Marco Rubio is the junior Senator from Florida. He is also, if you’re not aware, one of the top people expected to contend for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
If you haven’t already heard, he recently gave an interview to GQ magazine (published this month) in which he was asked what he thinks the age of the earth is. Here is his answer:
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.
Within the small slice of reality that bloggers represent, this kicked off a bunch of backlash from people who thought that his answer was outrageous for someone in the public sphere. Specifcally, many were saying that Rubio (who seems to hold to faith in Christ), was promoting an anti-science agenda that is bad for america. “Leaders like this,” the reasoning goes, “are ruining our country by not believing in basic scientific facts which we depend on for our technological advantage in the world.”
Later he gave an interview clarifying his remarks to GQ. Here is what He said:
“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. 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.”
Now, if I had a chance to talk to the Senator, I’d want to get into the specifics of what He conceded in terms of the age of the earth, but for us in the Young Adults group, it seems like there’s some important things to think about in all this, regardless of how old the earth is.
For instance, we should notice–and be ready for–the kind of dialogue GQ wanted to have. Here are the questions they asked, leading up to the age of earth question:
“The Republican strategy after Obama came into office was to make sure the president didn’t have another term. The Republicans didn’t have a plan and were just going to say no to everything the president put forth.”
“One of the poignant moments in your book is when you’re hanging out with your grandfather on the porch. If he were with you now, what are some things you would ask him?”
“You were obviously very moved by your grandfather’s dignity and your father’s dignity. What are the qualities that would qualify for a man to have dignity?”
“How old do you think the Earth is?”
Did you catch that? Rubio himself said of the line of questioning: “I’m not a robot–it caught me off guard a little bit.” The interviewer clearly wanted to catch the Senator in an unguarded moment–fair enough–but it reveals that the interviewer knew Rubio held a position on this issue that many people would find offensive, and he wanted to expose him. My point here is only Peter’s point: We need to always be ready to give answers for the hope we hold. What would you say in a similar situation?