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October 9th, 2013
02:27 PM ET

Creationists taunt atheists in latest billboard war

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– A new video billboard in New York's Times Square has a message from creationists, "To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you're wrong."

The video advertisement at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan is one of several billboards going up this week in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, paid for by Answers in Genesis.

Answers in Genesis is best known as the multimillion-dollar Christian ministry behind the Creation Museum outside Cincinnati.

The museum presents the case for Young Earth creationism, following what it says is a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, which says the Earth was created by God in six days less than 10,000 years ago.

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, said the idea for the advertisements came from an atheist billboard in Times Square at Christmas.

During the holidays, the American Atheists put up a billboard with images of Santa Claus and Jesus that read: "Keep the Merry, dump the myth."

“The Bible says to contend for the faith,” Ham said. “We thought we should come up with something that would make a statement in the culture, a bold statement, and direct them to our website.

"We're not against them personally. We're not trying to attack them personally, but we do believe they're wrong," he said.

"From an atheist's perspective, they believe when they die, they cease to exist. And we say 'no, you're not going to cease to exist; you're going to spend eternity with God or without God. And if you're an atheist, you're going to be spending it without God.' "

Dave Silverman, president of the American Atheists, said he felt sad for creationists when he saw the billboards.

"They refuse to look at the real world. They refuse to look at the evidence we have, and they offer none," Silverman said. "They might as well be saying, 'Thank Zeus you're wrong' or 'Thank Thor you're wrong.' "

Silverman said he welcomed another competitor to marketplace, noting that after atheists bought a billboard two years ago in Times Square that read "You KNOW it's a myth," the Catholic League purchased competing space at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel for a sign that read "You KNOW it's true."

"I would suggest, if they're actually trying to attract atheists, they should talk about proof and reason to believe in their god, not just some pithy play on words," Silverman said.

Ham says part of the goal of the campaign is to draw people to the website for Answers in Genesis, where he offers a lengthy post on his beliefs for the proof of God.

Ham insists that this campaign is in keeping with their overall mission. "We're a biblical authority ministry. We're really on about the Bible and the Gospel. Now, we do have a specialty in the area of the creation account and Genesis because that's where we say God's word has come under attack."

Ham said Answers in Genesis made the decision to split its marketing budget for the ministry between a regional campaign for the museum and this billboard campaign, rather than a national campaign.

IRS filings for the ministry in recent years have shown a yearly operating budget of more than $25 million. Ham said the marketing budget is about 2% of that, about $500,000 a year. Though they are waiting for all the bills to come due for this campaign, he said he expected it to cost between $150,000 and $200,000.

Silverman noted that his billboards were not video and cost approximately $25,000 last year.  He said another campaign was in the works for this year.

"They're throwing down the gauntlet, and we're picking it up," Silverman said, adding that his group would "slap them in the face" with it.

Ham said that despite criticism from other Christians for being negative and the usual criticisms from secularists he received on his social media accounts, the advertisements have been a success.

"We wanted people talking about them, and we wanted discussion about this. We wanted people thinking about God," Ham said.

The Creation Museum and the theory of Young Earth creationism are widely reviled by the broader science community.

In a YouTube video posted last year titled "Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children," Bill Nye the Science Guy slammed creationism, imploring parents not to teach it to their children. "We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future," he said. "We need engineers that can build stuff and solve problems."

The museum responded with its own video. 

For the past 30 years, Gallup Inc. has been tracking American opinions about creationism.

In June 2012, Gallup's latest findings showed that 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution.

For as long as Gallup has conducted the survey, creationism has remained far and away the most popular answer, with 40% to 47% of Americans surveyed saying they believed that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years.

The Creation Museum said it recently welcomed its 2 millionth visitor since its opening in 2007.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • Creationism • New York • Science

soundoff (8,748 Responses)
  1. Revolutionary Enlightenment

    https://www.facebook.com/atheistpower

    This is all I would like to share. For those sitting on the fence in this argument it's worth the 5 minute read. Click "about" on the page.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:58 am |
  2. JAG

    Just Grateful our government hasn't (yet) outlawed this freedom of expression.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:57 am |
  3. Adnan

    It is really sad that people in 2013 still believe in god's. I live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country were there are even numbers of Muslims, Protestant Christians and Orthodox Christians. They all claim to know the real truth, backing it up with ignorance and pointless conclusions. Most people here believe that evolution is about monkeys giving birth to humans, and that is the real problem – Ignorance.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • sam stone

      GODS, dippy, not GOD'S U MORON

      October 10, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      Maybe it's time to move. I left America 7 years ago and it really improved my whole perspective on life.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:04 am |
  4. Jea0712

    As I expect mostly of those 1500 comments came from an atheist, as they feel being attacked by faithful followers of God, this comment is outnumbered by these non-believers, but what important the most is I can tell myself that there is a God, so many ways and means, but dont worry after you die He will stay welcome you in His kingdom, not too late for you, just repent...

    October 10, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • sam stone

      point being, so, agreed, i'm thinking

      my spalling iss muck gooder than wh2n i wasn't dodo

      October 10, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  5. Susan

    All we can hope is that nutcases like these creationists will be a rarity in the decades to come. I believe my children, as adults, won't have to deal with as many crazies are we are putting up with now.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • Pseudotriton

      one can only hope...

      October 10, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • Katherine

      Don't count on it Susan. When a person can believe without any doubt on things that are without any evidence. . . .

      October 10, 2013 at 12:44 am |
      • GodFreeNow

        1 year ago, my sister was a devout christian. She sings in church and attended "religiously". She lives in the deep south and is surrounded by republi-xtians. 1 month ago she recommended the documentary "The God Who Wasn't There" to me.

        I have NEVER shared my lack of belief with my family members. Nor have I ever try to influence or persuade them. She arrived at this entirely on her own. This is inspiring to me and makes me believe it's not as bad as we think it is.

        October 10, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      Maybe I'm an extreme optimist but I don't think it will even take as long as it would for your children to grow up. A lot can change in just 10 years. The more we advance the faster we advance. In the "Law of Accelerating Change" I trust.

      October 10, 2013 at 12:45 am |
      • aldewacs2

        i.e a religious 'tipping point'.
        I sincerely hope you're correct.

        October 10, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • sam stone

      i met 6 athies 2day who oppose same secks marriage

      October 10, 2013 at 12:49 am |
      • sam stone

        i gave em booty4brains gmail address. she'll straighten out them athies in noe x.

        October 10, 2013 at 12:51 am |
      • GodFreeNow

        Then I guess that was blow the whole "you can't have a morality position without god" theory out of the water... as doubtful as your anecdote is.

        October 10, 2013 at 12:51 am |
  6. mickey1313

    Lucky for the people with half a brain, the creators of the billboard are just stating sad openion. There is ZERE fact in the bible. There is not one single acount that can be cross refferanced with anthroplogy or archology to demonstrate that the particular fact could even be possible.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Will

      "Lucky for the people with half a brain..."?
      Really? That's ironic, especially coming from someone who can't even spell a four letter word correctly like "zero." I'll give you "anthropology" or "archeology" - most people with a middle school spelling level wouldn't be able to spell that - but "account", "referenced" or "zero"? Truly, that is pathetic.

      October 10, 2013 at 12:30 am |
      • Pseudotriton

        typos notwithstanding, mickey does make a valid point

        October 10, 2013 at 12:33 am |
      • aldewacs2

        By all means, if you can' refute the message, attack his spelling.
        That shows maturity and is very convincing. (groan)

        October 10, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  7. tsukaira

    In talking to christian friends, I have to disagree about the statistics about creationism verses evolution. If you ask christians , "Do you believe that God created the world?", they reply with yes. If you leave God out of it and ask them if they believe in dinosaurs and the millions of years that separated different periods such as a cretaceous period and jurassic period, etc, they also say yes. People can believe in more than theory of the creation of the world and not care that they contradict each other.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • m&m

      How, may I ask, is a belief in God contradictory to belief in the various geological periods of Earth? The Bible makes no claim about the age of Earth. Any declaration from a believer is pure speculation.

      November 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  8. sam stone

    AMEN ANDY. THANKS 4 REMINDING THOSE ROTTEN XTARDS!

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:13 am |
  9. JESUS LOVER

    "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness." – (1 Corinthians 3:19).

    October 10, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Observer

      You know you have serious problems when your best argument is that wisdom is foolishness.

      October 10, 2013 at 12:47 am |
      • sam stone

        CURLY. IT IS CURLY.

        October 10, 2013 at 12:54 am |
        • Observer

          Once again we see a Christian HYPOCRITE who LIES about who they are. At least we don't have to worry about them making it to heaven since God HATES liars according to the Bible they don't know.

          October 10, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • sam stone

      wow, a quote. how convincing

      October 10, 2013 at 4:31 am |
  10. sam stone

    AMEN ANDY. THANKS 4 REMINDING THOSE ROTTEN XTARDS!

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness

    October 10, 2013 at 12:12 am |
  11. JESUS LOVER

    GOD is the ALPHA and the OMEGA, the BEGINNING and the END. If someone created God then God is not the beginning of everything.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  12. Rich Brown

    Such small closed minds on both sides... and we claim to be enlightened and intelligent?

    Seems like the enlightened and intelligent thing to do would be to let you believe what you believe; and let me believe what I believe instead of the close-minded and childish "I'm right your wrong" rhetoric I see by so many "righteous" Christians and "intelligent" atheists.

    To Ethans point – "be prepared for another billboard saying the same directed towards Christians" just like grade school kids taunting and shoving each other on the playground. Just because we have the right to free speech doesn't mean we have to exercise it.

    Lets face it, in the end neither of us will be able to point fingers and claim to win this arguement.

    October 10, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • sam stone

      i claim 2 b hungry 24/7

      October 10, 2013 at 12:18 am |
    • mickey1313

      IN theory the live and let live philophsy is correct. But monothiesm has been responsible for more death, discrimination, and poverity than any other force on earth, in human history. It is not a harmless belief. And every single person of faith, is consenting to the evil deeds the leaders of there faith do. If they were realy devine, they wouldnt do evil things. They do, thus they are not devine, thus there is no reason to follow them. As for the gods themselves, they allow all of the hate and misery to exist, thus even if they are real, they should not be worshiped.

      October 10, 2013 at 12:26 am |
      • sam stone

        u got it. bindem t. k. laden wanted every u.s. taxpayer mrdred cause all americans r responsible 4 the sins of a few. athies believe in the bidem t. k. rader oooops laden religion

        the NFL IS SECOND 4 KLLIN people

        October 10, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • cooeerup

      In general atheist billboards are more about letting people who live in a country soaked in christianity that it's ok to not believe, and that if you don't believe you're not alone. It's more like outreach than an attempt at deconversion.

      October 10, 2013 at 4:22 am |
  13. The Evolution of Confusion

    Dan Dennett talks about purposely-confusing theology and how it's used. He also describes his new project interviewing clergyman who secretly don't believe anymore, and introduces a new term: "Deepity." Dr. Dennett is the Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and a University Professor at Tufts University.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_9w8JougLQ&w=640&h=390]

    October 10, 2013 at 12:08 am |
  14. Jer_DC

    This billboard only aims at the non-believers, but what about all those confused folks who believe in the wrong gods? New billboard: "Hey Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Shintoists, Muslims, Jainists, Sikhists, Confucianists, Jews, Zoroastrianism, Gnostics, Wiccans, and whatever else of the thousands of religions you happen to believe in, it's the Christian God, and I'm real. Why? Easy: 1) Because everything had a beginning – me; B) Because you can't prove that I'm not real; and finally because Jesus was resurrected, proving that I exist. Suck on that, other religions!!!"

    October 9, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  15. Name*Mike

    Thank God there is no God.

    October 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Tora Highman

      Apparently there was never a Jesus Christ either. http://uk.prweb.com/releases/2013/10/prweb11201273.htm

      October 10, 2013 at 12:12 am |
  16. Billy

    When I first started reading the Belief Blog, I kept seeing other posters using the phrase "willfully ignorant" quite a bit. At first I thought it a bit rude, but then I started noticing who I was seeing it directed at the most. Now the usual target is clear to me: young earth Creationists. Very appropriate.

    October 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  17. Ellie

    I find this billboard incredibly offensive and irritating. As an atheist and one that beliefs in science to answer the questions of the world I am not wrong to think the way I think. Those that think there is a God are allowing the same right do so as I have the right believe that there is no God. Do we think the other is wrong yes. I take issue when religious snobs do things like this and say that we are wrong and "God" is only way to think of in terms of creation. I have a solid enough foundation in my life that I do not need a higher power to tell me how to behave and how to act. I do not tell others that this is THE only way to think and I do not spout of endlessly that those who do not share my opinion are wrong. I am simply in possession of my opinion. This is perfectly acceptable until I am TOLD that I have to believe in God. I believe this way for a reason. Theists are tired of athiests sharing their veiws? Stop preaching at us to change our ways. We walk the same Earth and breath the same air without fear of angering a God that does not exist and without fear of committing sins would damn for eternity. We live by our choices and conscience. We have morality to show us right from wrong and to learn from our lessons.

    October 9, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • Craig

      Don't take offense, they have a completely irrational belief in the after life, kind of like believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, but it's their right to free speech.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
      • sam stone

        and curly. stop forgetting curly

        October 10, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • aldewacs2

      Ellie: don't give it another thought.
      "Thank god you're wrong" is an example of the circular thinking that permeates the religious mindset.
      You are free of that, no gods to thank for that -just your own ability to think clearly.
      Rather than fretting over that, a better thing is to feel sorry for the deluded souls and with them mental improvement.

      October 10, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  18. sam stone

    "Tom, Tom, the Other One
    Until people began talking up God, we'd no reason to think of God at all."

    fascinating beloved. it isn't true, but it does prove u lie w/o ceasing and all liars go to hell

    October 9, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • Observer

      Nothing new here. Just faith/hharri, etc. showing his total lack of HONESTY and INTEGRITY. Jesus would be so proud. LYING is important for admission to Heaven, apparently.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • The Truthbwna2323@yahoo.com

      And now you guys won't stop thinking or talking about God.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  19. Gary

    Atheism. The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into life forms… Makes perfect sense.

    October 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • Observer

      Gary,

      Believers' Views on Nothing:

      (1) Atheists are wrong because for anything to exist, something must have created it.
      (2) God exists
      (3) Nothing created God
      (4) God created EVERYTHING from NOTHING

      October 9, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
      • Gary

        My point exactly. Fellow rocket man Von Braun pointed out that you cannot have a creation without having a Creator...

        October 9, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
        • Observer

          Gary,

          Yep. My point exactly. So who created God or doesn't he exist?

          October 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
        • Pseudotriton

          so who/what created the creator?

          October 9, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
        • Gary

          God has always existed, hard for the human brain to understand but just the way it is.

          October 9, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
        • Observer

          Gary,

          Speaking of hard for the brain to understand, you have just shown that your hypothesis is false.

          You are now claiming that something can exist without being created. Oooops!

          October 9, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
        • Gary

          No oops, your misunderstanding is my point exactly. Do yourself a favor and get educated. And to all, a good night.

          October 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
        • ooo

          Gary,
          You lost us on this argument. You claimed (paraphrasing) that everything needs a creator, and that nothing comes from nothing, but then claim a special exemption for your god.

          Well I say there is a creator above and beyond your creator that created him, and so on and so on untill infinity. Hard to understand, but that's just the way it is. I know because I have special powers that no one else does.

          October 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
        • Observer

          Gary,

          Make a statement that completely contradicts yourself. Get caught. Declare victory. Retreat.

          Well done.

          October 10, 2013 at 12:02 am |
        • sam stone

          bernie created god oct. 16, 2000 years ago, give or take 35 years

          October 10, 2013 at 12:02 am |
        • GodFreeNow

          Gary, Newton, one of the smartest man to have ever lived, was an alchemist. Just because a smart person has a view on the supernatural, it doesn't make it true. No one can be an expert on the non-physical because it's unverifiable and untestable. That means that my 3year old has just as much authority on the subject of god as Von Braun and Newton.

          She's also equally competent on the subject of fairies.

          October 10, 2013 at 1:08 am |
        • redzoa

          Excellent!

          October 10, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • ooo

      What do you think happened? Let's see what's sillier?

      October 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Pseudotriton

      Funny I just saw this meme on Facebook. Such statements only demonstrates how depleted your scientific knowledge is.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Jer_DC

      No, atheism is simply the disbelief in the existence of gods. Not sure why billboards are needed though.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • Riposte

      Gary,

      Christianity:

      The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  20. Andy

    This billboard is preaching the wrong message. As a former atheist, I can say that this is not the way to convert people. I have so many atheist friends who hate religion because of the people in it and their fake lifestyles. It's so sad to see them hate something that is, in reality, so loving and open.

    I'm not saying I'm the best or the sinless Christian, but I don't attack others in this way. Neither should anyone else.

    Fellow Christians, Jesus preached love and patience. Follow it.

    Atheists, I can see where you're coming from, and why you might think religion is all a scam.

    October 9, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Ironicus

      I very much doubt you have any fucking clue about anything.
      If you truly knew where we were "coming from" you wouldn't even post here or speak in defense of your horrific and disgusting religion as if it were okay. It is not okay and never will be.
      All religion should be obliterated and destroyed. All it would take to make your religion extinct would be to educated people with nothing but honest FACTS, including the FACT that your religion is nothing but LIES.
      This isn't about lifestyles, this is about FACTS and LIES being OPPOSITES FOREVER.
      You worship LIES.
      I value FACTS above LIES EVERY TIME. YOU DON"T.
      How can I respect your vicious religion? I can't. There nothing there to respect at all.
      I don't care how closely you follow your religion, it deserves nothing but destruction because it is all LIES.
      YOU, on the other hand, deserve pity for being thoroughly FOOLED by nothing but LIES.
      I have never sinned against your non-existent "god". I will not be going to your non-existent "heaven" or "hell".
      You have NOTHING to give your words / LIES any authority whatsoever. Nothing you say on behalf of your fraudulent and schizophrenic belief system is worth listening to. You have no facts on your side, just LIES without any proof...
      ...and you have NO PROOF because your religion is ALL LIES.

      Lies never have proof that they are true.
      And you have been brainwashed to believe that your lack of ANY proof is something to be DESIRED. HA!
      Get it, yet? LIES NEVER HAVE PROOF – FAITH NEVER HAS PROOF – THAT'S BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SAME THING – LIES.
      Faith is just another word for blindly believing the lies of others. You have been trained like a good little dog to desire "faith" and gullibility, to desire lies over truth. Who is the evil one here? Not me by a long, long, long shot.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
      • sam stone

        LOL! Thanks, honey. that was great.

        October 10, 2013 at 1:11 am |
      • aldewacs2

        True, true and .. true.
        We atheists need to follow Dawkins' suggestion: come out of the 'closet'.
        We need to oppose religions with the same ammunition they use on our children:
        – we need movies that show that religions are bunk. .
        – we need children's books that present natural facts, not religious mumbo jumbo.
        – we need children's TV shows that refute the existence of all that magic stuff. No need to be nasty – just factual.
        – we need adult TV shows that deal with religious nonsense in a no-nonsense way. Religious egos will be bruised, but that can't he helped.
        – we need to stop allowing the default position to be that religion cannot be criticized or questioned. Religious special privilege must end.

        I like the atheist billboards that invite us to 'dump the myth'. Much more effective than 'Thank god you're wrong'. We need more of the former, in more places, at more occasions.

        It's gonna be fun!

        October 10, 2013 at 10:46 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.