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. fredkelly

    GQ proved that the left's fanaticism and intolerance truly know no bounds. That's their question? The country is on fire, fiscal disaster is looming, and they choose to ask Rubio, a brilliant leader and rising political star, this ridiculous question? The purpose was clearly to entrap and hopefully discredit him. But his answer was exactly what one would expect from a national leader who understands that unity comes from a respectful exchange of opinions, not an arrogant and self-righteous dismissal. It's an American value we haven't seen from DC or the media in a long time.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • Observer


      Rubio couldn't answer a simple question where he had to choose between 6,000 and 4,500,000,000. He couldn't figure the difference.

      Try again.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheese makers

      Yep Fred, that is an irrelevant question unless he was on the Science Committee...oh...that's right...he is.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Athy

      So, Fred, you're saying stupidity is virtuous.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • Gaunt

      Whine some more Fredkelly, its compelling.

      The question doesnt 'discredit' Rubia, his answer does. And his answer was a rejection of scientific fact and reality. neither are virtues.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:22 am |
    • Matt

      Also, let us remember GQ was asking the question.

      November 21, 2012 at 10:34 am |

    Uncontrolled immigration started when the Cubans left Castro's Cuba-many Americans had to leave Dade county because of this fact–they also lost their homes.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Athy

      What the hell does that have to do with anything?

      November 21, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  3. Bostontola

    You'd think the republicans would reassess their disdain for math and science after the but whooping they just got. Even as it was obvious that they were getting killed in the electoral college, they still thought a miracle was going to happen. Democrats analyzed the vote distribution scientifically and it paid off. Science thinks the earth is over 4B years old because physical clocks say so. Sheesh.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:12 am |
  4. Jason

    Notice his entire speech was just an attempt at obfuscation and misdirection. Not once did he actually state what he believes in.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  5. Mark Rubio

    Creationism was an idea started in 30 BCE by a Jewish religious leader as a way to combat the intellectual Greeks. It's about as Christian as Challah bread but doesn't taste as good.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:00 am |
  6. Capone

    Well, so much for the theory that Rubio is one of the "smart" ones.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  7. Jason

    Amazing. He managed to speak so many words yet say so little. No matter if you are a young earth creationist or a scientific materialist, you should be mad at this guy for trying to fool you into thinking he believes in both at the same time.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  8. Lizard Lance

    What difference does it make? Are we talking about the age of the materials that make up the earth? Or are we talking about the age of the earth after it was constructed? And why do those who accept as fact the theories of the earth being 4.5-billion years old continue to deny the existence of Jesus despite the evidence from recorded history?

    November 21, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Capone

      By record history, you mean the Bible?

      November 21, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Observer

      Lizard Lance,

      The Bible says it's all days apart.

      Rubio can't decide between 6,000 and 4,500,000,000. Seems like a BIG difference, doesn't it?

      November 21, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Mark Rubio

      The difference is that people in power may divert millions away from education because of creationist ideas at a time when American kids test lowest of all industrialized nations. It isn't about religion. Don't be fooled. It's about power and money.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Snow

      a) there is no record of a man named jesus in 0bc.. the romans who anally recorded even the grocery lists of each family every month did not had a record of executing a man named jesus
      b) say the man did exist.. i.e., the MAN existed.. does not mean he is god.. as much as you try to get the "evidence" there wouldn't be any for his divinity

      November 21, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheese makers

      There is no contemporary recorded history of Jesus.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  9. beelady950

    The last time religion tried to control the knowledge of a population was during the "Dark Ages" which occurred after the fall of Rome and continued until the " Renaissance Period". During that time religion dictated what was considered fact and what people were allowed to think. It was only during and after the Renaissance that science was allowed to flourish and monumental discoveries were made concerning many things. Most notable were the leaps made in the science of health. The black plague was not a punishment of bad behavior by God, instead it was a microbial disease passed by poor living conditions and hygiene. I shutter to think what could really happen if we ever got to that point again, when we allow religion to dictate what we are allowed to think. Look at history and see what that line of thinking lead humanity.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Dippy

      "shutter?". I think the word is "shudder."

      November 21, 2012 at 2:09 am |
  10. LouAZ

    There are in fact four very significant stumbling blocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear ti_tle to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, longstanding custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge. – Roger Bacon (1219-1294)

    November 21, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  11. Trevor Ragan

    Christian scientist are responsible for a lot of discoveries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_thinkers_in_science
    When the people listed on that link made their discoveries or contributions, they did not seperate science and theology. Today's theories aren't even seperated from a philosophical bias that today's scientist have. Instead of it being Christianity, it is secular humanism. The shoe is on the other foot, but the creature wearing it is still the same: man struggling in it's ignorance.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheese makers

      Not one of them used religious belief or theology to make their discoveries....their religion was irrelevant.

      My question was what has religion proved. And the answer is nothing....they didn't use religion....they used science. You fail.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  12. pubesrtoast

    Glad to know he's not smart. After Dubya America knows better.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  13. Mark

    I believe science might accurately be able to date the earth and the universe but that's about it. I think they make fools of themselves trying to date human beings or animals.
    Scientists these days don't use empiracle evidence. It's all about money and funding and trying to find a way to represent the anti-religious side as best you can with whatever outlandish garbage you can come up with.
    Both science and religion have utterly failed at explaining anything because they're both motivated by money and power.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • xirume

      Scientists don't use "empiracle" evidence because there is no such thing. What they use is the Scientific Method, which is something you know nothing about.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • End Religion

      mark, if we could fire you from being human we would. You have failed miserably.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Pat

      You should probably spell empirical correctly in order to make your point more effectively. Although in your case, it wouldn't help.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • Mark Rubio

      Mark's daily mantra: "Would you like fries with that?"

      November 21, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • Dippy

      Actually, Mark, science has successfully explained a large number of phenomena. Religion, on the other hand, has explained nothing. It's simply ancient mythology believed by people unable to think clearly. It's really as simple as that.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  14. Trevor Ragan

    Gee the academia of science refusing to look at new theories and derriding them as unintelligent is kind like when the church derrided and persecuted Galileo for suggesting the earth is wrong. So called scientist and athiest are doing the same thing (the same wrong thing) the church did 400 years ago.... Meaning maybe religion isn't so stupid, maybe its just people who are closeminded and can't think outside their little boxes.... I want to believe the earth is just 10,000 years old just to be not be on the same side of the arguement as close minded pro-secular bigots...

    November 21, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Trevor, don't be an idiot. Science is up for debate and review and criticism. Many, many, many dating methods have been used and they all point to around the same age, give or take a few dozen million. If we take a survey of milk prices, and after twenty stores the average price is 4 bucks, then your opinion that milk is 14 cents is just fvcking retarded.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Athy

      How did Galileo suggest the "earth is wrong?"

      November 21, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Read "Holy Man"'s post below.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • End Religion

      Trevor, creationism has been resoundingly refuted. At this point, anyone who believes the earth is less than 4 billion years old is ignoring mountains of scientific evidence. That's fine if you want to live outside reality, but please don't expect the rest of us to be kind about your willful ignorance.

      The earth's age was not derived by 2 guys drunk in a bar somewhere. It is as much a fact as anything else we rely on in this shared reality. On top of that this guy is on the Committee for Science! He is suppose to be supporting science, not undermining it with religious fantasy.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Charles

      A "theory" has to explain the evidence and tie it all together, whereas the religious explanation insists that it's correct despite all the evidence.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Larry

      See whats happening here is science has proven things found burried in the ground to be more than 10,000 years old. So that proves that the idea of the earth being 10,000 years old or less isnt true. Its these things called facts. But thats beside the point, i use to go to church until i reached the age of reason and rational thought and i never heard anyone suggest the earth was 10,000 years old, where did that come from?

      November 21, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Trevor Ragan

      Except when you walk into the store where milk is $14 (Nunavit for example). Meaning that milk is not always $14 smarty pants. Meaning popular scienctific theory doesn't mean its the right theory. I'm sure 19 out of 20 astronomers figured the church was right. So when Galelio said they were wrong they persecuted him. But they were still all wrong. So your disagreeing doesn't make you right. but if you have to result in putting me down, derriding me, or questioning my intelligence, then you are doing the same thing the church did, des[erately trying to maintain your philosophical status quo by putting any possible opposition to your line of thinking below your oppressive boot. You really want to disagree with people who believe in a young earth, go for it; but in this age of "tolerance" shame on those of you that have to result to insults or refusing to look at the evidence form the "other side" of the arguement. How many of you have actually researched the young earth theory. And if you have and you still disagree than please do it in a respectful manner.

      Oh, and the earth is wrong, is actually a typo, I was trying to say the earth is round, but I was talking to my wife at the same time, lol

      November 21, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      Name one thing religion has every proven as being true?

      Until it does, nothing it claims should be taken seriously.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Trevor Ragan

      Larry, the dating of materials by radio isatopes is based on a certain theories of how those isatopes behave. There are theories out there. The results are not that conculsive. Go look it up. and Go look up young earth theory from its source, the people who are presenting it. Not just the people who want to dismis it.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The source of young earth theory is religious ignorance.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Observer

      Trevor Ragan,

      Perhaps if you studied more about them, you'd learn that there is no such thing as an "isatope", but isotopes do exist.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Trevor Ragan

      And, of course CheeseMaker, you have actually researched this and studied young earth theory. Cause if you haven't, you are the ignorant one, because you don't even have knowledge, you just have an uninformed opinion.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Trevor Ragan

      Lol, observer, I am far to dependnent on spell checkers

      November 21, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Observer

      Trevor Ragan,

      lol. Yes, you are far "to dependnent" on spell checkers.

      You are digging the hole deeper.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Trevor Ragan

      I mean dependant, lo. I'm going to be, good night every one.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Trevor Ragan

      Lol, I admit it, I can't type or spell, especially late at night. I'm going to bed, good night every one.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • xirume

      Trevor, go read your bible and stop pretending you know how to think.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheese makers


      I don't have to study astrology to know it is bunk. I also notice you made no attempt to answer my question.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Rich

      @Trevor Ragan

      There is no such thing as "young earth theory". Nothing about the young earth "wild a$$ guess" is based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.

      Now evolution is a theory. Gravity is a theory. Relativity is a theory. As you can see, being a theory is a pretty big deal.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Pat

      The earth is wrong? Where do these people come from? We have problems more serious that Rubio's ignorance going on here. Sigh.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • End Religion

      Trevor there's no reason to continually waste time with creationism. It has been debunked very thoroughly. At this point you are willful ignoring reality to believe in it. As such, you deserve all scorn and derision heaped on you for your ignorance.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • redzoa

      At issue with most of the creationist anti-science arguments is that for the select methods they deem suspect to truly be so flawed, this necessarily requires that their similar applications in other validated areas are too, so fundamentally flawed as to be effectively useless.

      A reasonable person would also not conclude that the overwhelming scientific consensus is the product of some grand conspiracy to undermine literal creationism. From the military that wants to win wars, to the oil/mineral companies that want to find reserves, to the medical device industry that wants to sell useful diagnostics, why would any of these various industries knowingly embrace techniques and methodologies which are so fundamentally flawed?

      November 21, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  15. Angel Moronic

    Must be a back door that Rubbio left open for creationism

    November 21, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Pat

      Rubbio? Who's that?

      November 21, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  16. hozo1

    another ignorant fool ... how did they graduate from high school ... we are becoming a 3rd world country

    November 21, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Charles

      His mom graduated him from her kitchen table homeschool .

      November 21, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • andygriffith

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next four years. Republicans trotted out their religious beliefs for many years. Now, the smart ones are going to treat it like a hot potato. What they thought was their electoral strength will increasingly become their weakness. I really thought the religious argument would be evolution versus God-assisted evolution. Never, ever, did I think there were still lunatics who actually believe the world is only 6,000 – 10,000 years old. My one hope is that all of these people and politicians who promote the young earth theory really don't truly believe that is the case. They are just too scared to say their true thoughts. I hope that is the deal. If not, we have finally figured out how to time-travel backwards – back to the Dark Ages.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:00 am |
  17. Stacey

    This actually has a lot to do with the economy and the gross domestic product. If the United States abandons science for creationism, and we don't teach our children about science, then we cannot be leaders in technology that will fuel the economy. It is unfortunate that such a prominent politician doesn't understand this.

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

      Even more unfortunate, he's not the only one.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Pat

      True. I like Rubio in terms of basic fiscal issues. But he lost me here. Why can't we have an economically conservative, intellectually honest, politician? Maybe I need to volunteer.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  18. Nathan

    "Most scientists agree that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is 14.5 billion years old."

    Actually, MOST scientists think that the universe is 13.71 +/-1% billion years old.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Trevor Ragan

      And we all know if a scientist thinks it it must be a fact just like if a politician says it, it must be true...

      November 21, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Charles

      Still, that's a far cry from the universe being just 6000 years old. That's like saying that Betty White is only as old as a Zygote.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Nathan

      @Trevor: At least the scientist believes it based on huge quant.ities of international and independent collection, analysis, and cross-analysis of actual EMPIRICAL data and not merely because it is the party line of blind adherence to the Bronze Age mythology of a technologically illiterate, desert-swelling shepherding people.

      November 21, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  19. Holy Man

    The age of the earth is not a "dispute" between theologians and scientists. it is only a dispute between the unintelligent and the intelligent. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE to have any understanding of science and believe that the earth is 6000 years old.

    What's more interesting to me is the fact that the Bible never claims to be a scientific journal or textbook. It only claims to be a collection of stories handed down by the Hebrews. It's only modern-day - UNEDUCATED - Christians who have tried to turn it into a textbook.

    Let me repeat: If you believe the earth is 6000 years old, YOU ARE NOT AN INTELLIGENT PERSON. It's fine for you to hold whatever beliefs you want - you can believe that magic fairies make the winds blow and that the sun is a ball of glowing cow manure. Such belief doesn't make those things true.

    Who are humans to tell God how he created things, anyway? Do you really know better than God every fact there is to know about the universe? THAT'S the truly unintelligent nature of Christianity.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Athy

      Thumbs up. Except that you're implying there is a god that created everything. That's patent nonsense.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Charles

      It's unintelligent of Christians to not see how people wouldn't just buy the idea of God based on an ancient book, especially when lots of other ancient books talk about other gods that they dismiss as mere myth without any proof to that effect.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Pat

      Personally, I feel that there IS a God. Certainly can't prove it, although I feel him when hiking on mountain tops. Atheists who are so sure there is NO God seem to me to be, well, just about the most arrogant folks on Earth. How can you possibly know? As for the idea that the Earth is 6000 years old, it's embarrassing that we even discuss that. I concur there is no way for an intelligent person to justify that claim.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Athy

      But why would you think there is a god? Because some kindly gent dressed in white robes living in a fancy building told you there is?

      November 21, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • Carrie

      "Who are humans to tell God how he created things, anyway?"

      As the species that invented the concept of god to begin with, I think we are perfectly placed to tell him how he did what he did.

      November 21, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  20. Mateo

    This is the same bunch that believes in trickle down economics, why wouldn't they believe the earth is only 6000 years old.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:15 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.