During a campaign stop in New Hampshire today, a young child asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry how old he thinks the Earth is. The question stems from the fact that many science-deniers promote a ludicrous theory called Young Earth Creationism, which contends that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. It is not known if Perry himself subscribes to this theory, but many of his appointees do, including Don McLeroy, a devoted Young Earth Creationist who was tapped to chair the State Board of Education.
Yet Perry’s response to the child did little to assuage fears that the Texas governor lacks a firm grip on science. Said Perry, “How old do I think the Earth is? I don’t have any idea. I think it’s pretty old.” Perry then brought up the issue of evolution. After dismissing it as just “a theory that’s out there” with “some gaps in it,” Perry went on to tout the fact that Texas teaches “both creationism and evolution in our programs.”
KID: How old do you think the Earth is?
PERRY: How old do I think the Earth is? I don’t have any idea. I think it’s pretty old. It goes back a long long ways. I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long ago the Earth is. I hear your mom was asking about evolution. It’s a theory that’s out there and it’s got some gaps in it. In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our programs.
Despite Perry’s claim that “[nobody] knows completely and absolutely how long ago the Earth is,” in fact, scientists have a precise answer: 4.54 billion years old.
His admission that he doesn’t “have any idea” how old the Earth is underscores a recurring charge against his candidacy: not unlike the last Texan to win the presidency, Perry is not a firm believer in scientific evidence, no matter how overwhelming. Indeed, just yesterday, Perry argued that climate scientists are a “secular carbon cult” who had “manipulated data” for money. Perry is a climate science-denier who dismissed the threat of global warming to Texas, even as the state suffers through a massive heat wave and drought. The Texas Governor has even called for a moratorium on “all regulations,” including those from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Given Perry’s denial of evolution and ignorance of approximately how old the Earth is, it’s no surprise that his scientific daftness led a spokesman for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) to argue, “science clearly was not a mandatory course for Governor Perry.”