After being ridiculed for dancing around evasively in response to a question on the age of the Earth, in a new interview, the senator from Florida and prospective candidate for the 2016 Republican nomination decided he had better revise his answer, and tried to hitch himself to Barack Obama’s similar answer.
“Science says it’s about four and a half billion years old and my faith teaches that that’s not inconsistent,” he clarified. “The answer I gave was actually trying to make the same point the president made a few years ago, and that is there is no scientific debate on the age of the earth. I mean, it’s established pretty definitively as at least four and a half billion years old … I was referring to a theological debate and which is a pretty healthy debate.”
“The theological debate is how do you reconcile what science has definitively established with what you think your faith teaches? For me, actually, when it comes to the age of the earth there is no conflict: I believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and I think scientific advances give us insight into when he did it and how he did it,” he said. “But I still believe God did it, And that’s how I’ve been able to reconcile that and I think it’s consistent with the teachings of my church. But other people have a deeper conflict and I just think in America we should have the freedom to teach our children whatever we believe.”
At least now he concedes that there is a scientific consensus for the age of the Earth, and it is not 6,000 years. So we know that he is not a Biblical literalist and young Earth creationist. It was interesting that he framed his answer in the context of the GOP needing to realize that it is the 21st century, an implicit criticism that the party is stuck in past attitudes. Someone needs to now ask him his views on evolution and on climate change to see how far he wants to venture into this new age.
Will this revised answer get him in trouble with the religious crazies in his party? Maybe. Perhaps he’s hoping that this is early enough in the process that people will forget about it when the primaries come around and not ask him again. That seemed to work for Mitt Romney who back in 2007, said that he did not support the idea of teaching creationism and intelligent design in science classes. That question did not seem to have come up this time around.
But it will be interesting to see if Rubio gets any pushback from the religious crazies.