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. Zach

    Why are people getting mad at him? Someone asked him the age of the earth and he pretty much said he didn't know and wasn't in his realm of expertise. Are the people getting mad at him because he is supposed have all the scientific and theological answers as a politician? Scientific answers can be adjusted with new scientific methods/tools, why get mad at him if he is not a scientist. Get over it and do something useful in the world other than complaining on your blog.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      You are missing the point. He is an educated individual seeking a high political office who doesn't know the equivalent of his times tables. Would you want a politician who couldn't multiply two single-digit numbers together?

      November 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • ankenyman

      Like Obama and Biden?

      November 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Johnjnf

      says the person commenting on a blog lol

      November 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  2. BKB

    Religion is the cancer of the Earth.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      But cancer is a pretty successful life form. Memetics, what a b!tch.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Huebert


      Is cancer considered a life form? I thought it was just aberrant cell growth within an organism?

      November 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  3. Anomic Office Drone

    Giving equal time to people who believe the world was literally created in 6 days is like giving equal time to Ahmadinejad when he starts ranting about how the Holocaust didn't happen.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • bbrooker88

      A perfect analogy.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Why the expectation of equal time? It can't take that long to read the first two chapters of Genesis, and after inspection public schools aren't going to be reading the Sumerian creation myth. But maybe that's as long as evolution lessons take in elementary school?

      November 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  4. Headscratcher

    Either he has a very small head or very large hands.
    Oh, and he is a another kook denying science and evolution.
    I have a dream that one day an athiest will become President.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Cameron

      He didn't deny science nor did he confirm it, if you read it he said that it really doesn't matter who is right because it has nothing to do with the current problems the US faces. What does it matter someone's religion as long as they are going to take the country in the right direction? I'm not saying that Rubio is that man only saying he has a point about that.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'He didn't deny science nor did he confirm it'

      he said it was between theologians and a 'great mystery', no mention of science there or what science has determined about age.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Cameron

      And like I said just because he didn't mention them doesn't mean he denied science. And as I said look at the second thing he said in that question, IT DOESN'T MATTER. Which is true it doesn't matter. Does it matter to you if the Earth is 4 billion years old 100 billion or 10 thousand? Probably not really, I know I could care less as it doesn't have any impact on the fact that I'm here now.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'IT DOESN'T MATTER. Which is true it doesn't matter. Does it matter to you if the Earth is 4 billion years old 100 billion or 10 thousand? Probably not really, I know I could care less as it doesn't have any impact on the fact that I'm here now'

      well actually yes it does matter. It matters when the person saying it is on the science committee. It matters when the reason they reject 4.5billion is because of religion. Then yeah it matters.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Pete

      When asked if Earth is 10,000 years old the best answer is: No, why do I look stupid to you?

      November 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  5. Paul Dick

    Creatinism: Man created god(s) in his own image. End of discussion.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  6. nitrous

    What a spine-less tool.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  7. Pappy

    You guys are kidding right? So Rubio didn't know the answer to the question. Neither did I and I'll bet Obama didn't know it either. I'll bet almost nobody knew it. How many of you liberal geniuses could have answered the question?

    November 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Nick

      Yeah, I could have. I am fortunate enough to have received a pretty good education from a public school. Lack of scientific knowledge when you're on the Senate Science committee should be something to be concerned about.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Rob

      I'm neither a liberal, nor a genius, but I could have answered the question easily. The earth is 4.5 billion years old, and the universe is 13.7 billion years old. I've read a couple of books by Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson. That's all it takes.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • The Truth

      100% of thinking people can answer the question he was asked. "“How old do you think the Earth is,”

      He couldn't even answer that simple question.

      Instead he goes on about what other people think which just shows what a spineless politician he really is.

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

      Whether you knew the exact number or not, I would hope you thought it was billions vs. thousands or you should be ashamed.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • hubert39

      I always say.. between 3 billion and 6 billion years old. Give or take a few million years.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Knowing an often repeated fact doesn't make you a genius. It means you read and/or have ears.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • lordpet

      That the solar system and everything in it is 4.5 billion years old? I've known that since I was a little kid. It's the same science that allows for you to post your mindless blather on the internet and isn't up for debate, no matter what the creationists want to tell you. When they wrote the Bible, they didn't even know what stars were.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Carl Neal

      Geez Pappy, not only could I have answered the question, my 12 year old could have answered it too. We're both of just average intelligence. I also can see that you missed the entire point of the story. "10.5 billion years" is not the answer that wins the prize – the point is the "7 days" loses the prize. I doubt that Rubio believes that the Earth was made in 7 24-hour days, but he would shoot himself as a potential Repub candidate if he admitted that he's not living in the 17th century and actually believes in what science has to say. If he were honest then he would lose the Tea Party vote and all of the other mentally-challenged subcultures that have been slapped together to make the current right-wing what it is. He might surprise everone and actually win some left-wing votes (and tons of moderates) by simply saying that the 7 days in the bible aren't litteral days, but are symbolic (after all, how can there be a "day" when there is no Earth? A day is how long it takes the Earth to rotate on its axis...).

      November 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • David Heffron

      I don't believe that GQ was looking for an accurate answer just an approximation. You know, to the nearest billion years.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I'll bet almost nobody knew it.'

      you are kidding me right? i can imagine the religous home schooled not knowing it but no excuse for anyone else.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • George Marshall

      I most certainly could answer it, and anyone who cannot must be uneducated. The universe is estimated, within a few decimal point, to be 137 billion years old, the earth 4.5 to 4.6 billion, and there is fossil evidence of life on earth as far back as 3.4 and possible 3.8 billion years. It's sad if Rubio is considered by Republicans to be their best hope for the next presidential election. Have they learned nothing? He is in the cast of Huckabee, Palin, Bachman, Santorum, Perry , and Gingrich, religious and ideological extremist, none electable.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  8. doc

    The thing is this scientist say there was a big bang...that is also a theory...that is like saying there is no end to space. I say there is but can't prove it...on the other hand lets say a supreme being created everything,,,,what is a day to the being...24 hours or 24 years or 2.4 million years or what? No one really knows...so the debate will continue..but do not judge the individual based on his comment of not being knowledgeable enough to comment on it..

    November 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • ReasonableXX

      You are making a very large false equivalency. On one side of your arguement there is all the facts, obervations, data, and math that have been used to arrive at a rational conclusion. On the other side of your arguement is a book written be ancient desert dwelling nomads with no knowledge of even our most basic scientific principals and discoveries. Those arguements are not 2 equally valid sides of the same coin.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • doc

      Science is not perfect....those things that are used to determine the age of this planet are those of mankind...but as I stated if there is a supreme being what is a day to it??? Can you say there isn't? No not realisticly, but based on your comment you obviously do not believe in a supreme being...fine others do....

      November 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      why would a diety need a 'day'? heck to a diety there would no such thing as a day because they are not going to be living on a planet going around a sun to create a day.
      but again, why would a diety need any form of time span in order to create everything, why wouldnt they just imagine everything and it be instantly created? and why would they then rest?

      November 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'going to be living on a planet going around a sun to create a day'

      I meant 'going to be living on a planet, going around a sun required to create a day'

      November 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • JFCanton

      The initial response also uses a false premise: that the book known as the Bible has anything direct to do with one's belief in a divine being. In our time and place, it -probably- plays a role. But other cultures have other books. And some aspects of any of those beliefs existed before there was a manual.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Pete

      Doc, you should prove god exists before we discuss how long a day is to god.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • doc

      Pete ...Prove that he does not exist

      November 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  9. milottea

    6,000 years old??!!
    Hmmm... dinosaurs?

    November 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There is literally mountains of evidence supporting the theory that humans and dinosaurs lived together.
      For example, just visit the Creation Museum or watch the doc'umentary series "The Flintstones".

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

      Doc Vestibule – the only 'mountain' of evidence is he heaping pile of dung that has been piled up to try to support this nonsense. From FAKE reports to FAKE exhibits, there is not a shred of evidence to support this claim. Come on already, wake up and THINK.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      the good Doc did refer to the Flinstones as his 'docvmentary' source. 😉

      November 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • George Marshall

      Sheer idiocy! There is no evidence that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. The "Creation museum" is a horrible embarrassment.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  10. Bible Clown©

    The guy's stupid. And he's already the 2016 front-runner? Hilarious! Ask him about the boiling point of sulfur next.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  11. Bregsman

    If God can create the world/universe in 6 days, why can't he give 1 clear sign that s/he is real and present? A sign no one could deny instead of a 5,000 year old story. Does God not care enough? Does God prefer to see his 'children' burn in fire for eternity b/c they didn't believe what a pedophile hypocrite priest told them every Sunday? And why would they? That is the loving God you believe in? Would you do that to your kids (excluding any here that belief in honor killings)? I wouldn't worship a god like that even if I knew hell was my fate.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • merlinfire

      If that's all you think religion consists of, you have a warped view of what religion is.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Bregsman

      No, I'm agnostic; I believe in God, I just don't know what s/he is or what they want and I don't think anyone else does either. Science has led me to this belief, which is why it drives me nuts for people to say there has to be a clear line. There doesn't. Math explains God more clearly than the bible ever did. Look up the weak and strong forces...the tiniest bit off and they don't work, which means the universe wouldn't work. Pretty precise for there to be no god. My question was simple and stated in the 1st line.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • JFCanton

      I kinda think the preference of the universe for irony is a pretty convincing sign, in a backhanded way.

      Beer is a good sign, for some people (not me). Cats are a good sign. Chocolate is a good sign. They are all aspects of the beneficial order of nature.

      It's not terribly hard to avoid hypocrites, is it? I guess it depends where you are, but if people find their priests or ministers to be of less than ideal quality, there's always another one down the road.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  12. Derp

    Evolution and gravity are both "just theories" so if you are going to doubt one, you might as well doubt both. Parachutes are for the faithless anyway.

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

      can i have a golden one?

      November 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • willy1505

      That's absolutely untrue. Gravity is a proven scientific theory. Evolution is an hypothesis. You might want to check out a science text book to determine the definitions of both words. There are some very specific criteria that must be met in order for an hypothesis to become scientific theory. Anybody with an ounce of integrity must admit that "evolution" does not pass muster according the generally accepted scientific principles.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • ExPat in Canada

      Humans....??? Always arguing!!! Evolution is The Creation! Try that thought!

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

      willy1505 – BUZZ wrong I'm afraid. Both are considered theories. The theory of gravity was actually proven to be (slightly) wrong by Eisenstein. He provided a refined version. Evolution has yet to be proven incorrect in ANY situation. Under that definition the theory of evolution is even strong than gravity. How ironic.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Huebert


      A scientific theory is an explanation for a set of observed phenomena, supported by evidence. Both the Theory of Evolution, and Gravitational Theory fit that definition to a t. ( or is it to a tea, I was never sure?)

      November 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Evolution and gravity are conceptually very different. Gravity is a simple force whose effects are directly observable. Whether the mechanism is as simple as first thought or not, the function that we call "gravity" is objectively a dead certainty. Evolution is the outcome of a process of which we can only see bits; the effect that we call "evolution" does not happen to all creatures at all times. And we don't truly understand the mechanism; we can only project from what we learn of very simple creatures. So they're not really comparable.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  13. Tower of Babel

    And, woman was made from some ribs and a snake told Eve to eat fruit and eating shellfish is a sin and mixing cotton and wool will get you sent to hell. Balderdash.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  14. raul

    well he said it had nothing to do with gdp or economic growth etc. so clearly he can seperate church from state or is aware of that, and is clearly not into converting people into some ideology. as a cuban american who votes democrat since age of 18. rubio is the typical repub just not as crazy. most cubans ages 50 and up tend to lean rep for eco issues and dem for social. so you can clearly see why he stated that it had nothing to do with economic issues.

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

      i was stating i voted since i was 18 for dems 37 now

      November 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • doc

      Well put

      November 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  15. Reed

    "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." However, unpopular with people who believe in FACTS, and know that teaching mythological creationist is dangerous bs that harms real understanding of what is and progress.

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

      So lets just say both are theories...both unproven so what damage is caused? The only damage caused is that one is taught in school..Neither should be taught...not in a public school...private ok,,,nor in state funded colleges....

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

      doc, they are not 2 equal but opposing views. Not even close. American education has been steadily falling behind the rest of the world and much of it can be traced back directly to this ridiculous line of "thinking."

      November 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • InFormed

      doc, to even consider the two as being on equal footing would be like assuming that Disney movie is an accurate depiction of how animals interact with each other and with humans. Evolution is correct, no one has ever proven otherwise. It's about as close to a fact as you can get. End of story.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • doc

      To those who answered my post....Evolution is still a theory...a belief...has anyone here seen evolution? I doubt it.

      November 21, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @doc, do you understand what a theory is, in scientific terms?

      November 21, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  16. gisthatright

    The question does matter because youre religious and scientific beliefs influence your judgement and decision making. Answer the question PLEASE! We want to see how dumb you are.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  17. Craig Adams MD

    Well so much for the repub's bright star. It is hard watching the continual implosion of the GOP– pathetic.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • evan

      "You reep what you sew." This is what happens when a political party decides to roll religion into their politics and pander to a voting block. Serves em right!

      November 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  18. An Independent Voter

    The Republicans never learn. Anti science, anti women and anti man-made global warming. It is truly sad.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • The Truth

      "Anti science, anti women and anti man-made global warming."

      Answers: God did it, Man is head of wife, God'll clean it up...

      It makes sense when you realize it's what the ignorant and lazy want to hear, thus someone will always capitalize on their need to have their ears tickled and their desire to not change... Too bad scientists are now vocal and have a vote as do women and people living through actual climate change...

      November 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  19. Mike S

    Scientist don't know who old the earth either.. .That have an estimate....
    The 14.5 billion year age of the Universe is also another guesstimate because they have not proved the big bang theory and other scientist disagree on the number of Universes as well.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Tower of Babel

      You're embarrassing yourself.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • ReasonableXX

      If someone asks us to estimate the number of people on the planet and you say, "10" and I say, "7 billion" neither of us is technically exactly correct but one of us is in the ballpark and one of us isn't even close.

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

      YOu are right. WIsh there was someone on hand when the earth formed to write down the date and then we would have known. I am sure the bible has all that worked out very clearly.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • The Truth

      @Reasonable – But all Mike S has to do is find one mathmatics professor to say "It's definately NOT exactly 7 billion!" and he will continue to claim his numbers are just as valid.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  20. david

    I really don't like this Rubio guy at all, and he was afraid of saying which one he believed. He is a wimp!

    November 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • otto

      yet another Republican caught having to pretend there "might" be something real to the Biblical myths from our Judeo-Christian tradition ("its a Mystery"). Wait until the debates when he has to pretend that he believes every literal word in the Bible as when some Bible thumper was allowed to pressure the 2008 candidates for GOP nomination and they all bowed to the Bible as if true.
      I love that he goes to a Baptist church and considers himself a practicing Catholic. A man without a clue.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:14 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.