Here’s a bit of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s commencement address at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic girls school teaching students from kindergarten through 12th grade (age 18). This was his granddaughter’s commencement, which accounts for why he spoke. Scalia is a devout Catholic.
I start the video at 2:32, where Scalia remarks that humanity has been around for 5,000 years or so:
Of course the Vatican officially accepts the existence of evolution, but 23% of its adherents are still young-Earth creationists. It’s not impossible that Scalia is one of them. Of course how you interpret the word “humanity” is variable: it could mean “civilization” (but “urban” settlements began around 10,000 years ago), the advent of the genus Homo (about 2.5 million years), or the time when our ancestors diverged from those of modern apes (around 5 million years).
The Washington Post reproduced Scalia’s remark without comment, but some sites, but others, like Think Progress, have called this an episode of Scalia “blowing the creationist dog whistle,” while the Patheos website Progressive Secular Humanist argues with confidence that this expresses Scalia’s belief in young-Earth creationism, noting that, in the 1987 case of Edwards v. Aguillard (a creationism-in-school issue that 7 of the nine judges rejected), Scalia wrote a dissent claiming that the evidence for creationism was stronger than that for evolution, and that evolution could be accurately called a “myth”. (The other dissenter was William Rehnquist.) And I’ve written before how Scalia does appear to accept the existence of Satan (see here and here),
Still it’s hard to believe that a guy with this kind of brain (yes, he’s smart) could really be a young-Earth creationist. My guess is that it was just an offhand remark that’s been blown out of proportion. But I might be wrong, and a savvy interviewer should ask him.