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. Ned Flanders

    I am loving the exposure of these comments. We need to shine a light on this kind of nonsense in America. If you live in the mountains and were home schooled by your unschooled mom, creationist beliefs may be a forgivable offense. But if you're a young up-and-comer type like Rubio is then the public needs to know what they're getting with this guy. I don't believe for a second he eschews the science. It's clear he's pandering to the young earth morons. That is even worse than the ignorance he claims on the subject.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      There's no excuse for this lack of education in a public official.

      Even if you try to fudge the numbers a bit, there's no way the earth is only 6000 years old like some of the fundies believe. Now I could see being off a few million years in age since the earth is billions of year old, but that's no different than being off a few months when guessing the age of someone who's 110.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  2. Dan, TX

    America is doomed if our political leaders can't understand or don't trust in Science. Science is what made America great – not religion.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • roy manry


      November 20, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  3. jvance

    What a weiner. He won't even answer the darn question. I'm looking for the new and improved GOP and this guy isn't it.
    I wish someone would ask Gov Christie this question, he won't talk about Twinkies but he may be able to discuss science.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  4. xeno

    So he's Catholic, Southern Baptist AND Mormon? It seems the republicans learned nothing from the last election.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • John Kay

      Think of a fish flopping itself out of the water, back in, back out, back in, back out......

      It's still all wet.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  5. t.sarcastic

    Please don't confuse me with the facts, I've got too much on my mind as it is.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  6. John Kay

    This should disavow any false notion that the Republcians have learned their lessons from this last election, have chosen to educate rather than falsify truth, or that somehow it's going to get any better in the foreseeable future.

    Lead the people? Push them down one slippery slope after another until we're either too weary or prefer a comatose condition rather than fight such petulance masquerading as politics.

    Vote. Vote. Vote. And speak up.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Poppa

      Makes you wonder if the republican theories of fiscal responsibility are based on the same type of data thier other beliefs are.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • John Kay

      Poppa, history tell us that Republican "theories' are as false as everything else they project to curry favor among the easily fooled, and manipulate them relentlessly until power and control are theirs' for their own ends, not anyone else's.

      Historically, Democratic leadership results in balanced budgets, surpluses and more job creation than any Republican tenure in our young history.

      Let's keep it that way.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  7. Ed

    I'm a lifelong Republican, but I'm not voting for anyone who believes that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and man coexisted with dinosaurs. What a load of hooey.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Ron

      Actually, I don't think creationists believe that men lived with dinosaurs. As I have heard it, dinosaurs never "lived". Their fossils are just something God buried in the earth for man to find and explore.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  8. Joe

    Typical politican... dodge and weave – try to be everything to everybody. He's goes to a Baptish church, but considers himself a 'practicing' Catholic – what a joke! He will do find as a Republican candidate.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  9. gango

    Amazing how quickly the media jumps on a mainstream Christian with a question like this. Why did the media never ask Romney if he believed America was "discovered" and settled by the lost tribe of Israel, or whether Jesus was married, and whether he ever visited North America? Why did they not ask him if he expects to be a god someday? These are all teachings of Mormonism.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Dan I.

      Because Romney wasn't advocating for these teachings to be codified into the law and taught as "alternative theories." The Evangelicals want their beliefs to becoming part of the mandatory education system and codified into the law.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • John Kay

      If Rubio's comments are indicative of "mainstream Christianity" then the 'left leaning' bias of the media in failing to address the concerns you've outlined are as much a conundrum as Rubio himself.

      The media was quite complacent not exposing Romney's beliefs. They cannot be when it comes to the newest pack to deliver themselves to the stage four years before the curtain even opens.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Dan, TX

      He's not a mainstream Christian. Science proves that evolution explains the origin of humans on Earth and that the Earth is around 4.5 Billion years old. Any religion that denies that is committing blasphemy by believing that God is a liar.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  10. Daverelentless

    Hi America, I'm a Republican candidate. Everything I believe is completely out of touch with reality. But I have some deeds to a bridge to sell you, queue up.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  11. ruemorgue

    Another right-wing religious nut case/ The age of the Earth is known. Rubio's comments are nothing more than the Discovery Insttutes pack of lies, the so-called, Teach the Controversy.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  12. cg

    Thanks God, the world is flat.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  13. Zero

    "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?" -Dan

    He is too dumb or disingenuous to be a leader. That's what's wrong. I don't know if he went to a religious college but the age of the Earth is covered in Geology 101. If you missed that in your college experience, you should not be leading anyone, anywhere. How can 46% of people in the US believe that God actually created humans our of dust and rib 10,000 years ago? There are cave painting in the mountains of Spain that are 40,000 years old for heaven's sake. He is just too ignorant and worse than that, he is OK with being this ignorant.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  14. Foley

    Data collected from a super nova that was detected in 1987, SN1987, demonstrates that the universe is at least 168,000 years old. Furthermore, these data also show that dating based upon radioactive decay is a viable method for determining age. People need to focus more on the "who" and "why" of religion instead of the "when" and "how."

    November 20, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • cysco24

      Do some research yourself. SN1987 does not say the earth is 168,000 years old. it says the supernova was 168,000 light years away from this supernova. Distance, not time.

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

      cysoc24 – is the speed of light constant? is the sun the center of the solar system? did my comment say that SN1987 demonstrated the age of the earth? literacy, read and comment of the words that are present, not the words in you head.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  15. squirt

    Pick your issue, pick your day and just like Romniguez, Rubinose will be your supporter!! A religious or scientific test has no place in our politics...read Jefferson or Franklin!! The Republicans just don't get it! I guess they never will!!

    November 20, 2012 at 7:32 am |
  16. Joseph DAmico

    A real great start for the next Presidential election. Stop pandering to the religious right!!! Science is science, religion is a fallacy

    November 20, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • DavidE7

      Science is about evidence. Religion is about faith. There is room for both because science is provisional and is only the truth as we understand it so far. Which isn't really very far.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Mirosal

      and "faith" means to believe WITHOUT evidence.. science is all about evidence.. you said so yourself... see the conflict there?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  17. DavidB

    A harmless comment designed not to shove one opinion down anyones throat... AND HE IS RIGHT!.... How old the earth is has no effect on our everydays lives. People get a grip! I love science and I sort-a fall in the the 32% because I am agnostic. This country would have never been founded today with the LEFT and the RIGHT at odds over BS like this. I am consider my self to be VERY FAR RIGHT.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Mirosal

      Do you know what "left" and "right" really mean?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  18. Wildone

    That's Scientologist.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  19. Wildone

    Well, at least Rubio isn't a Scientologis.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  20. Dan

    "“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"

    So essentially Senator Rubio, says let the liberals believe what they want to believe, hear every argument if they are truly "open-minded" & says he is not a scientist.

    There is nothing wrong with his comments. They are the truth spoken from the heart, but also a challenge to our "progressive" friends who booed God at the DNC to hear all sides of an argument.

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

      It's a false equality to state that both are theories and therefore both should be taught.

      The scientific theory is based on extensive research in multiple disciplines.

      The religious theory is based on someone counting up all the "begats" to determine the age of Adam. This assumes perfect acccuracy in recording the generations.

      Not all "theories" are created equal.

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

      The issue i have is that he believes that ALL creation theories should be taught. That's hardly possible. There are myths and creation stories from every cultrue. Are we really going to teach every theory? Of course not. Let's stick with the ones we have some testable data on and not cower in fear over the sound of thunder.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • SnoozeButton

      It’s not our unwillingness to hear the argument; it’s been heard many times. It’s your unwillingness to realize that your argument is based on ignorance, and doesn’t deserve any more attention until you bring something new to the table.

      There is a lot wrong with a potential presidential candidate even hinting that the earth is as young as creationists claim it is. Mainstream creationism is very much a product of the USA. It is laughable to think that a POTUS believing in a young earth would not be ridiculed on the international stage, and be respected in any way.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:59 am |
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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.