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. apnn

    Why is the Bible the only resource? What about other religions that may have a different view on this? The Bible is not the sole authority on everything. I really take issue with us acting like we are the only correct ones on this planet.

    November 21, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • WASP

      @APNN: now your point of view i can respect. no single source should be used to validate any ideal.

      November 21, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Charles

      Yes, the creationists always present the issue as just Science vs Genesis, but Genesis is just one of thousands of creation stories from the world's religions, many of them Native-American that were believed by people living here long before Jesus, Moses, and Abraham were even born. How is the biblical account any more believable than these other stories?

      Actually, several other creation stories begin with the universe being like an egg, which is a whole lot closer to the scientific understanding than Genesis is.

      If creationists want to have the controversy taught in classrooms why not teach all creation stories, from all religions, in this the land of religious freedom?

      November 21, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Norris (not the cat)

      Charles: great point and well said.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • doc

      apnn reason the bible is being quoted or used is due to the fact the Rubio is a Christian and the Bible is the basis of his belief...plus the way the question was put to him one could believe that was what the questioner was referring to...
      @charles....as for creationism...one can believe what one wants...the bible is also a story, a look at history.,.,most people who believe in GOD, do so for various reasons...the fact that the bible states that God created the heavens and earth and everything that goes with it in 6 days was more understandable when the bible was written as who could explain to the average person 4.5 billion years, or 60 billion years, or anythiing dealing with time...very few if any could comprehend such figures as stated...As I said people believe in religion for various reasons...for many it comforts them,,,another is the unknown when you die! Is there or is there not life of some sort after we are gone? Don't know nor does anyone else...

      November 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  2. WASP

    "...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.'

    ok let's see how he likes the idea of satanism being taught to his children in school..............i mean we have to give every idea of how the universe was created equal time...........right? 😉

    November 21, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • Charles

      Yup, it's not just Science vs Genesis, but Genesis and thousands of other creation stories from the world's religions vs Science. Just as it's witch doctors, faith healers, exorcists, shamans and a bunch of other "healers" vs modern medicine.

      November 21, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  3. 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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_human_evolution#First_living_beings before his next news conference.

    November 21, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • John

      Mr. Rubio is a very smart man. He is very aware that the dialog between faith and science is not by any means finished. To think that the ancients were stupid is foolish on your part as well as a show of ignorance. The ancient greeks were well aware of not only that the earth was round but just how big it is. Read about it. Its all there for you to see for yourself. What happened 2000 years ago was a very dramatic display of power by Jesus. That said you should realize that as rampant as fraud was back then, there had to be something true about the stories of miracles as well as the resurrection. There is much to be considered and I for sure that the Creation account has been misundertood by stupid ignorant Rabbi's who used these writings to strike fear into the hearts of percieved enemies. The God of Abraham, was never a military general ready to kick Isreals enemies down. These interprtations are stupid and myopic and insulting to Moses as well as the lord. So you see I do have an answer. And yes Hellenism is a true mechanism to deduce truths, but that doesn't detract from the veracity of the Holy Scriptures. Hellenism discredits stupidity and stupid interpretations. remember the Hebrews were given charge to maintain the word of God undefiled. That's all. They were never given the insight as to the true and correct meanings. God did this very well. His insight and brilliance is truly awesome. Oh and one more thing, the Bible Code has been deciphered.

      November 21, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • WASP

      @JOHN: "What happened 2000 years ago was a very dramatic display of power by Jesus."
      ok just a thought, could your jesus just be the most re-invention of older tells of "magic men"?
      you can follow throughout history stories of "great men" like hercules son of a god whom completed miralcous feats while on earth.

      your god and his demi-god son are nothing new, just the newest spin on an old tale.

      November 21, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Jesus


      You need to do more research on religion.

      November 21, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Since the Greeks were so incredibly smart, have you considered that their polytheistic religion is The Truth?

      November 21, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Charles

      Nobody is saying that the ancients were stupid, just that they weren't thinking scientifically when they made their creation stories. When they did that they were trying to teach something about their relationship with the universe and their gods. That's why Genesis has God resting on the seventh day, to show Jews why they did the same and how it ties in with their relationship with YHWH. In this way all creation stories should be seen more like poetry than scientific journal.

      November 21, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Reality

      Even Abraham and Moses have some "creation" issues.

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      November 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  4. EternalFlame

    "...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.'

    I think the Great Bird of the Galaxy tripped on a rock, and it became the earth.

    I think I'll call it.. um, I don't know, how about... Accidentalism!

    Do I get equal time, too?

    November 21, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • Damocles


      Yes, all creation stories simply must be given equal time in the schools. I can't think of any better way for our kids to be able to compete on a global scale.

      November 21, 2012 at 6:18 am |
  5. Mark

    There is no incorrect answer to many such questions. Where in the bible does it state a day is one orbit around the sun? Time is relative, as all things are and time, the unit of measure we use is based on the supremacy of humankind and the fact we live on this rock. A year is only a year here and no other place as we base it on the earth moving around the sun. There are many such assumption we make. First, the earth always moved around the sun...this sun. Is it possible, like an electron spinning around its nucleaus, two solar systems could move within and through each other and the earth been attracted away from one sun only to revolve around another and how would we prove that to be or not be the case. As for the biblical creation, if there was no light and then there was, no earth orbiting a flaming ball of gas, how long would a day be? I do not believe the bible states what standard was used by which a day was described. What if a day was decribed as the time the earth was formed till the day it ceased to exist or the commencement of the Roman empire till the falling of that empire. No, we assume time has always been on the knowledge of this partcle or dust spinning wildly as it moves around a ball of gas floating in this place we call a universe. As Hawkings has shown, we were not even correct in our assumption there was but one verse. So, we still are stuck in perhaps a very simplistic understanding of a day and I wonder, if ever we do find a life form elsewhere if we will be viewed as archaic becasue we base our day on stone and fire still? There are so many things we assume about ourselves and those before us, our world and the worlds we are not able to yet comprehend and we take these neanderthal assumptions, the best of our time, and seek to view the world as if this knowledge is the knowledge that will stand the test of time and we will never know that yet we fight over those assumptions as if we can cause a better world we allow to spin hopelessly out of control as we fight and argue over things that matter in the least. We assume, sometimes too much with our noses pearched, perhaps, too high upon our foreheads.

    November 21, 2012 at 5:26 am |
    • Damocles


      Yes, as much as it shocks people to hear this, we don't know everything. I still think it's a better way to go to try and learn about things instead of just saying 'oh, X did it, that's all we need to know'. The pursuit of knowledge is not a bad thing.

      November 21, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Mark – there is no incorrect answer to many such questions? Let's ask: how old is the Earth. Answer: 14 hours. Incorrect. 3 weeks. Incorrect. 124 years. Incorrect. 2100 years. Incorrect. 6000 years. Incorrect. 10,000 years. Incorrect.

      See – there are MANY incorrect answers to such questions. As to the question: what is the best approximation of the age of the Earth, as agreed upon by the vast majority of scientists, based on many, many years of research and study? Approximately 4.5 billion years. and incorrect answer to THAT question would be 6,000 years.

      November 21, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  6. Kr55

    Sorry Marco, you just lost the 2016 election. So close...

    November 21, 2012 at 4:58 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 21, 2012 at 4:43 am |
    • Leif

      Rubio is another spineless GOP politician incapable of standing up to the scientifically ignorant base of his party. He should grow a pair.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • mrdeepblue

      yes..apparently prayer changes things...like the AGE OF THE EARTH.


      November 21, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      November 21, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  8. mrdeepblue

    is there a contest going on in the GOP /Tea Party to try to prove/show the world how IGNORANT they all are?

    I'm at a loss for words...

    November 21, 2012 at 4:10 am |
  9. mjbrin

    attends a Baptist church but considers himself a practicing Catholic! oh and he use to be Mormon too! wow, and i thought my family was interesting when it came to religion.

    November 21, 2012 at 4:03 am |
  10. Lawrence

    I constantly see articles like this and wonder, is the intention really to provide news, or simply to ignite sparring. I think it's clear that the Bible doesn't suit everybody's beliefs of preferences. As for me I'll read it carefully and not take it literally. A lot can be distorted in translation folks. I think the real ignorance of this page are the comments of ad-hominem attacks against Bible-believers or non-Bible believers. How can one have a productive debate if both sides taunt the other and exercise arrogance?

    November 21, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • John

      Because one side believes in actual science while the other side believes the words of pre-science writers How can there be mutual respect when one side believes in fairy tales?

      November 21, 2012 at 4:22 am |
  11. Rogue351

    Four ways to ruin an up and coming GOP candidate

    1. Asked them to explain abortion and why it should be illegal.

    2. Ask them how old the earth is and why they believe this to be true.

    3. Ask them if the country was better off when women stayed home and didn't work, and why ?

    4. Ask them why gay marriage should be illegal.

    November 21, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  12. Rogue351

    Why don't we have these creationists do the math for the next moon or mars landing and see how well that goes. It is obvious these are the same people that did the math for Mitt Romney and that didn't work out so well. All they have is one book that if added up puts the earth at 6000 years old. Scientists on the other hand have a dating method that can be proven based on nuclear decay that is easily measured and used all the time in such procedures as nuclear medicine. The fact that these extreme right wing religious types are getting any press at all is so ridiculous. So we are just suppose to throw away established scientific methods based on one book ? This seems very reminiscent of what the Muslims did a couple of thousand years ago. It is just by dumb luck they have crawled out of the sand because of oil profits. But the creationists want us to basically go down the same path. How well has the worked out for the middle east over that last 2 thousand years ? What possible good could come from this radical shift in thinking. The answer is NOTHING. The only people who are buying into this are the same narrow minded morons that typically buy into Republican politics. How about they anther book for a little while, then maybe we can start searching for Harry Potters magic school.

    November 21, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • jimmy

      I agree with everything you said – except there were no muslims a "couple of thousand years ago", they've only been around since 1400-and-something.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:53 am |
    • Know What


      Islam (Muslims) has been around since the 700s A.D. – so about 1400 years. The Arab vs Israeli conflict is much older, however.

      November 21, 2012 at 5:09 am |
  13. zaphed

    The world will always need spin doctors to lead the dummies. Definitely the earth is older than 10000 years by far , let us say at least by a billion year!!!. and how do you explain the dinosaurs that were never mentioned in the bible? I believe the bible and religious books is a big scam. Enjoy.

    November 21, 2012 at 3:21 am |
  14. J

    He still needs to STFU

    November 21, 2012 at 3:21 am |
  15. Torgo23

    The most disheartening thing I've read in a long time: "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."

    It just makes me sad.

    November 21, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • jimmy

      Yes indeed, because as you know, you can't fix "Stupid". It's really no surprise the world is in such a mess considering the average intelligence of humans.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • Jesus

      No disrespect, but this whole creationism thing is a product of the USA. The only other place that believes this nonsense en masse, is the middle east. The rest of the world is just fine.

      November 21, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  16. JackDW

    This man is not someone worth voting for, as he can't tell the difference, in regards to accuracy, between a book of parables & mythology vs. a book of scientific evidence.

    The republican party continues to demonstrate – actually flaunt – that it cannot grasp even the basics. So what makes anyone think they can intelligently lead a nation?

    November 21, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  17. Observer

    As "Blessed are the Cheese makers" pointed out, Rubio is on the Spaceport and Technology Committee.

    How pathetic! What a representative for Republican intelligence.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:43 am |
  18. phazon2010@hotmail.com

    The universe and the earth are far beyond 6000 years old like creatonist state. That being said mankind itself is 6000 years old from Adam until now one only has to follow the geneoligy from Adam until now. They cannot prove how old human bones are no matter what they say and they can't prove how old the earth or universe is because it doesn't come down to 4 million 200 days and 13 hours they cannot do that with human bones that are decayed and they cannot do it with the universe or earth there are many things that deplete carbon in an object all I know is this earth is way to complex for accidently happening if you do thats your choice all one has to do to see if the bible is right is just look at the state the world is in these days complete chaos wars greedy people you would have to choose to be blinded not to see its magnitude.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • Athy

      You write like an eight-year-old. Ever hear of a sentence? Typical rambling of a bible babbler.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • jimmy

      These people are so dumb they don't even realize how dumb they sound. That's what always amazes me, how unaware they are of their own ignorance, and their obvious pride in the blind belief of the existence of a magical being.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Gaunt

      That didnt even make sense. Your english language skills would be better if you had not been homeshooled on bible study, and taught that science was the 'devils work'.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:24 am |
    • Stentor

      The world is the same as it ever was because people are the same as they ever were. If you can't see that, then you're blind, a fool, or willfully stupid, which isn't surprising since you believe in mythological characters & a deity that supposedly cares about you, even though there's no proof.

      November 21, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  19. Barry Sikes

    I'm sure God is more than capable of creating something that the smartest men on earth would swear was a billion years old when in fact it was brand new, or at least relatively new comparatively speaking.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheese makers

      Ohhhhhh, the trickster god. He went around hiding those pesky fossils too.....yeah....that's the ticket...

      November 21, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Heat Monger

      >>I'm sure God is more than capable of creating something that the smartest men on earth would swear was a billion years old

      So you are saying that god, if he/she exists, is trying to fool everyone by making the world look older than it is? Let me explain something: if the earth looks that old from every science we have, and it would require immense trickery to set it up otherwise, you will realize that it effectively does not matter if it were younger, but everyone is fooled. To produce the light from a billion billion suns and have it all come to earth as if it were hundreds to millions of light years old is more complex than just having it actually be millions of years old.

      Waste of brain cells creationists are.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Gaunt

      Barry: so your theory is that God is a liar?

      November 21, 2012 at 4:25 am |
  20. Gary

    Rubio's commnets are his way of setting himself and the GOP up for major defeat in the 2016 election. Guy's like Rubio just don't get it.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Rogue351

      The GOP does not get it. If they did they would except the loss and move on and try and get something done. It is time for them to compromise and show that they want to help the people. Selling that fact that the blocking everything and doing noting while they still earn a pay check goes against every single thing they complained about in this last election. Right now I am of the belief that the GOP cannot and will not change because of the right wing religious strangle hold. They need to step into the 21st century or they will soon being going the way of the dinosaurs.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:37 am |
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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.