Rubio is clearly taken aback. “I'm not a scientist, man.”
He goes on to formulate a lengthy non-answer.
“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,” he says. “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.”
But Rubio is no rube; he knew what the interviewer was really asking: Do you believe in evolution?
“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,” he continued. “I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says.”
“And right there you have the modern GOP's attitude, not just toward biology, but toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence,” responded the New York Times' Paul Krugman. “The most obvious example other than evolution is man-made climate change.”
The left-leaning online magazine Slate, however, acknowledged that another senator made nearly an identical statement, in 2008. That was Barack Obama.
“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,” Obama said. “Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don't presume to know.”
But Obama gets a pass, because, well, he's Obama.
Rubio understood the question was typical of “gotcha” journalism — and redirected the interview to the economy and other truly pressing issues.
But what does Rubio's inexpert answer say about him? It simply says he wants to leave questions of faith to families, not to the intellectual elite.
And that has the elite worried. “His inability to deal with geological evidence was symptomatic of a much broader problem — one that may, in the end, set America on a path of inexorable decline,” Krugman wrote.
If that's true, aren't we already on that path?