GOP 2016: Science Committee Member Marco ‘Not A Scientist’ Rubio Says Age Of Earth Is ‘One Of The Great Mysteries’

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"GOP 2016: Science Committee Member Marco ‘Not A Scientist’ Rubio Says Age Of Earth Is ‘One Of The Great Mysteries’"

The leading contenders for the GOP presidential nomination are already jockeying for title of ‘most anti-scientific’.

The title of most ironic anti-scientist goes to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who proudly displayed his anti-intellectualism in a new GQ interview:

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.

Uhh, Sen. Rubio, may not be a scientist but he is a member of the Senate’s Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee. And presumably because he’s from Florida, home of the Kennedy Space Center, Rubio is actually on the Science and Space Subcommittee (!) which “has responsibility for science, engineering, and technology research and development and policy; calibration and measurement standards; and civilian aeronautical and space science and policy.”

The painful irony is that it is science and space science and NASA that have provided us with an accurate dating of the Earth — 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years:

This age is based on evidence from radiometric age dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples.

Ah but I guess Rubio believes that kind of complicated sciency stuff is best left to scientists, not the people who oversee them and fund them. After all,  there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created — and we should “teach them all,” including “The World Turtle (also referred to as the Cosmic Turtle, the World-bearing Turtle, or the Divine Turtle),” which is “a giant turtle (or tortoise) supporting or containing the world.” And as I’m sure you know, this theory is entirely self consistent, hence the dictum “It’s turtles all the way down.”

For the record, while people can believe whatever they want, teaching them whatever someone happens to believe is not the path to a competitive 21st-century workforce — so it isn’t irrelevant to how our economy will grow as Rubio suggetss. The National Center for Science Education posted this statement on creationism from “scientists at universities and colleges in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana”:

Students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level. These students will need remedial instruction in the nature of science, as well as in the specific areas of science misrepresented by Answers in Genesis.

Rubio naturally denies the reality of manmade climate change, too — if you reject the basic, universally-accepted stuff like radiometric dating, you’re gonna have trouble acknowledging things that are accepted by only 97% to 98% of climate scientists.

TPM has more in its piece, “Creationism Controversies The Norm Among Potential Republican 2016 Contenders.”

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32 Responses to GOP 2016: Science Committee Member Marco ‘Not A Scientist’ Rubio Says Age Of Earth Is ‘One Of The Great Mysteries’

  1. Lawrence says:

    Marco Rubio is also not an economist, so I guess we shouldn’t expect to hear anything from him on economic policy. Nor does he possess a business degree, so he’s unqualified by his own standards to speak about job growth & creation. He’s not a medical doctor either, so we shouldn’t hear anything about abortion.

    Come to think of it, he doesn’t have a political science degree, so maybe he shouldn’t be a politician.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Representative democracy is not based on an educational meritocracy but on citizens at large so you would expect a smattering of wacky beliefs. What is worrying about USA politicians is the huge number of wackos, and therefore, the general educational level of the population, ME

    • Bob M says:

      It’s not because he’s not a scientist, but because he understands science less than most 8th graders.

      I admit, I don’t think someone with a seventh-grade science education is qualified to do any of those things. Has anyone asked him whether he still believes in Santa Claus?

      • A Siegel says:

        Seems to me that this potentially is insulting. Not to Rubio, but America’s youth. An awful lot of 5th graders would do better than this. Imagine an evolution (or even better, climate change) question in “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” Rubio would be buzzed off the show as the 5th grader’s smirk at him.

  2. Does the age of the Earth or the creation of the Universe or the biological origin of the human species really make that much difference in the day-to-day life of the average American? Probably not. But I DO expect our elected officials to live in the REAL world, rather than subscribing to a lot of superstitious nonsense.

    Marco Rubio was not asked, “How old is the Earth?” He was asked, “How old do you think the Earth is?” Surely he has an belief, based either on science of theology, but instead he chose to dance away from the question. I find that dismaying. If we take “Young Earth” creationism at face value, EVERYTHING we know about physics and astronomy and even higher mathematics completely falls apart.

    During his campaign Mitt Romney lamented how science education was lagging behind the rest of the Western industrialized world. Considering how 46% percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years, Romney certainly would have had his work cut out for him if he had been elected.

    Let’s face it: “Young Earth” creationism is the antithesis of science. It completely inverts the scientific method, starting with an assumption (i.e. “God did it.”), then contorting science to fit that assumption, and if scientific facts do not support the notion that “God did it,” those facts can be dismissed as nothing less than an elaborate Satanic deception. I expect fundamentalist Christian preachers to spew this kind of gobbledygook, but not members of the House Science Committee and CERTAINLY not up-and-coming Presidential prospects.

  3. jyyh says:

    why does a creationist always book two “round-the-world” trips?
    – to return to the correct day and place the other way around.

    The joke here is of course the comparison of creationists to flat-earthers, they are not the same.

  4. peter whitehead says:

    Yet these people use fossil fuels – the clue is in the word FOSSIL

    When did a creationist last find an oilfield?

    The Age of Reason never reached some folks. Happy dark ages, Rubio.

    • Chris Winter says:

      The HuffPost article notes that, after saying that he thought the Genesis account of Earth’s creation was “essentially true,” Barack Obama went on to defend science.

      Contrast this with Marco Rubio’s statement that “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.”

      In fact, centuries of study by scientists have led us to a firm understanding of the age of the Earth. It’s not precise, Like Archbishop Ussher’s claim that creation occurred at 9 AM on the morning of 3 October, 4004 B.C.E. Science’s best estimate is 4.54 billion years, plus or minus fifty million. But it’s no less valid for having those error bars.

      Thus, the thing that’s “essentially true” about these two men is that one accepts the results provided by science and one does not.

  5. hebintn says:

    I’m not defending Rubio, but it is the role of our representatives in Washington to translate the desires of their constituents into law. Whether these people know the age of the Earth or their mother’s birth date is immaterial. Neither should they be expected to be scientists. They generally are not bright enough to understand the science behind the legislation proposed. They should be bright enough to understand what their constituents want and not take liberties based on their PERSONAL morals or lack of intelligence. They should have enough sense to listen to what peer reviewed science has to say and act accordingly.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      ‘As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron’. HL Mencken, The Baltimore Sun, 26 July, 1920.

  6. Zimzone says:

    Religion has impeded global civilization’s enlightenment longer than recorded history, as well as been the root cause for most of our planet’s silly wars.

    Based upon creationist ‘logic’, God clearly put super storm Sandy on a path to hit the east coast so Obama would win the election.
    /snark

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    It’s kind of funny to see Rubio tie himself in knots here, a classic example of a phony politician.

    Prediction: The Republicans won’t be deniers in 2016. They are politicians, and don’t care what is true, but that position is becoming just too absurd for their constituents.

    Segregationist Senators pivoted, and got reelected, too, just as did various failed warmongers over Vietnam and Iraq. A climate change pivot will be no big deal, and Lunz is working on it as we speak. We’ll see talk of gas and nuclear as the only “realistic” solutions, to keep power in the hands of big corporations.

    • Sasparilla says:

      It’ll be interesting to see if that happens by 2016, I hope you’re right and by 2016 it won’t be a viable position.

      My personal guess is that things won’t have gotten bad enough (primary election wise) in 2016 for creationists and climate change denier candidates in the GOP (who often represent the farther right candidates) to prevent them from winning their primaries still, but time will tell. I hope you’re right and not me.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        It never was a viable position, ME

        • A Siegel says:

          Sadly, it has been a highly viable position politically.

          And, no, I don’t think that Republican primaries will kick anti-science syndrome suffers out come 2014 or 2016 … maybe, perhaps, in the 2020s …

    • Gestur says:

      Mike, a friend of mine says this about Marco: I give one thing to this b*****d: He certainly is what we call a “humorista involuntario” (involuntary comedian)— of the pathetic sort, of course.

    • TKPGH says:

      Mike,
      Agreed. There is already talk of having Rubio run for POTUS in 2016. He’s absolutely playing to his base and trying not to say ANYTHING that would be construed as controversial by them.
      I wish just one of these Republiclowns would have the guts to sand up and tell the population that the science is right.

  8. Alas, the requirement that Senate Committee members also be Senators severely limits the available talent pool.

  9. Ozonator says:

    Ultimately, the threat to humanity is not SkyNet, it is from the extremist Republicans and Christians who own voting machine companies. A few adjustments, added capacity, and a few apps will turn the entire extreme GOP into swearing allegiance to a computer to maintain the purity of what they call “conservatism”. Permanent changes will be easier than the Soviet Union sending out history alterations to be glued over the original. And we will still never see textbooks in Texas written by extremist media outlets with more Red State worshipers than God.

  10. john atcheson says:

    One needn’t be a scientist to deal with science and policy; but one must believe that the scientific method is the best approach we have for divining truth and reality.

    If, like Rubio, myth, religion, and other teleological ontologies are how you view the world, then you should not be on the science committee.

    • John McCormick says:

      I’d like to think we see the makings of a recall petition.

      He is obviously not qualified to make decisions in the name of all Floridians.

      They should think long and hard about how dangerous he may be to their interests both personal and public.

  11. Belgrave says:

    I reckon that Rubio knows damn well, at least in a general sense, that the earth is many millions of years old and evolution is real. Also that climate change is a clear & present danger and is, as near completely as can be determined, caused by human activity. Otherwise he’d have given a straight answer like Rep Paul “lies from the pit of hell” Broun.

    What this shows is that, sadly, the tea partiers are still totally in control of the Republican party and no aspirant to high office dare cross them.

    On second thoughts, not so sad. So long as they remain stuck in this mire of superstition they will continue to be unelectable.

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      “…they will continue to be unelectable.”
      True for POTUS elections – not necessarily true for state and local elections. I’d expect to see red state loons, cranks and crazies in state legislatures, state governorships, and in the US Congress for a good while yet. And as long as the US Senate rules allow as few as 40%, who represent 25% of our population, to block legislation desired by 70% of the population, we do not have a democracy. And for as long as each and every Senator and Representative is beholden to rich campaign donors for reelection campaign funds, we will continue to be ruled by the few, the rich, the Plutocrats.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        As you say, yours, like ours, is a plutocracy, and not by any means ‘meritocratic’. Our rulers are the unscrupulous and ruthless, and the winners of the ‘sperm lottery’.

    • John McCormick says:

      Belgrave, good comment. But,the rethugs see politics as a business. Democrats, generally, see it as a public service.

      The business crown is powerfully rich and the real fights will be in the primaries if any tuely believer climate hawk republican challenges a rock-ribbed business republican. And, control of state legislators and governors is in the hands of the business republicans. Redistricting, in many states, must be challenged.

  12. Steve L says:

    This part elicited a guffaw:
    “I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says”
    No shit! Who says parents can’t teach their kids what their faith says? But stop forcing public schools to teach kids what a weird faith-based beliefs say within the science classroom! And stop using public funding to promote weird faith claims in other institutions.

  13. PeterM says:

    The republican party seems to have not learned anything from the election.

    More of the same anti science, faith based beliefs, myths, ‘freedom’ American exceptionalism.

    If they win another election over the next 12 years- it will be because of sheer luck. The climate will continue to destabilize, become more erratic and cost billions. And the GOP by the end of the 2020s- place your best.

  14. Mark says:

    Willful ignorance is subtle cowardice.

  15. mulp says:

    The irony is Rubio feels he is required to denounce his own Catholic church teachings in order to placate the Republican base that denies science on the basis that it is contrary to religion.

    The Pope issued an official statement denouncing some of the especially American political Christmas mythology – Jesus iconography of Catholics was considered idolatry by Protestants and justification to deny them citizenship when that meant voting, holding office, and teaching. But to justify slavery, Jesus was remade into a Western European so that American WASPs had the Bible behind their politics.

    Now, Rubio, a person who would have been excluded from American politics for being Catholic and brown based on the Bible mythology justification, is repeating the same cynical Bible myth making for political power and justification.

    Just to be explicit, Rubio is rejecting his own church doctrine as stated in 2004 by a commission headed by his current Pope Benedict:

    “According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the ‘Big Bang’ and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5–4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution.”

    One must ask, why can Senator Rubio simply defend the clear statement of his faith on the matter of the age of the earth? Does he lack faith in his Church of Rome? Does he not trust the received wisdom of Pope Benedict?

    Rubio clearly selects from science and religious faith to suit his political ambitions, not as the core of his being.