October 10th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

Congressman draws fire for calling evolution, Big Bang ‘lies from the pit of hell’

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) - A U.S. congressman is attracting attention and criticism for an online video that shows him blasting evolution and the Big Bang theory as “lies from the pit of hell” in a recent speech at a church event in his home state of Georgia.

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell,” U.S Rep. Paul Broun said in an address last month at a banquet organized by Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Georgia. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

Broun, a medical doctor by training, serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Speaking at Liberty Baptist Church’s Sportsman’s Banquet on September 27, he said that “a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth.”

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“I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old,” Broun said in the speech, which Liberty Baptist Church posted on its website via YouTube.  “I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says."

Scientists say that the Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old and that the universe dates back 13.7 billion years.

In his speech to the church group, Broun called the Bible the “the manufacturer’s handbook. … It teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in our society.”

“That’s the reason, as your congressman, I hold the holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the congressman, Meredith Griffanti, said that Broun was not available for comment on Wednesday and that the video showed him “speaking off the record to a large church group about his personal beliefs regarding religious issues.”

The congressman’s remarks about science have drawn attention online, with critics taking aim at his role on the science committee.

Bill Nye, the popular science personality, told the Huffington Post in an e-mail that "Since the economic future of the United States depends on our tradition of technological innovation, Representative Broun's views are not in the national interest."

"For example, the Earth is simply not 9,000 years old," said Nye, a mechanical engineer and television personality best known for his program "Bill Nye the Science Guy." Broun "is, by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space, and technology."

Talking Points Memo reported on the church video over the weekend after being tipped off by the Bridge Project, a progressive group that tracks conservative activity.

Most creationists believe in the account of the origins of the world as told in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

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In the creation account, God creates Adam and Eve, the world and everything in it in six days.

For Christians who read the Genesis account literally, or authoritatively as they would say, the six days in the account are literal 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.

The Gallup Poll has been tracking Americans' views on creation and evolution for 30 years.  In June, it released its latest findings, which showed that 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution.

- CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Evolution • Politics • Science

soundoff (5,886 Responses)
  1. SayIt

    "Scientists say that the Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old and that the universe dates back 13.7 billion years."

    No... the weight of empirical evidence supports those numbers. Scientists may also say it, but that's irrelevant.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  2. RonZ

    If people would read the Truth more without having their heads staring at hollywood science, they would know this man agrees with the Truth. ROMNEY/RYAN 2012

    October 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • SayIt

      The Truth and Dog Abuse. Romney 2012.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Hollywood science?

      Does that have anything to do with L. Ron Hubbard?

      October 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Answer

      Stupid religious freaks and their capitalized 'T'.

      Go fvck yourself.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I am not even sure what you said is even a sentence.... surely not one that I could understand. Start over and try again.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • truth

      everyone spend their time watching science on tv like it was always real when all the answers are in His book. Proven.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  3. Joe

    Well, Christians are just stupid, I don't know what else to say...

    October 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  4. cynthia hicks

    welcome to the mind of Mit Romney!

    October 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  5. independent texan

    Why is this relevant to the presidential election? Because this moron, and many more like him, want to control the country via the Republican Party. Enough of crazy Mormons, Baptists, tel-evangelists and the like. What happens when religious zealots take over - think Taliban. Jeez - wake up people.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  6. trollol

    Serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology? Total failure. He needs to be removed immediately. Surely, his colleagues do not see eye to eye with this nut job.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • xirume

      Sadly, most repubs think like him

      October 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  7. wjs

    I thought this was pretty funny. That's what they do in Georgia.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  8. adh1729

    Abe Lincoln was religious. Read his second inaugural, fellows. It is a sermon.

    There is no excuse for religion in the 21st century, you say. Are you aware that all the scientists in the world put together can't make the simplest form of life (the bacterium)? Are you aware that essentially all biochemical reactions require catalysis by enzymes, which are themselves formed by biochemical reactions, requiring enzyme catalysis, and so on? Are you aware that these enzymes are themselves incredibly complicated molecules? You may have not studied biochemistry and cell biology; I did; I was a medical school valedictorian, and personally find the idea of life arising from blind chance laughable beyond laughable. You folks haven't a clue; the simplest cell is more complicated than anything that man ever made, by countless orders of magnitude, and you think it arose from blind chance? I don't think you ought to laugh at the idea of God; your idea is worse. Has blind chance ever created a simple graphite pencil? Have explosions in print shops ever created Webster dictionaries? Cut out your stupid arrogance, you pseudo-scientists. You are all a bunch of brainwashed people also, you just don't know the trillions of dollars that were paid to brainwash you. You ought to read a couple of books that I am getting through - Foundations, their power and influence, by Rene Wormser, and Freedom Betrayed, by President Herbert Hoover –and maybe you might stop blindly believing everything you hear in public school and on TV. On that note, I will get to work.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @adh1729 –

      You were "a medical school valedictorian"? Did you graduate from "Hollywood Upstairs Medical College"? Was Dr. Nick Riviera in your graduating class? Sheesh!

      October 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      yeah, that whole "blind chance" strawman simply demonstrates that you actually do not know what is meant by evolution by natural selection.

      The rest of your diatribe basically says, "we don't know...therefore, I know"

      October 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Well, when you put it that way, by essentially saying how smart you are and how dumb the rest of us are, then maybe you should run for God, I hear the job might be open. Seriously, dude.. you may or may not be what you claim to be, who cares, but to assume that every person on here is somehow dumber than you, is a stretch. I happen to hold four degrees, have studies in three countries, and have worked at five of the most prestigious universities inthe US and one in England. I may not be as smarticle as you, but I think I can hold my own, thanks for showing us your smarts.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Are you aware that you are an idiot?

      October 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • xirume

      Your brain smells like cheap soap

      October 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Answer

      The stupid religious idiot and their "blind chance"... when will you dumb cvnts ever figure out the course of 14 or so billion years that is included in the process?

      October 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      THEN you make the big leap all the way to CRAZY when you hit the gas and ran over us with the whole conspiracy theory thing. I'm smart and you're NOT is NOT a very good debate skill....

      October 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Joe

      As opposed to you who blindly believes the Bible? Religious people just believe what they want to believe because it makes them feel better about what lies beyond. It frightens them to think that when it's all over, it could just be over...

      October 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • wangfeihong

      Man you are dumb. Without going into a long evolutionary tirade the answer is as simple as this... Those cells you talk about had BILLIONS of years to get it right and that is why we are higher level organisms (hairless apes that walk upright, and judging by your beliefs in god much more apelike that you would care to acknowledge)

      October 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Too bad you went to school in the 19th Century, and never learned that Irreducible Complexity is LONG AGO debunked. Glad you're NOT my doctor, you quack. Scientists can now create viruses, and beating hearts. Dr Jack Szostack (see YouTube below), has proposed a way life could have arisen. Laugh all you want , joker man. You obviously have NO clue what Natural Selection, and Probability Theory actually means. There is no such thing as "blind chance". The fact that you would use those words is PROOF you have no clue what you are talking about. Next time, try no to make a fool of yourself in public, quack. Actually, your statements are SO ignorant, I don't believe you even are a physician. You are a liar. Herbert Hoover ? hahaha. Hold are you. Like 90 ? Get to work / Please don't. You are dangerous. Where did you buy your degree ? The internet ? LMFAO. The Jerry Falwell School of Medicine for Freaks and Morons ?

      October 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • fyre

      The fact that you think the bacterium is the simplest form of life tells me that you either went to medical school in the 1950s or got an online degree. We are doing amazing science entirely based on the fact that all life is related. It's like people saying that the world is flat while an astronaut is waving at you from the moon. People like you are missing out on amazing stuff.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Joseph

      By trade I am also a physician and have also been taught all about evolution. I entered medical school as an atheist however, my views on the origins of life was congruent with what I was taught, the various possible scientific theories for the start of life and the evolution of those life forms over millions of years. However, the more I learned about human anatomy, physiology, the positive and negative feedback loops, the electrical conductance of the heart, how complex each and every organ is, i.e. the kidney, the more I began to learn the more I realized that there is just simply no way this happened by chance. Yes I know...natural selection, but I do not buy it. My heart and mind screamed it to me!..and there is so much more to us than we can even begin to understand. Bill Nye can pretend to have the answers but really how much can he truly explain..not much. What is it that makes us human? Is it just tissue, bone, muscle, cartilage? What amount our emotional state of being..how about love? How does science explain that? It tries to, but I'm not satisfied by it. Folks, there has to be more than this, it's the only plausible possibility or else life itself is vanity and has no meaning...all of this for what if when we die we cease to exist. God is the ONLY thing that comes close to making any sense. Not saying I have all the answers but that is the best one BY FAR!
      If you want to know peace get to know Jesus, his words make a lot of sense even today 2,000 years after he said them. Give it a try, it might change the way you think and feel.

      October 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Are you sure Bill Nye is the one pretending to have all the answers? The reason the human body is so complex is that it arose over 3-4 billion years. If you did go to medical school and did study the stuff that you mentioned, you know how horrible it is when life processes go awry. When an infant is born with a congenital heart defect and dies shortly after delivery, do you really think that is part of some gods plan?

      October 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  9. Jaginaz

    So here's my problem Creationists. Some of you are blasting evolution and natural selection for it's lack of facts. OK. Let's take a look at your facts. So God creates Adam and Eve ( about 9000 yrs ago ) and with God's good help they produce Cain and Abel. and then Enoch ( is that right ) after Cain does Abel in. OK. Here's my problem, he never got around to creating another woman. So ... .. it would appear that it was God's plan that we, his chosen ones, were literally a race of motherf***ers. Now, is that really "Intelligent Design"?

    October 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      OK, creationists how is that for cognitive dissonance?

      October 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  10. asddas

    Why are you brining hindus in this dude ??? THis is about you christians.. Im hindu and im tryign to stay under the radar screen.. i also want to eat costco ice cream with lots of almonds...

    October 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  11. Steve

    And this difference between this guy and the Taliban is .... what???

    October 10, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      No beard.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  12. keyser Soze

    The problem is not the Congressman, who will say and claim whatever it takes to keep in (re)elected. The problem is that actually, a group of morons elected this guy. That is the sad nature of our reality.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • richard

      The earth was created in 6 day? Are you kidding? It took about 9 months to be born from moment of conception. It is a sad state of affair of our country. How did get to be a super power? He is very scary. I don't think he really believes in that. he just cuddle up to the voters to get elected.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  13. JJ

    OK...you are as crazy as the "atheism isn't healthy for broccoli" freak. Or...are you the same imbecile?

    October 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  14. Francois Mailloux

    Wow, close you eyes and read this article out loud! Add an accent and you could be mistaken for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I guess exteemists are all over the place.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Yes, indeed. With the help of the Internet, we should OUT every single one of them and disgrace them once and for all. It might take a few years, but time is all we have.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  15. William

    Just love fellow Christians that make the rest of us sound like bumbling idiots. I guess My god and My Jesus is more powerful since I believe that God created the Big Bang, and in all his infinite wisdom set the universe in Motion to create the worlds and Eventually us, and that includes other life forms as well, that we may unaware of. To argue science is to fail if your argument is not based in fact. We know for a fact that there are cities in India that are 9000-10000 years old, which places alot of thorns in these idiots design. Carbon dating is very accurate because its very easy to understand, its sad to see so many Americans too small minded to understand that God is greater than what they have been told in the pulpit.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Answer

      America will fall behind in technology in the future because of the likes of these idiots that are in office today.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  16. Mike Texoma

    And this Neanderthal sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology? Great jumpin Jehosophat!

    October 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Evangelical

      This congressman is exactly the kind of person we need on such committees. The kind that know that all science begins and ends with the Bible.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Evangelical, REALLY?? I don't think so...

      October 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  17. poopyonastickmakesmesick

    Why is this under the "Election Center"? What does this have to do with Romney or Obama?

    October 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  18. Rufus T. Firefly

    Dude, why? Just, why? What is your deal?

    October 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  19. Michael

    I suppose the (exhaustively studied and generally accepted as observed fact) evolution of the peppered moth is a vast conspiracy?

    Besides, why should evolution and scripture have to be mutually exclusive? If God(s) exist, it would truly be a wonder if he/she/they possess the omnipotence to required to create the universe...and yet somehow unable to set in motion the selection processes that we mere humans have become quite adept at replicating (and accelerating) artificially, in essentially all domestic plants and animals.

    In order to deny evolution, one must also deny everything it is built on: genetics->biology->the scientific method itself->our own senses. And if our own senses lie to us, we should be extinct already ourselves. Yet, here we are. But we sure are working on rectifying that, aren't we?

    October 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Evangelical

      If you want to know why they are mutually exclusive, I suggest that you read your bible.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Atheism is a learning disability

      Evolution has yielded no good fruit. It is a tree filled to the core with death and destruction. All who eat from it will be blinded to all things spiritual, and will ultimately forfeit their rightful place in the spiritual realm.

      October 12, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  20. Answer is somewhere else

    I think what the congressman said is ignorant too, but probably for an entirely different reason. He pretty clearly does not believe in real truth or understand its real boundaries.

    I am somewhere in the 32% group, with many qualifications. I have studied mostly hebrew-christian scriptures for many years (because that is my upbring and social background), and a smattering of others. I have yet to see anything in the scriptures that is inconsistent with science in general, and evolution in particular. I believe in a God that is a very advanced scientist and engineer, and does not do everything by Himself. But He does direct everything, and rightfully takes both credit and responsibility. There is a reason for everything, and ultimately an explanation. There is no magic, but only natural law and consequences. God Himself is bound by that truth. "Magic" just means you don't understand the process. And there are many processes we are trying to understand that are still way beyond our grasp.

    We are right now in a testing ground with very finite and strict boundaries. We are forced to live by faith so it can be determined if we are ready for the next step. Clearly many of us are not ready (even those with faith), and sadly may never be. On any side of the boundary we are trapped within is endless space with no beginning and no end, as well as the total absence of time as we know it. That does not mean it does not exist. It just means our understanding is not yet great enough to grasp it, and our way of reckoning will not bring us to that understanding. The endlessness of space is becoming more and more evident every year as our scientists keep going farther and deeper and not finding an end or a boundary. I suspect they never will, because it likely doesn't exist.

    I have never been to Russia. I have seen pictures of it, and heard a lot of people that purport to speak the language of that region of the world. And I have even learned in a limited way to read, write and speak Russian and many other languages. Even though I may never see Russia or other countries in what is remaining of this life, I have great faith based on evidence I have seen and heard that they really do exist.

    But having faith in something is not nearly as important as what you do with the faith. You can certainly choose to ignore the evidence of organized creation, and foolishly suppose that everything that happens within the boundaries of birth and death is all that ever happens for all of eternity and then you cease to exist. You can do that. And I and others can choose to believe otherwise. At some point, for either camp, our opinions about what is or is not will become irrelevant. We will either continue to exist in another plain, or we will simply not be there anymore.

    But that actually is somewhat irrelevant too. What is relevant is what you choose to do or not do with your own intelligence and life. Do you believe and helping others? Does it give you pleasure to lift the day or the life of someone less fortunate than yourself? Or do you take more pleasure in gratifying yourself and spending all of your resources on things that die when you die? Regardless of whether you believe in God, creationism, evolutionism, communism, or all the myriad of other ism's, you can clearly choose the former or the latter. And everyone I have ever known, godless or faithful, has done a little of both. But what will you choose to do a lot of, and what will you choose to just do a little of? That is what is really relevant and really matters. It matters not only to you and your self image, but to the others who may benefit (or not) from your actions.

    So why not get off the useless trying convince one another about Easter Bunnies, Jesus, Mohammed and others, and just be good to one another? That is the only thing I think you will all acknowledge that will for certain not die when you die.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Because the religious claptrappers want to get inside Government and restrict my Civil Rights. Why, in all your profound wordiness, do you not understand the crux of the matter???

      October 10, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • wja

      "and foolishly suppose that everything that happens within the boundaries of birth and death is all that ever happens for all of eternity "

      Well, there you go.

      Or one could foolishly believe "We are right now in a testing ground with very finite and strict boundaries. We are forced to live by faith so it can be determined if we are ready for the next step. Clearly many of us are not ready (even those with faith), and sadly may never be. On any side of the boundary we are trapped within is endless space with no beginning and no end, as well as the total absence of time as we know it. That does not mean it does not exist. It just means our understanding is not yet great enough to grasp it, and our way of reckoning will not bring us to that understanding. "

      October 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
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About this blog

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.