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. 2357

    God's creation is catastrophically fast. God's destruction takes an eon, sometimes a lifetime. We cannot understand it, because we mortals do precisely the opposite.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Did this post make sense to you when you vomited it out? Because if so, you're delusional and should be medicated promptly.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • End Religion

      His fascination with prime numbers distracts him from his religious delusion which distracts him from reality. It can be tough to form cohesive sentences under such a chain of duress.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  2. phearis

    OMG! Does this guy wear a bicycle helmet 24/7?? It's a proven fact that the Earth is 4.54 Billion Years old, and it is also a proven fact that 'this' Universe is 13.75 Billion years old. Suggesting anything else is laughable.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  3. steve-o

    Yea!The Tea Party deny reality. Put your head in the sand and believe bull--the tea party motto.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  4. candskeuning@bellnet.ca

    What paranoia there is out here in comment land. What are you all afraid of? The man was asked his opinion. He has one on creation theory vs evolution theory. Why do people get their nose so out of joint about this? Could it be the finger of God is pressing hard on your conscience and you feel that almighty pressure?

    November 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      No, he was asked about the age of the earth, not evolution. To say that the earth was created in seven days or in seven eras is akin to saying that algebra works by counting Popsicle sticks on kindergarten floor.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • steve-o

      Because you are stupid and allowed to vote. The earth is billions of years old–if you deny this you are an idiot. You are an idiot...you are an idiot...you are an idiot. Pack your bags dummy, this isn't your country anymore...move to Iran where idiots like you flourish.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • rational minnesota

      No, it's not paranoia. It's the fact that people like Rubio, people who are apparently unable to weigh the validity and strength of scientific evidence (and the rigorous testing and verification required of it) versus "biblical" evidence (which, of course, isn't evidence at all since it isn't testable, verifiable, or falsifiable) continue to occupy positions of power.

      Other than an absolute refusal to accept reality, there is NO reason to think the earth is young. His "great mystery" ploy is simply an attempt to make the uneducated think he's being open-minded and wise. He's not. Mountains of evidence lead to an old earth conclusion. He claims this is not enough, that it's still a mystery, yet believes in what he's told by a 2,000+ year-old book. That's not intelligent or wise. It's delusional.

      The bottom line is that anyone who thinks the earth is as young as a literal interpretation of the bible suggests is incapable of using logic or sound reasoning and should be excluded from any position that requires decision-making skill.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see


      "Because you are stupid and allowed to vote. The earth is billions of years old–if you deny this you are an idiot. You are an idiot...you are an idiot...you are an idiot. Pack your bags dummy, this isn't your country anymore...move to Iran where idiots like you flourish."

      Venom like this routinely coming from the ultra-compassionate and tolerant crowd. That is perhaps the most amazing thing of all!

      November 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  5. John

    What an ass

    November 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  6. was blind, but now I see

    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.

    This idiot doesn't even understand that there are several (many of them vastly more plausible than the two that the authors allude to) additional earth age theories out there. Yet, somehow, they feel themselves to be qualified to write an article on the subject. Amazing!

    November 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'm sure they're just panting at the idea that YOU might be able to advise them on their lack of knowledge, blind. I'm sure they'll be calling you any minute now; no, no, they'll be beating a path to your very door for your immense insight on this issue.

      That's why you're sitting on your azz typing your tripe on an anonymous board.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Thanks for explaining to us why you are here, TTPD. Where were all truly concerned.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "TTPD?" "Where were all truly concerned."

      Need I say more? Idiots abound and still blind is one of the most outstanding in the field. Which is where he should be: out standing in a field.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Yea, TTPD. Or are you a male today?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  7. Tim

    There's a number of very good reasons that church and state should be separate. Forcing one narrow view of religion on people, and especially students is wrong on many levels. Like it or not, we live in a diverse multi religion society with many beliefs, so if parents want to send their kids to a religious school that teaches Creationism, then that's their choice. Putting it on the curriculum in public schools is an imposition of an extreme view of religion on everyone. This absurd policy is already at schools in parts of Texas. It is ironic that some Republicans who trumpet freedom actually have more in common with the Taliban than the vast majority of Americans. This kind of medievalism should have ended with the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades, but it is alive and well in people like Rubio. I will always vote to make sure that he and others like him are kept out of public office.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  8. Simon Cohen

    The same people believe in heaven and hell. There is also 25% believing that Elvis is still around, and a certain percentage believing that the earth is flat. You really can't argue with true believers.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  9. Bob W

    If he gets any dumber he'll need to wear a helmet.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  10. Libertarian Atheist

    As an aside, I want you all to know how good it makes me feel to mock and belittle others. Wow, what a rush. #betterthanyou

    November 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  11. wildthing

    Holy Moley!

    November 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  12. billiamhe

    This just goes to prove a few things...
    A: Politics and Religion should have no place together and should hence forth be legally separated and have all of their assets split equally.
    B: Whoever this blogger is seems to use the term "liberal" and a very liberal and spiteful tense. I know quite a few liberals who share both an idea of science and religion and have found a happy medium.
    C: Politicians with heavy faith based campaigns always flip-flop. IE, "I'm not a scientist, man." or his not knowing whether he believes the scientific aspect or the religious aspect. He will not take a stand on one side of the fence or the other because simply, politicians never tell the truth about themselves.

    So let's agree to disagree that this Rubio guy, like the great majority of politicians, is just a fence sitter and will never tell the truth about anything personal. So now can we move on to actual newsworthy issues and stop forcefeeding people "religion vs. science" claptrap?K?

    November 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  13. incredulous

    t = 1/lamda*ln(1 + D*/P)

    November 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  14. Libertarian Atheist

    How does one get through law school, and still believe a planet was created in a week? Seriously, is this guy really nuts, or is he just pandering to the backwoods knuckle draggers in his party that he is forced to cater to?

    November 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Dave

      Nothing wrong with teaching creationism .... in Sunday School.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, gf claims to have a master's degree, and he apparently agrees with Rubio. So.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • plenty


      November 20, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • DiggFerkel

      The planet created in just one week? HaHaHa!!
      I bet the next thing people believe is that the universe was created in 1 x 10^-43 second!

      People believe what they're told. Not what they understand.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • gf


      What I agree with is that when we get fixed onto one thing that is really beyond the possibility of us knowing definitively, we neglect the opportunity for discovery. That traps us into a stagnant state that I find quite uncomfortable, and is quite frankly dangerous to our progress and advancement.

      In my studies of epidemiology (emphasis on discovery), we studied those who questioned the status quo and thus had the opportunity for amazing discoveries (as with John Snow or Carlos Finlay).

      November 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So what, gf? Do you imagine that scientists studying the Big Bang and the age of the earth and the universe are any different? Why would they be?

      Again, do you think the earth is 6000 years old? That Adam and Eve and Noah were real? That God created all in 6 days?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Moby Schtick


      And that's just how science works, gf, and it's why the theories get revised as new evidence comes in and why peer review and criticism is essential. The trouble is, nobody has presented any evidence or data that contradicts the approximate age of the earth or the universe. The data all hits within a few million years. If every store you check has milk priced between 3.50 and 4.50, then it's stupid to say that the price of milk is 14 cents. Get it?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thank you, Moby. As usual, you made the point much better than I could have done.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Moby Schtick


      And you really gave an oversimplified version of star measuring/dating methods on the previous page. To imply that star measurement is just glorified guesswork to the degree that it makes you "chuckle" is pretty disingenuous of you--given your apparent understanding of a few fancy terms.

      Here's the reply I left for you on the previous page:

      We don't know what caused the inflation of the singularity. Let me repeat that: We don't know.

      There are several methods used to date the age of the universe. It would seem that it's about 13.7 for several reasons. One reason is the light horizon. I'll trust you to look that up if you don't know what it is.

      As to all your other a ssertions about not knowing precise distances of stars and whatnot. What's your point? What argument do you wish to connect those ideas to?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  15. Benlinus

    Do the blue states even need the Red States; thankfully the Blue states actually house the bulk of the countries economy. I say let the Heartland/south have there own Jesus land where they can believe and practice what ever they want with out affecting us.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Freedom FROM Religion

      As much as I hate to admit this, yes we the blue states need the red states just as much as they need us for our economy, except we need them for resources. However, if one of the reds ever wanted to secede we would most likely survive just fine where they (as they are highly subsidized by the tax payers of the blue states) would most likely revert into a 3rd world [expletive] hole as they would be unable to provide their society all the needs that makes civil life possible...... Mad Max road warrior comes to mind.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Oh really. Who would pay for all of your welfare programs?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      As if you earn enough to be a significant contributor, blind.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • want2believe

      still blind, you may want to look into which states subsidize which and the welfare demographics...

      November 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That presumes blind is capable of research.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • want2believe

      Very good point Tom, he obviously isn't or we wouldn't be having this discussion.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No kidding. "was blind and still is" can't even figure out how shoelaces work.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      You dope. I wear slip-ons...duh! Damn, you're clever. Oops. What was I thinking? This isn't going to pass the fliter. TTPD told me so.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Benlinus

      @Freedom FROM Religion We don't really need raw materials as 99% of everything we use is made in other countries; we would need them for food I guess but a lot of our food comes to us through NAFTA trade deals any way so I can't see how that would be any different since Jesus Land would be part of NAFTA as well unless they decided not to participate.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  16. educator36

    Pants on fire Rubio lies again

    November 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Libertarian Atheist

      Is he a pandering liar? Or just another religious nutcase who believes in this absurd mythology?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • lip11

      All of the above.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  17. aed939

    I respect the scientific method and the theory of evolution. However, science is always developing, with new theories replacing old ones as time goes by. In contrast, God's truth is universal and everlasting. Americans should have the freedom to embrace and share whatever belief is most relevant to their lives. How relevant are the various cosmological theories to our everyday lives? And don't be so smug because 100 years from now, the scientists will have all new theories, and they'll be llooking back at you thinking that the 21st century theories were so primitive.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Libertarian Atheist

      Because your book of mythology was written long ago, and there is not credible way to alter it now. You are stuck believing silly fairy tails that sound more ridiculous every decade.

      There is no invisible sky spirit, invisible sky city, invisible fire pit, or invisible horned devil. Please, do yourself a favor, and face reality.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Reality

      'God's truth is universal and everlasting.'

      Prove it.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • SaintNick

      Libertarian Atheist,

      I am assuming that the "book of mythology" you are talking about is the Bible. If so, note that this Book states that you are created by God, in the image of God, with a body, a soul and a spirit. It also states that you are a sinner, born in sin, and nothing good you do will ever save you. Would this be the REAL reason, why you would rather call it a "book of mythology"?

      Just because you close your eyes, it will not become night. Do yourself the real favor – read the Bible with an open mind and see if it states the truth about yourself (if you have the courage to do so).

      November 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      1. The earth free-floats in space (Job 26:7). While other religions declared the Earth sat on the back of an elephant, or was carried by a giant turtle, the Bible alone states what we now know to be true – “He hangs the earth on nothing.” How could ancient man have known this? Lucky guess? Again, no other ancient culture stated this.

      13. Scripture proves a revolving earth (Luke 17:34-36). Jesus said that at His return some would be in bed, at night, while others would be working in the field, or in the mill. It is obviously talking about daytime, since back then, as in today, people do not work in fields at night, and they did not mill at night either. This is a clear indication of a revolving earth, with day and night occurring simultaneously. How could ancient man have known this, of all things, a simple Son of a carpenter? Lucky guess?

      14. The universe is expanding (Job 9:8; Isaiah 42:5; Jeremiah 51:15; Zechariah 12:1). Repeatedly God declares that He stretches out the heavens. During the early 20th century, most scientists (including Einstein) believed the universe was static. Others believed it should have collapsed due to gravity. Then in 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble showed that distant galaxies were receding from the earth, and the further away they were, the faster they were moving. This discovery revolutionized the field of astronomy. Einstein admitted his mistake, and today most astronomers agree with what the Creator told us millenniums ago – the universe is expanding! How could ancient man have known this?

      15. The Earth is round (Isaiah 40:22). At a time when many (but not all) thought the earth was flat, the Bible told us that the earth is circular. Many skeptics quarrel over the word "circle" and try to establish that "The Earth is a sphere not a circle!". However, this is nothing more than nitpicking. The argument could be further proven by the wording of Isaiah 40:22, in that "He sitteth upon the circle of the earth." The emphasis of 'circle' could not be that of it being a flat round disc or coin, because you sit IN a circle, not ON it. Furthermore, the Hebrew language lacked a specific word for "sphere". "Duwr" in Hebrew was often used but not always indicative of a ball, as it's use in Isaiah 29:3 is that of a circle.

      16. The stars are much different from eachother (1 Corinthians 15:41). Centuries before the advent of the telescope, the Bible declared what could not be discerned by the naked eye. To the naked eye, most stars appear pretty much the same, they are each actually much different from eachother in size, color, intensity, and distance from the Earth. How could Paul have known this?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And you nuts will still be ascribing things to an invisible sky-fairy. Oh, wait, no you won't. You'll be dead.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  18. Tim W.

    We need a Agnostic president ! A president that just answers "I don't know and am happy with that" to all these stupid questions ! Such questions have nothing to do with the world we live in today !

    November 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  19. Scott

    I wonder why Obama never got this question?

    November 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Alex G.

      Obama gets questions to see if he will bow down to the ridiculous left. Repubs get questions to determine if they are going to pander to the ludicrous right. Check the box for Rubio doing the pander dance with the Christian right wing of his party. He will probably double down on gay marriage, abortion, contraception and immigration.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  20. adrifter

    Many of my friends say most Americans are idiots. I've always argued that they're wrong and Americans are no more stupid than any other people in the world. However, the Gallup statistics referred to in this story show that I may be wrong.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • want2believe

      It's pretty disturbing how other leading countries more so accept evolution, climate change, and that the Earth isn't only 10,000 years old...and then here we are. No wonder our country is failing so miserably in science and math. It's one thing to have your beliefs, its another to dismiss reality because of them.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:58 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.