Rubio clarifies age of the Earth answer
December 5th, 2012
10:26 AM ET
1 year 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. EC

    I have reconciled the Bible's timelines with science in my head, at least for now. Since time is relative depending on distance and movement through space, how can we read the Bible and say there are definitive measurable periods of time. We do not know Gods perspective on time either. How can our church leaders, like mine, say the Earth took 7 days?

    December 5, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. Dan1943

    So, what do you expect from a Baptholic or is it a Cathotist? He can not even make up his mind about which one of these diametrically opposed religious sects that hate each other he wants to belong too. What a guy!

    December 5, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  3. M from Texas

    K From AZ shows that most of his science classes while not perfect went right over his head. There has never been nothingness there has always been substance and the timing and explosion were simply a matter of matter becoming to compact and it then to expend it's energy. The idea that there was a void is a religious belief not a scientific one. Geez..
    Also to say that life magically happened flys in the face of the overwhelming physical evidence for continous inexorable evolution of primitive to complex organisms. Again it is religion that trys to keep things simple and doesn't give humans credit for having a brain or as they believe, that god gave them one..

    To adhere to a belief that even the Roman Catholic Church admits is untenable seems to me to border on anachronistic. at best.

    December 5, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. jslicer

    K from AZ: No, you do not have that scientific thing right at all. Do yourself a favor and read up on what you appear to be mocking before thinking you have it right. Because you don't. Period.

    December 5, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. Franky

    Incorrect, the Big Bang theory does not state nothing was created from nothing, it states the universe was created out of an energy singularity, since matter and energy are in fact one and the same. Big Bang does not attempt to answer whether there was nothing before the singularity, science can not look back tht far since time is a function of our universe and since we have no evidence to postulate what exists before the expansion of that singularity. Pleae know the theory before you comment, that's th inference between science and religion, it requires evidence, strict examination, mthimtical models, and deep understanding. It doesn't just are up things as it sees fit, ie we have no mechanism to examine why existed before e singularity or even what was before for th e expansion just that there was a singularity nd it did expand. Now think you creationist for letting me make you look silly in your attempt minimize a rigourlessly peer reviewed theory. Moteover unlike religion as we get more evidence and unseat ding we. Can amend the theory unlike religion.

    December 5, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. fastrack1

    Gosh, another brilliant presidential contender. Until the mouth opens, that is.

    December 5, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Franky

    Incorrect, the Big Bang theory does not state nothing was created from nothing, it states the universe was created out of an energy singularity, since matter and energy are in fact one and the same. Big Bang does not attempt to answer whether there was nothing before the singularity, science can not look back tht far since time is a function of our universe and since we have no evidence to postulate what exists before the expansion of that singularity. Pleae know the theory before you comment, that's th e difference between science and religion, it requires evidence, strict examination, mathematical models, and deep understanding. It doesn't just make up things as it sees fit, ie we have no mechanism to examine what existed before the singularity or even what was before for th e expansion just that there was a singularity and it did expand. Now thank you creationist for letting me make you look silly in your attempt minimize a rigourlessly peer reviewed theory. Moreover unlike religion as we get more evidence and understanding we can amend the theory unlike religion.

    December 5, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. DB

    Do parents have the right to teach their kids whatever they want? Of course. I consider that an axiom.

    But parents do NOT have a right to insist that the public schools can't contradict it. If a parent wants to teach their kids that the Genesis Creation story as literal and accurate, they have every right to do so...but if these parents are bothered that public school science classes teach the prevailing scientific theories about the origin of the universe, the earth, life, and species, that's just too bad. There is absolutely no place at all for faith-based education in public schools. Period. If you want to completely control the messages your child receives, you have to take them out of public school. End of discussion.

    December 5, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. DB

    K from AZ said:

    Let’s see if I’ve got this ‘scientific’ thing right:
    The belief is that there was once absolutely nothing. And, nothing happened to the nothing until the nothing magically exploded (for no reason), creating everything & everywhere. Then, a bunch of the exploded everything magically arranged itself (for no reason whatsoever), into self-replicating bits which then turned itself into dinosaurs.
    And, they mock my beliefs.
    Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil – it has no point.
    -------

    You didn't get it right. That is a completely inaccurate and just plain wrong summary of the prevailing theories about the origin of the universe. It is a straw man, and a very bad one at that. You may think you understand "the big bang theory" (and it wasn't those who came up with the theory who called it "big bang"), but you don't...so you're not in a position to dismiss it. No wonder you get mocked, you think you understand something but you make a fool of yourself when you describe it. You're living proof that it's not what you don't know that makes you look foolish...it's what you think you know but you're wrong about.

    But I won't mock you. If you believe that accepting science means you have to reject God – you said it yourself, that it's a "life without God" – then I don't laugh at you. I pity you. I believe in God, and I believe that science is His gift to us to understand the wonders of His creation. The more we mature as a species and develop science, the more we understand about the amazing universe He has created for us to inhabit. If you feel you have to choose between God and science, then my friend...I feel sorry for you.

    December 5, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. noopyorg

    Best philosophical question ever: Then Who Created God?!

    December 5, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  11. jms4177

    Earth was created about 4 and a Half billion years ago and then god showed up about 6.000 years ago and created idiots. and some amazing life forms.

    December 5, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  12. Brian

    You can wait forever for God to give you purpose or you can just go find it yourself.

    December 5, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  13. jdoe

    This just in. Statement from Sen. Rubio: After doing some research, I have determined that the age of Earth can be anywhere from 6000 to 4.5 billion years, depending on which audience I am addressing.

    December 5, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  14. Smoke and Mirrors

    This isn't news! Unless you count a young, intelligent, Republican as news. So, he took a science class and didn't loose his faith... Wow! Big deal!

    December 5, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  15. Juan

    Rubio attends [2] two religious services on the same day, and this escapes all of those outside the Washington Beltway. Any wonder the election went Democrat, and not Republican Tea Party. And, Rubio does not have a grasp on the universe versus theology, not a leader he will make. Should he receive the GOP nomination we will be there to ensure he does not become the POTUS. Hispanics will not be fooled. The Carl Roves are also on the toxic politican list.

    December 5, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  16. LIv

    Pretending to be religious in order to win votes. Like we, as a society in the year 2012, really care what the bible says about how the earth was made. STOP IT!! GROW UP!!!

    December 5, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  17. 4sanity

    To K from Az,
    Since you asked, no you don't have it right.

    Scientists have proposed different hypotheses for the origin of the universe, including the big bang. I don't think any serious cosmologocial physicist would argue this is a settled scientific debate. But going beyond the origin and the weirdness (magic) of the instant the universe was "created" (and yes something can come out of nothing without violating our current understanding of the laws of physics), then scientists can map out and propose testable hypotheses for how things progressed past this point – such as inflation and establishment of our fundamental forces. After that it's no longer "magic" but physics and chemistry. The universe does proceed down a cosmic slide towards lower entropy, but that doesn't mean that at local levels you can't go against this gradient if you are able to input energy. Hence gas coallesces under gravity into stars although the entropy of the universe still decreases as it expands. Stars burn fuel that heat planets and input energy. Molecules react under the influence of energy – UV light, radiation, heat (sunlight) – to form new compounds. Nothing magical about that.

    And the pro-biotic stage of life on Earth certainly wasn't much different than what you can accomplish in a lab. Even within a split geological second (50 years) scientists today have come to the point of showing the basic building blocks of life (amino acids, nucleotides, sugars, lipids) arise out of this chemical soup. No need to invoke a deity. They'll polymerize and can create self-directed templates spontaneously. Lipids will self-assemble into stable membrane vescicles based on their chemical properties (in case you need convincing my 4-yr old can blow you some awesome bubbles). That spark of "life" that people of faith always claim can't possibly occur without divine intervention because of the how insanely improbable it appears, actually isn't. Chemical reactions occur as billions of billions of billions of molecules interact. To make the point: if just 1 mole of a simple randomly combined 50 bp RNA-like polymer molecule (or about 6 kg) that arose over the geography of our primeval Earth oceans acquired the ability to copy itself faithfully, then the critical essence of life would be there. Which is more likely: 620,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules undergoing a thousand chemical interactions per second for 1.5 billion years during the this pro-biotic stags on a planet of one of the universe's 1 septillion stars in the universe, i.e. 30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 reactions, that then becomes a primitive self-replicator (lifeform), or an almighty deity of the universe that decides on the outcome of last weekend's college football scores based upon which quarterback prayed harder to appease his mighty ego.

    And the amazing thing is the power that is unleased once life gets going. Evolution is a force of nature. We are all here today because of an unbroken line of life and reproduction that has successfully continued without failure for 3 billion years from our earliest common evolutionary ancestors. That truely is a miracle ..... and ultimately the point of our existence !

    December 5, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  18. Veritas

    K from AZ – Do you know what a "strawman argument" is? Probably not, since you're as dull as the unsharpened pencil you allude to. Don't act so high and mighty; you only believe in God because your parents and your community told you to every day since the day you were born. If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you'd be going on about Allah.

    December 5, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. Wilben Dahl

    Hey K from AZ

    The best part of your message was about the unsharpened pencil. Other then that it is as redicules as all the others. A scientist dealing with the same question you addressed wouldn't do much better, although he probably would never use the word "Magically". Four thousand of years man has created gods to allow him to explain things he could not otherwise explain. Only a limited number of those created a god in their own image. That concept was unique to the mideast four to maybe seven thousand years ago. I am somewhat surprised that you mention dinosaurs, Most religious teachers or self appointed spokespersons are horrified by the mention of dinosaurs. There was a time in history when a person could have been excommunicated for accepting their existance untill hundreds of tons of fossil remains were unearthed. Have you ever wondered whay the were not allowed on the Ark?

    Will

    December 5, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  20. Han

    Actually, science has proved that there is no such thing as absolutely nothing. Even empty space contains energy.

    The word magic only applies to those who don't understand. Similarly, magicians are people who do things that only they understand.

    Also, the explosion and expansion don't happen for "no reason." Thermodynamics guide everything and are indisputable laws of this universe.

    The beauty of science is that it gets us closer and closer to truth, and you can believe that truth with God or without God. Only stubborn people think science has to be done without God. Have you ever thought about the possibility that science is mankind's best understanding of God's work?

    December 5, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  21. paul

    K from AZ says: "Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil – it has no point."

    Just because you want life to have a point does not mean there has to be one.

    The scientific approach does not start with a desired end and then figures out how to explain things so as to end up there. First thing you need to do is to drop the self-fulfilling "belief" part of the equation.

    December 5, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  22. LordVngr

    Poor Rubio, He has to try and walk such a fine line as to not offend his base or the intellects.
    As a dem / indy I would never vote for the guy but I feel for him.
    Pandering to the religous right and the teaparty is Killing the Republician Party.

    I'm an Agnostic But I understand his point about the more one learns about science the more he is Sure there is a God.

    It's hard to look out at the Cosmos in all its wonder and glory and think it Just happened and the more I learn about the cosmos the more I see a Creators hand. Where did the Singularity come from.

    If God Exists I doubt he is the Bible God and We are just One of Many Intelligent Species in his Universe

    December 5, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. LD

    Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2016 Republican nominee...Mr. Marc Rubio!

    December 5, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  24. T-Roy

    If you want to know why the Republican's lost the last election, take a look at Rubio.

    As a moderate republican, this kind of ignorance and or pandering to the religious right is what pushes me away from my party. I am a physical conservative and embrace many conservative principles, but I do not embrace ignorance.

    Unless Rubio doesn't drive a car, visit a doctor or use a computer, he needs to stop rejecting science. You can not pick and choose. Saying he thinks the world is 6000 years old is a delusion. The Scopes trial was 80 years ago idiot!

    I dream of day when a guy like this is out on the street selling pencils, instead of representing Americans in Congress.

    December 5, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  25. rs

    freedom-
    Speaking of racism. Please, cite just one case and one place where Mr. Obama "incited racial warfare by saying that anyone who disagrees with him is a racist".

    You cannot. Once again, another Right wing lie tossed out against the President of the United States.

    The Right wonders why they lost the election.

    December 5, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
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