Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson clarified that he believes that God created the world but does not believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old, as young Earth creationists claim. Carson also criticized those who claim there is no way the Earth can be billions of years old, saying that such people put themselves "in the same category as God."
"I certainly believe that God is our Creator. And interestingly enough, if you look at our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, it talks about certain inalienable rights given to us by our Creator," Carson told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in an interview.
The retired neurosurgeon said that people can have their personal beliefs on the possibility of a literal interpretation of the Adam and Eve story in Genesis, but rejected claims that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
"I don't know how old the Earth is. It says 'In the Beginning, God created the heavens and earth.' And then there's a period there. You don't know how much time elapsed," he continued.
"He's God. If God wanted to create an earth that is billions of years old, he could do it."
Carson criticized people who claim that that is impossible, saying that they "try to put themselves in the same category as God."
In previous interviews, Carson said that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was inspired by "forces of evil," because it fails to acknowledge God's role in the creation of life.
While his original comments stemmed from a 2011 speech, he attempted to clarify his position in an interview with TIME in September.
"Well you wouldn't understand it, no one would understand it unless they believe that there were forces of good and forces of evil. If you don't believe that, then that would be a nonsensical statement to you," Carson said.
The Republican candidate added that he believes in micro evolution, or that species change by adapting to their environment through natural selection.
"I believe in micro evolution. I believe in natural selection. But I have a different take on it. The evolutionists [say] that's proof that the theory of evolution is true. I say that's proof of an intelligent and caring God who gave His creatures the ability to adapt to their environment so He wouldn't have to start over every 50 years," Carson added.
Some creationists, such as Answers in Genesis CEO and President Ken Ham, have said that Christians should not accept the theory that the universe, and the Earth, are billions of years old.
Explaining his position, Ham wrote: "If God used evolution to create, then He used a process of millions of years of death, disease, bloodshed and suffering to create life. He then looked over millions of years of death, bloodshed, suffering, disease, and animal carnivory and called it 'very good.' The God who calls death 'the last enemy' (1 Corinthians 15:26) and will eventually destroy it in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14) would not call death and suffering 'very good.' This is a major theological problem with evolution and millions of years — and it's just one of many."
The history of mankind and the planet remains a divisive question in America.
A 2014 Gallup poll found that as many as 42 percent of adult respondents in America believe that God created humans in their present form around 10,000 years ago. Thirty-one percent said they believe humans underwent evolution, with God guiding the process, and 19 percent rejected the notion that God was involved in the process at all.