Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson recently shared his thoughts on the controversial topic of creationism, or a literal interpretation of the Genesis story in the Bible, admitting that he doesn't know "how old the Earth is."
"I know a lot of people say that I believe the earth is 6,000 years old, and they have no basis for saying that. I don't know how old the Earth is," Carson said on Monday night during an interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly "[Genesis] says, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth' - and then there's a period there."
The former neurosurgeon continued, "You don't know how much time elapsed."
When O'Reilly asked, "Are you really a creationist?" Carson stated that he believes God is "our creator" and implied that some simply don't understand the power of God.
"He's God. If he wanted to create an Earth that was billions of years old he could do it," he added, referencing those who reject such theories. "They can't do it. How come they're always trying to put themselves in the same category as God?"
Last month, Carson weighed in on the issue during an interview with Time Magazine after the news outlet questioned a 2011 speech in which the presidential hopeful "seemed to imply that Darwin's evolutionary theory was inspired by Satan".
"Well, you wouldn't understand it, no one would understand it unless they believe that there were forces of good and forces of evil," Carson responded. "If you don't believe that, then that would be a nonsensical statement to you."
Carson clarified that by "forces of evil" he meant that there are forces at work trying to make people reject the existence of God.
"I believe in micro evolution. I believe in natural selection. But I have a different take on it," Carson said. "The evolutionists they say there, that's proof that the theory of evolution is true."
He added, "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."
The creation vs. evolution debate remains one of the most controversial issues in both Christian and secular circles. Some, like prominent creationist Ken Ham, argue that Christians should not believe Earth is billions of years old because it would make God His own enemy.
"If God used evolution to create, then He used a process of millions of years of death, disease, bloodshed and suffering to create life," Ham wrote on May 30 on the Answers in Genesis website. "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.'"
In a recent interview with Patheos, theologian Ray Comfort concurred, stating, "A Christian is someone who loves and trusts in Jesus. Someone who says, 'I'm a Christian, but I believe in evolution,' is in essence saying, "I love and trust in Jesus but I think He was lying when He said, 'In the beginning God made them male and female.'"
He added, "It would be similar to someone saying 'I'm an atheist but I believe that God exists.'"
A 2014 Gallup poll found that Americans remain sharply divided on the question of the origins of human beings: while 42 percent of those who responded said that God created humans in their present form, 31 percent argued for evolution, but with God guiding the process. Another 19 percent also backed evolution, but without God having any part in the process.