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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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. john

    All verse 1 says is that "God created the heavens and the earth." There is no mention of when he started either because it's not important. What was important to God was that he wanted to tell people why he created the earth and what his original purpose was the erarth and the all of who are living on the earth today.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  2. MalcomR

    This is ridiculous. The age of the oldest rocks is known PRECISELY to within a few tens of millions of years, as determined by several different radiometric dating methods. Also, stellar evolution, geologic models, cratering rates, etc. let us know WITH CERTAINTY, that the solar system and the Earth is well over 4 billion years old. Any

    November 20, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Tim

      And the standard for time is set by whom? We have determined to use the planets evolution around the sun to determine our unti of measure. If there is life in another universe that may work in a different way, even though we cannot imagine how that can be based on OUR science, and/or there is a life form we can, or cannot recognize as such, which has a different unit of measure of time, which of us will be the more intelligent. Yet, through our collective current ignorance (including our scietific community as well) we do not have to worry about that. We just go on as if we are IT...and we are. We do not see and understand all that is around us as it is as much as what we can comprehend. That which we cannot comprehend we say does not exist becaseu that is the easy way to deal with it. We bask in our ignorance now as those who created religion around God. We just simply view ourselves as they did...so much smarter than those before them. Those who follow will look upon us the same way. So, why gloat about out current level of stupidty?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The planets "evolve" around the sun, do they?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Which God?

      Tim, It is hard to to follow your rambling. Do you have a scientific statement to make, or are you just making a word salad?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • snowboarder

      tim – the unit of measurement of time is irrelevant.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  3. PrimeNumber

    Apparently, to liberal minds, Rubio is a Doubting Thomas. He fails to whole heartedly embrace the rigid, scientific dogma of our day. He insists on the freedom to think for himself. This being so, he is now subject to the scientific Inquisition. It's an old story. We always hear about Galileo vs. the Catholic CHurch. But Galileo's fellow scholars rediculed him to no end. Some refused to look through his telescope because they had made up their minds what they would see. Any generation of scientists fixes their devotion upon the most recent theories. They build their reputations and prestige upon they're favored theories and maybe have a book in progress. When new data emmerges that challenges the status quo, current paradigm adherents attack the offending scientist and his theory, to the edge of sanity. Scientific progress is marked by funerals. When the last devotee to a popular theory dies, progress can resume.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Huebert

      If you believe in continental drift you can't believe in a young earth. Or do you believe that the continents have always been in their current position?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Saraswati

      The freedom to think for yourself doesn't mean to think without any bounds of logic or science. Would you accept someone who said "we can't know for sure whether a chimp can go off into a corner and mate with a fruit fly and produce offspring." No, you wouldn't, because there are some things that have been established through science and are accepted as the basis for further research and discussion. When you pick something that is so strongly established as the approximate age of the earth and start talking about doubting that as "free thought" you're rejecting the whole field of science upon which modern scienfific progress is built. You can debate a lot of things, but no, the chemical structure of basic metals, the human need for caloric intake, the fact that genes determine a cat from a dog are not issues up for free thought, unless you want to waste a heck of a lot of time when free thought could be focussed on real issues, like curing desease, exploring Mars and improving the economy.

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

      Despite the grammar errors, you make a valid point. However, some things have already been firmly established and it is highly unlikely that they'll be disproven, ever. Things likes, you know, the fact that the Earth reolves around the sun, the fact that the Earth is round, not flat, and the fact that the Earth is much much older than the 6 – 10K years that creationists say it is.

      Nice try, though.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Which God?

      Prime, your ignorance is showing. There are other books to read. Try one. The mythology department is where your book should be. It is not scientific in any way.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      PN, to hear you blabber, one would think that all scientists agree and never challenge theories their peers espouse. If that's what you think, you're more ignorant about science than you first appeared.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. Mike

    If you cannot understand that the earth is 4.5 billion years old than you cannot understand basic science. How could this ID10T ever be any kind of leader? Who does he want to follow him? Fellow elementary school children? Come on conservatives put forth some candidates with at least two synapses firing up their in that thick skull.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • mechwd2

      Because science is never wrong right?

      The real story here, is how stupid of a question it was. It was an attempt to ensnare him. It was a pointless bogus question and never should have been asked.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why shouldn't it have been asked? It's a perfectly legitimate question. And if Rubio thought that it wasn't, why didn't he just say so instead of spouting off fundie nonsense?

      Science progresses. Theories are tested. Answers change as we learn more. What part of that don't you get?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  5. jtsilver2th

    "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.”

    Scientists are "theologians" in his book of Rubio I guess- it may have little to do with economic growth but it says a lot about the speakers intelligence and their education.

    The fact that this man views "economic growth" as all the voters care about sums it all up. Catholic, to Mormon, to Baptist- I'm not a theologian man but it seems that he could be an expert in differences between theologians after than run- It seems they let their geography pick their church- oh I think I see they selected their church noy based on theology but based on their economic growth,

    I hope to God that the GOP nominates this one. Honestly I think he has about peaked. Not ready for prime time.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  6. Edwin

    You ever noticed how people who believe in creationism look really unevolved?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      It's the "evolved" people I'm interested in. They are still designing drones which send missiles into Iraqi weddings parties.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Huebert


      What do predator drones have to do with anything?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Momof3

      Do you mean the military, that has to be forced to remove religious references from it's training materials, and not tell the soliders going into battle that 'The might of god is on our side"? They are the ones that are designing the drones you are referring to...and also the people that are using them!

      November 20, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  7. Madtown

    “I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.”
    Spoken like a true, and smart, politician. He doesn't want to alienate any potential voting blocks, so he gives somewhat evasive answers.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • jtsilver2th

      Well what the writer ask was his opinion- not for the "answer."

      November 20, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Elphaba

      It might be evasive, but it's also dumb. It's not a great mystery. We have too much solid evidence that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Osiris

      IMO he alienated a large portion of the population. I live in the bible belt (which is not easy as an atheist) and yet most of the Christians I know believe the earth is around the age that most scientists believe it to be. Don't get me wrong, there are people that I was suprised to find dismiss evolution and believe the earth to be less than 10k years old, but they certainly don't make up enough votes to justify making yourself look foolish.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Madtown

      It might be evasive, but it's also dumb. It's not a great mystery.
      I agree with you completely, but I'm not running for office! 🙂 I think he's just doing what he probably has to do to build voter support, as silly as it may be.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  8. derp

    It's actually kind of scary that someone who is considered a legitimate contender for the GOP nomination in 2016 is not willing to admit that the bible has creation wrong.

    What a coward.

    Hutton proved Neptunist theory and biblical creationism as obsolete religious drivel over 200 years ago.

    Why are we even having this conversation?

    And we wonder why the rest of the civilized world is collectively kicking our math and science challenged rear ends while barbarians like Rubio talks about "one of the earths great mysteries".

    It's not a mystery you brain dead neoconservative nitwit.

    It has been clearly explained for two centuries.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  9. Farrok

    There is one problem with the theories of the Earth being 8,000 years, the natural science called Geology, carbon dating/potassium argon dating. Now one is false. Which one is correct: Faith or Science? I have a fossil on my desk top that dates back a million years +

    November 20, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Owlz

      liar! God created the world! He planted fossils as a joke on man....

      November 20, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  10. ScottM

    We need political leaders who are willing to stand up and say they believe in science. Preferring to believe in divine intervention to solve our problems isn't working.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  11. Nancy

    Ok so we can't get this guy out of office, but we can write to the powers that be to get him kicked off the Science, Technology and Space committee! Do it readers!

    November 20, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Which God?

      I agree with you Nancy. This clown has to go. His powers of deductive reasoning fall somewhere between moronic to outright stupidity. On a scale of 1-10, he'd be -6.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  12. Elphaba

    Not to worry. Hillary will defeat any Republican who tries to run in 2016. She wants to leave politics now, but after a few years, she'll miss it and she'll be back. The presidency is the only thing she hasn't accomplished yet, so watch out Marco and any other Republican wannabes; here comes our Hillary!

    November 20, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  13. Michael

    The GOP is an idea whose time has gone.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Badly-Bent

      and gone. . .

      November 20, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  14. The Jackdaw

    Science is a tool by which we understand the universe. It does not have an agenda, although admittedly, sometimes those who use it do. Science is supposed to be empirical; its results repeatable, testable and predictable. When those using science to understand the universe sketch an outline of the history of everything, it is not a guess; it is based in empirical evidence. To dismiss it in favor of “God”, whatever he may look like to you, is to take the easy way out. To say, “God did it” is to tie off all the loose ends you do not understand with a magic wand. I think that in today’s day, with the information that is available to us, we owe it to ourselves to try a little harder than that.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  15. Tim

    LOL...we all know some people who are very literal and we also know there are some who are not and then there are all those in the middle that bounce each way. So, a literal person, when told, the universe was created in six days will believe what our current day standard of a day is. Others will not. I have no problem with anyone not knowing the age of the earth or the universe or...hmmm...where this all came from. What does it really matter other than two five year olds arguing over who is smarter. My life, how we treat each other, who eats today or kills today will not be greatly altered by anyone winning or losing this argument. So, really, in the scope of things, who cares. Whatever I think about what no one can prove and everyone can argue in no way proves my intelligence or lack of. This si simply an argument allowing people not to get along. Big deal. Even if we truly know the age...big deal. What is age...realtive to what and who cares? We are born, we live, we die and that is our life- some longer and some shorter and all the equal the length of a lifetime.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Huebert

      Ultimately you are correct. Knowing the age of the earth or the universe has very little effect on my life, and I could live a happy life never asking these questions. Dogs can have perfectly contented life without ever asking such questions, but that is a dog's life.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Momof3

      I don't think that the actual age of the earth is what a lot of the posters on the thread are concerned about; it's the inability of some of our elected officials to have a rational or logical conversation that concerns people the most. Also, the integrity of our elected officials (on both sides, BTW) that continue to pander to and dumb down the voters in this country in an effort not to alienate any potential voter.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  16. Elphaba

    Science is God's way of telling us He doesn't exist.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Owlz


      November 20, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Tim

      Hmmm.... Seems to me science hopes to determine the noun by studying the verb. Science has been wonderful at unlocking the processes of life as we know it and are able to comprehend it. I picture all of science uncovering much forensic evidence and only able to say this all came from nothing. Someday I suppose we will have to grapple with the concept of nothing and how it may be something.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  17. scientificpoetry

    As long as the republican party embraces the stupidity of the religious right they will continue their downward spiral. You don't have to be a scientist to know that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. You just need to be able to tell the difference between reality (science) and myth (the bible). Being able to read helps too... if a man can understand the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States then surely he can understand some basic scientific facts. I find it amazing that otherwise intelligent people can compartmentalize reality and myth in their minds and not be concerned with reconciling the two.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  18. Florida Politician

    Derp, da urf is 6000 years old, cuz da bible says so. Da bible is duh word uf Gawd and da Jesus. Sciences is duh work uf da devil. Unless I needs medical help, den its a miracle froms god. I don't have a understanding of basic science therefore god.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Durundal

      and you wonder why we lag behind the other civilized nations when it comes to science and mathematics.....Come on folks, how can you read greek and egyptian mythology and go "that is fake", then switch to your bible and go "this is real"- especially since they stole from other mythologies to invent it! How am I supposed to believe in a candidate who invites invisible people as a viable alternative to critical thinking when it comes to policy?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  19. Dino

    "...it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.”

    Way to steer the conversation back in your direction Rubio. It's just more proof that Republican politicians are nothing more than high-profile accountants who feign interest in other issues to get votes.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Saraswati

      I don't know...I'm going to guess that understanding the age of the earth is pretty important in knowing how to predict where to find oil.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • John

      Would you invest in a country's medical industries if almost half the people living there believed in witch doctors? Why should we expect investors to see America as a good place to put their money when so many of our people believe in this junk and actually speak out against our scientists?

      November 20, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  20. Michael

    I just got done talking to God and God told me that it is perfectly okay to believe in God and to actually recognize that math is a science that is legitimate and well founded in scientific and well founded facts. God told me that human beings need to worry more about taking care of their earthly home and our fellow humans than worry about the length of time that it took God to create the universe and all within it. God said to me that each human being needs to worry more about how they are treating themselves and others than forcing their specific belief system on others around them. God ended our conversation by telling me that God will continue to let human beings to be as good or bad as they choose to be and that each of us knows innately where we will end up when we pass on from this planet based on our actions.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Florida Politician

      Proof of your god? By the way, check in with a psychiatrist, talking to yourself is a sign of mental instability.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      Thank you, Michael, for a sane comment.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Which God?

      Which goes to show that Prime has the same mental diease that Micheal has. Religion=mental illness.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • snowboarder

      mike – except we know that you weren't really talking to god and that if you think you did that you are simply delusional.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:10 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73
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.