Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) cleared up any confusion about his understanding of the Earth's age, telling Politico that his religion does not conflict with scientific understanding. 

"Science says it's about four and a half billion years old," Rubio said at a Politico Playbook breakfast when asked about an interview in which he declined to name the Earth's age. "To the extent that there is any debate about the age of the Earth scientifically, I'm not in a position to mediate that."

He added that "there is no conflict" between science and his faith. God created the Earth, he said, "and scientific advances have given us insight into how he did it and when he did it." 

President Obama gave a similar response in a 2008 CNN interview. 

Religious people who see a "deeper conflict" between science and their faith, Rubio argued, should be able to teach their children both. "They have to know the science," he said, but parents "have the right to teach them the theology." 

In an interview with GQ last month, Rubio called the age of the Earth "one of the great mysteries." He told Politico, "I was referring to a theological debate which is a pretty healthy debate." 

The rising Republican star told Politico that he didn't regret his response but wishes he had been "more succinct." Noting that the GQ discussion had pivoted from hip-hop to science, he said, "I'm not a robot, it caught me off guard a little bit."