Rubio and Obama, on the Same Page

David Klinghoffer

In responding to Marco Rubio’s comments on the age of the earth, the media are almost uniformly following the script that GQ surely intended in posing the question to the senator in the first place. Even the Washington Times joins in: “Creationism: Why are Republicans afraid of science? Ask Senator Rubio.”
Sigh. ENV commented yesterday that

Rubio doesn’t affirm Young Earth Creationism. He recognizes the question for what it is: a hackneyed media gimmick to trap Republicans. If President Obama had given the same answer (if he’s ever been asked the question) it would be treated entirely differently.
One purpose of the question is to get people like [Pete] Wehner to denounce the subject of the interrogation — Rubio — and so create fissures among Republicans.

Now Slate gives us the proof that shows just how right ENV was: In 2008, then-Senator Obama was asked about the age of the world and gave an equally ambivalent answer. Yet this earned him no denunciations of the kind to which Rubio is being subjected from left and right.
Asked how he’d field a query on the subject from his kids, Obama said:

What I’ve said to them is that 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. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live — that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don’t presume to know.

So according to now-President Obama, whether the universe is thousands or billions of years old represents, for Christians, a “legitimate debate,” the correct resolution of which “I don’t presume to know.”
Look, for all that the tribunes of conventional wisdom, on the left and the right, dishonestly seek to conflate intelligent design with creationism, no one could read what we write here at ENV and fail to see that leading intelligent design proponents reckon the history of life in the millions and billions of years. ID is not creationism. It is not Biblical apologetics. So you know where we come down on this.
ID is also neither of the right nor the left. Primarily, we are pro-honesty and in favor of candor. It would be pleasing to hear a politician, faced with the gotcha question that GQ posed to Rubio, frankly deconstruct the purpose behind the question rather than falling into the trap of giving a muddled answer, ready-made for mockery, as if it had been put sincerely.
It would be even more refreshing to hear a candidate or officeholder discuss candidly the problems posed by conventional accounts of evolution as if he had considered the matter — which, after all, relates to ultimate issues in life — with some care.
As Erick Erickson rightly says at RedState, “This issue has become the new litmus test in the media for conservative politicians” — that is, for conservatives alone. Thoughtful leaders would do well to formulate thoughtful answers to questions that, by now, they should see coming at them from a mile away.