In a recent interview, Senator Marco Rubio, effectively the Republican front-runner for 2016, was asked, “How old do you think the Earth is?”
Rubio’s answer was excellent: “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.”
Good answer. But unfortunately, liberals responded with knee-jerk condemnation. An editor for the New York Times—that flagship of faith and reason—judged Rubio’s response “ludicrous.” A writer at Slate, who no doubt Googled first, claimed authoritatively: “Our planet was formed 4.54 billion years ago. If Rubio suggested otherwise, it’s because he’s uninformed or stupid.”
Ah, yes. Everyone at Slate knows the Earth is 4.54 billion years old.
As for myself, I couldn’t answer that question off-the-cuff. I’ve been a scientist, an agnostic/borderline atheist, a Protestant and Catholic. I’ve taught Sunday School, Religious Ed, lectured at colleges, collected data at top research labs. I’ve published in scientific and political journals. I only know, as Rubio does, that theologians dispute this question.
In fact, anyone with a serious, sincere interest in this question knows that. But, of course, the question wasn’t asked to Rubio out of sincere interest.
Marco Rubio needs to understand that these aren’t earnest questions; they are political booby-traps set by political partisans working as journalists. Rubio should stand strong and not let them get away with it. He should tell them: “Look, be honest. We know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to trip me up. I’m not a theologian. I’m not a minister. I don’t want to be one, and the American public doesn’t want me to be one. Let’s stick to issues that concern people. Oh, and one more thing: Are you asking this question to any Democrats? Are you?”
Rubio should say it calmly, gently, and with a smile.
Be strong. Be truthful. And don’t fall for their traps, Senator Rubio.
For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.