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. Dulaney Ward

    It's bad enough that Rubio can take such a position, but for CNN to say that "left-wing blogs" have criticized Rubio's comments, well, that is just totally disgusting. Since when has it taken a "left-wing" blogger to question such a comment? I fear that America will be doomed to fourth-class status by such thought.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • otto

      who else but left wing bloggers would have even noticed that Rubio played that little dance between reality and the dominant paradigm in Florida?

      November 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • AndyInAtl

      That's because the atheists are in very small minority, as they should be. Scientists have no clue and only have endless theories that keep changing. So to push on Rubio that he said "nobody really knows for sure" is really dumb, as nobody does know this for sure.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • InFormed

      AndyInAtl, I would listen to a scientist ANY DAY rather than a dimwit politician who knows NOTHING of the world. At least science is willing to question and consider reason, religion crushes all questioning and kills reason. Trying to support the 'nobody knows for sure' is a pointless position to take on this matter. How do you know that I am a person and not a computer. How do you know for sure that you even exist? Come on and grow up.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Scientists have no clue and only have endless theories that keep changing'

      Thing is this statement is a complete and utter lie.
      They do have a clue as to the age. You can claim its wrong but dont try to claim they dont have a clue.
      And no they dont have endless theories about the age of the universe or the earth that keeps changing either.

      At the end of the day just remember this before you post next time.....bearing false witness is a commandment, to do so is apparently a big no-no

      November 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  2. Wade

    The bible is NOT a science book, nor is it an accurate representation of true human history or earth history... It is however, THE TRUTH....on how to live our lives.

    Why does everything in the evangelical movement have to be black and white? Is it because Jesus and God always made things black and white? I don't know. I just know that I am a Christian... with an engineering degree, and I know there are a lot of myths iand errors n the bible.. For Christ's sake... they even mention the same series of so-and-so begat so-and-so multiple times IN DIFFERENT ERAS... hundreds of years apart... because they COPIED excepts from other's writings. The bible might be inspired by God, but it was not written by the hand of God because of all the mistakes. Can't people think for themselves and see that SCIENCE is FACT (allows for change as time goes on based on expanded knowledge) whereas faith is a belief system. Oh well... sounds like this politician was afraid to speak his mind...whichever way it is.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  3. Whatever

    The only thing ancient here is the GOP's way of thinking. The Tea Party & GOP has something in common with ancient earth- dinosaurs.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  4. Reasonably

    "Mr. Rubio – what do you think about all the other galaxies and planets we can now see via new telescopes?"

    "It's a mystery"

    "Mr. Rubio – what is your opinion on climate change?"

    "It's a mystery"

    "Mr. Rubio – why would anyone vote for you?"

    It's a mystery.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  5. Matthew

    The Bible doesn't say how old the earth is. The age of the earth has nothing to do with proving or disproving creationism.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Veritas

      Christian fundies determine the age of the earth by adding up the lineage from Adam and Eve etc etc and end up with 6,000 years. It's just a fairy tale book of course, so it doesn't really matter.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Matthew

      I'm a Christian and I believe in Creation. The fact remains that the Bible doesn't say how old the earth is. Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." It never says Adam and Eve were in the beginning. In Genesis 1:28, God told Adam & Eve to replenish the earth. It's not possible to replenish something that has just begun.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  6. Reasonably

    Looks like the GOP platform will only get more ridiculous. Time to change parties.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Mobius333

    6,000 years old?

    It's truly sad that anyone can believe such nonsense.

    It makes you wonder how long it took before people fully abandoned the "Earth centered universe" concept – hopefully he doesn't believe that as well!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Wade

      True! they probably said something like "God is making it look like we go around the Sun just to fool the non-believers." WHich is the same crap I hear where people say dinosaur bones were planted there by God as a test to our faith. Give me a break.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  8. Rock of Ages

    Senator Rubio should perhaps read the Bible more carefully: it does not state the age of the Earth. Science, on the other hand, does: 4.5 billion years. There's no "great mystery" about it all. Heck, the Bible doesn't even say where the wives of Caine and Abel came from, so why would anyone think it's a complete account of the history of the Earth? This is the 21st century, not the 1st. Time to embrace the realities revealed by science, not religious folklore that doesn't stand up to questioning. Senator Rubio, do the voters a favor: resign and return to private life. The only "great mystery" is why anyone voted for you.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • jimbojones

      Retire and be replaced by whom, exactly? You people are as stupid as the creationists. No one supporting the right will ever simply "retire and go into private life."

      November 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Bravo

      Well said sir. Bravo

      November 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  9. Dave in Arizona

    Just another sign that instead of progressing with the rest of America, the GOP will "double down" on the beliefs and goals that make them backward, feeding radicalism even more.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  10. Glenn

    not sure how this question even came to be asked, but once again, the pandering to Iowans has begun right after the election.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  11. Special Ed

    The question now is... Will Donald Trump demand to see the Earth's birth certificate?

    November 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Bregsman

      Hehehe, that's funny, but I really hope he just keeps his big mouth shut!

      November 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Rock of Ages


      November 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • David

      Love it! I'm going to be chuckling over that one all day.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • DougNJ

      Spot on

      November 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  12. josh rogen

    if it's okay for people to believe in man made global warming, then it's okay for them to believe the earth is only 6000 years old, since both are factious cultist beliefs. but should we elect any of these nuts president? some say we already have!!!!!!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Glenn

      believing in man made climate change is cultist? my goodness, that may be the dumbest thing not said by someone named Trump this week

      November 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • J Tru

      So, 95% of scientists agreeing that something is factual based on using the scientific method is the same as some nuts saying the Earth is 6,000 years old without any proof? Please go back to school.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  13. Sigh

    Theists: Believe that an unseen being created everything, wants humanity to act in a certain way and will punish/reward people for their choices during a brief mortal period. This being refuses to reveal itself and expects people to act on faith based on the archaic teachings of their ancestors
    Atheism: Believe that the a cosmic accident resulted in an ordered universe and that all current life evolved from a primordial ooze. Your life and actions are ultimately meaningless, free will is an illusion and when you die you cease to exist.

    Either could be right, yet both are ridiculous, as are their overly zealous adherents.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Ancient Alens

      Wrong on so many levels. Your definition of atheism is sooo far off the mark its laughable. Good try troll.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • no my friend

      That is incorrect.

      Theism – the belief in god(s).

      Atheism – the belief that no gods exist.

      That's all these terms mean.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Old Sailor

      You neglect us agnostics – who just don't care if god exists or not!

      November 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Ticktockman

      It must be tough having no position of your own on anything. Especially since you then spend so much criticizing those that do.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Sigh

      Got the 'm' instead of 't' on atheist, but it's laughable some of you think it's wrong (or that some of you trolls have the stones to accuse others of being trolls). And I didn't forget about agnostics, I just don't find them to be ridiculous.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  14. champ

    Its disgusting how liberals jump on 1 version of christian thought.

    the 7 24 hour day creation theory is not supported by many christians. that belief is a tiny minority.

    Rubio's refusal to square his metaphysical beliefs with known science is not news. The same smear tactic could be used on anyone who believes in any religion, santa claus, karma, spaghetti monster, etc.

    Obama could be confronted on his supposed belief in jesus. Obama's stated religion denies known science about death and resurrection.

    Attacking someone over an obscure point of possible disagreement between science and faith is grotesque. Its a non-issue as long as the politician in question doesnt base his politics on the conflicting faith.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Veritas

      "Christians" cherry pick what they want to believe in the bible (New and Old Testament). Pretty convenient I guess. Organized religions and the associated dogma are funny.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Rubio's evasive answer says all we need to know.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Bregsman

      46% is not a tiny minority; it's darn freaking scary! I love how we choose which science to believe, based on what our religious leaders tell us. I think each church should post a list of accepted science and pure balogney science, then we can balance our religion and acceptance of science evenly 🙂 Let's hope the church doesn't start calling doctors 'witches' or something b/c 1/2 the country would stop going to see them...hmm, I guess just the ignorant 1/2...

      November 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • DougNJ

      Bible has two different takes on creation. In garden of Eden the order of things created is completely different than in the six day plan. in the 6 day plan man is last made, in Eden Adam is first, duhhh. In new test Matthew and Luke have radically different number and names for Jesus ancestors. etc

      November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  15. dannymetro

    I'm glad that he wasn't asked the hard question, whelther if he thought the earth was round or flat.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • undertread

      ikr...it's not even a mystery, the earth's age is 4.54 billion years +/- 1% margin for error. period. end of.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  16. Man cannot create only invent! To create is call something not being as being! This is God.

    If God can't create the earth in 6 days, because He rested on the 7th, then He wouldn't be God. However, the account in Genesis is an account of restoration. There are billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. If you're interested in reading more about it, I'd recommend reading the first few chapters of GH Pembers "Earth's Earliest Ages."

    November 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Ancient Alens

      I recommend you take a basic science course, or introduction to geology, or an anthropology class.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Andrew

      i don't read fiction.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  17. M. Meyers

    God must be the biggest practical joker ever. He went to great pains to bury bones, fake erosion etc, just to fool scientist.

    To deny one science (evolution) is to deny all science like Geology, Astronomy, etc. Walk away from your computer and put down you cell phones, they can't work just as planes can't fly. They are all based upon Scientific Theory. For the uneducated, Scientific Theory is based upon facts and that is why they do work.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  18. Barnum

    85% of people are suckers is what i get from this article. I AM GOING TO BE RICH!!!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  19. Special Ed

    So a reporter seeking to start a phony controversy asks a question that nobody could accurately answer and then CNN claims Rubio is "weighing in" in an attempt to paint him as extreme. Why not just ask him the meaning of life or to define love? Foolishness.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Huebert

      I have known the answer to that question since 5th grade. The earth is about 4.5 billion years old, give or take a few million years. This is elementary level science.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • ReasonableXX

      The age of the Earth/Universe has an answer that is based on facts. The estimated age of the Earth is exremely accurate and the Universe's age is not that far off either. On those timescales, a few million years here and there are meaningless and have little impact.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Which God?

      @SE. I guess you did flunk special ed.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Special Ed

      Reasonable... So the estimated age is extremely accurate. I think this statement speaks for itself.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • ReasonableXX

      Special Ed, your name is fitting. You have very little comprehension of the size of the numbers being dealt with or have math and statistics work. Yes the estimated age is extremely accurate. When dealing in billions of years you obviously can't say, "oh the earth was created on this date." You can get within a statistically insignificant range which is highly accurate and no where near the ball park of 6000 years.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Special Ed

      So reasonable, I'm of the impression that you made this discovery or have verified the claim through your own scientific analysis. If not, then it seems that you are demonstrating faith. Scientists once knew the Earth was the center of the Universe as well. Oh to be so wise!

      November 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Mike T

      Special Ed – No, most of us haven't done the work themselves. A lot of this is really rocket science. However, there are a number of very, very intelligent people who ARE working on this. They do such things as research and observe data, postulate what it means, and then submit it to a review process that lets other very, very intelligent people attempt to poke holes in their ideas. Ideas that survive this process are generally very accurate. Is it possible that some new information will come up that will invalidate those ideas? Yes, but it is very unlikely. I would much rather have faith in that type of information than in unsubstantiated oral traditions passed down by middle eastern goat herders 4 thousand years ago.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • DougNJ

      SpecEd, I doubt any scientist claimed earth centric solar system. Ptolemy did some calculating in that realm but he was hardly a scientist, more a philosopher. Copernicus wrote of heliocentric and Galileo got in trouble for it. Good thing Pope JohnPaul 2 un-excommunicated Galileo in the 1990's.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Scientists once knew the Earth was the center of the Universe as well'

      why do people insist on claiming that because there was a claim in the past it must therefore mean science is wrong today? If you want to use that example then I can point out the religion continued to believe that claim after science was saying it wasnt.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  20. Dazagil

    Yeah, Rubio sounds dumb but the link imploring me to read this story read "Marco Rubio weighs in on Earth's age". He didn't exactly weigh in. He started his quote by saying he's not a scientist. And the reason he was commenting was because a reporter asked his opinion. He didn't really "weigh in", just answered the question he was asked.
    If folks are saying, "yikes it's scary a senator is that ignorant", they have a point. But if they're saying he shouldn't talk about that subject since he doesn't know about it, well that isn't his fault. I'm from Florida. Lots of my neighbors are way too dumb to answer this question in a way that wouldn't embarrass us all. I suppose I'd know enough to say, "I don't know but I'm betting on science and whatever age they estimate has the greatest possibility of being right."

    November 20, 2012 at 3:45 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.