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. notlongnotshort

    "...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.”

    I agree, but it DOES have something to do with your level of intelligence and whether or not I would vote for you. And clearly, I won't be voting for you.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  2. Ezra

    I guess it doen't matter what your ethnic persuasion is , the GOP is still the party of ignorance.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  3. Joe

    Hmmm, lets go to a leading baptist university's website (Baylor University) and see what it says, probably something like 6,000 years or so right..

    The age of the Earth has been known reasonably well since the 1950s, when geochemist Clair Cameron Patterson of CalTech determined it to be 4.550 billion years +/- 70 million years. This age was based on isotopic dating of 5 meteorites and a representative sample of modern Earth lead from a Pacific deep-sea sediment, all of which plot along a linear isochron on a graph of 207Pb/204Pb versus 206Pb/204Pb (Patterson, 1956). Patterson built upon earlier work by Arthur Holmes, E.K. Gerling and F.G. Houtermans (see Dalrymple, 2001; Lewis, 2000). More recent work has generated ages within Patterson's margin of error.


    November 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  4. Martin

    If Rubio isn't sure if the Earth was created in seven days, he needs to check his Bible.

    Genesis 2:2 "and on the seventh day, he saw that he had completed all he needed to do and rested", to paraphrase.

    Which means that according to The Bible, The Earth was created in SIX days, not in SEVEN.

    Of course, scientists will say about 4.5 billion years, which is what I tend to go with.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • irunner

      Martin, you had me going for a few seconds there. Don't scare me like that! 🙂

      November 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  5. Bob

    A lot of Republicans are smart enough to know Creationism is nonsense, and I think Rubio is one of them. But they're still trying to cater to one of their voting bases. Both Republicans and Democrats rely on the ignorant and uneducated for votes. They just target different groups of them.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Martin

      Unfortunately, I think a lot of Republicans still really do believe in Creationism, and many of them actually serve on the Science Committee.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  6. citizenbychoice

    With this, Marco Rubio is saying Adios to the Presidency, and hopefully to his political career. The evidence is overwhelming from science about the age of the earth and it is not 6K or 9K years. He knows the answer, he is just to cynical to recognize it. Newton proved things that religion did not accept, and before him, Galileo. People in that era were more intelligent than us, because they finally accepted the facts. They were open to learn new things. We are encased in our politics and our religion.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • ComSenseWiz

      If Hilary runs, Rubio is roadkill.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • shelly m

      You believe that being intelligent makes a person right? Well then answer why there are and have been intelligent men and women who believe in creationism. It's really a choice that all of us have..freedom of religion. We shouldn't force our beliefs on anyone, because if we did then we wouldn't be FREE;)

      November 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • JFCanton

      This opinion also rather ignores the fact that the people Rubio was trying not to insult are probably a healthy majority.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  7. Freddy the Canuck

    Goodness! Is it really possible that so many Americans believe the dribble about the earth being less than 10,000 years old? Really? I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise because it is apparent following this year's election than almost half the voting population believed that Romney was a competent choice for President.

    It's really sad that a people who feel they are destined to lead the world (yes, Americans) are so badly being led by such a widespread belief. HALF OF AMERICANS would rather follow and lead, so the world might as well stop waiting for guidance from America.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Ztom

      Therefore it shouldn't surprise you that we are way down the list when it comes to test scores and proficiency in the sciences and mathematics. Hard to believe that people have the gall to deny science, but then complain when our corporations have no choice but to either outsource engineering and other jobs that require high levels of education, or else bring in non-Americans on H1B work visas.

      There are actually some companies still around which would like to hire Americans, but they are seeing an increasingly mediocre applicant pool.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  8. ART

    tIn answer to free pizza rethuglicans are definately not edible in any form or fashion they stick in your craw and cause you to regurgitate

    November 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  9. Blaine Mitchell

    The creation myth in Genisis is a beautiful story. Would it surprise you to know that St. Augustine thought it was a myth too? Being Christian and accepting reality are not at odds with each other if you simply apply a little intellegence.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • niknak

      But if you still have to have your god hypothesis somewhere in the equation, then you are not using any intelligence.
      Free youself from the myth.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • shelly m

      Well said Blaine:)

      November 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  10. James PDX

    The guy didn't try to push either idea on us. He stood behind our right to choose for ourselves. Yet here are my fellow liberals lambasting him simply because he doesn't agree with them. Talk about trying to force your beliefs on another. I'm embarassed by the hypocrisy of those who also call themselves liberals yet act like conservative extremists

    November 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • kenny

      if only i could live in a delusional world where i get to CHOOSE what is fact vs fiction... i think i can fly today so i'll just jump of this building...

      November 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Sen. Rubio is on the Senate Sience and Space Subcommittee. For someone on the science committee, it is disingenuous and pandering to say:

      "Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries."

      November 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      This guy is part of a Subcommittee for Science and Space. If he doesn't know what good science is, then this is a massive problem. His weasly non-answer with allusions to "magic man done it" is pandering bullshit. If this moron doesn't accept science, he has no business being on that committee, and I've already wrote an e-mail to the committee asking for his dismissal.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Dr Tom

      You get to choose your own opinions, but not your own facts.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • James PDX

      @kenny. You do. Jump away, as you thank our forefathers for your right to be ignorant and a red inkblot on the pavement.

      @at not a GOPer, I agree that he's not an ideal candidate for that position, but we can't exclude people based on religious beliefs. So as long as he is doing his job well and not going all Todd Akin on us, his right to that job is protected by the same right that allows you to have your beliefs, too. Maybe as an agnostic I'm just naturally more tolerant than others. 🙂

      November 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • God

      Reality doesn't have multiple, valid views. Either earth was either formed in 6 days within the last 10,000 years, or it formed due to the processes of physics operating under the limits and causes of the universe . There's no possible way that both are correct. We shouldn't teach things that are patently not true; for example, we know the world is more than ten thousand years old. We've found fishing tools and shell-breaking tools more than five times that old. We've found weapons. We've found fossils. We can date the chemicals in the earth with very high accuracy.

      You don't have a right to choose your own reality.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      What within a claim of knowledge, or lack of knowledge (agnosticism) would possibly make someone "more naturally tolerant"? Not to mention that answers a question that no one asked.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • niknak

      Why do you assume that we are all liberals?
      Because we believe in science?
      Facts are facts. The Earth is 4 to 4.5 BILLION years old.
      Rubio is just trying, like a politician, do thread the needle so he can keep getting the support of the fundies.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • trufaldino

      You can believe anything you want. You can believe the world is flat, gravity doesn't exist, the Hale-Bopp comet was the messiah. Be my guest. Just don't teach it as science. It's not, and when you try to promote it as such, you lie. If you feel compelled to lie to firm up your own apparently shaky belief system, don't expect us to baby you along and tell you it's ok. You are not doing that to our kids.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Howie

      This isn't about belief, it is about reality. You can speculate all you want about the eternal soul, but no matter how hard you believe, rocks won't be food, and sand wont be water.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Rubio didn't say what he believed in. There is no question here about const!tutional issues on belief and his participation on the subcommittee. That is a red-herring.

      In any case, he claims to be a Catholic and most Catholics are happy to accept that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.

      Rubio avoided this question by using talking points that pandered to the fundies.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      hawaii, did you tell them you were Catholic?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • momo

      @James PDX
      Let’s not confuse rights with qualifications. I have the right to apply for the chief of surgery job at my local hospital, but seeing as how I don’t know anything about surgery, I’m not exactly qualified for the position. Knowing my qualifications, would you seek treatment at the same hospital if I were given the job? Would you remain silent if you weren’t given the choice to seek treatment elsewhere?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      I told you I'm done with your ignorant, condescending, self-serving idiocy.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • niknak

      Hey, Deacon Blues is back!
      Here to enlighten us on the sky fairy.

      Hey Deacon, have you found that proof of the sky fairy yet?
      We have been waiting for like forever for you to get back to us with it.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  11. Dave

    Actually, the generally accepted age of the universe is 13.7 billion years old. 14.5 billion is a typo (confusion with the age of the earth?)

    November 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  12. Palustris

    Hear, Hear!

    November 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  13. Rich

    Christians: accepting gravity as real, only because they can't find a shred of anything in the Bible to challenge it.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • irunner

      Not to mention dinosaurs!

      November 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  14. Mike from Naples

    Why do you devote so much print to a sensible, balanced response by a Republican to an obvious setup question and ignore crazy uncle Joe Biden's almost daily inanities ?

    November 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • kenny

      you're not very intelligent are you....

      November 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Huebert

      A "sensible balanced response" would be the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. To say that the age of the earth is a great mystery is either ignorance or pandering to the religious right.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Dr Tom

      I love the way when someone give a stupid answer to a question, that they're defended by saying the question was a set-up or a got-cha question, that the asker had now business asking. Here i think the asker was trying to determine how much Rubio was beholden to the religious right. I think that is a legitimate inquiry.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • JFCanton

      What if Rubio doesn't know, though? Our national deficiency in practical science knowledge comes from blue states as well as red. I bet 75% of that Senate science committee would get schooled in raw knowledge by fifth graders who happened to have an interest in the subject.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  15. Don

    The only reason this is controversial is due to our failed education system.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • niknak

      You can lead a fundie to education, but you can't make it learn.
      Does not matter how much evidence there is, they will just clingon to that stupid book with both hands.
      They will never let go, because that means they and their forefathers were wrong.

      And one thing you will never get a repub/fundie to admit, it that they could possibly be wrong.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  16. Erik

    When will the Republican party give me a candidate I can believe in? If he's on the ballot in for years my vote will go elsewhere.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  17. Jesus

    Ohh, ok, so if everyone just decides that the earth is 6,000 years old, then the earth is 6,000 years old? I don't think the creationists understand how facts work.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • niknak

      Well, the Earth would not care.
      Nor the universe.
      Both will just keep on keeping on.
      Fundies, or at least the ones making the money, understand that if you keep repeating the same thing over and over, people will believe it.

      When you are wrong, you have one of two choices, either admit you were wrong (not gonna happen from a fundie).
      Or you have to make everyone else believe in what you believe, then you are right.
      That is what religion has done throughout the centuries.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  18. PurpleHaze26

    Fast forward to 2016 GOP debates...Thw moderator asks "which of you believe in EVOLUTION" ? Does Rubio's hand go up half-way, then back down, then back up half-way ? The amount of ignorance of this country never ceases to amaze me. Religious right continues the Brainwashing of the young. Sad that so many humans cannot face reality without the crutch of religion.
    Granted much good work is performed by religious groups. However – also very devisive not to mention so many wars... carry on...

    November 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  19. Pen is mightier

    Did anyone see the video interview Rubio gave on this very subject? Its posted on the main page of saladandchips.com.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • jim me

      Thanks for the link. Watch that clip, it will make you think twice about voting for Rubio.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  20. Fact Check

    One less clown I do not have to evaluate seriously when I next vote. I appreciate him disclosing his limited IQ now.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Pat

      Quite agree, Jim me, good to know this stuff now. What I pick up from this is that Rubio blows in the wind, like his family. One day a baptist, next a roman catholic. Depending. Heading for another repub candidate with powerful moral convictions. Kind of like that Ratboy Jindal, who switched to catholicism because it plays better than hinduism in the red south.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
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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.