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. nothing new here

    Why do these politicians think they know it all?
    Because they are buffoons – never mind, I just answered my own question:)

    December 5, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. blake

    Mr. Rubio, starting your 2016 presidential run already? What does the age of the earth have to do with anything political?

    I want a candidate who can be trusted. I want a candidate who will balance the budget and signficantly reduce the size of the federal government. A candidate who will stand up for morality with our social policy. And a candidate that will provide a strong defense for our country. Stay on topic!

    December 5, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. WhazOnMyMind

    How do you talk sense to someone that has decided that not to believe what is verifiable but instead rely on Faith which of course is believing something in spite of what is known. Modern religion has become so twisted and self serving it's almost a disease. Following the teachings of a book that was written by men, edited by men, and compiled by men and claiming it was written by a perfect god but is so full of contradictions is absurd. To quote another post here.."religion...bad, spirituality and caring for others is good"

    December 5, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. Martin

    Spoken like a true politician who was given time to find a position to appeal to everyone.

    December 5, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. roger

    It's amazing how Joe Biden can say some of the dumbest things imaginable and not be called on it but when a Republican says something he or she is hung out to dry.

    December 5, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. Stu

    It would be great to see journalists/reporters ask politicians to clarify if answers are what they believe or just what they want their base to hear. Challenge the politicians every time.

    December 5, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. Joan Wheeler

    What a cop-out!

    December 5, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. I Think Freely

    It is so, so sad that people like Rubio, in places of power and influence A. actually believe the nonsensical ravings of an old, fictional book or B. don't believe them at all and are so afraid of losing their position they pander to the fear mongering right and allow the slavery that is religion to perpetuate.

    December 5, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Laurie in Spokane

    Rubio is really sashaying around both sides of the fence isn't he? Placate the regligious right with the creationism thing, and throw a sop to eh scientifically minded. Another one to speak out of both sides of his mouth, and another republican not to be trusted.

    December 5, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. WhereIsPalin

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

    That would lead to some great presidential press conferences, huh?

    December 5, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Mk54

    Rubio's only apparent qualification for President is his ability to be Hispanic and Republican at the same time. Perhaps that is why the questioner thought he might also be able to reconcile two other schools of thought that are light years apart, creationism with science.

    December 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "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!"

    Not particularly. The obvious first response (among myriad options) is "because if you can't give me a straight answer to that question, you're either an imbecile, a liar or both. Now choose."

    December 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. LOL MAN

    RUBIO FOR PRESIDENT

    We really need a president who thinks the Earth was created AFTER the Egyptians created the pyramids.

    December 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. gordyb

    Why is it so hard for these politicians to separate science from their religion? In his case, multiple religions. Who says you have to take the bible literally? To think or say the earth is only 6000 years old is absurd. Anyone who believes this needs to go back to school.

    December 5, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Tim

    How interesting it is that the very programs that gave him the opportunity to get where he is today (college loans, admitance to school based on ethnicity) are the very program who would eliminate or cut. He is living the american dream of opportunity because progressives paved the road for his success. My guess is that he would proclaim to be a "self made" man.

    December 5, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Sid Airfoil

    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.

    December 5, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. fernace

    Young earth Creationists have all sorts of mumbo jumbo, inlcuding, but not limited to, conspiracy & the devil to "explain" historic eras, such as Cretatious, Jurassic, Triassic & Pleistoscene! This is the USA where we can believe what we want in a church setting! When leaders of our government start to insert their faith in Established theories, it becomes tricky! Science informs us that our planet is aproximately 4.5 bil years, give or take a few mil! What has been pretty Positively Established is that it's much older than 10,000 years! It's scary to think that politicians serving on the Science & Technology Commission believe the latter, despite overwhelming proof! Rubio is free to worship however he pleases, but he's not free to insert worship points in government, such as introducing creationism in evolutionary science as a viable alternative! This is why separation of church & state is so important!!

    December 5, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. Tom

    If republicans were to have a more familiar relationship with science that would also require them to have a more familiar relationship with the truth. The verifiable kind of truth. Not the theoretical or faith-based kind of truth.
    Science is harder to manipulate than religion. It's harder to twist the words of living scientists and get away with it than it is the writer of a religious text who's been dead for several thousand years.

    December 5, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  19. Woman In California

    This is probably the only time, I will agree with Rubio and the president is spot on in his answer as well.

    December 5, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Kentucky Burbon

    The Bible states that in the "Beginning" God created the heavens and the earth... it never says when the beginning was, so science saying that the earth is 10 Trillion years old, doesnt take away from our spiritual beliefs that God created it in the beginning!

    December 5, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. Kentucky Burbon

    "gordyb– Why is it so hard for these politicians to separate science from their religion? In his case, multiple religions. Who says you have to take the bible literally? To think or say the earth is only 6000 years old is absurd. Anyone who believes this needs to go back to school."

    WE WALK BY FAITH NOT BY SIGHT

    December 5, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. vp

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

    that makes NO sense.

    December 5, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  23. Mariag

    Whoo. Thanks be to Rubio! Now we know.

    December 5, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Lardeau

    I believe we each come into this world – PROGRAMMED – in advance. It comes with our Soul that belongs to God. It is exquisite. But nowhere in that program are we supposed to know about GOD and CREATION. Evolution we can see.

    December 5, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. notogop

    Looks like to GOP has sent out a memo urging members to enter the 19th or 20th Century in their remarks, if not their personal thinking. Maybe they are, at least, outwarding trainable.

    December 5, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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