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. Sniffit

    "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?"

    I'm sorry, but if you'd reallyk like the Teatrolls to get the picture, youhave to use cave paintings.

    December 5, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Get the picture?"

    Of course not. If you want the Teatrolls to get the picture, you have to use cave painting.

    December 5, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Lesson: If you don't say stupid, pandering, disinformative things in the first place, you don't have to try to correct them later with more stupid, pandering, disinformative things in the second place.

    December 5, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Jim Hahn

    What a moron. Has anyone ever though about some rather obvious questions:
    1. If God is all powerful and all knowing, why weren't we created with the knowledge we have today? or tomorrow?
    2. If God did create earth, why did he start with dinosaurs and not people? Logic and science tells us that the world started with microorganisms.
    3. If God did create dinosaurs, why did he (and does God really have a gender?) create something that he would have known would go extinct?
    4. If God is all powerful and all knowing, why did he create animals that have very inefficient digestive systems at the same time as creating animals that have efficient digestive systems? This is just one questions among millions relating to the animal species.

    Of course, believing in some imaginary deity in the sky, generates more questions than it answers. It leaves me laughing at the absurdity of it all.

    December 5, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. Geraard Spergen

    If I were a religious nutjob running for president, I'd say "Yeah, I'm religious, but Genesis is not a reliable resource concerning history, geology, or astronomy. The universe is 14 billion years old and the earth is 4.5 billion years old."

    December 5, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. OBAMACARE is here to stay ladies and gentlemen

    Please Let him keep talking like palin, Dems going to win it again in 2016 lol

    December 5, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. grayfox

    FactCheck, if you don't see the difference between those two "dumb" statements, I don't know what to say. Biden's comment, while maybe a bit inelegant, is simply stating that even with the best intentions and best understanding of something at the time, there's still a possibility of a course of action going wrong. Aikin's comment, on the other hand...holy cow, what can I say?

    December 5, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. JMO

    OK, this is how it went down. God said to Moses: "Here is how it happened, I created the Universe 13.8 billion years ago with a Big Bang and the Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago after eons of complex stellar chemistry, physics and biology beyond anything you could imagine...." After a long blank stare, "OK, let's try this again. A few thousand years ago, I created everything in a week....You with me now?"

    December 5, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. Jeff in TX

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Some people will never learn.

    December 5, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. Marshall

    Rubio was disingenuously trying to straddle the fence with rational thinkers on one side and the pre Age of Enlightenment Republican base that yearns for a return to legend and myth on the other side. Rubio needs to separate himself from the
    retrograde and extremist religious views of Huckabee, Bachman, Santorum, Perry and the like if he expects to be a serious candidate in 20016.

    December 5, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    "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."
    Biden is acknowledging the fact that you cannot know everything, not even when you think you do. In fact, people who claim to know everything are always ignorant of everything else.

    December 5, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    Who cares what an intellectual lightweight thinks? He was raised a Mormon, dropped that to become Catholic, and is prepared to jump ship to the Baptists to appeal to another element of his base. I just want to know how he plans to vote and why, and how much campaign cash is he getting from billionaires who are off-shoring our manufacturing base. I could care less what his take on the age of the Earth is, since his answer will be dictated by whatever group gives him the biggest check.

    December 5, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Sad that an intelligent young man like Rubio had to "act" stupid so that he'll appeal to the republican base. What does this say about the republican base? That stupidity and ignorance are a virtue. Mitt did the same pandering and look where that got him.

    December 5, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Fernace... You hit the nail on the head... Those of you saying Rubio's response doesn't matter are seriously wrong. He can believe whatever he wants... I would fight for a persons right to do so... But the issue that matters is... He represents a group that wants to FORCE those beliefs on the masses. They want to toss out the Separation of Church and State (one of the wisest restrictions the Founding Fathers ever came up with.. because they saw the bad of Church running the State). There are actually groups that have and are trying to force schools to stop teaching science and insert Creationism... There are people who don't what you to have the right to believe anything different than they do... I work with a woman who told me.. We need a law to make sure everyone in the USA is a Christian.. if Not, you get deported! THAT... is the mindset we have to fight... THAT is why what Rubio believes is important!

    Kick out everyone that isn't a Christian???? Are you serious???? Teach our children Creationism and not that Evil Science stuff... Please. No... We can't make our children totally ignorant in the eyes of the world!

    THAT is why we need to know what people believe!!!!!

    December 5, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Tom Davis

    Like many Roman Catholics, Rubio doesn't seem as conversant with church teachings as one might hope. The best Roman Catholic scholars haven't had a problem reconciling geology with Genesis in decades. Now, the Southern Baptists are a different story.

    I wish someone would ask him to define the Immaculate Conception. Odds are he has it confused with the Virgin Birth, as do many Catholics, and most Protestants.

    And Marco, Genesis says the earth was created in SIX days, not seven. On the seventh day (Sabbath), God rested. Have you even read the story for yourself?

    December 5, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Marc Florida

    I guess the Rs are finally standing up to the nut factor. There's hope for them.

    December 5, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. JBullets

    Welcome to America, where half the population has a grasp on reality that rivals the Taliban, and is proud of it.

    December 5, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. RR

    And this is the GOP's great hope for possibly winning the presidency in 2016? Not going to happen.

    December 5, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. bspurloc

    "The more science learns," he continued, "the more I am convinced that God is real."
    No Rubio... the more U LEARN from science the more educated u r... but seeing how it took u 20+ years to learn about this scientific fact there is no hope....

    December 5, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Dum Hycks

    Americans are just like Canadians, but with one quarter of their IQ removed and replaced by religion.

    December 5, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. parents should be able to teach their children whatever they believe

    Gee, and here I thought that parents should be teaching their children THE TRUTH.

    They're sure not going to find it in that book of lies called the Bible!

    December 5, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. Silly Hycks

    Americans are just like Canadians, but with one quarter of their IQ removed and replaced by religio'n

    December 5, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    no matter what rubio would have said, you liberal droolers would twist and turn and distort the message...and you wonder why conservatives don't understand you. no, scratch that last comment – you don't give a rat's ass if conservatives understand, you just don't give a damn!

    December 5, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. freedom

    @ Rudy NYC
    You are brainwashed. And the first female African American Secretary of State was appointed by George W. Bush. Her name is Condoleeza Rice. He also appointed Colin Powell. Republicans are not racist. Obama and his administration are, and they have succeeded in poisoning minds like yours. He has incited racial warfare, when he had the opportunity to be a great president. He has tarnished his reputation forever. Fox is a very credible news source, and has the highest cable news ratings. Others bash them because they are threatened. My facts are sound, my thinking is sound. I disagree with you on every level.

    December 5, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. 78% of Americans are deluded & believe in Angels

    It's a sad, pathetic fact. Look around you: more than 3 out of 4 people believe in invisible beings with wings and harps that flit around singing Hallelulilllielulilly.

    December 5, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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