and your world is better for it. What does the bible teach you other than fear, and fear of a being that you most likely have been told to believe in.. or else. . Can you name one thing that the bible teaches human beings that was not known before ... it tells you nothing more than what was known at the time.. it was human knowledge ..mans knowledge.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'm perfectly fine with not knowing all; why aren't you? Why must you ascribe it all to the doings of some fairy godfather?

      November 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Jerry

      And the difference between unquestioning faith and insanity is:

      A) zip

      B) zilch

      C) nada

      D) none

      E) all of the above

      Choose all that apply

      November 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Todd in DC

      I can think of one difference, Jerry.

      Insane people get cool prescription meds.

      Religious people get the "honor" of whipping themselves in public.

      Which one would you pick?

      November 29, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  19. == o ==

    I think Pat has discovered the truth (and Viagra).

    November 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  20. Humanist11

    This is going to make the evangelicals' heads spin completely through the roof! This will be fun to watch. I'm going to make some popcorn and get a drink!

    November 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • lol??

      You are misinformed. "Mat 23:8-9 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."

      November 29, 2012 at 10:22 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.