Marc Ambinder

How Marco Rubio could have answered that question

How old is the Earth, really?

Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida and early favorite to enter the Invisible Primary ahead of the 2016 presidential election, is a creationist. He fell into the trap laid nicely by GQ, telling a reporter that the age of the Earth is up for debate. A mystery, he said.

Well, it's not. It's about 4.5 billion years old, give or take a few million.

Sadly, many Americans don't know how old the Earth is. Interestingly, many of them, including a lot of Democrats, seem to be tugged by their religious tradition, even if they are not orthodox about their beliefs.

I think there's a way for Christian conservatives who believe in the literal (or proximately literal) truth of the Bible to answer the question without denying science. Denying science is not just a position; it is fundamentally a denial of modernity, which is why it is so, well, stupid, to the ears of elites, and even to the ears of folks who just know that geology isn't a just-so story. Atheists won't be satisfied with the answer, but who said that Marco Rubio has to satisfy atheists?  

"Look, it's billions of years old. And I'm a Christian, and the Bible describes its creation in beautiful detail, using metaphors. I think the Bible is true. I can believe in two things at once, and I don't care if you think it's silly. One is true on its face, and that's what the scientific method has taught us about the age of the earth. I have no choice but to believe that."

"The other is true because of my faith. I choose to believe in what the Bible tells me about our origins. Science tells us what happened, and for me, Genesis explains why it did. I don't need to reconcile anything or fall into the trap of thinking that my religion and faith are at odds with each other, really. All of us Christians are on a life-long quest to understand and appreciate the wonder of creation."

"For too long, Christian conservatives have been defensive about our beliefs, and some of us have taken that to the extreme, in that we deny the very principles of empiricism that allow us to appreciate the influence of the Scripture. Creationism, or whatever you want to call it, belongs in religion class, and our pastors and theologians can use those tales to teach us important and enduring moral lessons.  When it comes to public policy and science, we'll go with what science tells us. And we can also learn a lot about ourselves too."

"Go bother someone else with that question."

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