Profiles in Republican courage

In an interview, Florida’s Republican senator Marco Rubio, widely seen as a potential candidate on a future national ticket, ducks a direct question that should have an obvious answer.

GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?

Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

It is true that the age of the Earth has nothing to do with short-term economic policy. But your answer to such a question reveals whether you are a reality-based person or someone who lives in fantasyland. And if you duck such question, that tells us even more about your fitness to hold high office. It is true that you are not a scientist but saying that implies that you think that scientists do know the answer. So why not ask one? Florida has plenty of them. To then talk about there being “dispute amongst theologians” makes no sense.

The real mystery is how it has come to be that in 21st century America, people running for office should be scared to take a position on the age of the Earth and think that theologians have any relevance on such an issue.

Senator Rubio, here’s the answer you should give the next time someone asks you this question: “According to our best scientific knowledge, the age is 4.54 billion years, give or take 50 million years.”

And if you want to really impress people that you are reality-based, add that, “According to our best scientific knowledge, the age of the universe is 13.75 billion years, give or take 130 million years.”

See, that wasn’t so hard was it?


  1. busterggi says

    Sorry isn’t it that willful ignorance is considered a virtue by the Religious Reich. And you can’t run as a Repube at any level without their support.

  2. UnknownEric says

    I’m not a scientist, man.

    Anybody else read that in that typical cliche hippie voice? “I’m not a scientist, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.”

  3. Chiroptera says

    In fact, I was cracking up when I first read that, and I’m still laughing.

    I sure hope Rubio did that on purpose.

  4. F says

    It is true that the age of the Earth has nothing to do with short-term economic policy.

    Actually, this, along with its attendant baggage, does have some effect on economic policy. It supports the endless oil/dominion over Earth/God won’t let x happen to us mindset.

  5. eric says

    He might be ducking the personal belief question, but I don’t think he’s ducking the important policy question which would be relevant to a President. I.e., should creationism be taught in public schools. His answer is pretty clearly yes. “I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all.”

    That is pretty clearly ‘teach both sides of the controversy.’

    I predict that if he does run for President, he’ll walk back from this. It might fly in Texas or Louisiana, but in most other states, over creationism is almost as toxic to moderate voters as Mitt’s overt sexism and classism. Consider both Kansas and Dover. The creationists only held sway until the silent majority were made aware of it; when they showed up at the polls, it ended.

  6. smrnda says

    He starts by stating “I am not a scientist” which is, at least, a step in the right direction, but then quickly refers to the question of the age of the earth as a question for theologians ( theologians != scientists) and then discusses the Bible and the 7 literal days or ‘ages.’ He starts with science, but abandons any discussion of science or actual scientific theories within a few words. I don’t think this is a well-thought out response, but the fact that he quickly just lapses into a discussion of religion shows you that he’s really only giving a slight nod that science is even relevant. Expect him to try to legislate the bronze age.

  7. mnb0 says

    “See, that wasn’t so hard was it?”
    Alas, Prof. Singham, being honest is very, very hard for fundies.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    Back when (the lesser) MR was leader of the Florida state senate, he repeatedly expressed the opinion that public schools should not teach anything which disagreed with what parents told their kids.

    I always wanted to ask him what a teacher should do after hearing that a student’s mom claimed the North fired the first shots in the US Civil War, or a dad said that penguins live at the North Pole.

    Seems like Rubio wants all discussion limited to the scope of the most ignorant person involved (however peripherally). He will clearly go far in the Republican Party.

  9. Doug Little says

    Well I guess this is good for the Democrats. The longer the Republican front runners refuse to promote well understood scientific facts the harder it will be for them to win an election. This shit is just not gonna wash anymore there is just not enough massively ignorant people in the states that matter to gain a majority anymore. Did they learn nothing from the election?

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