Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Tupac Shakur and Young Earth Creationism

by Reihan Salam

In a recent GQ interview with Michael Hainey, Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, was asked about the age of the Earth, and he gave a brush-off of an answer that is (naturally) being mocked by various anti-conservatives:

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. [Emphasis added]

As far as I can tell, Rubio is saying that (a) the age of the Earth is not a core economic policy question and that (b) parents and civil society organizations should not be forbidden from offering their own interpretations of the age of the Earth. This strikes me as uncontroversial. One can imagine a critic saying that someone who is not willing to definitively state that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old cannot be trusted on core economic policy questions. That strikes me as silly.

What I found more encouraging, however, is that Rubio seems to be well-versed in the history of hip-hop music. Assuming Rubio does run for president, as I hope he will, this will be kind of fraught, as we can expect Chuck D of Public Enemy among many other hip-hop legends to enthusiastically denounce him. But Rubio’s love of hip-hop is yet another indication of the fact that he is culturally modern, and culturally urban, in a way that most of his Republican rivals are not. That is an asset.