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. Blue Dog

    Rubio has prove that he has suitable credentials to get republican nomination to be on the senate science committee.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Athy

      Blue Dog. You might try rewording your sentence so it makes sense.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  2. foolsage

    Science is the core ideology of Western Imperialism. Why should Rubio lay down and open his legs to it?

    November 21, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Well it would then be a double penetration, right now he is taking it up the ass from religion.....

      November 21, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • MC

      ??? I think most nations that are developing are also utilizing science, be it in their industries, to apply ecological science to protect their natural ecosystems and coastal settlements, or social sciences to learn how to best deal with social problems.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • foolsage

      Minerals formed "Billions of years before humans" belong to no one in particular. Finders = keepers. Think about it.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Observer


      Minerals formed "Billions of years before humans" belong to science since they totally contradict the Bible.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • fred

      The Bible does not say how old the earth is. It could be anwhere from 6 days of creationy plus 6,000 years. Theologians cannot agree on what one day could mean. Scientists change their minds collectively every so often and in the last 400 years the age has continually increased. The universe on the other hand was as old as 25 billion years accorting to science but now has settled down to 14 some billion. God said it once 6 days then rested on the seventh. That is because Gods truth is absolute and does not change with the whims of man.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Lisa

      Science has also been a primary engine for creating new, profitable technology. So, why would a GOP candidate go against something that rich people depend upon to help make them richer?

      November 21, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • foolsage

      Science and technology to survey, invade, terrorize and exterminate. Then the extraction commences. So much for 20th century knowledge and progress. Thanks alot for science Mr Nobel.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      Your gods truth is anything but absolute.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • End Religion

      foolsage = crazier than the average nutter
      Think about it.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  3. Angel Moronic

    ForgiveThe senator, Mr. Rubio just lost his tail recently. 😉

    November 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Lisa

      Speaking of tails, how do creationists explain babies being born with them like this guy?


      November 21, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • End Religion

      Once creationists stumbled on "god put it there to test our belief" they pretty much don't need any other excuse.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  4. sq

    i don't believe you people know how dangerous science really is. you don't understand there is science that is of the devil such as the age of the earth, etc. and there is practical science which is really engineering. but many people fall into the trap of just believing anything science says even if it costs them their souls

    November 20, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Observer


      Why are you showing your FAITH in science by using the Internet created by SCIENCE?

      lol. Get serious.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Athy

      Great post, sq. Keep it up. Go, boy!

      November 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      sq is coo coo for coco puffs....

      November 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "sq", but the "devil" and the "soul" are conceptual entities of mythology, therefore your assertions are falsehoods. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL".

      November 21, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Infinite Love

      It's not the gun.
      It's not the science.
      it's not the tongue.
      It's how a person uses it that defines whether an action taken is good or bad.

      Science, like most everything else, can be used to bring together or divide. To help or to hinder. To build up, or tear down. To heal or to kill. To deny this most basic understanding, which a child could easily comprehend, seems rather foolish.

      Based on your post I will assume that you believe in God. That being the case, why would you reject the mind he has given you to use? A powerful mind that can unlock the many great mysteries and discover an infinite number of Truths? All of which he has provided for us?

      Seems pretty ungrateful to me. But it's your mind to waste, and I will respect your belief in ignorance. This is America after all:)

      With love,

      November 21, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • End Religion

      sq, if science is so dangerous please stop using a computer, phone, medicine, automobile or any food you don't grow/kill yourself.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  5. J

    This guy needs to STFU

    November 20, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  6. Ramon F. Herrera


    You are hereby FIRED from being Hispanic. Ignorante!!

    November 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • End Religion


      November 21, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  7. art

    I think it just really dawned on me how screwed this country would have been had the Mormon messiah been elected president. Wonder if there is a God?? Obama's re election proved it for me.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  8. Sam

    One misconception the very religious like to spout off is if you believe in science and if you believe that the Earth is billions of years old, you are automatically an atheist. Now that is ignorant. Many, many millions of people believe in God and also believe in science. The GOP seems to be very afraid of science. I think it is more because science gets in the way of profit and their corporate bottom lines.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Lisa

      Sure, you just don't believe in the God described in the Bible.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • MC

      Many many Christians of the educated kind, in mainstream Protestant churches, among others, are fully free to believe in science as a way of understanding our physical universe.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  9. sq

    i challenge anyone who believes in science to show me how science will lead me closer to God. if it doesn't, then it is not worthy of serious consideration. this is why i don't believe in science.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Johnny

      Ok, to indulge the thought exercise, God ostensibly created the earth and the laws which govern it... so understanding how the world works would be to have a greater understanding of God's power and his nature?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Observer


      Funniest comments of the day from someone using SCIENCE to communicate over an internet.

      When you don't take any medicines from SCIENCE, you will have started to have credibility.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Athy

      Wow, sq. your brilliance is just dazzling. It's posts like yours that convert more people to atheism than any of mine ever could. Keep it up.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • art

      You don't believe in science? Prove it. Put a pistol in your mouth and see if the science of gunpowder and lead don't convince you. Do it. Please?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Blue Dog

      Go hide in cave somewhere in Tora Bora mountains. Don't use any fruits of science, including computers, internet etc. etc.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Athy

      We don't want him to do that, art. He's a great poster child for atheism.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • sq


      thank you. your post has given me something to think about and was not simply an insult to me or my God.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "sq", but "God" is a conceptual entity of mythology, therefore nothing can lead you to it. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      November 21, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • MC

      Science may not lead you closer to God (although it does for many – the discoverer of genetic principles, Mendel, was a monk), but science can certainly help us communicate via internet or phone, build a bridge, protect ecosystems, grow food, and cure illness. If these have no value, I'm not sure what to say ...

      November 21, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  10. 13monkees

    It's official. I will not vote for republicans until they can leave their bibles at home. Rubio has now shown he is an idiot. What's funny is that the Vatican endorses evolution.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Except as it applies to humanity which must be descended from Adam and Eve. Otherwise, yes, Catholicism is ahead of most of the Christian delusionals with regard to science in general.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Athy

      So they're only about 100 years behind science now, right?

      November 21, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  11. art

    Go away little man. Like your Mormon messiah.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  12. sq

    we are one nation UNDER GOD. we must never forget this.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Athy

      You may be "under god," but I'm not.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Lisa

      Which god would that be? The Jew's YHWH that never had a son, or Allah?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Observer


      That wasn't intended as part of the Pledge of Allegiance when written. It's just a change pushed in by religious zealots.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      sq prefers the missionary position with god on top. interesting...

      November 21, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  13. art

    Just let this brain dead filth keep spouting that the earth is 6000 years old. They will never win another national election. They learned nothing two weeks ago. And that makes me very happy.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  14. Charles Pearce

    Ain't ignorance lovely??

    November 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  15. Andyesc

    To bad Obama can't get a third term! With idiots like this it's a grand slam! When will republicants learn that not everyone is a mindless follower. Some of us DO think! To bad there is no drug for stupid!

    November 20, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Lisa

      Hillary in 2016! 🙂

      November 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  16. Reality

    Rubio, Rubio, Rubio wherefore art thou???

    Mr. Rubio might be part Ne-anderthal making his education a bit more difficult. Maybe all political leaders should have their DNA checked for this. Tis rather inexpensive:

    As per National Geographic's Genographic project:

    For your $199 and a DNA swab:

    "Included in the markers we will test for is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our h-ominin cousins, Ne-anderthals and the newly discovered Denisovans, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago. As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were still alive and well in Eurasia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA. With Geno 2.0, you will learn if you have any Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in your genome."

    Mr. Rubio would be wise to check the human evolution time line featured at before his next news conference. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_human_evolution#First_living_beings

    November 20, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  17. foolsage

    Nature used to weed out atheists, but now urbanization prevents their extinction. Under the adaptive environment called democracy, they are becoming a virulent strain. But nature has a way of eroding such artificial constructs.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Look, ma, no brain.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Observer

      "Nature used to weed out atheists". That's a good one. Care to try to explain that? Are you referring to believers who murdered them?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • xirume

      You are delusional... all current evidence points to the biblemongers being evolved out of existence. I hope you have a nice eternity as an ideological fossil.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Reality


      Religion………………………… Adherents

      Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

      Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion

      Irreligious/agnostic/atheism…… 1.1 billion and growing fast-

      Hinduism 900 million
      Chinese traditional religion 394 million
      Buddhism 376 million
      Animist religions 300 million
      African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
      Sikhism 23 million
      Juche 19 million
      Spiritism 15 million

      Judaism…………………………………….. 14 million

      Baha'i 7 million
      Jainism 4.2 million
      Shinto 4 million
      Cao Dai 4 million
      Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
      Tenrikyo 2 million
      Neo-Paganism 1 million
      Unitarian Universalism 800,000
      Rastafari Movement 600,000

      November 20, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • DaveL

      No religious people used to weed out atheists and anyone else they did not approve of. If given the chance they would do so again. Remember it was Martin Luther who suggested that all Jews should be either killed or expelled from Germany while being stripped of all their belongings. Hitler put these ideas to practice. The Catholics have their big list of victims. During WWII the Catholics supported the Germans in their efforts to round up the Eastern Orthodox Christians. I wonder where you will be if Scientologists take over. Probably dead.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • foolsage

      Tribal societies do not tolerate dissenters. Your words meant life or death. Bring back the bronze age.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      lol @ 13 year old internet warrior...

      November 21, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  18. SoPoJim

    OMG 46% believe the Earth is 6,000-10,000 years old???? What a nation of idiots!

    November 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You seem surprised. Read some of "Athiests" posts.

      Idiots abound.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  19. lbpaulina

    Rubio' s words are an absolute nonsense and are offensive towards the entire humanity, because they are miseducating.
    Humble and patient people have been dedicating their lives to study the matter for thousands of years. It is thanks to all of them that i**ots like Rubio can use, for example, the nuclear medicine; I do not understand why a lot of people have to waste so much time talking about an ignorant when we all need to look for scientists in search of new high-technology frontiers, which are the future of the US.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • LC

      Other countries will produce the next gen tech, and some Americans will get rich investing in them, ironically most will be GOP fat cats, but few of the jobs will be in the USA and we'll end up paying through the nose for those innovations.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  20. gary

    A U.S. senator that can't make up his mind about this certainly can't handle the decisions he would have to make if he were president. Learn from the election Marco and quit pandering to the creationist nut cases.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Thomas Jay

      Spot on, "gary." Obviously, Rubio is taking religion into account when addressing fiscal issues. If he were elected President, I'm confident we'd all be forced to submit to the religion of the Commander in Chief rather than make up our own minds.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • LC

      Thomas Jay
      What would he do to us for not believing, torture us? What kind of sick, sadistic tyrant would torture people for not believing in God?

      Oh, yeah... God would do that, right?

      November 20, 2012 at 11:28 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.