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. FactCheck

    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.
    ------–

    Joe Biden's dumb comment: "If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there's still a 30% chance we're going to get it wrong."

    Republicans dumb comment: "The Female Body Has Ways to Shut That Whole Thing Down", pregnancies resulting from rape are a gift from God.

    Get the picture?

    December 5, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Mac

    " "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. "
    -----
    30 minutes to sit down and write out his thoughts? Are you kidding me? And this guy is thinking about being president? If he needs half an hour to come up with a response to such a simple question (and it reallys is simple – you either accept science or you accept the creation spiel) ...than How does he think he is suited to govern and entire nation?

    Call me quirky, but I think we need someone who can think on his/her feet just a wee bit quicker than that.

    December 5, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    What? He doesn't go to a Mosque or to temple as well? I am insulted!!!!

    /sarcasm

    December 5, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Anthony in California

    Wont matter once Hillary or E Warren throw their hats in the mix for 2016. Game Over.

    December 5, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Julia

    science is just a gift from God, sometimes he lets us in on how he creates something, wasn't it Carl Sagan who said, If you wish to make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." One Grand Creator of all, we call him God The Father. Go out and look and the stars and take the time to say , Thank you God, for our beautiful home, earth.

    December 5, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. john

    All things will be answered in Gods' own time. I don't see why we make an issue out of it. we have a whole universe that we are learning about, and we have just started. we are in the elementary(not intentional)school at this time. So we just need to learn without argueing about it on religious beliefs.

    December 5, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Julia

    Julia
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    science is just a gift from God, sometimes he lets us in on how he creates something, wasn't it Carl Sagan who said, If you wish to make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." One Grand Creator of all, we call him God The Father. Go out and look and the stars and take the time to say , Thank you God, for our beautiful home, earth. Just want to add, that he also said I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Time is irrelevant.

    December 5, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Rubio didn't even know the history of his parents leaving Cuba or he purposedly lied so why would anyone be interested in hearing about his lack of knowledge of the earths creation. This guy is a GOP joke and furthermore cannot be trusted, Bush's boy.

    December 5, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. jj

    I will rely on scientists to tell me the age of the earth, the solar system, the galaxy and the universe, thank you.

    December 5, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. OOO

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

    How is that possible? What has science proven that previously, left totally to the imagination, is MORE convincing of a god? Science can only pair down the possibilities that your imiganation can dream up.

    December 5, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    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!
    ----------------
    Turn off the right wing media. You're being led by the nose.

    First, Susan Rice did not go on the Sunday shows to talk about Benghazi. She was on the shows because the UN General Assembly was opening session the following day, and the big topic was the Palestinians asking for recogniztion. Her appearances had been scheduled months in advance. As expected, she was asked about the incidents and responded with the prepared talking points that she had been given. Deviating from them would have been insubordination.

    Second, listen to the remarks in their entirety, and not just the sound bites that you hear in the right wing media. She acknowledges that information was unclear, incomplete, and ended her remarks by pointing out that the administration suspected that other elements had been at play.

    Finally, Republicans beating up on a young, black woman paints a very ugly picture of the Republican Party, especially considering that it fits the stereotype that the left has tattooed onto the Republicans.

    December 5, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. Andrew

    Wow, people still believe that bronze-age nonsense.

    December 5, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  13. Chad

    "God created the heavens and the earth, and science has given us insight into when he did it and how he did it."
    "The more science learns," he continued, "the more I am convinced that God is real."

    =>well said!!!!
    The more we learn, the more the theistic claim is backed up.

    Some recent scientific discoveries that validate the theistic claim:

    Fossil Record
    The fossil record does not show the gradual change over time that Darwin proposed.
    – 1972: phyletic gradualism (darwins "evolution") is debunked; fossil record shows a common ancestry developed by long periods of stasis interrupted with extremely short periods of rapid change.

    "Paleontologists have paid an enormous price for Darwin's argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we almost never see the very process we profess to study. We believe that Huxley was right in his warning. The modern theory of evolution does not require gradual change. In fact, the operation of Darwinian processes should yield exactly what we see in the fossil record. It is gradualism we should reject, not Darwinism. The history of most fossil species includes tow [sic] features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and 'fully formed.'" (Gould, Stephen J. The Panda's Thumb, 1980, p. 181-182)

    Cosmology:
    our universe had a beginning, it has not always been here as thought
    – 1929: Edwin Hubble discovers red shift,
    – 1965: discovery of microwave cosmic background radiation
    – 1998, two independent research groups studying distant supernovae were astonished to discover, against all expectations, that the current expansion of the universe is accelerating (Reiss 1998, Perlmutter 1999).
    – 2003: Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin's Past-Finite Universe proves our universe had a beginning

    our universe is fine tuned for the building blocks of life:
    – 2003 "There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the Universe is in several respects ‘fine-tuned' for life". However, he continues, "the conclusion is not so much that the Universe is fine-tuned for life; rather it is fine-tuned for the building blocks and environments that life requires." Paul Davies

    December 5, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. Huh?

    Actually I liked the comment "If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there's still a 30% chance we're going to get it wrong." attributed to Joe Biden. It is a stroke of brilliance.

    December 5, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Bob

    The inconsistency between the Bible and science as to the age of the earth is created by people with an agenda on both sides of the debate. Fairly examined, there isn't one.

    The Bible does not say the earth was created 6,000 years ago, nor does it even say when it was created at all. In fact, it leaves ample room for the job to have taken millions of years.

    Genesis 1:1 says God created the heavens and the earth at some point. Maybe gazillions of years ago. Maybe all at once, maybe over time. Who knows?

    Gen 1:2 is where the action is, and what it says depends on which version you read. The King James says "the earth was without form and void," with darkness upon it. Many people assume this is still in the same time frame as verse 1. But does that make sense? God created it, and it had no form and was void?

    Other versions say the earth "became" without form. That makes more sense. Something happened to it after it was initially created that beat it up. And if you read elsewhere in the Bible it talks about how the angel Lucifer and a third of the angels tried an insurrection against God. There was a fierce battle, and Lucifer was stripped of his position and thrown back to Earth. Might this battle have happened between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2? Might the earth, in whatever form it was at the start of it, have been phsically damaged? We don't know. Science talks of cataclysmic events millions of years ago, and they might very well refer to this.

    At some point, then, Got recreated Earth. This appears to be the creation referred to in the later verses of Genesis. But this doesn't mean there wasn't a physical planet here for millions of years before. It doesn't mean there couldn't have been all sorts of creatures on that first vesion of Earth. Maybe some of those creatures were dinosaurs. Maybe some were early versions of humans. Maybe that system developed through an evolutionary process. Maybe not.

    The Bible just doesn't tell us.

    So when science says this plant came into being billions of years ago, I'm ok with that. When they say they have evidence of creatures evolving over time, sure, that's interesting. When they say they can show something like humans in different forms, cool.

    But none of that contradicts the Bible. It says the earth was created by God. Science can't refute that, nor can they provide any reasonable explanation. (By the way, if you like the theory of life being caused by the energy of planets colliding, I'd be interested to know where those planets came from and where the laws of nature that caused them to collide came from.) It also seems to have Adam being created about 6,000 years ago, and science can't refute that either. Microsoft Windows 2008 might have been released in 2012, but it would be a mistake to leap from that fact to the conclusion Windows did not exist in any form prior to 2012.

    December 5, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  16. Willl

    What BS....he got caught with his Catholic pants down and now is backtracking for votes..he is a tool and a fool.

    December 5, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. The Situation

    This guy is an idiot! If this is a frontrunner for 2016 for the Rethugs, God Can't even help them

    December 5, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. lathebiosas

    He's already done himself in. NEXT!

    December 5, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. mdbill

    i think he did a fine job of answering a question coming from left field and i'm an old democrat. find some fiscal policy, or lack thereof, that he advances and pick that apart.

    December 5, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  20. yogi

    Mr. Rubio, it would help if you would show more courage, and BTW, science will indeed give us insight in when but not how. Let's leave the how up to God.

    December 5, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. al in memphis

    I'm not a republican, but I really don't see an issue with exactly what was said. We all have the ability to formulate an opinion about any subject. Why does every opinion have to support some theory that science is trying to prove. And when science can't explain it, then there is some theory about why it can't explain things.
    Science is just man's limited understanding of how God actually put things in order. And that coming from an engineer.

    December 5, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Rosslaw

    Great question! When did God create Hispanics? And where do you find your reference to Hispanics in the Bilble? If none, then Rubio must be the spawn of Satan. Impeccable right-wing evangelical logic.

    December 5, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. yeahitsme72

    Comparing the bible's view of the earth's age with science's view is like comparing a finger painting to a photograph. You don't expect it to be accurate or even necessarily representing something real. It's an artistic expression.

    Rubio pretending there's anything more to it than that is just that... pretending.

    December 5, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. ja

    man you have pushed the button, stfu, sombody said to me rubio 2016, by way of palin, the democrats will win the presidency again

    December 5, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  25. kathy/Minnesota

    Does the GOP know the relationship between CUBANS and LATINO'S?........EXACTLY, get a clue and maybe instead of looking for a brown face, look inside yourselves for "CHANGE"

    December 5, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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