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. Doc Vestibule

    The leading rabble rousers in the Creationist world – The Center for Science and Culture (sponsored by the Discovery Inst.itute) openly admit that their goal isn't to teach what they think is fact. An internal doc.ument leaked in 1999 described the Discovery group's objective in pushing for creationism to be taught in schools as "to defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies". They want to use Intelligent Design as a "wedge" to separate science from its allegiance to "atheistic naturalism".
    In other words, they fear that teaching FACTS to children will drive them away from religion.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • appalled

      I certainly hope it gets the kids away from religion! We have to start with them. Religion is the downfall of the world!

      November 20, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Saraswati

      People who demand religion in schools are either a) too lazy to provide religious educations to the kids themselves or b) trying to indoctrinate the children of others. I have never known of such a proponent who didn't fit one of these two categories...usually the latter.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  2. Dionmithjesu

    Got a feeling that this Rubio guy will be doing the Romney filp-flop for the next couple of years depending on his audience. If the GOP keep nominating this type of guy they deserve what they get.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  3. sumday

    Just to point something out- Einstein pretty much proved there is no absolute time only relative time, so 4.5 billion is a meaningless number in relation to the universe bc that is merely a CURRENT relative number based on the point of observation. If you took the same readings at another point in the universe or while traveling at another speed you would get a totally valid but different time estimate of the earth.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • sybaris

      You must have a heck of a time boiling an egg.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  4. blf83

    Republicans, Democrats, Independents – YOU do not matter as a candidate if you do not stand for SOMETHING. If you happen to be a creationist, I will vote for the candidate who believes in science, bit if you are wishy-washy, flip-floppy, or just "walking a fine line" that answers nothing, you do NOT deserve my vote. Others may` make their own choices – but not their own "facts."

    November 20, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • sumday

      You speak as if creationism is not science. Creationism simply means we believe the universe and life was created by an intelligent creator. You ask us to prove this creator and I ask you to prove how life spontaneously arose and naturally and evolved itself into billions of other life forms in balance with other creatures to maintain a delicately balanced eco system without a design or intelligence. Simple use current science to explain and prove how this occurred under the current laws of science. Please explain chirality in organic chemistry occurring trillions of times naturally- which is a requirement for all dna. You want science? A few yrs ago humans spliced the genes of a goat and a spider to get a goat to produce milk with spider silk- that’s a fact google it. Use your current “science” theory and now PROVE humans did this independent of experiment. You can’t! Bc current science theory does not allow for any idea of a creator even though we know and have proven that an intelligence (us) can and have created a new type of goat. Under current science and evolution theories you will have to believe that either the goat and spider crossed or had a common ancestor in a very distant past, or you would have to believe in some “spiderman” spider that bite and changed the goats dna recently. However under the current evolution theory you would not be able to prove (or even consider) this goat was in fact engineered by an intelligence (humans). Now we KNOW and have the proof that humans can and DID create a new form of life, but we have a current theory/model that excludes this as a possibility. We basically proved our current thinking/model is flawed by not taking into account what we have proven to be a possible.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  5. Rynomite

    "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."

    In unrelated news, scientists have found that 46% of Americans are actually borderline retarded.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • Keel Hauler

      Yes. Scary, isn't it?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • snowboarder

      ryn – i think the majority of americans with religious beliefs about biblical creation have never actually been challenged to apply any critical scrutiny to those beliefs. otherwise, they would no longer hold them.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  6. frank

    Whether the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa, now that is a great mystery! Clearly a mystery which should be decided by theologians.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Why should theologians try to solve the mystery? They don't have the necessary skills to prove the results with incontrovertible evidence.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  7. Keel Hauler

    Only 15% of people think we evolved without guidance from God? That's really scary. We have a long way to go.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • fred

      I think if people were completely honest, that number would be much higher, and in a couple of generations, it will be between 40% – 50%

      November 20, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Looking at the whole issue from a "what if" point of view, what if God is to us like we are to ants?

      Consider an ant in the Amazon forest. For generations, ants are born and lived and worked and died in this massive anthill deep in the jungle. Once, years earlier, humans walked past the anthill, and the ants saw them and were amazed at the funny creatures. But then, no humans ever passed that way again.

      Generations later, the ant council is meeting discussing the very idea of this 'silly creature' called a human. Did they exist? Why did their ancestors believe in them? They'd never been seen in long ages of the ant world. The ant council said to leave the idea that humans exist in the realm of theology. Practical ants had to gather food.

      So what if God just hasn't been by here in long ages of humans like the humans in the story had not been past that anthill?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  8. dave

    If you think everyone should believe in the Bible, then you are an anti-American traitor

    November 20, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • CurmudgeonTx

      Ahh...so you are the THOUGHT police now...

      November 20, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  9. sumday

    As far as “young earth” (7-24hr periods)- that is one of the things that irk me about past/current bible theology- people just aren’t really reading the bible for what it says. First a day in Geneses is simple one dark period followed by a light period that is all! Our sun was not created until the 3rd day so it would be impossible to claim a 24hr period before the sun was created. Second it says on the 7th day G-d rested but when the Israelis rebelled in the desert G-d claims that generation will not enter into his rest, in the New testament Paul states that the Sabbath(G-ds day of rest that he created after man) is a foreshadow of things to come. All this means that the Sabbath has not yet occurred for humans and we are in fact still in the sixth day of creation! For if it was a consecutive 24hr creation period humans would have already experienced G-d’s rest on the day(24 hr) after man was created, so G-d would not be able to say “they will not enter into my rest” bc it would have already happened. Nor could Paul claim it was a foreshadow of a future event if it had occurred in man’s past. A careful reading of Genesis will show there are 2 versions of creation- the first is what G-d did up until the 7th day, immediately after this account the creation is told again but this time is picked up on the 6th day (no 7th day is mentioned in this account bc it had/has not yet happened from man’s point of observation). Simply put the first account is what G-d did in a time period relative to him, the second account is what G-d is doing in a time period relative to humans- the 6th day. Science actually even proves this to be possible by the relativeness of time and speed. Many times in the bible G-d claims to be light or wrap himself in light, and current science states at the speed of light time basically stops to all who are not traveling at the speed of light. I somewhat ponder if this is how G-d shortened man’s life span by slowing our movement in the universe down in relation to the speed of light.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • snowboarder

      sumday – attributing any realistic meaning to bible passages is absurd.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • sybaris

      Circular logice fail

      November 20, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • sybaris

      Circular logic fail

      November 20, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • fred


      If the people who wrote the bible had any idea how our solar system worked when they wrote it, then you might have an argument (a very weak one), but as they clearly didn’t have a clue, all of your baseless assertions hold no weight.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • sumday

      Fred- if humans wrote the bible by their understanding you would have a case, however the bible claims to be “inspired” from G-d understanding and written down by humans understanding. Often times those who wrote the bible did not understand what they were writing. This is in fact shown by many prophecies being given by prophets who did not at the time fully understand what or how the prophecy was to happen. Daniel was given a vision that he did not understand yet wrote down what he had seen/heard given his understanding of it.

      As far as circular logic goes- oh please explain how this is circular logic. I mean it’s a great thing to claim circular logic in order to dismiss a statement another to prove/show that is really is circular logic.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  10. Henry Justice

    From a vantage point of a human on a tiny spot inside any one of the 24 time zones, we know seven days is a week. How about the creator's vantage point. As God looks down from above, each day is processed throughout all the time zones in 48 hours. So, date wise, a new day begins while a previous day is still moving around the globe to end at the International Date Line (IDL). From the first second to the last second for a day moving through all the zones is 48 yours. So, on the first day, God created the heaven and the Earth, on the second day, God created the dry land. Did he let each day clear completely or did he honor the IDL?

    November 20, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • sybaris

      You're guessing and just making up a scenario to fit your position. You have no evidence to support it.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • fred

      Did he let each day clear completely or did he honor the IDL?

      He did neither of those because he is imaginary.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  11. D0ntBlvit

    Here we go again. More comments from a Republican confirming why I won't vote for one.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  12. Primewonk

    How about a new rule? If can't pass basic science 101, you can't run for office.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • dave

      the age of the earth has nothing to do with getting us out of the GOP/Wall STreet Depression

      November 20, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Mike

      What if you can't pronounce "corps man"

      November 20, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • mama k

      Well at least you shouldn't be able to serve on a science committee.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Primewonk

      I'm sorry, but today the world runs on science. If you purposefully chose to be ignorant about science, you have no place in leadership.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  13. sumday

    “To suggest we can’t know how old the Earth is, then, is to deny the validity of these scientific methods altogether”- No it’s to be open minded to the idea that we might be wrong, on the other hand to accept these dates without question or reservation is to accept current science without question. Fact- a theory or equation is only as good as it’s assumptions, and the fact is C-14 dating has some flawed starting out assumptions such as assuming no carbon has been added or subtracted to the environment since the beginning of the planet. Furthermore you can claim 4.5 billion all day long but SCIENCE states that is a meaningless number unless you state what that number is in reference to- IE the faster you move the slower time moves and vs versa so 4.5 billion is completely meaning less without a reference point. With this number they don’t take into account the rate the universe is expanding (space actually expands FASTER than light travels) and has previously expanded- we also know at one point the universe stopped expanding and then started expanding again. Just pointing out that science has a long history of changing it’s story every time a new break through comes along. First there was Galileo then Einstein the Schroder’s equation which gave way to quantum mechanics. At each break through our entire understanding of the universe changed, so forgive us if we hold off absolute acceptance of what science currently claims to be true for history has shown us that claim is very likely to change with the next break through.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • sybaris

      Regardless, if you think the earth is 6-9000 years old then you are a fool.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Tallus

      If you think science can't answer how old the earth is because YOU don't understand how scientists date things, that doesn't mean you can automatically assume primitive nomads from the Bronze Age had any better idea. If you want to start saying science is flawed, if you want to say it can't be counted on, you can kindly put down your computer, throw away all technology, give up modern healthcare and go live in a cave. Science CAN reliably date the earth.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • Eric

      The Dinosaurs complete invaladates Creationism.
      There is absolutely no way people could have survived around dinosaus. If by some miraculous feat humans were able to hide from dinosausrs until they all died out. Don't you think the would have atleast made paintings of theses gigantic and terrifying creature. Argue that and I will open my mind.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • not all idiots are created equal

      Your comment shows you know nothing about C-14 dating. It has nothing to do with "adding" carbon atoms. C-14 is a radioactive isotope. Radioactive isotope break down over x amount of time depending in the isotope. That is a fact is C-14 as a half life of 5700 years.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • ignorance

      Actually at one point, the church told us that everything revolved around the sun. "Scientists" were pressured by the church to follow their doctrine regardless of experience and common sense. And I quote "Scientists" because there were typically high ranking members of the church whom made everything fit their ideology because they were the only ones allowed to educate themselves.

      How many years did it take the church and the members to recognize that the earth is not the center of the universe? Perhaps there are some deniers whom are now living that still don't recognize this. After all, it is "just a theory".

      Aahh, times before the scientific method were so much simpler.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Primewonk

      Quick question – What does c14 dating have to do with the age of the earth?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • sumday

      Tallus I very well understand how dating is done do you? I’ve spent hrs upon hrs researching such subjects/topics. I also have a degree in engineering and a minor in math, so I think I at the least am able to grasp and understand the concepts science and equations. Now how about you? What is YOUR level of education on the subject? Also I do not reject science I do however reject some of it’s conclusions/statements regarding certain topics. Newton explained many things and allowed us to calculate the orbits of planets with his laws of motion, yet his idea of a static universe was wrong- like wise Einstein with his energy equation for many years thought/claimed the universe was static rather than dynamic. This does not mean what Newton and Einstein had discovered was wrong only their conclusions/idea’s of how things really were was wrong. I don’t have to reject computers to reject an absolute age of the earth- it is only those who really don’t understand that time is meaningless as there is no absolute time. If we were in another galaxy or traveling on a speeding comet away from the earth we would think/claim the earth is a different age- and we would be RIGHT! Time is dependent on position and speed.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Kevin

      "C-14 dating has some flawed starting out assumptions such as assuming no carbon has been added or subtracted to the environment since the beginning of the planet."
      WRONG. Fact: you don't understand how carbon dating works
      "Furthermore you can claim 4.5 billion all day long but SCIENCE states that is a meaningless number unless you state what that number is in reference to"
      WRONG. Fact: You've latched onto crying "bu-bu-bu it's RELATIVE" and you are clinging to it like a child.

      Here's some FACTS for you, idiot:
      1) The instant you start trying to say that you're right because of your credentials, you lose all credibility. Thousands of people better qualified than you have come to a different conclusion and they all agree with each other.
      2) You need to look up how radiometric dating works.
      3) You need to get over yourself and realize that the people who estimate the age of the earth do so with a fuller understanding of Einstein's relativity than you'll ever have.

      By the way, an undergraduate degree in "engineering" in no way qualifies you to lecture on this stuff.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  14. Steve Demeranville

    Comments like this remind me why Republicans support the NRA. So they can walk around with a gun and constantly shoot themselves in the foot!

    November 20, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • DCThompson

      This is also why "reforming education" is such a high priority. Take the money away from the public schools where children will be taught real science and that a "theory" is very close to a proven fact because it is supported by the preponderance of the evidence. They might also learn that creationism is a "hypothesis" that is not supported by any scientific evidence. So... take the money away from the public schools and give it to parochial schools and christian charter schools so that the Republican party of the ultra rich and the Christian Taliban can maintain control of the modern day peasants and keep them in minimum wage jobs (or better repeal the minimum wage) and concentrate more of the wealth in the hands of the 1%.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  15. dave

    I would not read a physics book to learn morals and I would not read the Bible to learn science. I leave science to scientists like Mengele. Without physicists we would not have moon rocks or enough hydrogen bombs to destroy the planet several times over. Without chemists we would not have Zyclon B

    I learn my morals from the Bible -- that is why I do not eat shelfish, I go to church on Saturday I have five wives, 10 slaves and 3 concubines the Bible told me so

    November 20, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Mike

      I understand your point and to some degree agree with it. But if what you said about the Bible is your takeaway, you should finish the book.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Tallus

      You're setting a bad precedent by not being able to set up your comment sarcastically enough to let people know what you're really trying to say. Folks may actually believe that you go to people like the Auschwitz Angel of Death for answers about science, and then degrade other legitimate non-psychotic scientists because of the atrocious comparison.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • dave

      Actually Jesus had a pretty good idea, find a smart way to avoid the idiocies of the Jewish Bible -

      Towns people - "Jesus this woman committed adultery, should we stone her to death like the Bible says?

      Jesus "You are right, the Bible says to stone her - Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone."

      November 20, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Emerald

      Dave the book of John should never have been in the bible most serious biblical scholars will tell you that it was added later by the scribes. The stories are not true in that book.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  16. Joe

    6 days to conceive it and 14 billion years to grow it,,,,,, How long was a day in the beginning???

    November 20, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Arthur

      In physics an "era" can last nanoseconds. Several minutes after the Big Bang the universe had gone through several eras and entered it's current state of stuff condensing into matter, according to theory.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Ben

      The same length as any other day, the Bible uses the same word for "day" in the 10 Commandments as it does in the creation myth. If anything, the time it took for the earth to spin once on its axis while it was still forming would have been significantly shorter, maybe even as much as only 6 hours.

      Not even all creationists argue for the "one Genesis day = millions of years" idea.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  17. dave

    Not a bad answer --"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.”"

    November 20, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • fred

      If people believe this nonsense, then why are they afraid to answer the question in public? Why do they deflect with statements like this?

      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.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  18. JIm M

    What is with the GOP and science?

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

      Their ranks are rife with fundamentalist christians.

      Religion requires ignorance to perpetuate so they are compelled to dismiss science in order to preserve their fantasy.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      The GOP don't believe in science. They like the Dark Ages view of how things work.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Ben

      They like to say that it's social change that is responsible for America slipping behind, but it's more likely that it's this persistence upon believing in bronze age superst itions.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  19. dali_70

    Hey, since he wants everyone's theory to have equal time, how about we teach the stork theory of human reproduction. Let all the kiddies know they came from a stork who dropped them off at their parents front doorstep wrapped in a swaddling cloth.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Only if they teach about the Flying Spaghetti Monster as well.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  20. S.R.

    Religion, the single most ridiculous notion on the face of the earth. You cannot dispute scientific technique's and evidence. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. Find god in science!

    November 20, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • dave

      for a long time science told us the Sun revolved around the Earth

      November 20, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      To Dave, actually it was the church that did that. In ancient Greece, they knew the sun was the center of our solar system and that the earth was round and revolved around it. Then religion kicked in and made earth the center of everything and Jerusalem was the focus of the earth.

      Although I never understood how, when thinking that the earth was flat, how could hell be "inside" the earth? "Inside" wound have hinted that the earth had some kind of shape to house hell, but the idea for many in Europe at the time was that it was flat.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:34 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.