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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. Dyslexic doG

    The Legend of King Arthur is not evidence for Merlin.
    The Greek Myths are not evidence for Heracles.
    The Epic of Beowulf is not evidence for Grendel.
    The American Folk Tradition is not evidence for Paul Bunyan.
    The New Testament is not evidence for Jesus.
    The Old Testament is not evidence for Yahweh.

    The universe was created ... in the story.
    The miracles happened ... in the story.
    The prophesies were fulfilled ... in the story.
    The character was emotionally appealing and morally right ... in the story.

    Get out of your stories.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Paul

      It's sad that atheists don't want to get rid of their stories. They don't understand the difference between scientific evidence and the interpretation of the evidence. The idea of common descent is pure imagination.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:59 am |
      • Ben

        Paul
        We interpret the evidence by following where it logically leads. How do you interpret it?

        October 11, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • Paul

          Exactly the same way. Follow the evidence where it leads.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Paul, And the evidence leads to evolution and therefore common descent – the tree of life was in use before Darwin's work, DNA has blown it open. You have no evidence for creationism – just real or imaginary gaps which you claim disproves the science and therefore the Bronze Age Middle Eastern sheepherders were right all along. Evolution has so much evidence for it and creationism has none for it. And even if evolution were wrong it does not mean that a god did it.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • ME II

        @Paul,
        The scientific theory of evolution has plenty of evidence.
        Fossils like Tiktaalik, Ambulocetus, Archeopteryx, etc.
        Biochemistry like Cytochrome-C, etc.
        Genetics like Human Chromosome-2, ERVs, etc.
        Biogeography like marsupials, etc.
        experiments like Lenski's LTEE

        October 11, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • Maxwell's Demon

        Reality disagrees with you, Paul.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • Jeff Williams

          """Reality disagrees with you, Paul."""

          But reality is irrelevant because it is sadly inconsistent with the bible's teachings. Get yer facts straight, you heathen. 😉

          October 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Paul

      "The New Testament is not evidence for Jesus."

      But history is. Try studying it.

      October 11, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        Jesus was just David Koresh 2000 years earlier. A sociopathic conman with a good story and lots of charisma. All this foolishness, without a shred of proof, has sprung up from there.

        utter, mind numbing nonsense.

        October 11, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        The Bibilical, supernatural account of Jesus is no more historical fact than the Epic of Gilgamesh.
        Historians agree that the King of Uruk was a real person. Archaeologists have unearthed his ancient city and the remnants of its mighty walls.
        That doesn't mean that he was a demi-god who took the occasional trip to the Underworld.

        October 11, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • Ben

        There's Jesus, who is perfectly ordinary enough to have existed back then. There were dozens of messianic claimants as well as wandering preachers back then anyway, but this "Christ" character is completely outside of history. We have no reliable sources for such a superhero existing. Josephus mentions Hercules as being as much real as Jesus.

        October 11, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • A Frayed Knot

          Yes, Ben, and so does Tacitus, who also tells about Ulysses – http://www.unrv.com/tacitus/tacitusgermania.php

          October 11, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  2. Paul

    Bemused: "Which creation story in Genesis do they recognize as the correct one?"

    Paul

    @Bemused
    There is only one creation story. Genesis chapter 1 gives an overview of the creation week. Chapter 2 goes into the details of what happened on day 6.
    October 10, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Cpt. Obvious

    Nope. The order doesn't match up. You're doing mental calisthenics again to make it work.
    October 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Paul

    The order DOES match up. Read carefully.

    " Now the Lord God HAD FORMED out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them." Genesis 2:19

    "had formed" is the past perfect tense meaning they had already been created. There's no problem with the order in chapter 2.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Ben

      The "overview" states that man and woman were created at the same time on the sixth day, along with the other land animals, while the "detailed" account states that man was created well before other animals and woman. Not exactly a match, right?

      Then there's the problem with their disobedience, which one is to assume was something "evil" that they did, but how can that be when they supposedly only gained the ability to tell good from evil after eating the fruit? How were Adam and Eve supposed to know that it was "wrong" to disobey God before getting that ability via eating the fruit? As a moral story it just doesn't make any sense.

      October 11, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  3. Paul

    Bemused
    "Which creation story in Genesis do they recognize as the correct one?"

    Paul

    @Bemused
    There is only one creation story. Genesis chapter 1 gives an overview of the creation week. Chapter 2 goes into the details of what happened on day 6.
    October 10, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Cpt. Obvious

    Nope. The order doesn't match up. You're doing mental calisthenics again to make it work.
    October 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Paul

    The order DOES match up. Read carefully.

    " Now the Lord God HAD FORMED out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them." Genesis 2:19

    "had formed" is the past perfect tense meaning they had already been created.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      if the bible is the word of god then every single word and punctuation mark must be followed and revered! If even one word is proven incorrect, contradictory, foolish or made up by man, then the whole book is worthless.

      Unless you are god himself, you cannot judge which parts of the bible can be disregarded and which should be followed, which are truth and which are allegories. You must follow it ALL or discount it ALL.

      I have never met a Christian who follows the bible even close to completely. You are all frauds!

      October 11, 2013 at 9:38 am |
      • Gen

        DDog, wonderful post. I so agree.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:42 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Which religion teaches that absolute, linear adherence of the Scripture you describe?

        October 11, 2013 at 9:45 am |
      • Paul

        @Dyslexic doG
        "Unless you are god himself, you cannot judge which parts of the bible can be disregarded and which should be followed, which are truth and which are allegories.."

        First of all, I didn't take the verse out of context. Second, I used it to disprove "Observer" wrong about his interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2.
        Third, yes you can tell the difference between allegories, historical narrative, poetry, etc.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:51 am |
        • A Frayed Knot

          Paul,
          "Third, yes you can tell the difference between allegories, historical narrative, poetry, etc."

          You can? Which one is the story of Job? Which one is the story of Noah? Which one is the story of pigs running off of a cliff?

          Evangelical Rule of Thumb:

          If a Bible verse furthers the cause, it is to be taken literally.

          If a Bible verse is detrimental to the cause, it is either: taken out of context; is allegorical or metaphorical; refers to another verse somewhere else; is an ancient cultural anomaly; is a translation or copyist's error; means something other than what it actually says; is a mystery of god or not discernible by humans; or is just plain magic.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        I'm just asking because I think you've trotted out an old popular straw man. Here's what the Catholic catechism says and I imagine many other denominations have similar tenets. SO, once again you're arguing with a Christianity which doesn't really exist. Not very logical at all!

        II. INSPIRATION AND TRUTH OF SACRED SCRIPTURE

        105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."69

        "For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."70

        106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."71

        107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."72

        108 Still, the Christian faith is not a "religion of the book." Christianity is the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living".73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures."74

        October 11, 2013 at 9:51 am |
        • Sara

          Bill, I read that as the books are fully and entirely the word of god without error.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • ME II

          @Sara,
          I almost agree.The last paragraph is the escape clause.
          " I read that as the books are fully and entirely the word of god without error [but it is not to be taken literally]"

          October 11, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Bill
          For the last hundred years or so, the RCC has been sensible enough to publically distance itself from Biblical Literalism, as have many other Christian denominations.
          Word for word literalism is pretty much the sole domain of nutbar American sects like the Baptists.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:14 am |
        • Sara

          ME II,

          I don't see that last paragraph as an escape clause but as a claim that we can continue to learn from the Bible as times change and new answers are needed to new problems. The book remains the key to any time, however, and the church should be able to understand the wrods clearly and with assumed accuracy. They aren't claiming, and really can't claim, thay anything goes. There are no mistakes and it should be a clear and dependable resource for any era. I don't think they have an out.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:20 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          My question is,"Who, other than atheists, is claiming that the Scriptures are to be taken line by line, black or white, absolutely literally?" I don't know of any Christian denomination that doesn't say something like "The word of God was made flesh in Jesus Christ and it is through relationship with that understanding the Scriptures is granted." Why do you insist on making it a homework assignment instead of a living experience?

          October 11, 2013 at 10:41 am |
        • Sara

          Bill, nothing can be understood without a knowledge of the language and the culture. Claiming there's something special about this fact with regard to the bible is just silly. If your god wants to communicate via language he has the same rules as everyone else. If for some reason he wants to obscure the meaning and make it harder to understand, that's his business, but it doesn't affect the question to absolute accuracy.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • ME II

          @Bill Deacon,
          But your declaration makes it seem subjective. Is there no objective reference for the beliefs of "Christians", in general, or specifically?

          October 11, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          Sara, if I understand your statement you seem to feel that if God wanted to communicate with you he'd do it on your terms. I think he'd prefer to deal with you on his terms, since he's God and all.

          Me II, you'll scoff but in the Catholic faith we rely on the stewardship of the magisterium to preserve the Scripture. When Martin Luther espoused his doctrine of sola scriptura, I don't think he foresaw the consequences of the permutation of interpretation we've experienced in the last 500 years. While I support both theologically and intellectually some of the revelations our Protestant brothers have proclaimed, I suspect the process by which others distort the Gospel. The consequence being that the argument of "How many versions and how many interpretations are there?" has been opened. The truth is that no matter how many versions, interpretations, revelations or studies are made, there is only one Word.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • ME II

          @Bill Deacon,
          Yes, I'm aware that the Catholic church relies on its "traditions", if that is the correct term, but I thought that most denominations held scripture as the objective reference, i.e. sola scriptura. Is that not the case and is that not what you were asking for.

          "The truth is that no matter how many versions, interpretations, revelations or studies are made, there is only one Word."

          While that may be true, I don't know one way or the other, the point remains what exactly is that "one Word". You and others claim that there is "only one Word," but no one agrees on what exactly that word is.

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

          Bill, If I understand you correctly, God works in mysterious ways. It always gets back to that, doesn't it?

          October 11, 2013 at 11:24 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          What you seem to just now be discovering is that Catholicism is not based on sola scriptura, That is a Protestant derivation which has opened the door for a number of apostacies as well as some genuine revelations. The magesterium is not the traditions of the church per se. It is the collective understanding of the council of bishops, cardinals, popes and past history of the Church as applied to the Scripture. It's like a steering committee, I suppose but one with 2000 years of experience in guidance. To me it's what separates Catholicism apart from denominations who state "We think it means this".

          To your next point, I thin there is broad consensus among most Christians that the Word is Jesus, made flesh and Him crucified and resurrected.

          Sara, it's not that mysterious to some of us but I understand you are reluctant to accept it.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • ME II

          @Bill Deacon,
          I've always been aware of Catholicism's reliance on "traditions", it's just doesn't always seem relevant to the discussion at hand.

          "To me it's what separates Catholicism apart from denominations who state 'We think it means this'."

          But don't the "traditions" boil down to the same "We think it means this," albeit with more "we" involved.

          "To your next point, I thin there is broad consensus among most Christians that the Word is Jesus, made flesh and Him crucified and resurrected."

          Unfortunately (and disregarding the inherent illogic of a word "made flesh"), Jesus is not available for objective analysis, which in the end leaves it all up to interpretation.

          October 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
        • Sara

          Bill, reluctant would be an understatement. I think the Bible contains absurdities that only thinking that very closely fits the DSM definition of delusional could avoid seeing. And that avoidance really is the key to what counts as delusion.

          October 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • ME II

      @Paul,
      I'm not a Biblical nor Hebrew scholar, but the following reference doesn't specify "had formed", but just "formed". Is it possible that the translators for the NIV, or whatever version you're using, decided to make it "had formed" in order for the text to make sense in light of Gen 1, not because the original Hebrew actually specified "had formed"?

      http://biblesuite.com/hebrew/3335.htm

      October 11, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • ME II

      @Paul,
      I'm not a Biblical nor He.brew scholar, but the following reference doesn't specify "had formed", but just "formed". Is it possible that the translators for the NIV, or whatever version you're using, decided to make it "had formed" in order for the text to make sense in light of Gen 1, not because the original He.brew actually specified "had formed"?

      http://biblesuite.com/hebrew/3335.htm

      October 11, 2013 at 10:05 am |
      • ME II

        Sorry for the dupe

        October 11, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  4. Doc Vestibule

    Man is the predilect object of Creation and the entire Universe exists as it does simply to have us in it.

    The Universe only appears to be billions of years old because The Creator willed it thus.

    God is anthropocentric – it says here right on the label.

    The rest of the universe, oh so simple and boring compared to humanity, is simply window dressing – God really concentrated when making The Earth as opposed to, say – the Andromeda galaxy.

    You see, when God was creating the Earth he placed it in a time dilation bubble in order to give it the attention it needed.

    This is how we see light from distant galaxies – they are, relativistically speaking, billions of years old – but thanks to God's chronoton singularity, we are only a few thousand years old.

    God bestowed certain seemingly normal objects with chronoton field generation capability, like Moses' staff and Noah's ark.

    How else did the seas part or was the ark able to support two of every animal despite it's size?

    In recent studies, credible theologians have revealed that the physical dimensions of Noah's Ark were actually much, much smaller than those depicted in the Bible. They theorize that the source texts were modified to be more believable as nobody would be able to imagine all life on Earth fitting into a box no bigger than a phone booth.

    The oral histories of a small, reclusive sect of ultra-orthodox Jews say that the Ark made a "Vworrrp Vworrrrp" sound before it gradually faded from sight. Stone tablets retrieved from this same sect show that the name "Noah" is actually an ancient Hebrew word from a long lost dialect that translates to "Healer".

    They also found evidence that Moses' staff was really a small, hand held device about the size of a pen that emitted a high pitched squeal and glowing green light. "Staff" also appears to be a mistranslation. The original word was "screwdriver".

    Leviticus is full of rules of conduct for the Hebrew people, but there was one particular passage that caused so much confusion and strife at the Nicene Council that they elected to omit it from the Bible.

    Scraps of that ancient text were found in the same cave as the Dead Sea Scrolls but have yet to be publically released. The text seems to be proclamations from a long forgotten prophet, but there is little context to make any sense of them.

    Thus far, scholars have translated: "run", "don't blink", and a thoroughly confusing psalm praising the virtues of decorative neckwear.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Mike

      Good post. Vwrommp.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  5. Matt

    Natural selection and evolution presuppose that life already exist. It is dependent upon "existing" life evolving. Where did the first life come from? Lightening strikes a mud puddle and life with DNA, cell membrane, ribosomes, cytoplasm emerges. Yeah, that makes sense.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Lester Singleton

      I find it interesting that science can say that the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing yet the thought of a God is so much more unbelievable.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Just because we aren't sure how life originated doesn't mean we can fill in the blanks with mumbo-jumbo.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:20 am |
      • Sara

        Apparently we can.

        October 11, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Colin

      Yes Matt, that makes no sense, which is probably why no biologist in the Wrold thinks that. The only book to make a ridiculous claim about life popping intii existence that I know of is the Bible.

      October 11, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • Sara

        Well done, Colin. It's difficult to know where to start with people who actually never understood evolution in the first place. That we allow people in this country to hold high school diplomas at that level of ignorance is scary. When I interview job candidates,usually college grads, I always test them rather than trusting a piece of paper. The results are frequently frightening.

        October 11, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  6. Lester Singleton

    How about people believe what they want to believe and these groups stop trying to sway people in one direction or another. If someone has a question about being a christian or an atheist, I think they know how to use Google to find your website. This is such a waste of time and money.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Host

      Thanks for coming out and spending so much time here. Please click on the ads before you leave; that's how we make money.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  7. Don

    All this (the article and the comments) is very entertaining, just like it always is when you have believers and atheists going at each other. It reminds me of children fighting on a playground. That is why I choose to be out of that fold. I'm neither a believer nor an atheist. Those two things are just two sides of the same coin: One believes in a God without any proof, and the other believes there is no God (again, without any proof). And that coin just keeps spinning and spinning, going nowhere.
    What do I believe? Well, I firmly believe that when it comes to God or no God, as in the ultimate reality, I do not know, and I leave it at that. Agnostic. However, I don't make a religion out of not knowing. But you two factions (believers and non-believers), you guys just keep flinging rocks at one another. Like I said, it's quite entertaining.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I also don't believe in an inter-dimensional travelling ninja hamster who fights crime and molests shadows without proof.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Colin

      Don, you said "“Those two things are just two sides of the same coin: One believes in a God without any proof, and the other believes there is no God (again, without any proof). And that coin just keeps spinning and spinning, going nowhere.”

      That is a false equivalence. To ask for evidence of non existence is absurd. Of course there is no evidence God does not exist. What "evidence" could there be? Think about it. What possible evidence of non-existence can there be? By definition, there is no evidence of a negative. What evidence is there that Santa Claus does not exist? What evidence is there that the Hindu god Shiva does not exist?

      That is the fundamental difference between there being no proof of a fact and there being "no evidence of a non-fact." The latter is meaningless.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • Lester Singleton

        What does it matter if there is proof of nonexistence or not? Why is there so much effort going into proving something doesn't exist. If people want to believe in God, let them believe. When it impacts you, like bibles in schools, then you should be concerned with fighting that specific instance, not the religion as a whole. Fighting a religious belief is pointless.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • Sue

          Lester, that's bullshit and you are a wimp. Like someone said here earlier, "internal beliefs usually have external consequences". Belief in Christian dogma over reason and evidence is hurting America. Let's face up to that and move ourselves away from belief in the Christian fairy tales, at long last.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:38 am |
      • Don

        You didn't fully understand my point. You singled out Santa Claus (why? I don't know, but let's go with that). No, one cannot prove that Santa exists. However, no one can prove that he does not. Meanwhile, you'll have elves on both sides of the fence arguing one way or the other for eons to come.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • Mike

          Don, atheists, most pointedly DO NOT have a "belief" that there is no God. Atheists simply demand proof through rational, logical, peer-reviewed science that there is some evidence of a God. We don't "believe" in science like a faith, we question science, and question everything.

          Science doesn't have a "creator" answer. We don't know how the universe began. But just because we don't know, is not a reason to throw in a fantastical mythological creature and call it God.

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

          @Mike,
          So you're saying that science is the only form of knowledge? If you are, that's just not the case. I'm sure you've heard of inductive logic and abductive logic. People use both of these to come to conclusions about the evidence they are looking at.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:20 am |
        • ME II

          @Paul,
          Not sure what you are getting at but science is basically inductive logic, i.e. generalizing from the specific (observation) to the general and does not guarantee the conclusion, or "prove" it. Abduction is basically a best guess and stops even shorter than induction, let alone deduction, from "proof" of anything. Abduction may work in day to day lives working with things we are familiar with, like wet lawns, but it can be incredible wrong.

          There is no "proof", or deduction, of the existence or non-existence of god(s), that I'm aware of, and the inductive evidence, or science, so far, does not require god(s), and any abduction, or "best explanation", for god(s), would depend on what one considers "best", I would think.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        If it is impossible for something to exist that has impossible attributes, we may be able to appeal to modal logic. After all, God is supposed to be a necessary being. So God, who does impossible things (miracles), exists in all possible worlds ... Either God does not exist or all worlds are impossible.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  8. jharry

    First they waste their brain cells and breath/rhetoric. Now they also waste their money. Good.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  9. Robert Brown

    No one can oppose you,
    because you have the power
    to do what you want.
    You asked why I talk so much
    when I know so little.
    I have talked about things
    that are far beyond
    my understanding.
    You told me to listen
    and answer your questions.
    I heard about you from others;
    now I have seen you
    with my own eyes.
    That’s why I hate myself
    and sit here in dust and ashes
    to show my sorrow.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That's all right, Robert. I forgive you even if no one else will. Now go make yourself a nice cuppa tea..

      October 11, 2013 at 9:11 am |
      • Robert Brown

        Thanks Tom, I prefer to start with the hard stuff in the morning, coffee. Just as you offered forgiveness, God does too, when we are repentant.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  10. Gorsh

    A recent analysis of 1,763 military conflicts found that 7% were rooted in religion, yet many atheists will tell you religion is the #1 cause of conflict.

    It's almost like they believe in a totally unsupported, fabricated story because it meshes with their belief system.

    Amazing just how similar the two sides of this debate really are.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Atheism isn't a belief system.

      You're right though. Money and power is the cause of every war, even apparantly religious ones.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:04 am |
      • Gorsh

        Atheist isn't a belief system any more than theism is. You are correct.

        Individual atheists subscribe to a variety of belief systems from strict reductionism, secular humanism, atheistic Buddhism etc.

        But the vehemently anti-religious evangelical atheists do have a shared belief system. Not sure if it has an "ism" tied to it though.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:08 am |
        • Sara

          They have a shared belief..I don't think there's enough consensus beyond a statement on gods to call it a system.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:10 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Moving forward without entertaining the idea of a god isn't belief. I encounter it from time to time. Admirable, really.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:14 am |
        • Gorsh

          Sara, that is my point. Jews, Christians, Pagans, Hindus, Roman pantheists and African tribal Animists are all theists. Would you say that they share a belief system? Of course not.

          But each individual group does. The same is true of atheists. There are separate "isms" that would all be labelled atheist.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          But they are unrelated to atheism itself. All atheism is is the belief that there are no gods. That's it. Everything else is superfluous to atheism.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:18 am |
        • Gorsh

          Tom, belief that there is no god is belief. That is pretty simple.

          Lack of belief in god is a reasonable position. Belief either way requires the acceptance of experimentally unsupported hypothesis.

          Prove multiverse theory, and you are getting somewhere.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:19 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Gorsh
          That is akin to saying "being asymptomatic is a sign of illness".

          October 11, 2013 at 9:21 am |
        • Gorsh

          Dave, by your logic, religions have nothing to do with belief in god or gods..

          All theism is is the belief that there are gods. That's it. Everything else is superfluous to theism.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:22 am |
        • Gorsh

          Doc, I think you miss my position. I am agnostic on the whole subject. I do hope there is more than the reductionist view says there is, but I have no evidence one way or another.

          Being being asymptomatic is not a sign of illness. But the very use of the term asymptomatic implies the possibility of illness, and surely does not prove the none-existence of illness.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:25 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Exactly, that's all theism is. All the religious stuff is superfluous to theism itself. Let's not get bogged down in semantics though.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:26 am |
        • Sara

          I agree that there are some anti-religious evangelical belief systems, but they would be small and scattered and not have very strong cohesion at this point. I guess a question is how many beliefs must be tied together and shared to count as a system, and that's not quantifiable in any way I know. At some level we all have an individual "system", some more coherent than others, and some more common than others.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:26 am |
        • Gorsh

          Sara, there are 41,000 denominations of Christians alone, from Catholics who accept evolution, science etc. to Baptist young earth creationists. Within each of the 41,000 denominations each person has their own personal beliefs.

          Mix in the other 4,199 religions and you get the picture.

          So, neither side can be said to have any strong cohesion beyond some basic shared beliefs. But there are schools of thought that are atheist in nature, each with foundational beliefs which could be called belief systems.

          Reductionism is the belief that there is nothing whatsoever beyond the physical
          Buddhism is a religion which posits quite a bit of spiritualism and the survival of consciousness beyond death, yet many Buddhists are atheist.

          These are just two atheist belief systems. There are many more in between.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:37 am |
        • Sara

          Buddhism is closer than materialism, which doesn't contain an ethics system and could, in itself, be seen as a single belief. We probably don't disagree on too much here, but my point is that I would be careful about assuming much agreement on the part of those who are loud and militant in their atheism. They are unlikely to share political views and cannot even be guaranteed to all be materialists. Yes, some systems exist, but I don't think there is a single loud, evangelical system worth talking about. Subdividing them may be interesting, but without houses of worship and gathering points we just won't see the same kind of unity you see with a religion like Christian Scientists.

          Even among materialists, do you count only eliminative materialists or emergentists and panpsychics? Materialist monists and dualists? What of idealists who think the world essentially acts as though material? Does it matter whether you support multiverses or the classic Copenhagen interpretation? And how would an ethic fit into any of this?

          Among the militants we've pretty much got:

          1. There is no proof of gods
          2. The world would be better off (in some not really agreed on way) if most or all people didn't believe in gods

          I just don't see them sharing any more than that.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Most wars are political in nature. They are conflicts for resources, land or long standing tribal feuds.
      Religion is a tool of statecraft used to keep the unwashed masses in line.
      The Second World War wasn't a religious conflict, and yet religious arguments were used to rationalize the Third Reich's atrocities to the German public and to reassure the foot soldiers that they were in the right.
      Hence "Gott mit uns" (Got is with us) was emblazoned on Nazi uniforms.
      Historically, the rulers who started wars were able to do so becuase they invoked their "Divine Right" as Kings.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  11. mutanttruth

    My imaginary friend is real. He told me so.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  12. weezer

    I usually hate this argument, but why don't both groups stop spending so much money on billboards and find a common purpose like feeding the poor.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Poor people smell.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The religionauts would want to dispense some scripture with their charity and in response, the atheists would want to hand out science textbooks.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:09 am |
      • Thinker...

        Man, that would be expensive! Textbook prices are no joke! Heck you'd probably end up with a bunch of college students pretending to be homless just for the free textbook.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:00 am |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        The problem with that is that the religious get to use the same old tired and worn our book to peddle while the science books get re-issued each year with updated information. The science book never says "this is it, that is all" but presents the information as our best understanding of observed phenomenon at thetime of printing with the understanding that the work of discovery is on-going and thus can never be difinitively settled. The religious on the other hand see their book as infallible and only our understanding of it possibly flawed, and because science doesn't claim absolutes religion can claim that eventually that on-going research being done by scientists will eventually prove their God theory, regardless of the current evidence.

        October 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Sara

      Why do people attend football games or watch TV?

      October 11, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  13. That's just crazy talk

    If there was ever a time to use the word retarded, it would be at that billboard.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  14. Gorsh

    Science has proven without a doubt that there may or may not be a god.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Aspartame has been scientifically demonstrated to cause laboratory experiments involving rats.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  15. Colin

    What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (a) a horrid disease

    (b) a failed education system

    (c) a successful Al Qaeda plot; or

    (d) Christianity?

    October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  16. toby

    that Myth you all are refering to is the big bang theory that produced that glorious sunrise this morning ,right....really? a Big Bang made that? really?now talk about blind faith

    October 11, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Danno

      Just because you don't understand it doesn't make it true. Care to explain your version and provide evidence?

      October 11, 2013 at 8:53 am |
      • toby

        my version presents its own evidence mr friend ,,,i keep waiting for something other than .." i refuse to acknowledge the truth of Gods word so i call myself an atheist"

        October 11, 2013 at 9:00 am |
      • Gorsh

        "Just because you don't understand it doesn't make it true."

        Very well put. Though, of course valid from either side.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So a tiny spark turned into a raging inferno? With all the trees in the forest aflame?
      Yeah right.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • closet atheist

      Oh, toby....

      October 11, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • mutanttruth

      The sunrise is produced by the Earth's rotation.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:56 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Blasphemy!
        Human beings are the predilect objects of Creation, made in God's own image.
        Therefore, the Earth is the centre of the universe and the rest of creation rotates around US!
        "The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises."
        – Ecclesiastes 1:5

        I think it's time you had a chat with your friendly neighbourhood inquisitor.
        Ever seen a Judas Cradle?

        October 11, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • mitch

        Isnt it absolutely amazing that so many people spend so much time and money to fight against a God they dont believe even exists? If God isnt real, then who cares. I dont spend my time or money arguing against the existance of Zeus or Thor. If you really dont believe in God. Then spend the money on yourself.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:11 am |
        • sam stone

          because people use their belief in the non-existent god to influence public policy, including school sanction prayer, denial of abortion rights and marriage equality

          October 11, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • JustReadTheBook

      Actually, there is plenty of evidence that points to the "big bang"...no faith required.

      If you're interested in learning more, seek out the books of scientist/authors such as Lawrence Krauss and Michio Kaku, as a couple of starters. The universe we live in is far more amazing than you may realize.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • UncommonCents

      The Big Bang does have an alternative. We might be inside a 4th dimensional blackhole.
      I do find it funny that modern religion still carries on the tradition of myths of ancient Greece and other defunct religions.

      When you don't understand something and associate a Sun god or water god or monster-under-the-bed god is responsible shows ignorance on a monumental scale.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Joey

      I thought the sunrise this morning was pretty ugly.

      October 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  17. Colin

    Ever wondered why it is only in the USA that such a large percentage (46%) of the population are so breathtakingly stupid and ignorant? I think it is two things. First, we are terrified of taking religious nonsense head on. We allow utter nonsense to be taught to children under the guise of "religious freedom." Secondly, we allowed our education system to dumb itself down. We underpay teaches, meaning we no longer attract talent, and when a large number of kids fail, we simply lower the bar rather than heighten the quality of education.

    The net effect is worth reflecting on for a moment. Half the country honestly believes that the entire Universe is less than 10,000 years old and began with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Al Qaeda could not dream of achieving such results with the most nefarious plot to ruin the long term education of the country.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      That Billboard and both Creationists and Atheists argue over things that can't be proven and don't know the difference between symbolism, allegory, and the plain truth. They argue because they like to. No one was there when the universe was formed so why argue about it? The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not criticise, does not taunt, does not harass, does not accept blind obedience. All it asks is that you love God and each other. Love your neighbor as yourself, do good to those that hate you. Ever hear that before?

      October 11, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  18. Kay

    I would hardly say the billboard is "taunting," But saying it is taunting is a great way to provoke comment, good and bad.

    October 11, 2013 at 8:48 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.