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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. MAX

    And u support her

    October 11, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  2. Rick

    only the Christian worldview provides the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of human experience.That is, only the Christian view of God, creation, providence, revelation, and human nature can make sense of the world in which we live. So, for example, only the Christian worldview can make sense out of morality since it alone provides the necessary presuppositions for making ethical evaluations, namely, an absolute and personal Law Giver who reveals His moral will to mankind. It does not make sense, however, for the atheist/materialist to denounce any action as wrong since, according to his worldview, all that exists is matter in motion. And matter in motion is inherently non-moral. That is, since the world according to the materialist is totally explicable in terms of physical processes, and since physical processes are categorically non-moral, moral considerations have no place in his worldview. Thus for the materialist to say that stealing is morally wrong makes as much sense as saying that the secretion of insulin from the pancreas is morally wrong. [This is not to say, however, that atheists never act morally. Atheists feed their children, give money to charity and often make good neighbors. But atheists cannot give a justification for their actions. In the words of Cornelius Van Til, they are living on "borrowed capital" from the Christian worldview. Thus they profess one thing, but their actions belie this profession].- Michael Butler

    October 11, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Jesus is real, but the myths are false

      Religions captured their morals (and immorals) from ancient people.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Nope.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Ben

      I'm sure that the world's billion Hindus are just as happy with their world view, as are the world's billion Muslims, and all the rest of us. You sound like a football fan who can't understand why anyone could like soccer.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • mattski

      I don't believe in the atheistic view that we cease to exist when we die. But I also don't believe that God is something we simply must take on faith. I believe there is another existence out there, and I believe it's discoverable and measurable. I think we haven't discovered it or learned how to measure it yet. God, or whatever it is that we interpret as God, is out there and we can find factual scientific answers to it. And I believe we will some day. It may not be the God as Christians have described it, but I believe we will find out sooner or later.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Chikkipop

      How silly. You see these poor arguments all the time.

      " It does not make sense, however, for the atheist/materialist to denounce any action as wrong since, according to his worldview, all that exists is matter in motion."

      Notice the assumption here? The only way we can make decisions about right or wrong is if there is a "higher authority".

      In the real world, we make decisions based upon our experiences and knowledge. We disagree, we form communities with similar views, we have wars over our differences, & we manage peace in spite of them. All just as you'd expect in a world where the only decisions to make are made by humans.

      Yes; we can say what is right or wrong, and we live with the consequences of our choices.

      Poorly thought out arguments for the necessity of a supreme judge require an unwillingness to see what we actually do, which seems to be among the requirements for god beliefs.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:32 am |
      • Rick

        Why should we listen to the chattering of a hairless ape?

        October 11, 2013 at 8:37 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Because he is more correct than you with you god-based bullsh!t.

          October 11, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Sara

      First confusion here is the false assumption that there are only two world views: materialist vs. Christian. There are plenty of non materialist/ idealist world views, both religious and secular. Additionally, so in the Christian traditions, such as Mormons, as largely materialist. Second confusion, that materialism is even a contrast to christianity. Idealism is sort of a contrast to materialism, bit not tied to religion (many secular/atheistic physicists these days are idealists). There is no contrast to Christianity, just a bunch of other traditions, morals and metaphysics. This kind of confused babble only serves to muddy the waters of debate.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Arthur Bryant

      "only the Christian worldview provides the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of human experience". What??? That's the lamest crap I've ever read in my life!

      October 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  3. trax

    stone

    she is going to prison

    nuff said!

    October 11, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • sam stone

      come and get me, faith

      October 11, 2013 at 8:30 am |
      • MAX

        Bathed lately? With soap?

        October 11, 2013 at 8:34 am |
        • sam stone

          how's the big big lawsuit coming, gash?

          firms hired?

          depositions taken?

          we can we expect to be served?

          speaking of serving, one report from your 12 gauge and you could be on your knees serving the slavior

          October 11, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  4. Rick

    If there is no God , then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper.You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true , but rather because of a series of chemical reactions. Thus, your atheism destroys rationality and morality.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Nope.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Concepts such as morality, ethics, rationality, and society have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals.
      Blame, guilt, responsibility etc. are matter taking place inside human beings single and nowhere else.
      Therefore, we should be rational and realize that not everyone will share the same evaluations of good and evil. We must try to live perfectly in an imperfect world, aware that our efforts will be less than perfect while trying to remain undismayed by self knowledge of failure.

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

        AcceptIng the impossibility of perfection I suspect will always be hard.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

      You're a goat

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

      At past view of human history, simple Simon says is still simple. In human history, to date Atheist haven't cause a war in the name of a G_d nor condemned mankind. Before you jump up and declare you having the one true belief, just tell the rest of od your G_ds name and of course his wife, hint: wife's name was called Asher.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  5. trax

    stone

    she is going to prison

    nuff said

    October 11, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  6. Regis

    If you believe in god great, if you dont that is your choice as well. why attack eachother its chilidish and shows great ignorance. Live your life the way you want to with or without religion . I believe in god and feel that with so many wonders of the world and so many different spieces a higher power had to have something to do with it. but thats my opinion and when the time comes when i die and if im wrong oh well at least i had something to believe in and followed a path that tried to make me the best person i can be .

    October 11, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • Rundvelt

      Regis, there needs to be a discussion because the people who believe in God have decided that they have the right to tell others how to live. They're not content to simply believe in their faith.

      Look at gay marriage.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:23 am |
      • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

        Exactly

        October 11, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  7. Mike in SA

    A stupid debate. Atheists won't/can't believe that there is a higher power than science or that which they can prove; people of faith believe in the powers and ability of science, but realize there is a limit to science but not to their faith. Neither side seems to be willing to say "Fine, you believe how/what you believe but we can all believe in being kind, good and loving to all. Let's have a beer."

    Sad, really.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

      Religion has been a negative influence on the world for a very long time. It’s only natural as we increase our knowledge of how the world actually works for more and more people to reject faith and adopt fact. When these people begin to realize they’ve been lied to all their lives and see how religious people try to control them…. A blow back is to be expected. It eventually happens to every oppressive culture.

      That said I have friends on both sides and we all get along fine. There are those of us out there that can do that…

      October 11, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  8. mfh1957

    We can do without all extremists. Creationist and evolution extremists can all get on the same rocket and leave as far as I am concerned. People can believe what they want without having to see this dribble on billboards from either side.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      It doesn't appear you understand the damage that a society does once it starts badmouthing science. Think.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • bob Smith

      Creationists like to claim evolution is a theory

      Know what else is only theory. electricty. We are finding out new things about electron behaviour everyday. that doesn't stop your computer from working though.

      Creationists, christians, muslims, should all take a page from the amish and ignore every bit of technology that isn't in the bible.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  9. Doug

    Sigh... If people can find comfort with life in religion, good for them. If others find comfort in not believing, good for them. Funny thing is how most atheist condemn "bible thumpers", guess what they are doing too? Hypocrites ehh?

    October 11, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      When someone is trying to force their religion into something that should not be religious, then we have every right to be a part of it. For instance Texas trying to put a law into place that puts creationist teachings back into public schools. That I believe is wrong.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:11 am |
      • Mike in SA

        Soooo...you ONLY believe in one theory? I believe that God created evolution. I'd like to see all theories put out there and let people make their choice. If you want to be limiting, sad for you.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:14 am |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          In one theory? I guess you are the actual one with only one theory. There are multiple theories out there with far more proof to those theories of being real then creationism. Creationism only limits an individuals capabilities. The importance of keeping creationism out of schools is to allow our children to expand their knowledge. For instance, the Higg's Boson particle. If creationism was taught in schools, then why would said individual seek out the Higg's Boson particle if he or she already believed where it would end up with (which in your belief would be God)?

          October 11, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Who is making sure kids are not being taught creationism is schools? Answer: It's people who care and know that it does matter.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • mjbrin

      your funny, atheists seem to be doing what they have been taught by "bible thumpers" reading the bible and telling others what they learned.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Bill

      When someone has decided that they know exactly how we should all be living and they can't stop themselves from trying to get us all to believe it too, they have left us no choice but to shame them. Particularly when they have insulated themselves from ever negotiating by saying that they only answer to a higher authority who they claim to know the mind of.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:18 am |
      • MAX

        Exactly!

        Like atheists

        October 11, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • truthprevails1

      The problem is the bible is fallacious and this is a known fact. If Muslims or Jews or Pagans tried to impose their belief in to the public square christians would be screaming blue murder. I take it one step further and feel that the one way to stop these silly arguments is to simply keep it out of the public square. We can't possibly hope for world peace if we continue to fight over who has the better god or deity. When ones belief impedes on the equal rights for all, then that belief deserves to be called out.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:27 am |
      • MAX

        U r the problem, dodo

        October 11, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  10. Gorsh

    I know for a fact there is no god. I mean, I have no evidence proving an alternate theory to explain cosmological anthropic principle, nor any experimentally supported theory for the beginning of life.

    But anyone that believes in something without proof-like sky fairies- is not as smart as me

    October 11, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You know no such thing. You actually sound like you have a belief that God is not real and feel that you need to justify that belief. That's an odd place to be in. Why do you feel you need to have a belief about gods at all?

      October 11, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • Bill

        He's being ironic.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Mike in SA

      There is no evidence disproving it either. Relax, have a beer.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:12 am |
      • bag o chips

        they are both recovering alcoholics, Mike in SA

        October 11, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      We see you trollin'
      And hatin'
      Tryin' to catch us postin' dirty

      October 11, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Chikkipop

      Theists, always mis-characterizing atheists; it's the only thing they can do.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  11. Jazzophile

    In the words of Luis Bunuel, "As for me, thank god I'm an atheist!"

    October 11, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  12. mjbrin

    "And if you're an atheist, you're going to be spending it without God."
    since an atheist does believe in a god why would this be a problem for them?
    I do wonder why another person would worry about someone else spending eternity with or with out a god.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • mjbrin

      oppss! i mean "does NOT believe" . Need to wake up more

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

        mjbrin, I couldn't have said it better myself.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  13. TK0782

    Plain and simple if you don't believe in God you are lost. I am not even a church going christian.
    I believe in God because it makes sense. Athiest have never debunked God because it is impossible.
    I see a lot of comments that are saying blasphameous things. The greatest trick the devil pulled was making people believe that God and the devil does not exist.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Yes, and unicorns exist too because you can't prove they don't. Use your noodle and think.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • sam stone

      plain and simple, you are a punk

      jeebus is waiting

      do you have a sidearm or tall buildings where you live?

      October 11, 2013 at 8:05 am |
      • MAX

        Don't bend over

        October 11, 2013 at 8:17 am |
      • MAX

        For the soap, preevert

        October 11, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Danno

      So then you have evidence that Athena and Osiris didn't exist? How about Ra the Sun god? Surely you must have evidence that they don't exist, otherwise you'd have to believe in them, according to your logic.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      How are we lost? This is the problem with individuals like you. You think you know somebody yet you have never met an individual that you think you know.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Flint

      OK, thanks. Now, go back to drinking your glowing koolaid.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      All religions make sense to their adherents.
      High level Scientologists beleive whole heartedly in Body Thetans. The idea that human beings are unable to attain their full potential until they clear themselves of ancient alien spirits is absolutely sensible to them.
      The same holds true for all the myriad gods and religions conceived.
      Sometimes, these belifs are gentle delusions that do no harm, like the Inuit belief that seals are actually quite happy to become part of their bodies and if they stop eating them, the seals will get upset and stop breeding.
      Other times, the delusions are not so benign, like when Aztec shamans ate human sacrifices in the belief that the bodies transubstantiated into part of the god to whom they were given.
      And therein lies the problem with accepting any proposition on faith.
      The supernatural, by definition, cannot be resonable.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:13 am |
      • Sara

        Generally I agree, but I think a few seals might tale issue with your argument.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Robert

      it's not the devil telling you that you are full of it. It is me.25 million a year tax free? Praise jeezus!

      October 11, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  14. synan

    I have love & spiritual fulfillment so creationism has nothing to offer me. Creationist benefit from science every day even as they deny it and work to have it not taught in schools.
    If the scientists shrugged the Conservatives would discover who the true Atlas is.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:58 am |
  15. Blake Kirk

    And so once again, we see that public debate on issues of substance in this country inevitably devolves to an argument on the level of five year olds:

    "You're a doodoohead!"

    "Am not!"

    "Are too!"

    "Well then, so are you!"

    "Am not!"

    "Are too!"

    EVERYBODY interviewed for this story should immediately turn in his credentials for being an adult.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:58 am |
  16. Gorsh

    I have nothing against secular humanists, as long as they don't try to pass laws based on their secular humanism.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  17. max

    y do u think u r all going to hell?

    October 11, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  18. Jesus was a space alien

    Stop looking for the sky fairy to save you. There is not a supernatural being that gets involved in the lives of billions of people on this planet. If you look at this world and universe it is a very miraculous place. Take care of it and don't destroy it through religion. Appreciate the world for what it is and not what it is not.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  19. KeelHauler

    "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. "

    That's extremely arrogant to think you can speak for God's actions. It's also very typical of many religious freaks. "You'll burn in Hell!" Yeah? Says who?

    October 11, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • sam stone

      where would evangelism be without these empty proxy threats?

      yeah, these people are arrogant

      it seems it has more to do with implied knowledge than stated belief

      look at the regular posters topher/gopher and robert brown for example

      nothing but bloviating punks

      they run like scared little children from logic

      October 11, 2013 at 7:58 am |
      • truthprevails1

        If Topher or Robert or anyone of them looked outside the box and started to put this together, it would throw their lives in to turmoil and break down all they know.
        Some dolt going by the alias MAX on the page before this is just as ignorant. The only cure for ignorance is education, thus one of the good reasons for allowing Evolution to be taught in schools opposed to creationism.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:07 am |
        • sam stone

          they won't, because they are arrogant cowards

          October 11, 2013 at 8:09 am |
        • sam stone

          particularly gopher, who goes on and on about the god's justice, but does everything he can to avoid that justice

          then bloviates proxy threats

          he is a clown

          October 11, 2013 at 8:13 am |
  20. Aaron

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

    Aka:

    "We were feeling ignored, so we put up an offensive billboard to shovel our beliefs down other peoples' throats, while assuming we know what other people believe."

    "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.'"

    Don't tell me what I believe or that you can take a perspective outside of your own opinion, most of the time you say I/we will not spend eternity with god, but with the devil. Make up your mind. Maybe I'm an atheist because I don't believe in your organisation? I might still believe. Just not be defined as a Christian. You don't know.

    That's not to say I support Atheists saying "You KNOW it's a myth" or whatever on billboards. It serves no purpose trying to start needless arguements over these things. You either believe or you don't. Simple as. Religion is a personal thing, not something to be used as a weapon.

    These billboards don't encourage thought about god at all. What they do encourage is flippant remarks against a group or against another group. And to state that anything is reviled by science is rediclous. Most scientists do not care to hate religion, but acknowledge it has uses. Just not as a factual education tool in schools, where we teach truths – like in math. 1+1=2. Thats a fact. God exists is a belief. You cannot argue he does or he doesn't. It doesn't make it a truth, so it's not something you can educate. You can teach religious studies, but it cannot be used as a factual tool to say creationism is real when there is no foundation except the words of an organisation that has profitted greatly from its distribution, not unlike a newspaper or any other novel.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:45 am |
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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.