Rubio clarifies age of the Earth answer
December 5th, 2012
10:26 AM ET
2 years ago

Rubio clarifies age of the Earth answer

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida attempted to clear up Wednesday his controversial answer to a question about the Earth's age last month.

"Science says (the Earth) is about 4.5 billion years old. My faith teaches that's not inconsistent," Rubio said at a Politico Playbook Breakfast in Washington. "God created the heavens and the Earth, and science has given us insight into when he did it and how he did it."

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"The more science learns," he continued, "the more I am convinced that God is real."

Rubio was asked how old the planet was in an interview with GQ magazine published November 19. The senator, who's considered to be weighing a 2016 presidential bid, replied saying the Earth's age is "one of the great mysteries."

Emphasizing he "was not a scientist," Rubio said "whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that."

His comments received fierce pushback in the liberal blogosphere and brought renewed attention to the debate between creationism and evolution.

On Wednesday, one morning after he gave a high-profile speech, Rubio said he doesn't "regret" his answer but wishes he had given "a more succinct" response.

"We were talking about hip hop and the guy pivoted to the age of the Earth," the junior senator said. "I'm not a robot." He added that if he had 30 minutes to sit down and write out his thoughts, he would have provided a better answer.

"It's not the worst thing that's ever happened to me," he said

Rubio said he was originally talking about the "theological debate" over the Earth's age-not the "scientific debate," which he said has definitively established the planet is at least 4.5 billion years old.

He emphasized it was a matter of "how do you reconcile what science has definitively established with what you may think your faith teaches" and further maintained his stance that parents should be able to teach their children whatever they believe.

He also pointed to then-Sen. Barack Obama's answer to a similar question in 2008.

"My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live, that that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true," Obama said at a CNN presidential forum. "Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible? That, you know, I don't presume to know."

A Roman Catholic, Rubio also attends Baptist services and added Wednesday that he sometimes goes to both churches in one day.

Asked why he thought his original comments caused such a stir, Rubio argued that he enjoys it when something he says triggers conversation but added he didn't think the dialogue made it far beyond the Beltway.

"Not a single person at the supermarket asked me about it on the day before Thanksgiving," he said.

– CNN's Dan Merica contributed to this report.

READ MORE: Sen. Marco Rubio's religious journey: Catholic to Mormon to Catholic to Baptist and Catholic


Filed under: 2016 • Faith • Marco Rubio
soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. rs

    Politicians who place religious articles in front of scientific fact tend to not do well in national elections. Say goodbye to 2016 Mr. Rubio.

    December 5, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. the one true god

    Wow– it took him a whole 'nother week to come up with that lame answer? That is truly pathetic.

    December 5, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    If you believe the earth is no older tha 6,000 years old, you're an idiot. Plain and simple. Please Sen. Rubio, explain to me the dinosaur age & the ice age. When did those occur. How long did it take for the Earth to thaw out after the ice age?

    December 5, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. judy

    remember all this crap when the next presidential election rolls around. He will have a different story then depending on his base. These clowns don't seem to like science at all. Wonder what they will say if life is found on Mars??

    December 5, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Facts don't Lie

    why is this even important or can tell me in what way a person can run an office? We don't have to agree on everything you know.

    December 5, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. felixgiordano

    Speaking of conservative ignorance, Sara Palin recently said, "To the federal government, Palin pleaded: "Become as irrelevant in our lives as possible, please.""

    So I guess she ran for VP so that she could spend 4 years doing nothing in an irrelevant job.

    December 5, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. memphispiano@comcast.net

    It's amazing all of you idiots who KNOW the earth is 4-5 billion years old and then make fun of people of faith who don't know. You are just as much a person of faith. You have placed your faith in scientists. They too were not there...and their story has changed even in my lifetime. So the truly intelligent person says "I don't know how old the earth is." Mr. Rubio's answer was intelligent and honest.

    December 5, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. samuel

    that question does not create any jobs. he was not there the morning GOD laid the foundations of the earth. folks lets focus on employment and healthcare not abstracts.

    December 5, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. KJackson

    I really like this answer. It is exactly what I believe. Science and religion do not need to be at odds with each other over this.

    The bible is full of metaphors and colorful language, and should not be taken literally. There is room for interpretation, mis-translation, etc., so it is entirely plausible that the explanations of biblical creationism and evolution can both be true.

    December 5, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. Data Driven

    Here's the GOP's brightest star and probable nominee in 2016, clarifying the age of the Earth.

    Uh, yeahhhh ... Good luck in 4 years, GOPhers. While you have theological debates that have nothing to do with the real world, the rest of us - you know, the normal people? - will watch with appalled fascination, plenty of popcorn on the skillet and coke zero on tap.

    December 5, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Sniffit

    "So the truly intelligent person says "I don't know how old the earth is." Mr. Rubio's answer was intelligent and honest."

    Except that's not what he said. he said it was a debate for "theologians," i.e., that the age of the Earth is to be determined by religious scholars. It's not. Not even remotely. Sane and truly intelligent people will grant you that what is currently accepted as "scientific fact" can sometimes change over time and should be taken with a very VERY tiny grain of salt, but a sane and truly intelligent person won't tell you that the age of the Earth is a matter of religious dogma. That being said, the methods used to determine the age of the Earth are extremely reliable and based on observable, physical characteristics. We're not talking about someone just inventing a number based on reasoning in a vacuum.

    December 5, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. { ! }

    Other than Rubio's thoughts on the earths age, would liberal inquisitors want to know anything else about a presidential candidate Rubio?

    December 5, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. rs

    Facts don't Lie-
    It is important because fools like this make policy based on their beliefs and not upon fact. That explains why the GOP has such a high number of people like AKIN and Mourdock in it. Remember- the GOP put Akin on the House Science Committee!

    December 5, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. carl

    I don't understand why he is getting criticized so heavily when it sounds a lot like Obama's answer that was reported here. Why nothing negative to say about Obama's response?

    December 5, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "he was not there the morning GOD laid the foundations of the earth."

    Indeed. We should probably just ask the turtles.

    December 5, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. Maryland Democrat

    I think his answer is actually quite sensible – and normally, I find people are too stuck one way or another. He didn't deny evolution, of the world or of humans. What he said was that science and religion are not necessarily in conflict with each other. For example, the big bang theory, created by a stout religious scientist. And the bible's week of creation, nowhere does it say that there were 24-hour days. In fact, the bible's summary of the creation of everything is so succinct, that most religious scholars agree that there had to be a lot more to it than what's written down

    December 5, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    The age, is of far less concern, than how long it is likely to survive, into the future.

    December 5, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. i12bphil

    The Bible does not say ONE WORD about the age of the earth, and for scientists it is merely guess at best. For anyone to be disturbed by his answer is to be a person claiming to be "better educated" who is merely an armchair scholar.

    December 5, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. plain&simple

    K Jackson' s comments are right on! This is where most people live ....absolutism only works in science until someone proves different!

    December 5, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. Sueb

    I agree with Rubio that there is nothing inconsistent about science and religion. The more I know about science the more I see miracles and God's Hand at work.! However, I didn't need to test out my belief to see how it would play with the audience I was addressing. With Rubio, I see more of Mitt Romney's "I'll say whatever you want to hear"

    December 5, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. Sueb

    I agree with Rubio that there is nothing inconsistent about science and religion. The more I know about science the more I see miracles and God's Hand at work.! However, I didn't need to test out my belief to see how it would play with the audience I was addressing.

    December 5, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. dzp

    real scientists know that science can't explain everything. read up on the philosophy of science, read up on david hume and such noted thinkers.

    December 5, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. John

    The Ice Age? That's so last year.

    December 5, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    You would think that with all of the emphasis that conservatives put on their "religious values" that any conservative who is serious about higher office would have a set of ready made answers to a baseline set of issues....most especially creationism versus evolution.

    Rubio basically admits that he was caught off guard by a sudden shift in topic under discussion. He's too green to realize that is one of the oldest tricks in the bag. Get someone talking within their comfort zone, and then change the subject to something, which isn't, and you usually get them to speak truthfully, instead of evasively.

    December 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  25. Evangenital

    How old is Cinderella? The bible is a fairy tale book!

    December 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
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