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. Rusty Yates

    Science drives the gross domestic product of this nation. Science heals the sick that can be healed. Science illuminates the past and points the way to the future. How can we elect a man this foolish in any state no matter how backward? Florida has hurt the entire nation by electing this man.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Observer

      Don't beat Florida up too much yet. They may have sent rude and crude Allen West packing.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • End Religion

      Would be nice if they could have a Presidential election without mucking it up. They're like the retarded child the U.S. has to be gentle with. You know, they're *special*.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:30 am |
  2. LA Dude

    Get angry atheists, get angry LMAO!!!!

    You guys are too predictable, atheists are hilarious and sad at the same time. I chuckle at your hypocrisies. You clowns are the exact same as religious fundamentalists, you all are just on a different side. After a good laugh, I then watch with bemusement as you all are so willfully/ignorantly blind.

    Cheerio you sad pathetic people.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • jv

      "Willfully/ignorantly" blind?

      Why don't you enlighten us, Hollywood man?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Damocles

      I sense you are upset about something. Need to talk it out?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • Moderate & Rational

      Lol so true, good point!

      November 20, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • jv

      Will u gonna answer? I shlt og pieces of trash like u bongo. Im the fookin man and u aint shlt

      November 20, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • LA Dude

      Yea, I just like to post sanctimonious comments just to feel better.....kinda like religious fundamentalist and atheist

      November 20, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • End Religion

      You wouldn't happen to be related to USDude, would you?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  3. MoveForward

    “I'm not a scientist, man,” He nailed that one right on the head. Just another brain dead politician from the party of wackos.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  4. Rick

    hahaha.....election is over and these clowns are still finding ways to shoot themselves in the foot. What a fool.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  5. jv

    Same message delivered by a brown face.

    Keep at it GOP

    November 20, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  6. Joe

    I really think you'll see a rise of a third party soon.. Perhaps the Libertarians or some other fiscally conservative party that doesn't want to push their social agenda through the goverment.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  7. bongobottom

    This charlatan will never get my vote nor any other thinking person.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  8. Blessed are the Cheese makers

    He needs to seek a personal relationship with reality.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • reasonablebe

      true.... or the tooth fairy.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • DavidE7

      There is more in heaven and on earth than is dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio!

      November 20, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  9. reasonablebe

    he is tiptoeing in the tulips– and seems clearly to be trying to make sure he doesn't alienate anyone because it might be bad politically.

    problem, either he believes science or he doesn't. which is it? and who is he trying to deceive? those who follow scientific knowledge or those who want the bible to be literal? science either way it's dishonest and not a good leadership point.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:13 am |


    The sun is one of countless numbers of stars in our galaxy. The galaxy is over 100,000 light years across. This means that light from some stars in our galaxy has taken many tens of thousands of years to reach earth. This would indicate that our galaxy is much older than 10 millennia.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:07 am |

      Ice core samples have been taken in Greenland that show 40,000 annual layers of ice.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:08 am |

      Some bristlecone pine trees in the White-Inyo mountain range of California date back beyond 2000 BCE. One, labeled "Methuselah" germinated in 2726 BCE. This ocurred centuries before the date that conservative Christians assign to the Noachian flood. But their tree rings have been matched with those of dead trees; this shows that the latter germinated about 6000 BCE, which predates the year 4004 BCE by 2 millennia.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:09 am |

      In the Green River there are varves (millions of annual layers of sediment) laid down over the past 20 million years. 4

      November 20, 2012 at 1:09 am |

      The Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed a method of measuring the length of time that surface rocks have been exposed to cosmic rays. Cosmic rays stream into the atmosphere from all directions in outer space and break neutrons free when they collide with air molecules. When these neutrons hit rocks on the ground, they sometimes react with a tiny number of mineral atoms which create radioactive isotopes. At sea level, a few hundred modified atoms are created each year in a gram of quartz which is near the surface of the ground. New measuring techniques can detect very small numbers of these atoms and thus estimate the number of years that the rocks have been exposed. Scientists have found ages of about 8,500 years for "recent" glacial moraines in Newfoundland and 830,000 years for extinct volcanoes in Nevada.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:10 am |

      Because of tides, the rotation of the earth is gradually slowing, by about 1 second every 50,000 years. About 380 million years ago, each day would have about 20 hours long! There would have been about 398 days in the year. Studies of rings on rugose coral fossils that were independently estimated to be 370 million years old revealed that when they were alive, there were about 400 days in the year. This relationship has been confirmed with other coral fossils. This is rather good evidence that the world was in existence a third of a billion years ago.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:11 am |

      The thickness of the coral reef at Eniwetok atoll in the Pacific Ocean has been measured at up to 1,380 meters. Even the most optimistic coral growth rates would require that the atoll be over 130,000 years of age.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:11 am |

      It takes thousands of years of below-freezing temperatures to build a 100 foot layer of permafrost. But large areas in the north are permanently frozen to depths of almost one mile! This took many tens of millennia to accomplish.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:12 am |

      Radiocarbon dating of wood, using accelerator mass spectrometry, is accurate as far back as 50,000 years. The method has identified many man made wooden and textile objects to be many tens of thousands of years old.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • reasonablebe

      yes, well, the GOP won't let fact get in the way of anything.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:15 am |

      The Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which separates the North American plate from the Eurasian plate, and the South American plate from the African plate, is the site of new oceanic crust in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where magma rushes up and cools. The rate of this coincides with the measured movement of the techtonic plates. Pangaea began to split apart into the continents we know today about 200 million years ago. Coincidentally, as the magma cools the iron in the rock aligns with the earths magnetic pole before solidifying and this is how we know that the magnetic poles switch every 100,000 years or so.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • LA Dude

      Keep Posting! Not like you have a real life to live!

      November 20, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Damocles


      And yet here you are, posting.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:37 am |
  11. Knowledge

    The best evidence of how old the earth is comes from the people who study such things. He would not go to a priest or preacher if he had a cold. There is very good precise strait forward answer to the question. This article makes it seem like three is a question about this ... there is not.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Ken

      He's Catholic, he probably believes in exorcism instead of mental illness, so it shouldn't surprise anyone if he does call his priest when he gets the sniffles.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  12. John D

    Hmm... And this from a guy who wants to expand oil drilling.

    Do you think he realizes petroleum geology is fundamentally predicated on the idea that the Earth is quite a bit older than 10,000?

    November 20, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Ben

      God created oil and placed it under places he preferred, which is why Israel doesn't have any oil and Iran does.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  13. R.U. Kidding

    Rubio is trying to play to all sides on all issues. Going down the same road as Romney and change his position based on who he's trying to get to vote for him.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • rev101

      It kills me to see these predators eat up the weak minds of the "low information" populace.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • JH1

      That's rather pointless. People with their reality glasses on are going to say r u kidding?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Eric D

      Funny, I always think of Al Gore when I think of someone preying on the weak minded. http://digitaljournal.com/article/251232

      And based on the theories of Ms. Ivins I always though that since a Jr. Bush is a Shrub wouldn't that make a Jr. Gore a "pr1ck?"

      November 20, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  14. ron2b

    It's no surprise that the US came in 17th place in a worldwide test of science and math with nearly 1/2 the population believing that the earth's age is 10,000 years (or less) and it was created literally as given in the bible

    November 20, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Ken

      And China is in the top 5. No wonder they're outpacing us.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  15. Ken


    November 20, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  16. Alan Abrahamson

    I am not a Marco Rubio fan. But "credit where credit is due"... It was a good answer. Safe, reasonable, maybe even what he truly believes.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheese makers

      It was a terrible answer. He should demand his money back from the University of Florida for failing to properly educate him.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Ken

      From the article “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.”

      No, there is one scientific theory and hundreds of creation stories. Should we really teach every creation story, including the Genesis account, when we're ranked so low in science education already?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Damocles

      Yes! All creation stories must be taught! No matter the story, no matter how outrageous it may seem to those who choose not to believe, they must be taught! How else are our kids going to be able to compete in the world?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  17. Mike

    Amesty Rubio.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  18. jv

    I'm no scientist, man. But when I look at the window earth looks flat

    November 20, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • manbearpig

      And have you ever noticed that when you pray for things, sometimes they happen? Checkmate.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • ron2b

      Yep, if I get 100 of my most religious friends to pray for heads to come up on a coin toss, oddly enough it happens exactly 50% of the time.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • manbearpig

      ron –
      So you admit it. God is real, and baby jesus too!

      November 20, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • s1n

      Actually, no. Prayers do not come true. In the probable situation that you occasionally get what you ask for, welcome to the wonderful world of statistical probability.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Damocles


      That kind of depends on how many times you flip the coin.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • manbearpig

      True or false: sometimes when you pray for something, it happens. True. There's your proof that god is real. HALLELUJAH CHRIST IS INSIDE ME

      November 20, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  19. Marty in MA

    no global warming, no evolution? Welcome to the science-denying Republican party. It's great for the Democrats they are this dumb.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Joe

      The larger problem is that a good portion of the population is the same. Maybe they take the "I send you out as sheep" verse too literly...

      November 20, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  20. carlooos

    These republicans have completely gone off the deep end.....

    November 20, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • R.U. Kidding

      I'm going to have to agree with you on this.

      There just batcr@p out there. Who would want anyone so completely irrational to be in control of nuclear weapons!

      November 20, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • R.U. Kidding

      Edit: They are just batcr@p out there.

      Wish there was spellcheck here!

      November 20, 2012 at 12:58 am |
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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.