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. Jerry

    To Sly and Bob: I can only assume that your use of the typical obfuscation emanating from the left means you are not aware that Pres Obama has ever been asked the gotcha question. Are you two guys reporters?

    November 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Sly

      Jerry, I am not a reporter (Bob, are you?), but I am a professional obfuscationer.

      I also have proof that President Obama was actually involved in the Great Fake Dinosauer Bone Burying Conspiracy. As noted, Karl Rove has photo's of the President burying fake bones while golfing in Alaska.

      I feel we should impeach President Obama for Fake Bone Burying.

      But, in all seriousness, I think we all know President Obama is a muslim born in Kenya.

      Hey, where's his Birth Certificate? Huh? I wanna see it again.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Jerry

      I find your evasiveness amusing. No answer? Throw a few rocks at Rove. Surely a man of your obvious intelligence can do better.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Pete

      It is only a gotcha question if you are an idiot.

      November 21, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  2. Joe bob


    November 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Jason

      Ok. But you have to keep your government out of people's churches and religious hospitals as well.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Evangelical

      It's MY government too, and some of us believe that Christianity is the foundation of good government.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • kalo

      @Evangelical It didn't help Rome, in fact it made it even more debotchery-tastic. It won't help us

      November 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • ME II

      "...some of us believe that Christianity is the foundation of good government."
      Unlike Jesus, apparently.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  3. DavidE7

    I am white, educated, and affluent. Yet, I still think Rubio has a point. It seems that he is calling for a little humility about what we think we know. Science is, in fact, provisional, in the sense that our conclusions about the age of the earth are less solid than the observations from which those conclusions are drawn. We are 99% sure that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. But not 100%, because none of us OBSERVED its origins.

    Modern physicists marvel more than anyone about the mysteries of nature. We still don't know something as simple as whether light consists of waves or particles. Better to have a little tolerance for those who understand that science can APPROACH the truth about earth's past, but can never examine WHY the world exists.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • kalo

      And so the thoughts of the bible, or as I like to call it the "One napkin that is the only true napkin because it is said on this napkin." is a better resource than science. This is where I feel there is a disconnect with the rest of my species.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • The Truth

      Then all it would take is for him to say "I'm 99% sure that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, as all current data points to that conclusion."

      Instead he says “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.”

      This is more like saying "We are pretty sure the moon orbits the earth, but our moon might also orbit other planets when we can't see it, I mean, it's really one of the great mysteries..."

      November 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      David, what exactly do you mean when you say that "science can APPROACH the truth about earth's past, but can never examine WHY the world exists." Of COURSE science can, and does, examine the question of why the world exists. And as for your claim that you are white, educated, and affluent – is that supposed to give your opinions more credibility? You're educated – good for you. How far did you go in post-secondary studies, what did you study, and at what insti-tutions?

      It is fine to say we are 99% sure that the Earth is 4.5 billions years old. However, that 1% uncertainly does not then equate to, you must give creationism the same level of respect simply because creationism, like science, is not 100% sure. Because, there is absolutely NO WAY you can justify saying that we are 99% sure that the Earth is 6,000 years old.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  4. kalo

    Just when you thought the GOP was going to change.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • dre


      November 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  5. MikeHess

    *Heavy Sigh* Forty-six percent of Americans disregard freely available and overwhelming scientific evidence. This is so depressing and embarrassing. How can any mind think "God is Infinite" then turn around and lock Him into a tiny little 10,000 year box? Whether we are products of Creation, blind evolution, or something in between, we are deeply flawed products, and we're now carrying around at least three different methods of wiping ourselves off of the face of the planet. Intelligence is going to turn out not to be a survivalist trait.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • PerrythePlatysaurus


      November 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jimmy

      The Universe is really, really big.
      No I mean really, really, really big.
      To be all powerfull God whould have to be omnipresent.
      That means outside space and time.
      So why are we trying to connect God with time???
      And why are we even having this discussion???

      November 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  6. Sly

    I stand corrected – I won't eclipse Wilt the Stilts '10,000' record in my first month in Heaven, since another blogger correctly pointed out that Wilt is already in Heaven, and the record is over 50,000 now.

    People: Do NOT be foolish. Heaven is full of gorgeous teenage virgin chicks, who unfortunately met their Maker before they had a chance to enjoy the fruits of earth.

    And best of all: There are no laws againest banging them in Heaven, in fact, from what I've read about Adam and Eve, the Big fella is kinda a voyeour of sorts.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  7. HPUCK

    Anything to try to prove a religions storytelling. No fact. Controlling the populas. Keep following like sheep and send that money in.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  8. dre

    Great. There goes Rubio, career over.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • intothemoonbeam

      One can only hope. My only concern is he said this too early, he needs to say it again in about 3 years to refresh everyones memory of his ignorance.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  9. Diane

    Just remember, science is always right...the world is flat and the earth is the center of the solar system.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Smarter than ewe

      Just remember believing in God, any God, is not always right. But there actually being one is always wrong.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Huebert

      Did you know Aristotle proved that the earth was round about 2000 years ago?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Cyle

      oh their imaginary gods, i hope you are being sarcastic.

      the earth was determined to be round by the ancient greeks, they even know approximately how big it was. abrahamic dogma told everyone the world was flat, and the romans ran with it when they invented christianity. it took science another 1,000 years to defeat the mindless church doctrine and prove once again that the earth was round.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • ME II

      Science is ultimately tentative and always open to reevaluation based on the evidence.

      As someone said, I think, "Science wins, because it works."

      November 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Diane

      Great, 2000 years ago...so it took 4,499,998,000 years to figure it out?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • ME II

      Well something less than 62 years for Aristotle himself, actually.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Huebert


      Humans have only existed for about 1 million years. Civilization has existed for about 10000, give or take a few thousand. Pythagoras is said to be the first person to postulate a spherical earth around 600 BCE. Three hundred years later, Aristotle was the first known person to use observational data, the changing of position of stars due to traveling south, to support the round earth hypothesis. The fact that you don't appreciate the magnitude of this achievement speaks volumes about your intelect.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  10. gaucho420

    If he's a practicing catholic, why does he attend a Baptist Church? Having attended both in my lives, they're not very similar at all in tone or beliefs. And the Catholic church officially recognizes evolution as real, they beleive is a system made by god. So he's not a catholic...he's a pretend catholic that's actually a protestant.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • ChuckB

      Gaucho, saying Rubio is pretend would be more accurate.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • MikeHess

      Consider the possibility that he does recognize the undeniability of evolution, but can't say so because the majority of his base does not.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  11. hecep

    In the picture: That plastic bottle of water; that microphone; his stupid suit. Science and technology are responsible for those. Perhaps he should be denying all of that along with everything else.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  12. Hal of California

    Another scientifically illiterate Republican Luddite.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  13. Evangelical

    You go Marco! We'll get them in 2016!

    November 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Huebert

      Good luck 😉

      November 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • dre

      Go where? I'm a republican, but I can't vote for him now.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  14. JohnK

    The answer is only a mystery if you are an ignorant bible-thumper.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  15. Bill

    I think he also invented the internet. What a wannabe!!

    November 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • ME II

      Umm, wasn't that gaff originally made by Al Gore, a Democrat?

      November 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Umm, wasn't that gaff originally made by Al Gore, a Democrat?'

      except he never claimed to have invented it, it became a repub joke that he said that. He actually sponsored and pushed the bill that lead to it.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  16. Dum Hycks

    The fact that this is even a discussion should be a national embarassment.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Huebert

      To half of the country it is. To the other half it is a righteous crusade.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  17. hecep

    Bee-You-Tee-Full!!! As long as the insular and behind-the-times GOP keeps this sort of thing up, the rest of us will know who not to vote for.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  18. jfoster13

    Under Republicans we can forget about falling behind in science, there will be a giant chasm with dumb people in it.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  19. abbydelabbey

    Rubio? A wannabee "player" - he'll say anything for attention and votes... Another Romney

    November 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  20. Bob

    Bible banging moron

    November 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.