Quotes of the day

On CNN Tuesday morning, Jeb Bush Jr. — the son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush — said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gave “kind of a head-scratching type of answer” to a recent question about the age of the Earth…

“We’ve got to be a kind of pro-science and pro-technology party. And I think Marco Rubio is just that,” Bush said. “On the Earth question, I guess I have to read more closely in terms of getting a better understanding, but, yeah, kind of a strange response, I guess.”


To begin with, Rubio’s remarks are not even an accurate description of what’s laid out in the Bible. It was not a seven-day process to make the Earth, according to the King James Bible’s Genesis. The Earth itself was made on the first day, though it took until the third day for the waters to be gathered together and dry land to emerge. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” is first thing that Genesis describes, even if “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” and it was not until the third day that “God called the dry land Earth.”

Secondly, scientists estimate the age of the Earth from geological research on rocks from this planet, the moon, and from meteorites — not from “recorded history.” Recorded history only takes us back to the Sumerians in the 4th millennium B.C., though the history of art takes us back another 34,000 years or so after that. So the dispute is not between the historical record and theological interpretations — history and theology were actually quite intertwined at the start of writing. The dispute is between science and an anti-modern strain of Christian theology rejected by leaders of a number of the major Christian denominations, including Pope Benedict XVI, who has said, “there is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such.”


Interestingly, although this debate over evolution and the Earth’s age has invaded our politics for almost a century, prior to the era of William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes Monkey trial, many Protestant Christian theologians thought evolution was acceptable as part of God’s plan…

The storm surrounding Rubio’s comments speaks to a larger issue: The Republican Party and the conservative movement need to be more introspective. Conservatives need to think through their responses to these type of questions before they are asked. This is a discussion that conservative politicians of faith need to have; but I suspect, like talking to your kids about sex, it is generally avoided.

I can respect anyone’s faith, and so I respect people who believe in a young Earth. But Christians and conservatives ought to know that science and God do not have to be at odds.


For starters, our candidates need to understand that after successfully disqualifying Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Murdouck, the media now thinks they’ve cracked a code: First, they ask us a question that pits our faith against policy. They then hope we blow it. Then if we do blow it, they not only beat the individual candidate senseless with it, they use it to tarnish the GOP as a whole…

Stay as far away from the media as possible. Rubio talking to GQ is like a Christian entering the lion’s den. The lack of judgement he showed in subjecting himself to this interview is troublesome. There’s absolutely no upside in subjecting yourself to a GQ, unless you’re under the delusional belief you can win them over…

Because we can’t avoid the media entirely, our side needs to have better answers to these kinds of questions. We now know what the tactic is, so we have to be prepared for it.


[H]ere’s then-Sen. Obama, D-Ill., speaking at the Compassion Forum at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. on April 13, 2008:

Q: Senator, if one of your daughters asked you—and maybe they already have—“Daddy, did god really create the world in 6 days?,” what would you say?

A: What I’ve said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that’s what I believe. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don’t presume to know…

It seems to me that Rubio is right. Lots of basic scientific questions have no bearing whatsoever on the nation’s short-term economic growth.


Here’s an even more disturbing thought – scientists currently believe that the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old because radioactive substances decay at generally stable rates. Accordingly, by observing how much of a radioactive substance has decayed, scientists are able to determine how old that substance is. However, if the Earth is only 9,000 years old, then radioactive decay rates are unstable and subject to rapid acceleration under completely unknown circumstances. This poses an enormous danger to the country’s nuclear power plants, which could undergo an unanticipated meltdown at any time due to currently unpredictable circumstances. Likewise, accelerated decay could lead to the detonation of our nuclear weapons, and cause injuries and death to people undergoing radioactive treatments in hospitals. Any of these circumstances would obviously have a large economic impact.

If the Earth is really 9,000 years old, as Paul Broun believes and Rubio is willing to remain ignorant about, it becomes imperative to shut down our nuclear plants and dismantle our nuclear stockpiles now until such time as scientists are able to ascertain what circumstances exist that could cause deadly acceleration of radioactive decay and determine how to prevent it from happening.

The bottom line is that this economy, at its root, is built on a web of scientific knowledge from physics to chemistry to biology. It’s impossible to just cherry pick out parts we don’t like. If the Earth is 9,000 years old, then virtually the entire construct of modern science is simply wrong. Not only that, most of the technology that we rely on most likely wouldn’t work – as they’re dependent on science that operates on the same physical laws that demonstrate the age of the universe.


As I wrote on Sunday, there are more important factors driving the Obama realignment than the supposed triumph of Reason and Progress that many liberals claim to see at work. But it’s still neither politically helpful nor intellectually healthy for a minority political party to pick pointless fights with the nation’s scientific and technical elite. Unless you believe that the 2016 Iowa caucuses are really, truly going to turn on the fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis (they aren’t), there’s no good reason why the “politician’s answer” on the kind of gotcha question GQ tossed at Rubio couldn’t go something more like this:

I’m not a scientist, but I respect the scientific consensus that says that the earth is — what, something like a few billions of years old, right? I don’t have any trouble reconciling that consensus with my faith. I don’t think the 7 days in Genesis have to be literal 24-hour days. I don’t have strong opinions about the specifics of how to teach these issues — that’s for school boards to decide, and I’m not running for school board — but I think religion and science can be conversation partners, and I think kids can benefit from that conversation.

More broadly, meanwhile, the fact that this kind of question is a “gotcha” at all is a much bigger problem for American Christianity than for Republican politicians. The goal of a political party is to win 51 percent of the vote and govern effectively, and as Rubio suggests, the ordinary work of politics can proceed even if some national politicians decline to take public views on the geological age of the earth. But the goal of Christianity is supposed to be the conversion of every human heart — yes, scientists and intellectuals included — and the central claim of Christianity is that the faith offers, not a particular political agenda or an economic program, but the true story of the world entire. The more Christians convince themselves that their faith’s core is identical with the modern innovation of fundamentalism, and in direct conflict with the best available modern biology and geology, the less attainable that goal and the less tenable that central claim.


Truth be told, I think the world is billions of years old, but I have no doubt God created it. I believe the same word that many interpret as “days” in Genesis can also honestly be interpreted as “phases,” which I do, i.e. a day at the beginning was not a day as we know it now. But I don’t doubt there were six phases of creation and then a seventh of rest. I certainly don’t have a problem with people who think the world was created in six 24 hour days. For all any of us know, it could have been. God said “Let there be light,” and I think the result was a big bang. I think that God set evolution in motion and over time we have changed and evolved by His own design and plan…

I reject evolution for the sake of evolution and reject that life on this planet, let alone the existence of this universe, is some random act. I reject that we are little better than the animals we evolved from because I reject that we evolved from anything other than God’s own mind. We were created in his image. We did not evolve into it. The only people certain in their belief on this matter are those who accept theory as fact and Truth as mythology…

There was once a time when most everyone in public life professed a faith in the things of the Bible. That time is more and more becoming unacceptable to those who shape the news. These secularists have made a concerted effort to turn the world hostile to that faith and belief and have allied themselves with weak theologians to turn young Christians into more worldly, secularly focused milquetoast weepers worshiping an effeminate Christ who only hugs kids and cries, but does not fight, does not take sides, and is accommodationist to the world and its amorality and increasing immorality because, dude, he hung out with prostitutes and cried about another dude dying. They want to define the Christ they prefer to believe in, rather than believe the Christ that is.

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