(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Catholic, said in a recent interview that the age of the Earth is a mystery as there are multiple theories out there.
"Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that," he told GQ magazine for its December issue.
The 42-year-old senator, who is considered a rising star in the GOP, is part of the Catholic Church. Rubio was born into a Roman Catholic family, later attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he and his family moved to Las Vegas, and then left after he felt "called back" to the Catholic Church when he was 12 years old.
In an interview with GQ, the Cuban-American discussed ambition, his quick rise in the political scene, the recent presidential election, and his grandfather. The interview then turned to a question about how old the Earth is.
"How old do you think the Earth is?" the magazine asked.
Rubio responded, "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."
He continued, saying there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and that in the United States, 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," Rubio answered.
While most scientists say the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, Young Earth creationists maintain that the Earth is 6,000 to 10,000 years old.
A survey early this year by LifeWay Research found that Protestant pastors are almost evenly split on whether the Earth is thousands or billions of years old. Forty-six percent of pastors agree that the Earth is approximately 6,000 years old while 43 percent disagree.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, clarified at the release of the survey that a belief in an old Earth does not necessarily mean a belief in evolution.
"Earth's age is the only issue in this survey on which pastors are almost evenly divided. But to many of the pastors, belief in an older earth is not the same as belief in evolution," he said. "Many pastors who believe God created humans in their present form also believe that the earth is older than 6,000 years."