Rubio clarifies age of the Earth answer
December 5th, 2012
10:26 AM ET
8 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. Bob

    Can't walk the line and expect to win the electorate.

    December 5, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. DB

    You'd think the GOPers would have figured out by now that the "Etch-a-Sketch" strategy doesn't work.

    Senator Rubio, you cannot pander to the lunatic fringe of your party and still make yourself a centrist. You had your chance to give a sensible answer to the question, but your first instinct was to tell the Iowa Republican caucus participants what they wanted to hear. That is what you will be remembered for.

    I believe in God with every fiber of my being, and I think the Earth is just as old as the scientists say it is. There is absolutely no conflict between these two beliefs. As long as your party is completely obsessed with pandering to those who think they have to choose between God and science, your influence in this country will continue to wain and you will never recapture the White House. Which, quite frankly, is wonderful to me...because your party's policies are unbelievably destructive to our country.

    December 5, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Damien

    so if a parent decided to teach his child that not only was murder ok but that god wanted them to murder anyone who didnt agree with them... that's ok because parents should be able to teach their child whatever they want if it conforms to their "faith"

    go religion

    no i mean really.. go.. leave... go away

    December 5, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. Ol' Yeller

    That is a bit of a cop out.... Think about it, if you were asked your favorite rap song you should be able to answer with little thought... and the next question is, 'How old is the Earth?', does this confuse you and give you pause to think anymore than, what is your favorite rap song? They are simple questions about what you believe (though one is less opinion than fact). His delay had nothing to do with any 'Gotcha question' (a favorite of the many victim claims), and more to do with 'I need to run that by my handlers because I am already running for President'.

    December 5, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Justin

    The Politico Playbook. Excellent.

    December 5, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Memo to Rubio from Hispanics: Stop embarassing us. We are well read and smart but you make us all look bad. Make peace with science and facts, they are wonderful things.

    December 5, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. pink hase

    To DB:
    Well said

    December 5, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Andrew

    Keep pandering to ignorant and crazy.

    December 5, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Kamal

    How does the bible define a 1000-year period? I'm sure the guys who wrote the bible were not idiots, for crying out loud 2000 years ago the egyptians/persians had figured out the number of day in a year. So, being God and all, she would have had this number in mind. Known to have a good sense of humor she probably hid the conversion rate in the bible foot notes. Has anyone checked the finely printed notes? I don't have a bible with me (any more), just look it up! I say, you multiply the 7k or 8k years by the conversion rate and presto; you'll end up with 4.5 billion years! Don't let these science buffs make fun of this magnificent religion followed by so many intellects!

    December 5, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  10. doodahman

    "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.

    He was taken by surprise? He would have given the correct answer if only he would have had 30 minutes to sit down and write out his thoughts? It would have taken him that long? As opposed on how long it actually took him to correct any such misconceptions? Well,. alrighty then..

    Somewhere Mitt must be applauding Rubio for the latter trying to be all things for all people..

    December 5, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  11. freedom

    The Obama admin. has incited racial warfare by saying that anyone who disagrees with him is a racist. He's using the fact that he's black as a weapon and manipulation tool. He has no integrity. He is squelching this moment in American history to incite division in our country, not unity. This would have been a prime moment for unity with the first black president. He brought all of this on – not the republicans. No one ever heard Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice mention anything about racism while they served our country, and republicans never expressed concern about the skin color of these individuals. Obama and his admin. continue to cry "racist" at every turn – even if you don't like or watch Fox News, it's on CNN and every other news channel as well. You can't miss it. It's disgraceful and very damaging.

    December 5, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. Jack

    Ok. So first he says maybe 7 days. Then he goes back and consults with his political advisers and they say you need to change that. So now he says 4.5 billion years. He said "I"m no scientist." No. What you should have said is "I'm stupid. I skipped science classes. I don't want to offend the religious wackos in my party." That would have been honest at least. Sorry. The first time that question was asked a 5th grader could have answered it. Maybe not the exact number but at least they;d say "billions of years." If he honestly did not know that answer he is dumber than a box of rocks. If he knew the answer and said what he did to appeal to extremists he is worse than dumb. He is dishonest.

    December 5, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Marshall

    Think About It you are truly scary with all that nonsense. I despair at the ignorance of the American people about science. One would think that the "Age of Enlightenment" has never arrived. How can people be so ignorant in this day and age? How can they be so ignorant? No one can determine anything about science according to the bible. Stop referencing creationist nonsense.

    December 5, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  14. Jules

    The answer, "I haven't a clue" did not occur to Rubio. Not smart enough to be president.

    December 5, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. phearis

    Does this guy wear a bicycle helmet where ever he goes?????

    December 5, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Blackflag

    When your basic allegiance is to the religious fringe in your party rather than the truth, you are fundamentally unqualified to hold elected office. Period. End of story.

    December 5, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. Jack

    Get off his back! It's his belief!

    December 5, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. jrumor

    the politicians must hate it when the facts and religion clash...

    December 5, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. DisabledVet

    OK...I am sorry but this makes NO SENSE.
    " '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."

    SO....if you are a RACIST...its totally OK to teach that to your kids. If you BELIEVE that KILLING someone is OK...that's OK to teach your children. Lets go to the BASICS...GRAVITY. If a parent says, "Well I don't believe in gravity, so that's what I want to teach my kids" THAT IS WRONG.

    Teaching your children to doubt PROVEN SCIENTIFIC FACTS raises STUPID, IGNORANT & BLIND adults that do not contribute to a civilized successful society.

    I CANNOT understand what is happening to society. For some reason the religious want discard facts. "The SKY IS BLUE" it is NOT...that is a lie. Because I say its a lie. THIS IS RIDICULOUS. What is WRONG with you people?!

    December 5, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. mike

    "and science has given us insight into when he did it and how he did it." Unless, of course, the science is inconsistent with his very conservative faith.

    December 5, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. Steve

    Your asking me to use reality?

    December 5, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  22. Furbish Lousewart

    Just curious how many people on here bashing Rubio for not instantly saying "4.5 billion years" actually know WHY we think that is how old the Earth is. Because unless you do some research or take a class and learn the physics behind this, you're really not any better than someone who argues the Earth is 6000 years old.

    Not pointing any fingers, just making a general call to be educated.

    It might also interest you to know that there are no rocks on Earth that are as old as the Earth! Interesting, right?

    December 5, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. K from AZ

    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.

    December 5, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  24. Evolving Thought

    Why is it that Rubio needs 30 minutes to write down his thoughts and Obama made a cogent and succinct statement about the matter of the earth's age on the fly? Huh? Huh?

    Like any of the yahoos that the Republicans have offered for the Presidency, Rubio is another ignorant, unprincipled buffoon who doesn't know his own limitation.

    December 5, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  25. Tim Tully Sr

    Our next President needs 30 minutes to answer the question about the age of the Earth. He should fit right in with the rest of the GOP bobble heads .

    December 5, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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