Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is causing quite a stir because of a GQ magazine interview in which the Tea Party darling and rising conservative star was asked how old he thinks the Earth is. Here's the actual exchange:
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.
While liberals decry Rubio's supposed "War on Science," and conservatives decry "the gotcha questions of the 'lamestream media,'" here are 7 plausible reasons why the young Cuban-American senator might have answered the way he did.
1. He's a Bible-Thumper: Nothing wrong with this one. However, while the United States was founded on the principle of religious freedom, the Founding Fathers were also aware of the importance of the separation of church and state. And, ultimately, Rubio would be running for public office (and not competing for a job as a priest).
2. The Tea Party is Holding Him Back: Rubio defeated former Florida Governor Charlie Christ in his bid for the U.S. Senate thanks to the Tea Party wave that shook the 2010 elections. It's possible that Rubio may have decided not to defy conservative dogma in order to keep this grassroots support toward a potential 2016 presidential bid.
3. He Didn't Learn From Mitt Romney's Mistakes: Romney failed because of his unwillingness to embrace his record as a moderate governor and stand up to the most extreme elements of the Republican Party. Rubio will fail because of the same reasons; namely, for squandering the opportunity to look to the future instead of the past.
4. He Wanted to Avoid a Sarah Palin Moment: The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee infamously dodged CBS' Katie Couric "which newspapers do you read" question. Whatever the reason, it's possible the former governor of Alaska didn't want to be an answer to be used against her (too bad the lack of an answer did). It's possible that Marco Rubio didn't want to alienate the 46% of Americans who still believe in evolution by taking a scientific position.
5. He Doesn't Really Know How Old the Earth Is: "I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says," sounds an awful lot like an evasive to appear like one knows the answer to something when one actually doesn't.
6. He Subscribes to the So-Called GOP "War on Science": There is a chance that, despite his youth, Senator Rubio really does subscribe to the Republican Party's most backwards elements (you know; those which would get behind Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock).
7. He Doesn't Think it is a Relevant Question: In all fairness, Rubio said the question of how old the Earth is "has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States." It's possible the young senator was annoyed by what conservatives would describe as a "gotcha question from the liberal mainstream media" and decided to simply disregard it.