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Billboard wars: Creationists vs. atheists
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. Michael

    Silverman says that atheists have no proof. How about well over a hundred years of applied scientific method that clearly shows that Genesis is analogy and not fact? Whenever I am questioned about my non-belief, I reply with two simple words: "Prove it." Without using the words "faith" or "Bible", nobody can. All religions are based on the supernatural, which, by definition, is "above nature" and, therefore, cannot be proven. The Null Hypothesis cannot be used to prove the point. Until their faith can be proven quatifiably, I'll continue to live an honest life that is not bound by nor dependant on mythology.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:45 am |
  2. jim bones

    As a non-believer, shame on the atheists. There is good in religion and with the exception of fanaticals, like all religions have, I see no need to attack. Creationist a flawed by their non-acception of scientific knowledge tested though scientific investigation. That's their problem. Christians choose to believe in a guy dead 2000 year's past, ok, but if that promotes peaceful undestanding and calm at the individual level..so be it. Live and let live. Too many other crack pots stiring it up, let them battle it out.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • Reality # 2

      The New Testament has only one major atrocity, that of god committing filicide assuming you believe in this Christian mumbo jumbo. Said atrocity should be enough to vitiate all of Christianity.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Can't do that. We can't settle to have science pushed aside by ignorance – we can see where that go Islam in the 1100s, and we don't want to have creationism taught in the schools.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  3. TK0782

    Whats funny is that athiest and some christians have no understanding of God. Where in the bible does it say anything about religion? So athiest have to stop blaming God for religion and christians stop trying to argue with these fools.
    It's pointless because God is faith based and athiest lack that spirit. They need to see everything in front of their eyes and thats not how God works.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • jim bones

      Neither one can prove existance or absense of God. Funny eh?

      October 11, 2013 at 7:46 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        By that logic unicorns exist – think about it.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • One one

      Well at least you know how god works.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • sam stone

      how can atheists blame something in which they do not believe?

      October 11, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  4. dean

    Atheists really don't need to make fun of, or take jabs at young earth creationists. The fact that they believe the earth is less than 10,000 yo given todays knowledge is both pathetic and hilarious enough.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  5. One one

    God is perfect, never makes a mistake.
    He tested mankind with a talking snake
    Things didn’t work out like he originally planned
    He decided to change his religious brand
    He killed his son to “save” mankind
    From the curse and wrath of his self centered mind
    Now we have hell for those who doubt
    And the fairy tale salesmen have a lot more clout

    October 11, 2013 at 7:39 am |
  6. Mindforms

    "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."

    First one must assume that, after generations as an oral tradition, what some ancient rabbi wrote down as his tribe's creation story is the actual word of God. Secondly one must assume that, since he created everything just a few years ago, he put all those fossils everywhere and made carbon 14 dating possible just to screw with our heads. It is not the "word of God" that's under attack (except in your head), it's that actual scientific observation and experimentation has for well over a century time and again consistently proven the Genesis account is an analogy not fact.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:36 am |
  7. One one

    Wrong about what ?

    October 11, 2013 at 7:33 am |
  8. Guest

    Reaffirms my belief that atheists are just as childish as the most devout religious people.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:31 am |
  9. Sandra

    Bats aren't birds,insects don't have only 6 legs, the world isn't flat, and we are not the center of the vast universe. We are not the offspring of the incestuous coupling of three people. You talk to imaginary people. GODDIDIT isn't an answer to things you have no understanding of. Have a NICE day!

    October 11, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Sandra

      Correcting typo, Insects don't have only 4 legs.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:29 am |
  10. bearitstrong

    "the Earth was created by God in six days less than 10,000 years ago."

    OK... whatever.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Although, some Christians still be leave that (a lot), some actually believe it took longer, but they back that up by saying, "Well, we don't know how long a day was." Funny thing, is that the Bible does use the terms "weeks" and "years." The problem is that they did not have words for "billions." Why would they, since it's a story anyway.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:41 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        Geese.. "believe" not "be leave."

        October 11, 2013 at 7:54 am |
  11. tafugate

    while it's sad people have to resort to psychological opiates (genuflecting to imaginary deities) to make it through their days, rather than believing in themselves, friends, and family, you can taunt me all you want. i understand you have issues with self-esteem.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  12. drballance

    That's seriously funny. After years of indoctrination in church as a kid. Years of living as an adult in an area of the country called the Bible Belt where there was actually a church on every major corner. Still not being able to go to a public, secular function, without hearing a Christian prayer that's hardly taunting me or going to bother me.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:17 am |
  13. michelene

    "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.

    My atheist friends...I, as a christian, would NEVER slap you for any reason.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:14 am |
  14. Craig

    You talk to invisible people. Your argument is invalid.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • lilyq

      Look with your heart, Craig.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:13 am |
      • alecmowat

        Hearts don't have eyes, Lilyq.

        October 11, 2013 at 7:21 am |
        • lilyq

          Oh but they do.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:49 am |
      • One one

        If god is real, why must I "look with my heart"? I don't have to do that to see the sun.

        October 11, 2013 at 7:36 am |
        • lilyq

          God made the sun...and you.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  15. Carla

    There is fact that cannot be changed.. Jesus walked among us and that's part of history and history is all about his "HIS-story".People will argue about it but that will not change the fact. Instead of arguing educate yourself by reading history. We all need a Saviour , the more people push out God out of the picture the more the world is going down. What can we expect tomorrow, for a man to marry a donkey?

    October 11, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • Mark

      And shoving it down people's throat is exactly what your Messiah wanted...

      October 11, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • erth99

      i am walking around right now, and i am saying something different.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • JWT

      We do not all need a saviour. Life does not need your god either.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • One one

      What do we need to be saved from ? Oh, that's it, from the curse of hell fire god put on us in the first place, according to the myth.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:31 am |
      • Joey

        Yes, they need to be saved by god, from god, so that they can spend eternity with god. It really makes perfect sense.

        October 11, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Wow

      better check your "facts", Carla

      October 11, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • sam stone

      we all need a savior?

      another snivelling sycophant heard fr om

      October 11, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • sam stone

      yeah, carla, we are sooooo much less moral than before

      where is this utopia you have constructed in your mind?

      when we could own other people?

      when the lifespan was 30 years?

      when disease was rampant?

      man marrying a donkey?

      is that the best you can come up with?

      pull the crucifix out from between your legs

      October 11, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • jay

        I guess you people commenting here would consider yourself Anti-Christ...how could we expect anything less than personal attacks, fear of people who follow Christ. This will never change, and the world will always be in chaos, since the world is shall we say of the anti Christ.

        When referring to marrying a donkey, its a simple anolgy. If we are not of God, there is no God, then everything is ok. Afterall we are just animals or smart apes, so smart we created leaders who make rules. Each country is different, since in the world of the anti Christ you can make up your own rules. Example, if you want a harem of women move to that country, if you want to eat dogs or people their is a country for you, even if you want to marry a 9 year old and your 50...its ok, the leader of that country says its ok...so it must be ok. In congo the raise boys as girls and they become feminine, they explain its a privilege to be a houseboy for the king...ok...I would rather follow Christ, then the anti Christ...food for thought, or Dog for thought...get it...

        October 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  16. cm

    Good for them! About time atheists are put into their place in the billboard game. It is WAY overdue.

    October 11, 2013 at 6:46 am |
  17. Me

    Good for them, that's awesome and right!

    October 11, 2013 at 6:39 am |
  18. Josh

    If the world was created 10,000 years ago. Dinosaurs never existed the bones of the dinosaurs were just thrown about the land to be found by people? If god created this world why didn't cave people draw about it on the walls instead draw about other religions?

    How long does it take oil and natural gas to be made under the earths crust and what did it come from? This is another question that the Genesis can not answer correctly.

    October 11, 2013 at 6:37 am |
  19. LakeRat1

    Most people feel good when they realize that the children's fairy tales that they have been told are not true. They feel like things finally make sense as their knowledge of the physical world increases. How does this process not move forward, or even move in reverse? I can only have pity for those who can't make the most of their lives by refusing to use their brains.
    If God gave you a brain, why won't you use it?
    Also,why do people have to think that there is something else for them after death? THIS life is a wonderful gift! Enjoy it! Make the most of it! Be happy that there will be many others who will enjoy it after you are gone.

    October 11, 2013 at 6:26 am |
    • saggyroy

      I think you are right. I'm not a psychologist, but I can imagine that they feel proud that they are in on a secret with the other adults.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """If God gave you a brain, why won't you use it?"""

      This may have something to do with snacking at the tree of knowledge. Apparently HE doesn't like that.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  20. MAX

    What complete idiots. Prove Christ lived? Try the new testament. The fact that these total morons compare the N.T. to accounts of Santa and the tooth fairy proves they really have no chance of finding Christ. That these overweight, smoking, spoiled brats, who are mostly unemployed, divorced, homely, isolated, poor white women- by and large-indicates they will probably remain in their covens until they croak.

    October 11, 2013 at 6:13 am |
    • robertblumenthal

      Ummm... aren't you supposed to be less judgmental as a Christian? I sense some negative energy there bub.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:26 am |
    • quotidianus

      i find it odd, the story of the birth of jesus ... it was during a census. and born to a virgin, as the roman emperor augustus was also supposed to have been (along with many other gods/heroes in history). there is no evidence that he existed outside of a volume compiled of tomes chosen by a biased individual written decades after someone who may or may not have existed was supposed to have died. one source does not prove it out. if you choose to take everything in the bible literally, and that's your faith-based belief, it's good for you, but don't assume it's great for others. and don't claim that it makes it fact.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:26 am |
    • truthprevails1

      MAX: I don't believe in your god nor does my husband but yet we're none of what you think we are. We own our home; we pay taxes; we are far from overweight and far from lazy. We simply do not see evidence to support your imaginary friend and you using the bible to support this is called Circular reasoning due to the fact that it is where the story begins and nothing else in recorded history verifies it. The idiot here is the one who believes on faith (belief without evidence).
      Christians don't like to be painted with a broad brush and wish to be left alone with their belief, when they start to pay that same respect to others we'll have reason to give it to them.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:33 am |
      • MAX

        what a joke.

        October 11, 2013 at 7:34 am |
      • MAX

        what a joke!

        October 11, 2013 at 7:36 am |
      • MAX

        what a joke!!

        October 11, 2013 at 7:40 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Awe how cute that you would say that. See unlike you we don't need an imaginary friend to survive in this world. Get out in the real world child and get an education. Life without imaginary friends is truly enlightening.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:44 am |
        • MAX

          so do u

          sam stone is evil

          u support her

          October 11, 2013 at 7:50 am |
        • MAX

          so do u

          u support

          sam stone

          October 11, 2013 at 7:53 am |
        • MAX

          so do u

          u support

          sam stone

          who cares what u think?

          October 11, 2013 at 7:59 am |
        • MAX

          u support

          sam stone

          who cares what u think?

          October 11, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Michael

      Well Max...certainly nice to see the love of Christ shining through you. If you and angry tea-party zealots are Christ's witness to the world, it's easy to see why people might seek enlightenment elsewhere.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:40 am |
      • max

        u approve of sam stone

        October 11, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • TopDogg

      Ok look, for everything there is defiantly a creator but don't go to the bible to find it. Just read the book and really open your eyes. The book is no more proof of religion than reading a fortune cookie. I truly believe that there is a higher power but I don't call him/her God, Satan or any other name. If you believe the bible as being truth than you need to go back to watching sesame street and learn right from wrong.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • Anders

      Max, you just gave us the perfect example of how narrowminded and judgemental religious people must be to maintain their illussion. If you are so gullible and indoctrinated and intend to stay as such, please do the rest of us a favour and focus on the merciful part of your beliefs. Just turn your cheek and forgive us. That way we can at least pity you instead of just seeing you as the annoying idiot we see from your current posting.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:07 am |
      • max

        u approve of stone

        October 11, 2013 at 8:02 am |
      • max

        u approve of stone

        these people
        approve of stone

        nuff said

        October 11, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • sam stone

      isn't that sweeet?

      faith/hhari/karie/tex/etc has a new screen name

      how is that big, big, big, big, big, fvcking big lawsuit coming, gash?

      October 11, 2013 at 8:22 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.