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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. Thomas

    This is silly and boring. So Christian believers tell atheists that they are wrong. Wow! And also you say that the atheists think the believers a wrong. This is blowing my mind. 37 million atheists now feel like idiots cause the billboard set them straight. And millions and millions of believers toss aside their belief cause atheist billboards insulted them. People disagree and we already knew that.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  2. Andres

    So these fundamentalist think God created everything in six days yet cannot manage to market Himself successfully in this modern world, that It (sorry, for them is a He I think) needs mortal help? Something smells rotten and I think it is this fundamentalists people's faith in that same God their preach. Just saying!

    October 11, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Mark

      "these fundamentalist"???

      October 11, 2013 at 8:50 am |
      • Michael Hunt, Esq.

        If your only rebuttal you can muster is to point out a minor typo, then perhaps you should rethink your position on the subject.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  3. scientificpoetry

    As Ricky Gervais said... "and thank you to God, for making me an atheist."

    October 11, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  4. kahnkeller

    well... at last count there were some 10,000 major gods... many more minor gods.... so...which "god" are we supposed to...you know... thank for being wrong?

    October 11, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  5. Cristina

    Live (in peace) and let live (in peace). I wish all of us, atheist and religious alike, would focus less on being insulting and mean to each other, and more on being good examples for our kids, as well as focus on serious problems around the world and in our own backyards. For the love of god (no pun intended), my 5-year old has started to call adults' bluff because she is realizing that we grown-ups are hypocrites that do not live by the rules we give them. So before we express an opinion about such a big topic as religion, let's make sure we review the rules in "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten".

    October 11, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • aldewacs2

      Nah.
      Atheists can live a good and decent life, while at the same time protecting children from hearing only the religious hype.
      It's not that hard to multi-task.

      October 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  6. MAX

    Ur way off. I mean the nastiest thing

    October 11, 2013 at 8:34 am |
  7. Randy

    " Thank God you are wrong". Which God?

    October 11, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      The genocidal one with a weird infanticide fetish.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  8. Chris

    "atheistic evolution"

    What the heck is this?

    Atheist is a term that describes a lack of belief in a god or gods...and evolution is a scientific field of study. They aren't the same thing.

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

      If you visit their website you'll find they object to theistic evolution as well as atheistic evolution, so I'm not sure why the distinction.

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

      You're right. Atheism describes someone who doesn't believe in a god at all. But you're wrong, evolution has absolutely no science behind it, and never did. The only "science" behind it is what we can observe or have observed, and we've only ever actually seen micro-evolution (adaptation) take place in which case every single species returned to normal when their environment returned to normal as well. Anything else is simply speculation and can't, by the basic terms of the scientific method, be determined as 'science' or 'fact'.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:43 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Extrapolation is central to logic and science.
        What you effectively are saying is that sure, you can accept that one apple plus one apple equals two apples, but you can't believe that a mliion apples plus a million apples equals two million apples until you see and count all of them yourself.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:48 am |
      • Bryant Lister

        eRIC, you only demonstrated that you don't actually have any scientific knowledge. The term 'micro-evolution' was created by creationists, not scientists. There is no distinction in the scientific theory of evolution that divides things in to micro or macro. The scientific theory of evolution has more science backing it than any of the nonsense spouted by Ken Ham and other religious cult members that simply want to believe a childish fairy tale, rather than reality.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      These people fear evolution's association with atheistic naturalism.
      The lose sleep over the idea that if people learn facts, it will drive them away from their religion.
      In order to keep from getting burned at the stake (metaphorically, of course), evolutionary scientists are strongly motivated to ameliorate conflict between evolution and religion. Sociobiology offers them an apparent conciliatory path to the compatibility of religion and evolution, avoiding all language of inescapable conflict. Sociobiological evolution is the means to understand religion, whereas religion as a 'way of knowing' has nothing to teach us about evolution. This view allows a place for religion and sounds superficially comforting to compatibilists.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:44 am |
      • aldewacs2

        Facts are toxic to religion.
        Religion wants to check and wrap facts in a religious blanket before letting people sample them.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  9. Chris

    Ohh no they got us! LOL. They used a quote from their book. What better way to win an argument than to use a 2000 year old book written by people who had nearly no technology.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Eric

      Obviously that 2,000 year old book has lasted longer than your non-science-based hypothesis.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:45 am |
      • SomeGuyInNC

        Evidence abounds for evolution through natural selection, if you're willing to look.

        Of course, if you're not willing to look, nobody can pry you from your self-imposed, comfortable ignorance.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  10. InsanityPrevails

    I am a lifelong Christian, and I'm about fu(king fed up with the self-righteous jerks of both sides of the argument. Especially the other Christians, for as bad as they make me look by association.

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

      The two sides are not equally at fault.

      For as long as humans have had religions, doubters have been subjected to insult, ostracism, mistrust, and worse.

      Some of your fellow believers may indeed act badly, but more importantly, the beliefs themselves are groundless. No one should believe such things.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • Eric

      Life long....and you still haven't learned how to use words that aren't derogatory in nature. Good job.

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

      Thank you. i'm in the same boat as you.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  11. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Those books they sell will end up here in bits and pieces. I think it's kind of fun in a whack-a-mole sort of way.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  12. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

    Jack it while being choked by an illegal immigrant you picked up outside Home Depot?

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

      Imbecill i mean the nastiest thing

      October 11, 2013 at 8:36 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Exist?

        October 11, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  13. Sara

    The funniest thing about how silly this board is is that if these fundamentalist folks were right, the atheists would have no reason at all to be thankful as they are being promised eternal torment in hell (yep, check the website...which is mostly trying to sell stuff). They can't even apply basic logic and certainly aren't going to win over any thinking people. What they appear to be trying to do, however, is sell books to fundamentalist Christians who are tired of losing arguments to non-believers. So all they need is weak arguments that sound good to other fundamentalists.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  14. Bryan

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/10/tech/space-new-planet/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

    Science.....it explains things.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      That is possibly the most succinct and accurate description of science ever.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  15. Bryan

    This is what people are wasting money on? All this tells me is the human race is pretty freaking stupid.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Sara

      Yes, and that's not going to change in our lifetimes, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  16. Melissa

    All Hail the Almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster and all that have been touched by his noodley appendage!!! RAmen.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  17. MAX

    For the soap

    October 11, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  18. Freddo

    "Thank God You're Wrong"

    Prove it.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Ben

      Maybe people would like to thank Vishnu, or Odin, or Isis that we're wrong as well?

      We are atheists to all of these gods as well, while those folks are just atheists of every other god but their own.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:20 am |
  19. Jesus is real, but the myths are false

    Jesus is real, but the myths are false[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88GTUXvp-50&w=640&h=390]

    October 11, 2013 at 8:15 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.