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."

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"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. MrBeenThere

    This is a Mote point. I vote for the Man not his faith. There are to many religious nuts pushing there views on us. There are good men of all different faiths and even atheist. Please Please PLEASE keep religion out of politics..........

    December 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. { ! }

    The current premier and liberal darling was not asked his thoughts on the age of the earth. But the question seems awfully important to members of the Liberal Inquisition when grilling Rubio. After all, the liberals can't risk having a candidate who thinks for himself.

    December 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Quixote

    Rubio is unqualified for so many reasons. No need to belabor this particualr one.

    But he may have shot himself in the foot with the tea baggers what think that Jebus done rode roun on a dinosaur.

    December 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "The Bible does not say ONE WORD about the age of the earth, and for scientists it is merely guess at best."

    In fact, the Pope just criticized the analysis that led people to claiming the Earth is only 6,000 years old (counting all the "begats" and tracing the genealogies in the Old Testament, etc.). It's not really Catholic dogma. It's just one of those funny things people have adopted dogmatically as a part of their culture in certain areas, which is why imbecile politicians feel a need to pussyfoot about it, but was never handed down as a tenet of faith.

    December 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Sniffit

    "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."

    Real legislators base policy decisions on the current best state of human knowledge and empirical observation/fact, not on unsupportable, unsubstantiated ideology/beliefs they simply subscribe to as a matter of "faith."

    December 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. itsonlyfair

    Rubio originally said that the Bible provided the "eyewitness" account to the Earth's age. He was directly disputing the scientific dating of the Earth vs. what it says in the Bible, not merely saying "oh, there's a different interpretation in the Bible, but I can't say whether it should really be taken literally or not".

    December 5, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. Thom Burke

    Took him that long to come up with that answer?! And this mental midget is being hailed by the GOP as an example of its bright future?!

    December 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Ambrose Smith

    He goes to both a Catholic church and a Baptist church, sometimes in one day?? Way to cover your bases Rubio!

    December 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. DOG1

    "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."
    So, what you've just said is that you would never be a viable candidate for president because you can't think on your feet and respond immediately with an answer to a question? Hopefully, were you to run in the future, you wouldn't have to see this quote over and over again.......................................but I bet you will.

    December 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Bob

    Another prime reason for the Seperation of Church and State

    December 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Facts don't Lie

    @ rs

    Ok I can understand your thiniking....perhaps I just feel there are for more important things for both sides to deal with than wondering how old our planet is. Heck we still have 25% of Republicans think the president is a Muslim and was born in Kenya and worst than that a larger number think he won with help from ACORN an orgnanization that no longer even exists! THAT is the kind of ignorance that I am more worried about.

    December 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. Stevelb1

    At least he didn't say the earth is 5000 years old and roll his eyes at the notion of science calling it 4.5 billion years old likle a lot of the wing nuts in the GOP.

    December 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. JeramieH

    > You have placed your faith in scientists

    No, we form our opinion based on the current evidence before us. That opinion may change as new evidence comes, but there is no "faith" involved. You're free to run all the same experiments the scientists did and get the same evidence if you like, you don't have to take their word for it.

    December 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. Freddie the Fez

    The Right Wing and Tea Party foam at the mouth, when they have the opportunity to grill a candidate questions like "How Old is the Eath," as if the answer describes their ability to govern. But it makes a nice test to gauge how deeply they hold the bible as the rule and guide for government. These people are the American taliban, and answering that the earth is 6000 years old is more important to the Tea Party Taliban than questions on foreign policy or monetary policy. Nicely played, Rubio, with your retort that the more you learn about science, the more you believe in God. Great way to play the middle of the road so as not to offend rational, thinking people and the Tea Party Taliban. He's just another nut cozying up to the religious right rather than basing his leadership on rational thought and compromise.

    December 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "for scientists it is merely guess at best. "

    Not even remotely a guess...and to call it a guess "at best" is even more hyperbolic nonsense. Go learn something about radiometric dating.

    And for those arguing that "accepted science sometimes changes, so it's totally ok to just reject it all outright and make up your own stuff to believe in to inform your legislative decisions" ...that's the path to nihilism. Setting aside the likelihood that we may already have this situation, do you really want 538 little Neitzsches running about DC making decisions about your life and our governance?

    December 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Bob Bigelow

    Why is it that the same person that would deny the existence of a creator, in the day of a calamity, is first to call upon God for help?

    December 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Well, at least he doesn't believe in planet Kolob.

    December 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "He added that if he had 30 minutes to sit down and write out his thoughts, he would have provided a better answer"

    He's had over a week and his answer still sucks.

    December 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  19. CG

    Wow. Don't they understand how the Bible works.. Old Testament was written by the Jewish People. They don't use it as religion, these are a bunch of stories. To entertain, educate in morality. Sad.

    December 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. shep

    If Grover Nordquist told Little Ricky the earth was 230 years old, he would agree.

    December 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. William Demuth

    For real?

    This guy is a pander bear.

    Either he answers the questions directly, or he NEVER EVER EVER gets my vote.

    Fundamentalists are poisoning our society as surely as the Taliban poison their own.

    If you teach your child the earth is only 10,000 years old, then you belong back in grade school, and your children belong in foster care.

    December 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. Bill

    Science has proven the age of the earth. Religion just teaches fairy tales. Republicans really need to stop answering questions of science with what their faith tells them because it makes them look uneducated and silly.

    December 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  23. William Demuth

    For real?

    This guy is a pander bear.

    Either he answers the questions directly, or he NEVER EVER EVER gets my vote.

    December 5, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Bought and paid for by Bush and Company, Rubio.

    December 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    someone observed:

    "In fact, the Pope just criticized the analysis that led people to claiming the Earth is only 6,000 years old (counting all the "begats" and tracing the genealogies in the Old Testament, etc.). It's not really Catholic dogma. ......"
    --------------------
    I've always wondered how "Christian experts" can come up with an age of a mere few thousand years when the Old Testament is filled with generation after genration of people who lived for hundreds and hundreds of years.

    December 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13