As an old saying goes, “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” Under that maxim, I’m happy to report that TV preacher Pat Robertson actually said something sensible recently.
Robertson was taking questions from viewers of his “700 Club” when a woman named Sheila inquired about the age of the Earth. Her church claimed the planet is a mere 6,000 years old, but Sheila was skeptical.
So was Robertson.
“There was a Bishop Ussher who added up all the years the Bible speaks about between Adam and Eve and us, and he added up 6,000 years,” Robertson said. “Well, the truth is that, you know, the dinosaurs were extinct maybe 200, or 100, or 50 – excuse me, I’ll get it right – about 50 billion years ago. And this planet has gone much longer than that. There’s a course that they were trying to hustle around called ‘Creation Science.’ It was just nonsense. And it was so embarrassing. So we wanted to make sure we told the truth. You know, this universe that we live in is … 14 billion years old. And there’s no question about it. And we have tremendous geological records and all the rest of it. And that 6,000-year stuff just doesn’t compute.”
Wow, pretty good, right? (The dinosaurs died off 65 million years ago, but Pat was getting close.) Does that mean Robertson is coming around on evolution? No, not really. Robertson has never believed in the young Earth, but he’s still a creationist.
In 2005, Robertson called evolution a “cultish religion” and opined that people who believe in it are “fanatics” who “worship atheism.” He claimed that “more and more” scientists are “saying there are just too many things that can’t be explained by evolution.” (He didn’t actually name any.)
Robertson’s 2003 book, Bring It On: Tough Questions, Candid Answers, contains this gem: “Some human beings do not want to acknowledge that they were created. They would rather think that they came from a single-celled paramecium or an amoeba than to acknowledge that they have divine origins. It is astounding that some human beings would prefer to see themselves as the progeny of slime rather than admit that they were created by God, in the image of God, and for God’s glory.”
While he rejects the idea of young Earth, Robertson is a fan of “intelligent design” (ID) creationism. After Americans United and its allies sued in 2005 to get ID out of the public schools in Dover, Pa., voters removed pro-ID members from the school board. Robertson went on a tear.
“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God,” Robertson said during a “700 Club” episode. “You just rejected him from your city. And don’t wonder why he hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. And I’m not saying they will. But if they do, just remember you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, then don’t ask for his help ’cause he might not be there.”
Robertson got some pushback for the comments – it sounded like he was calling for divine retribution in Dover. But he doubled down and issued a statement reading, “God is tolerant and loving, but we can’t keep sticking our finger in his eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin, maybe he can help them.”
I’m glad Robertson rejects the idea of a young Earth – and it’s amusing to see him under fire by Australian creationist and Noah’s Ark replicator Ken Ham – but it’s clear he still has a lot to learn about evolution.