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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. Atheists are wrong about Jesus and ancient religion

    What if Atheists are wrong?[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88GTUXvp-50&w=640&h=390]

    October 13, 2013 at 6:10 am |
  2. Connor

    I am ashamed that 46% of Americans believe in creationism.

    October 13, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  3. Mr Everyman

    The Creation Museum needs to be sued for fraud. The people putting forward creationist or "Young Earth" views should be called to account in law courts. Alchemy accomplished some great things based on incorrect theories. The writers of the Bible wrote from a theistic view using the best theories of that era. The same thing can be done today using evolutionary theory. Creationists are misreading ancient illustrations as literally true when the illustrations were intended to show existence in relationship to its source. God is not a formula explaining the physical universe. God is a sense of being that cares. The physical universe does not have a sense of care. That is why belief in God is faith a person lives in and not a science experiment.

    October 12, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Can you imagine believers having to defend their delusions according to the justice system's rules of order? It would be highly entertaining!

      October 12, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
      • ME II

        Kitzmiller v Dover BOE

        October 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I think that was limited to ID vs. Evolution. I think a case on the more basic question of gods vs no gods would be even more interesting and entertaining.

          October 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
      • redzoa

        I believe the two biggest obstacles for the deity proponents would be Federal Rules of Evidence 602 and 802. FRE 602 requires a witness have personal knowledge of the matter and must introduce sufficient evidence to demonstrate this personal knowledge. Of course, faith does not equal personal knowledge. FRE 802 is the rule against hearsay which pretty much cuts out their source material. Interestingly, FRE 610 excludes the introduction of evidence relating to a witness's religious belief to either support or attack their credibility. In other words, our legal system does not recognize religious belief as a positive virtue unto itself.

        October 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  4. Rick

    One poster that I read earlier on this page said something that I will remember for quite some time. He said of atheists:"Well perhaps a sense of superiority is half way to actual compassion". It should bother you that what he said was literally true. That IS as close to actual compassion as atheists will ever be or can ever hope to be. The vast majority of you are vicious, self-righteous, and bigoted just as you accuse Christians of being. I believe in God, and I am aware that there are those of us who are zealots and their actions reflect badly upon those of us who do NOT believe the earth was created in 7 days, but the horrible mistake that the vast majority of atheists make is in your disgusting bigotry lumping all of us with these individuals. There are those of us who don't believe the earth is only 9000 years old either, there are even those of us who don't accept that every word in the bible is the inspired word of God, or that Goliath of Gath was 9 1/2 feet tall, but we use the Bible as a source of moral philosophy that we consider to honest and compassionate. There are many of us who don't go around trying to ram our philosophy down everyone's throats. But I have yet to find an atheist whom I have not known for at least 20 years who doesn't do exactly what you accuse us of. And of my atheist friends (yes I HAVE atheist friends), all of them are embarrassed by you drooling hydrocephalic gorillas who think you are superior. The man who posted the quote was right. None of you are superior and NONE of you will ever be, at your best, even half-way to compassionate.

    October 12, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Fuck off until you back up your delusions with facts.

      October 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
      • Rick

        Amazing. What an outstandingly elegant reply! You just proved everything I wrote about you is true.

        October 12, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I merely followed your example, in many fewer words. You've proved nothing other you have fallen into generalizations about people who ask questions you can't answer. You certainly don't have a claim to superiority or compassion.

          October 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
      • DODO

        how does she hack this dump?

        i no.

        hint–prison

        October 13, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Ricky

      How can you keep a straight face saying that? It's a delusion, one that you and your friends keep and maintain for the sake of your societal bond. It's part of your culture, the weekly meeting, the daily time allotted, etc.

      The point of atheists or agnostics or anyone who is pretty sure that magic, demons, souls, gods, afterlives, don't exist is perhaps well versed in, "simply because the Human race hasn't learned something yet, let's not go and make some B.S. up"

      Why cherry pick the little bits that feel apply to you and your current life in this epoch, dismiss the rest that don't fit, but still keep the fictional god bit? What about all of the other thousands of fictional gods, are they fictionally jealous, or fictionally dead because your god fictionally smote them? Ridiculous.

      The single reason you maintain your delusion is EGO. Sure you tell yourself its about others, why do you think churches do so much public charity? Helps each and every individual feed a personal ego and "earn the grand reward", Heaven. Souls in Heaven that's the bottom line for monotheists. You have been conditioned to believe that you have one of these things that survives death, you have been instructed that it either goes to a good place or a bad place based on a set of rules laid out in "the book". But the book, as you yourself can see, is FALSE. It's a collection of old hand-me-down fables and worn out old stories from primitive man, dating back thousands of years.

      Time to let go, the future beckons and soon we will be old enough not to need fake deities.

      October 12, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • Sara

      "Atheists More Motivated by Compassion than the Faithful"

      http://www.livescience.com/20005-atheists-motivated-compassion.html

      October 12, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        That would make sense, as atheist do compassionate acts because they are the right thing to do, and religious folks do them because it is part of their required mission in order to get to heaven.

        October 13, 2013 at 7:12 am |
        • tort

          barry black is cool!

          using neil's name like this spells another cause of action

          October 13, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • chubby rain

      So, if I am to understand this correctly, you are upset at ALL atheists because they overgeneralized you...

      October 13, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • tallulah13

      Wow, you sound like a judgmental jerk. And a hypocrite, to boot.

      So what if you believe in god? That's your business until you make it mine. Creationists have have very much made it everyone's business by promoting lies and conjecture and claiming them to be fact. That offends a human trait of mine, one I needed no bible to learn: honesty.

      October 13, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • Janet

      No one is less compassionate than the teaparty folks, all of whom are christians. I have never met any atheist who comes anywhere close to their total egocentrism and lack of compassion for others.

      October 13, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • ME II

      @Rick,
      " None of you are superior and NONE of you will ever be, at your best, even half-way to compassionate."

      Wait, so the problem is with Atheists who claim superiority when they aren't because you are superior to them... is that correct?

      October 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Rick must be too embarrassed to answer any follow up questions. . .

      October 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  5. Ufo

    Aliens from the universe next door...and they never left

    October 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
  6. GFSDF345

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    October 11, 2013 at 11:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
    YTRRT4563456

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    October 11, 2013 at 11:15 am | Report abuse | Reply

    October 12, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  7. Stuart

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYSRRBp2Wfg&w=640&h=390]
    .

    October 12, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Frank

      Looks like wretched mémé, is getting antsy and is deleting posts!

      October 12, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  8. Pagan Saint

    You omitted the Christian Hitler, the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition... on and on. How do you do explain wolves using teamwork in a hunt, provide food for their injured and sick? Is there a wolf holy text written in Wolfian we don't know about?There are the many other examples in the Animal kingdom, even animal to animal symbiotic relationships.

    October 12, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  9. tallulah13

    Matt, ignoring the atrocities committed in the name of the christian god does not make them go away. Personally I find it disgusting that people would follow such a being. If your god had not approved of things like witch trials, the inquisition and the slaughter and forced conversion of non-christians he could have stopped them with a thought. He did not. So either he approved or he didn't care. Neither option encourages me to worship such a monster. But to be honest, I believe the third option: There is no god.

    October 12, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  10. sam stone

    matt: christians are denying the civil rights of gays

    christians (at least many of the inbred fvcks on this blog) say they speak for god and those who do not capitulate to their god will go to hell

    October 12, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  11. Jeff Williams

    Really, guys, there are plenty of Christian people here to debate. Don't waste your time on the nutcases.

    October 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • sam stone

      Jeff: The problem is that sometimes it is hard to tell the difference

      Topher/Gopher and Robert Brown allude to debate, but it quckly becomes apparent that they just want to preach, and could not argue a point logically if their lives depended on it

      Both purport to speak for god. Gopher is famous for his empty proxy threats and running like a coward when presented with a logical argument

      October 12, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  12. Jeff Williams

    """Why should I think atheism is benign and vote for an atheist? Second, How do you dialogue and reason with someone that is threatening your freedom?"""

    First of all, don't kid yourself for a moment about the motivations of power. Mao and Stalin's beliefs were secondary to their political motivations. It's really not accurate to say that their atheism was the driving force behind their evil actions, though that seems to be a common argument amongst the believers here.

    Then there's Hitler – a Roman Catholic. Though his religious beliefs did color his hatred of Jews, his motivation in conquering Europe was for power – not for Jesus.

    Second: Atheists do not threaten your freedom. The reality is that you must now accommodate and recognize atheism instead of attempting to maintain that this society is a Christian country – because it is not.

    If accommodating other beliefs and nonbeliefs is your idea of losing freedom, consider yourself fortunate.

    October 12, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  13. GodFreeNow

    Who is Sam Stone and why is it the atheists responsibility to condemn him... I don't even condemn christians for the nonsense they say. That's a little too totalitarian for my taste.

    October 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  14. truthprevails1

    What is your fixation with sam?

    October 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • sam stone

      i don't know, but it is amusing

      faith......go fvck yourself

      October 12, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        It is amusing and at the same time frightening. I worry for the safety of society when people like this are allowed to wander the streets freely.

        October 13, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  15. ME II

    Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists - whether through design or stupidity, I do not know - as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.

    – Gould, Stephen Jay 1983. "Evolution as Fact and Theory" in Hens Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., p. 258-260.

    October 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  16. ME II

    @Piltdown,
    "In the absence of evidence, evolutionists rely on "faith"."

    Not sure what an "evolutionist" is, but the scientific theory of evolution has plenty of evidence.
    Fossils like Tiktaalik, Ambulocetus, etc.
    Biochemistry like Cytochrome-c
    genetics like Human Chromosome-2, ERVs, etc.
    biogeography like marsupials, etc.
    etc.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Tom

      If you rely on what you just listed as "evidence", then you should have tremendous faith as an evolutionist. None of what you listed is empirical evidence.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
      • ME II

        @Tom,
        First, those are just a few highlights. A full list would and does fill books.
        Second, I don't know what you consider empirical evidence but fossils, DNA, biochemistry, distribution patterns, those are empirical.

        October 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
      • Jeff Williams

        """None of what you listed is empirical evidence."""

        No, dude, you are not allowed to change definitions to suit you lack of argument. We're no going to argue with you over the meaning of the term "empirical evidence."

        October 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  17. Observer

    "The world could have be created by Zeus or a committee of zombies or the Three Stooges or an infinite number of other possibilities." but not god cause unicorns, talking devils and salt
    Obsurd Observer. this is one tough debater (never mind that this god created man, who created computers, and she is speaking through invisible electrons.}

    October 12, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Observer

      A pathological LIAR with zero integrity is using my name.

      Thie is a person who is settling an example for what Christians apparently are.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Observer

        "Thie" is a word I just invented. What do you think of me now.
        P.S. You really can't steal an alias.

        October 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  18. fyi

    In case any new visitors are not aware: there is an insane/inane person who frequents these blogs who poses as the regular screen names of certain posters with whom he disagrees or whom he doesn't like.

    It's best to ignore him, since your replies will be removed along with his.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Observer

      fyi,

      Thank you. It's pathetic to see someone so totally lacking in morals and integrity that they are pathologicial liars using other people's name.

      In this case, the liar supports the Bible or at least pretend they do. Is he a typical Christian?

      October 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • www

        please report all thefts to law enforcement

        October 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Observer

      CAUTION: THIS BLOG IS HACKED. POST AT YOUR OWN RISK. THEFT OF PERSONAL ID, PERSONAL VIOLENT THREATS AND HATE SPEECH HAVE GENERATED LEGAL ACTION AGAINST CNN, WORDPRESS AND INDIVIDUALS POSTING

      October 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
      • midwest rail

        Prove there's a lawsuit. You have 5 minutes. Go.

        October 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • Observer

        The pathological Christian liar had no answer.

        October 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      He's done it to me, too. I don't understand why CNN makes stealing names so easy to do that even a moron can do it.

      October 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  19. smh

    Because the Imaginary Sky Fairy's ex-bff the Scary Fire Monster will *get* you if you eat shellfish.
    No wait, that was wearing a cotton-polyester blend.
    Not raping your daughter?
    No, I've got it: the SFM will get you if you don't send enough money to old men in ugly dresses.
    Ummmnmm..........

    October 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
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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.