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. cedar rapids

    'Carol Johnson -The Bible says that to God a day in no different than a thousand years, so we do not have any idea how God created the earth or how he created it how long in our years or days it took'
    why would it take anytime at all? if god is really a god why didnt everything just magically appear in an instant the second he thought of it?

    'JohnnyL – It is impossible to prove, and we have no mechanism in which to both measure this and to confirm that our measurements are accurate.......but I simply do not think that they have the capability of measuring this'
    Why? why do you think they cannot measure it? They use radiometric decay measurements, using known decay rates, to get fairly accurate measurements, why do you think that is wrong?

    December 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. GBfromOhio

    Religious dogma ... bad. Spirituality and love for your fellow man ... good. Any questions?

    December 5, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. freedom

    @ Rudy NYC
    Are you kidding? The president sent Susan Rice on FIVE Sunday morning shows to definitvely say the Benghazi massacre was due to a video! Patraeus knew it was a terrorist attack within minutes. You don't think that was communicated to the White House? Then Hilary Clinton stated it was due to a video while standing over flag draped caskets of the murdered ambassador and servicemen. Disgraceful, disturbing, and a threat to our national security.

    December 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    Rubio needs to hone up on his issues of faith. Either he has faith or he doesn't. The "more science learns" won't help him increase his chances of being on the "winning side" no matter how hard he tries to appease both sides.

    December 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. Bill

    Johnny L: "the earth is 4.5 billion years old is a hypothesis. It is impossible to prove, and we have no mechanism in which to both measure this and to confirm that our measurements are accurate."

    Wrong.

    We have no means that you understand. But the means are there.

    December 5, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. Adrien

    RR – I would vote for you!

    December 5, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. ronjayaz

    He's already identified himself as a Creationist. That's an automatic 3-strikes & you're out. The Republicants just dont get it.

    December 5, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. steve

    Heck, I didn't know that the age of the earth, religion, Rubio, and Benghazi are related topics?

    December 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  9. Brasil1958

    "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."

    Batter up!...next GOP crackpot to take a run for the WH. If Rubio can't answer it I can. NO to the 7 days and if era's are billions of years I agree with that.

    December 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. DaNuser

    This is my favorite part: ""scientific debate," which he said has definitively established the planet is at least 4.5 billion years old."

    How can there be a debate about something that's been "definitively established"?

    December 5, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. Maya

    Rubio is pandering to evangelicals. The Catholic Church isn't one that reads the Bible literally or demands belief that the Earth was created in seven literal days. He's pandering to people to dumb to understand what an allegory is.

    December 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Chuckie

    The Roman Catholic Chruch and the Baptists still have some serious doctrinal and theological disagreements, e.g., infant baptism efficacious or not? For the secular and disbelievers these disputes are trivial, but to the true believers, they are significant. If Rubio is attending services at both churches on a Sunday, he belief doesn't run very deep.

    December 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. rosie

    In fact NONE of us knows how old the Earth is. No one does. Period. How it formed and when it formed are just not questions we can answer definitely at this time. That is the cool part of science, the want and desire to answer questions that have no current answer. We are curious by design – if you believe god designed us then you have to be curious be default and then you should be supportive of scientific research. It would be really great to know the mind of god but even a great scientist like Einstein said we can never do that.

    December 5, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. Observer

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

    Proof that this clueless man should never be considered for president. What a disgrace!

    December 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. kuewa

    So, if he was President and was confronted with a straightforward personal belief question (such as how old he thinks the Earth is), he would need to retreat for 30 minutes to draft an answer? I'd hate to think how long it would take for him to react to a national crisis. We already had a problem with a President who couldn't decide whether to stop reading a children's book during a crisis.

    December 5, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. rino

    This guy will do anything, say anything to get money or power. So yes he is typically GOP material.

    December 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. dre

    Too late. I won't vote for the guy now.

    December 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. paul

    why don,t you people leave politics to the politician and religion to religion, in this country we have the privelege of believeing what we want and the privelege not to believe any thing if we so choose, the news people keep these arguements going by sticking a microphone in your face and asking a supriesd question that is farthest from your mind, tell them to come back in a year and you will answer them,

    December 5, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. Sy2502

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

    Actually, we are able to answer that. There are certain things called scientific facts. There's also other things called indisputable evidence. Also I couldn't care less what Marco Rubbio thinks about the age of the earth. I care even less about what a bronze age book says about the age of the earth, especially since the same book also says the earth is flat. I prefer to go by more credible sources, thank you.

    December 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. TheRationale

    30 minutes to sit down and think about it? What a moron. It takes a few seconds for it to find out if your answer is correct or incorrect. You either fall on the side of science or you're wrong. Giving the scientific answer doesn't take too long. If you need THAT much time to hash out an answer, you're at best just giving a middle of the road answer trying to pander for votes, and at worst an ignoramus who's perpetuating baseless uncertainty about the matter and giving credence to the anti-science effort.

    December 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. TonyInNYC

    Because millions of Americans are unable to distinguish between science and faith, American politicians are afraid to articulate the distinction.

    December 5, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. SilverHair

    Think he didn't pay too much attention in any of his classes.

    December 5, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. EGB2

    He's already being led by the nose by the most extreme element of his party. It looks like the Tea Party nuts will still have the Republican Party in their pocket again in 2016.

    December 5, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. Pete

    All-purpose answer for politicians: "Whatever the majority of voters want me to have said, I just said that."

    December 5, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Santex

    I think the proper answer to any reporters question should be,"Please clarify why you want to know that...?" Now wouldn't that set some folks to stuttering!

    December 5, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
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