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. Paul

    And on the 8th day, God created idiots like this one, so that the rest of mankind would always have someone to laugh at.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  2. J.R.

    It does not surprise me the GOP attracts creationist, evangelicals, and other religious Taliban types. No wonder they lost the last election. They are out of touch with reality. If you don’t understand evolution, you probably don’t understand how a remote control, PC, an automobile or a microwave works. Ignorance can offer bliss sometimes. Evolution is no longer a theory although it was a long time ago. It’s mostly still called a theory now as that part of the name has stuck for mass use. Look up words like theory, fact, manifest fact, scientific process, evolution, etc. and educate yourself. The Roman Catholic Church accepted evolution as not contrary to their type of religious dogma some time ago when Pope Pius XII indicated there was no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and evolution. Evolution is taught in Catholic schools around the world today. Keep up on your science please. Religious fanatics, those who believe in magic or otherwise ignore science should move to some cave in Afghanistan where they don’t have to deal with science. Perhaps Mr. Rubio and most of the GOP should join them.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • gf

      Your short-sighted and limited view of history is ridiculous. In history, parties have gone back and forth in who wins. It's reporters looking for a story that start asking stupid questions just to get a response that will bring controversy. Nobody really knows how old the earth is, it's a guess by "scientists". 45 billion years, 25 billion years, 60 billions years ... those are vastly different numbers. They just use such big numbers to say, "Hey, I was close, I was in the billions". But we don't know, we can't slice through it like a tree and count regular earth rings. And in the end, people aren't concerned with this, we're concerned with: 1. Jobs & Economy, 2. Debt, 3. Security & our enemies, 4. Our own freedom & liberties. I care most if the leader can address those issues.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Step 1: Attack the intelligence of the disbeliever
      Step 2: Set up a strawman to enforce your ideas
      Step 3: Move the goal post before they can really explain
      Step 4: Profit

      Typical misleading attempt to equate operational science with historical science. This only creates a stumbling block for the uniformed and truly unintelligent.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      "Nobody really knows how old the earth is, it's a guess by "scientists". 45 billion years, 25 billion years, 60 billions years ... those are vastly different numbers."

      Vastly different from <10,000 years wouldn't you say? I think that's the point. And our best guess it's 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years, by the way. These numbers haven't changed much since 1953.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • nadinesh

      @gf: So (to paraphrase Jon Stewart) you're saying there IS a chance the Earth was created in 7 days? 🙂 (What ARE you sayin' man?)

      November 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  3. Voice of Reason

    Just what we need, another mindless politician pandering for Christian right votes and calling it "leadership." Woe to us. If the Christian right wins, this country is doomed.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  4. thecentrist

    Only in America the following questions have no answers:
    1. How old is the Earth?
    2. Is Global Warming for real and is caused by humans?
    3. Do guns take lives or save lives?

    Our mediocre politicians are leading us down a path to global obsolecense, while other countries, where these questions have clear and definitive answers, are getting ahead.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Which other countries? The truism is that our tech jobs are filled by immigrants from India and Asia, but that's the cream of their crop-I really don't think we want our general population to have the same education level as the general population of India.

      Most of the progressive countries are demographic wormholes. That might be great for their environment, and it creates some additional opportunity for immigrants to become well educated, but the actual efficacy of that seems to be limited with European immigrant populations.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  5. Maura

    Wow, I have never heard anyone say they are a Baptist practicing Catholic.

    Maybe he's bi-polar too.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Apatheist

      And don't forget, he used to be LDS too...

      November 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  6. aaron

    Just what is needed, another politicians to spend taxpayer money fighting in court to get creationism back in school. The efforts always fail and take money away from actually educating the students.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  7. was blind, but now I see

    Compare these two verses and the Hebrew word definitions:

    For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [], he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
    (Isaiah 45:18 KJV)

    "And the earth was without form [], and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
    (Genesis 1:2 KJV)

    Isaiah 45:18 tells us that the Lord God did NOT originally create the Earth in such a desolate condition. The word "vain" in Isaiah 45:18 and the term "without form" in Genesis 1:2 are from the same Hebrew word (tohuw). These verses by themselves, when rightly-divided in either language, destroy the core premise of Young Earth Creationism. Genesis 1:2 compared with Isaiah 45:18 rules out God initially making the Earth as a formless mud ball, then turning on the work lights and starting the decorating process.

    As the verse clearly says, the Earth is already there. Although it is "without form and void" on the surface of the planet and covered in waters, it is most certainly already the formed planet Earth. It even has a name...it's called THE EARTH. The presence of water, in either liquid form or ice (or both), tells us that this planet already has some form of an atmosphere. Since nowhere else in the Genesis narrative does the Spirit tell about God establishing the Earth's geologic structure, we can safely assume that the planet's crust, mantle, and core structure are already fully differentiated. There is already nuclear decay in the mantle producing the heat that drives the Earth's tectonic and volcanic processes. And the dynamo at the Earth's core was already generating the magnetic field which protects the Earth's surface from lethal radiation from outer space. Oh yes, and outer space is already there too because the Earth is in space rotating on its axis on a 24 hour clock (the evening and the morning).

    see much, much more at kjvbible. org / gap

    November 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  8. trufaldino

    By trying to inject religion into science, the fundamentalists are diminishing respect for religion. By setting the bible up as a something that must be read literally and believed absolutely, they invite people to reject it absolutely. What makes the fundamentalists do this? My guess is pride and arrogance: the belief that they personally have got a handle on the mind of God and can disregard everything contrary to their belief. Rubio is pandering to that, assuming Rubio is getting the Romney assumption: that he doesn't really believe the crazy stuff he says.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • nadinesh

      Of course he doesn't believe it. He's just pandering to the suckers who do. That's why he's waffling. Otherwise he'd just come out and say that this big white man in the sky spat out a few humans about 7,000 years ago. (And I mean no disrespect to the divine in saying that - just disrespect for their anthropomorphic view of the divine.)

      November 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  9. Harald

    "Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years"
    Wooowww, this means that at least 46 % of Americans are dumb.......an astonishing number for a first world country !!

    November 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  10. Veritas

    I am a Christian and I am also an evolutionist. Just because you are a Chrisitian, doesn't mean you have to be an idiot. The earth is 4.5 billion years old; there is no debate or gray area in that number. The Bible is valuable for instruction in faith and morality. It was never intended to be a science textbook, nor should it ever be used as one.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Paul

      FINALLY, someone with a spark of intelligence!

      November 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • aaron

      Amen from those of us who believe in creationism, but also do not turn a blind eye to the obvious scientific evidence, which includes evolution.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      and 32% of Americans essentially share this same viewpoint.

      The question is, why don't more people in this country think the way you do?

      November 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Agreed. Veritas. It's too bad that so many of the Christians posting here are of the fundamentalist variety and make all the rest look bad.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      "Just because you are a Chrisitian, doesn't mean you have to be an idiot."
      You just responded to God's Own Party...lol

      November 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Because they do not compromise on the word of God. Its only logical that if you believe the bible to be the word of God (who can not lie or mislead), you believe it will all your heart, mind and soul. If something contradicts the word of God, it can not (by God's very nature) be true.

      Its a scary thought, isn't it? To have people that believe so deeply in something that you can not sway them from their beliefs? And, always at the back of your mind, "Can they be right? No, no, no. They cant!"

      We'll all see, one way or another, who is right. But then, what will it matter?

      November 20, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Notevangelical

      Veritas, I'm with you 100%. The Bible answers "why" and "who" and Science answers "how", "what", "where", and "when". They are different things, they answer the same question in different ways, and ultimately both are searching for Truth with a capital "T". Creationism taken to it's extreme is both bad science and bad theology. Anybody who has the chutzpah to say "God did it THIS way" is in dangerous territory. God is, after all, God. Any God that is small enough to fit into my limited understanding is only a shadow of what God truly IS.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Because they do not compromise on the word of God."

      No, Jonny. Because they choose to use the bible as a source of accurate science when it isn't.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • nadinesh

      @Veritas. Boy do I agree. Not only am I tired of the stubborn ignorance itself, but I'm tired of the image it gives to anybody of faith - that we're nitwits.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Jonathan


      The bible is not a scientific textbook. I agree with that. However, I am arguing from the side of internal consistancy so that perhaps you can see why certain people choose to disbelieve the 'proven' science of long ages. Suspend disbelief for a moment, if you still retain the imagination required to do so.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • nadinesh

      @Jonathan: I think the little cricket on your should that you are describing is entirely your own problem - I mean this creeping fear that the literal scriptures describe the creation of the universe. Personally, I don't have this worry - although I have plenty of others. It is at *best* some sort of poetical approximation; at semi-best, a lousy translation; at semi-worst a garbling of an even earlier scripture; and at worst, a fiction that went as far as the imaginations of that scientifically unsophisticated time could go.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  11. labman57

    It's not a question of religious freedom or the right to express one's faith.

    People have the right to believe in the tooth fairy ... but I wouldn't want one of them to be my dentist.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  12. Rocinante

    Consider that Evolution is how the Creation was propagated.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  13. Some Dude

    CNN, The Universe isn't 14.5 Billion years old. It is 13.7 Billion years old. At least that is the current consensus among peer reviewed literature (on which "most scientists agree"). You guys don't have to post my comments, just please have your science department take a second a look at that number and change it. Thanks!

    November 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • David

      ...uh, at that point, does it really matter?

      November 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Also, to compare it to this debate about the age of the earth, that number is way, way more speculative. It is dependent on the correctness of theories that are almost certainly only provable "in theory." With the age of the Earth we can at least cross-check a number of different radiological dating methods.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  14. Tom

    I knew some republicans once that were very intelligent and highly educated. They must be embarrassed to tears at what the GOP has become.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • ralph rodgers

      Cnn is so funny how they post this crap but fail to post or bring up Hank Johnson who asked if gitmo would tip over..


      kinda funny no one is saying how stupid he is or when Obama said he visited 57 states.. its kind selective journalism.. you liberals drink the kool aide

      November 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ralph rogers

      everyone did make fun of Obama's 57 state gaffe. And it was obviously unintentional.

      What we have here is deliberate intellectual dishonesty. Rubio refused to answer this question and pandered to the fundie viewpoint that creationism is a viable alternative to science.

      He is on the Senate Subcommitte for Science and Space and is acting the same way as candidate Rmoney – a shapeshifter trying to be whatever he thinks 2016 voters want him to be.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Jim

      As a registered Republican, I completely agree with your comment.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  15. NauticalMan

    What would we expect from a member or the Know Nothing, Anti-Science party!

    November 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  16. 3rd Generation Ex-Catholic

    How Dare You, Marco Rubio. How dare you Cubans come to this country and try to tell people who actually belong here that now we have to live under your bible rules. How dare you try to elevate your creationistic nonsense to a co-equal stature with the science supporting evolution, because you don't understand the meaning of the word "theory"

    November 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  17. Avi

    Good loser material out here. Anybody interested in investing their personal wealth of $50 million on Rubio yet?? Oh well, we have 3 more years before that I guess. Too bad.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  18. Thomas

    They fail to mention he is a member if the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the Science and Space Subcommittee and the Select Committee on Intellegence. Sleep well America.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Paul

      I weep for this nation, now that the proudly ignorant have become the majority. It's only a matter of time before Science will become a dirty word.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  19. God

    Who cares. Just stop messing the place up.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  20. vic

    Evolutionists evolved from monkeys. Their unscientific theories prove that. They can can shout that it is a fact, but can provide no proof. That is why none of the commentators cite any. Their is no discrepancy between true science and the Bible.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Seriously

      Actually , man evolved from apes with a common ancestor to monkeys. Get back to class.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Ed

      The evidence is mountainous, ever growing, and essentially undeniable. Those that still deny evolution do so by remaining wilfully ignorant of the science that supports the theory. Denying evolution is tantamount to insisting the earth is flat. It just makes you look dumb.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • nadinesh

      There's so much proof that it's staggering!!! Repeating stuff over & over again may work with prayer, but it's perfectly useless at any rational pursuit. Have you ever read anything at all?

      November 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • sigmundfreud

      Nice try, vic. You have just shown that you know nothing about science, and your knowledge of written English isn't much better. Congratulations! You're fit to be a fundamentalist preacher, a Republican congressman, or a Fox News broadcaster.

      Next time, pay more attention in your kindergarten class.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • David

      The role of science actually is not to prove anything, but merely to disprove. Even gravity is considered a theory because it has not been "proven" everywhere in the universe, hence, it is still only a theory. Evolution, like almost all scientific theory, is 99% certain and that's about as good as one can get. We see evolution at-play daily. It is not that difficult to understand. For the educated.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • nadinesh

      What's astonishing to me (a NON-atheist) is that 46% (!) of Americans claim to believe humans were created 6-10 thousand years ago. No wonder this country is falling to pieces. People can't read; people can't write; people can't add; people don't know the puniest basics of science. We can't even find Americans to be engineers–most of our excellent schools of Engineering are filled with people with passports from other countries–like China. How can you have a great country when almost half of its populace is essentially illiterate?

      November 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      yes, it is truly amazing. The worst thing is that they want to be ignorant and stupid, even after being taught science in school.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      I find it interesting that sky wizard beleivers cradle their ignorance tightly...forcing the masses backwards toward a 3rd world coutnry or tribal type thought process. I have to wonder when Christians hear thunder do they think their sky wizard is mad??????

      November 20, 2012 at 6:40 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.