Yesterday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was asked the age of the Earth.
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.
First of all, kudos to the GQ reporter who decided to ask this question. If you gave me a microphone and put me next to Marco Rubio there are at least 40 questions I would have asked before that. I would have missed out on an amazing response.
Contrary to Dr. Peter Venkman’s memorable response, Rubio assured us that he’s not a scientist (though he included the “man”). This answer is the first declaration for the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination. Rubio, who went to Iowa over the weekend, is trying to buddy up to the Evangelical vote that dominates the Iowa GOP. Indeed, 68% of Iowa Republican caucus goers believe the Earth was created in 6 days and 45% believed it was less than 10,000 years old.
But it’s a dumb move on Rubio’s part. As conservatives are pointing out, evangelicals will eagerly vote for Republican candidates who don’t share their backward geological views. Moreover, if Iowa GOP caucus-goers care about that issue they are going to vote for Santorum anyway. After a campaign where the Republican nominee was defined as weak for his pandering, Rubio’s decision to take up the mantle of awkward pandering should alienate him from conservatives hoping to avoid another Romney debacle.
It’s even dumber because Rubio’s answer is a mess itself. He is trying to defend faith, but he implies that we ultimately should trust the scientists. They are the ones who are “qualified” to answer the question. The scientists are the people telling the evangelicals that they are wrong, so Rubio is accidentally sending the signal that he will ultimately side with science. So he gets all the blowback from this answer and none of the advantage.