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. CK

    And people wonder why the Republicans lost the presidential race.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Dan

      What was wrong with his comments? He said he didn't know & he wasn't a scientist. Are you a scientist, that's why you look down on his comments?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • mama k

      He sits on a SCIENCE committee, Dan.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:56 am |
  2. Mirosal

    Since the Republi-tard party wants to rewrite, or at least make their own version of, history, then maybe they can rewrite an old hit from the early '60s as their new theme song.... everybody sing.. you know the words ... "It's my party and I'll lie if I want to, lie if I want to..."

    November 20, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  3. Bob B

    If he wanted to run for President, maybe he shouldn't have said anything. I'm sure he'll be in politics for a long time, but not as Pres or VP.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  4. Bob

    Throw science out the window, and the future is lost. How can politicians be so stupid? How can the electorate elect such stupid politicians. The recent characterization of the Republican Party still stands, now, even more firmly: "... stuck on stupid, dazzled by dumb."

    November 20, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • DavidE7

      Don't you know that science is provisional, and that what is believe on the evidence we now have may change as new evidence comes in? In other words, science is a kind of faith, also. Nothing wrong with that.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Mirosal

      sorry.. but science relies on evidence, and as new evidence emerges, science adapts. Faith is to believe WITHOUT evidence. Science welcomes questions .. loves questions actually ... religion doesn't like or want to be questioned.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  5. snowdogg

    Rubio may turn out to be another clone of Romney... will to take ANY position [and ready to flip-flop] to get elected.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  6. Just wondering

    Question 1-Is God's day only as long as Eath's day or could God's day be longer, say like a Jupiter length day?

    Question 2-Did God create the world in six days on Eastern Time, Central Time or Mountain Time? When you say he started on Monday, was that Monday in Australia or Alabama?

    Question 3-Were there Poodles and Yokshire Terriers on the Ark?

    November 20, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • WASP

      @just: ROFLMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XD
      i bet ten to nothing there truly is a christian out there that thinks dogs were on the ark, that's what makes this so funny.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Mirosal

      I don't know about the last 2 questions you asked, but I need to tell you that a day on Jupiter is NOT longer.. a "day" on Jupiter is only abut 10 hours. Yes, it spins THAT fast. Might I suggest a basic astronomy course in your near future?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Eddie Vanmeer

      My Airedale terriers great great......grandfather was on the ark

      November 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  7. bill

    I guess if his religion (what ever it is) said the earth was flat he would believe that also. Time to get out of the dark ages.
    Pandering to everyone will not get him elected, Romney proved that.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Logic led me to atheism

      “Pandering to everyone will not get him elected, Romney proved that.” Good point. Obviously Rubio is pandering to the ignorant vote. Hopefully that will prove fruitless once again.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  8. Josh

    The repubs are so positive of the validity of trickle down economics but have doubts about how old the earth is ....hmmm...the pattern of the lack of critical thought is apparent.....

    November 20, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • snowdogg

      Lack of critical thought isn't just a Republican problem... and no, I'm not a GOP supporter.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • nope


      November 20, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • snopes confirms

      nope is false

      November 20, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  9. Dave

    I want my party back. The Republican Party was never perfect, but to now leave the Democrats the high ground of positions based in reason and fact while pandering to the ignorant reactionaries mistakenly perceived to be our base will set us back even further.

    Where is the leader who will significantly change our course? Apparently it's not this guy.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • DavidE7

      His name is Mike Huckabee, but he needs to soften his stance on abortion and on Israel.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  10. David

    Definitely would NOT get my vote now. We need to crush religious idiocy (liberals have their own as well) in our country, not encourage it!

    November 20, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  11. floyd schrodinger

    Bet this guy never goes on a cruise. He might fall off the edge of the world.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:44 am |
  12. ray

    Just another Stoopid Repugnican

    November 20, 2012 at 6:44 am |
  13. LakeRat1

    All these dummies that reject science, should not be allowed to use anything that was created by it; automobiles, TVs, PCs, cell phones, Viagra. Just another GOP race to the bottom. Whoever does best at embracing their stupidity wins the primaries!

    November 20, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  14. PiperRob

    Mor(m)ons are worse than the average idiot...

    November 20, 2012 at 6:42 am |
  15. Wilhee

    So I guess Ancient Fossils were all bought at

    November 20, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • David

      Actually, the devil planted them to test our faith 😛 (that is their serious reply!)

      November 20, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  16. MormonChristian

    Mormons believe Science when it comes to the age of the earth. We teach evolution at church owned universities and believe that Science explains the "How" of the Earth while religion explains the "Why". God is the supreme Scientist.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • Pope Benedict

      "God is the supreme Scientist." That means we are an experiment, trial and error, without a design. Very good logic.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • Alyssa

      "God is the supreme Scientist."

      Oh the irony in that statement.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • DavidE7

      I am not a Mormon, but agree with your perspective. Science does not address the why of creation.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  17. PiperRob

    People who openly distrust the scientific method should be prohibited from driving a car,flying in a plane, using a computer/smart phone or taking helpful medications. These are all fruits of science and the scientific method. Untold numbers of scientists have labored long and hard so that this idiot and others like him can take advantage of them and then deny the source...

    November 20, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Pope Benedict

      Belief in a young universe is the rejection of science in general.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  18. Henry Allen

    Rubio dumbs down his answer to attract dumbed down supporters. These are people who believe Fred Flinstone really did have a pet dinosaur, and Rubio wants their vote.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • nope


      November 20, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • dldc1958

      I believe in Fred Flinstone but not Marco Rubio.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • snopes confirms

      nope is a dope

      November 20, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • HAT

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      November 22, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • HAT

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      November 22, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 20, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • Pope Benedict

      Can you name something that you changed with prayer?

      November 20, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • Eon Esse

      Neither is stupidity but the chruch seems to bask in that...

      November 20, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Wilhee

      Aethism like everything else
      Is just a point of view

      November 20, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • Dave

      I agree that there is a significant benefit to be had by adhering to certain religious tenets. It is significantly less convenient for atheists to develop their own rationale for structuring and pursuing a positive and meaningful life, vs. the well established traditions and teachings of major religions. For the significant majority, religion provides a good road map by which to raise children to become good members of society.

      But there is a deeply troubling extreme to adherence to certain traditions and teachings of major religions. Witness the ignorance of those who deny science in the name of sentences attributed to ancient men in the Bible, Koran, or other religious holy books.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Malice

      Oh yeah, atheism lacks morality and religion has lots of it. That must explain all those pedophile priests and religious wars.

      I don't see any atheist wars happening.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  20. nemo0037

    Well, this tells me all I need to know if he decides to run for President. If he can't trust the facts that science provides, how can we trust him to make Presidential decisions?

    November 20, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • nope


      November 20, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Eon Esse

      sigh...agreed. Cant the Republicans find one decent candidate? Actually I like Herman Cain. He seemed more down to earth and less worried about controlling my thoughts, marriage, education, religion, etc than the other idiots desperate for my vote. I don't think we'll see a republican president for quite some time...

      November 20, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Alyssa

      Herman Cain? Really?? He may not be what you described, but he's a moron. Why would you want that? The Republican Party can do better.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:31 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.