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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)
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    November 27, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
  5. Roy Flagton

    One billboard is saying Jesus is a myth like all other things. They have NO clue how real Jesus was, with eyewitnessed testimonies written down for YOUR benefit. Far different than what we know to be stores with no place or people of witness. You lose nothing by Jesus being real, and Lord of your life...you only gain eternal life. Does evolution or science offer you that? Does science get you to look into your heart, reveal you wretched ways (yes, I too am from a wretched heart and life), and change you and make you born again?

    November 27, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • jarhead333

      I agree. I do not think the question is whether or not Jesus was real, but if people believe he was who he said he was. I think the historical evidence proves that Jesus was an actual person, but just as in the time of Jesus, it only matters if you believe who he said he was.

      November 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Seth

      "You lose nothing by Jesus being real, and Lord of your life...you only gain eternal life."

      Wrong.

      November 27, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
      • jarhead333

        Wow... Strong take.

        November 27, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
      • Paul

        Seth,
        Would you care to elaborate on why you think that Roy is wrong?

        November 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  6. Jim-not-as-faithful-as-an-atheist

    Atheists believe in a creator but they're not smart enough to realize it. In the evolution tale, existing organisms must change with the addition of new organs. Evolutionists refer to natural selection as if that was the mechanism for change, However, change must take place in a species prior to any selection being made. This creator of changes is primarily known as random mutations in the evolution tale. Atheists believe that random mutations can create something like the eye (or a photosensitive cell) in a sightless organism in one generation and that natural selection will carry on the change. Only problem is that a photosensitive cell alone is useless without the accompanying nerves (wiring) and process center to convert the messages into useful information. In other words, random mutations must create a complete optical system for there to be a selection or survival advantage. It is absolutely ridiculous to believe that partial elements (eg, photosensitive cell) of an optical system will linger until other fantastic mutations come along to build something like an optical system. IT TAKES FAR GREATER FAITH TO BELIEVE RANDOM MUTATIONS CAN CREATE INTEGRATED ORGANS WHEN THE EVIDENCE WE HAVE ON HAND ARE BIRTH DEFORMITIES.

    November 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Seth

      Yours is a common fallacy among evolution skeptics, that systems must be formed in their entirety to be of any benefit. While you are correct to point out the lack of hard evidence for evolutionary pathways, it is also flawed to claim that you know the only way it could have worked, and to claim that that way didn't happen.

      Consider the opsins. They are the g-proteins in the eye's cells that react to light, which transforms the chemical structure of a molecule therein. The opsin needn't be tied to a nervous system in order to effect positive fitness – What if it's a transcription factor or messenger within the cell that is light-activated (many G-proteins that aren't opsins have this function)? What if the directional gradient of stimulated opsins in the cell leads to a specific type of This kind of phototaxis is present even in rudimentary organisms.

      Believing that dogma-based miracles are a better explanation for our observations is not scientific or rational. Scientific theories are founded from observations.

      November 27, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
      • Paul

        "Scientific theories are founded from observations."

        Yes, and we observe that information always comes from an intelligent source. Information couldn't have come from materialistic processes.

        November 27, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
      • jarhead333

        So in a passive way, you are saying that you cannot prove your theories any more than Christians can prove theirs. So tell me why you insist that your way is the correct way, and why Christianity can be ruled out?

        November 28, 2013 at 12:02 am |
        • urnotathinkerareu

          We dont have conclusive evidence but we sure have some strong "pointers" pushing us to look in the right direction. Fossil records are highly indicitive of life forms more than 6,000 years old as the creationists cite. The "immaculate Conception", The Resuurection and a host of "magical" claims without evidence suggests we are on the right track as well. Think for yourselves.

          November 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  7. Rich

    It is very awesome to see this billboard from Answers in Genesis. They have another great one coming out next month for Christmas...people need to realize there is a Creator, and we are His people. There is a reason for our life on Earth, as hard as it may be, and why we are allowed to know what is even going on outside the universe. Be a part of it!

    November 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  8. Jesse Christ

    Why should a story written by pre-Hebrews in the Iron Age be any more relevant than any other civilization's Creation myths? It's like arguing with a Bieleber that Justin Bieber isn't the greatest musician the world has ever known. I don't argue with 12 yo's. I just let them believe they're right.

    November 27, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  9. gg

    God was created in man's image, warts and all.

    November 27, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Former Xtian

      Bingo. All this time they said god created man, but in reality man created god.

      November 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  10. Former Xtian

    Could an evolution denier please explain what mechanism prevents genetic mutations from adding up over time? People keep saying macro evolution has no proof, but there is no such thing. Evolution is evolution. Why can't the evolutionary changes add up over millions of years to show bigger changes? Somebody needs to explain that.

    November 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Paul

      "Why can't the evolutionary changes add up over millions of years to show bigger changes?"

      Do you have evidence that it has?

      November 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • chubby rain

        Paul, you might want to start with any two of the over 4,000 genomes that have been sequenced.

        November 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      • urnotathinkerareu

        Its rather freaking simple. When you are two years old you look nothing like you do at 75 years. Evolution is like this...slow change over millions of years...the fossil record is there. If you don't want to believe this then don't. Who cares...its a fact and that doesnt change.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
      • Logical Default

        Paul, you are ignoring the question. Why can't small changes add up to become big changes? Please explain what prevents it. That's the only reason you are scared of evolution. The fossil records and genetics both show slow change over time. You believe micro evolution is right, yet are afraid of the long term results of it. Why? Instead of denial, answer the question.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • BeBoppin

      The theory of evolution doesn't necessarily deny the existence of a higher power, does it?

      November 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
      • Former Xtian

        Not at all. It could even be the method in which god does his work. Creationists are not doing themselves any favors by attacking evolution and science. They are only burying their heads in the sand. To me, evolution should make god that much greater. It's incredible when you think about it.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  11. JCDenton

    LOL what a joke. A god might exist, but it has nothing to do with silly religions made by humans in the dark ages.

    November 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  12. rkooyers

    I still have to laugh at 2 Kings 2:23–24, “And [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel. While he was on his way, young juveniles* came out from the city and mocked him, saying, ‘Go up, bald-head! Go up, bald-head!’ When he turned back and saw them, he cursed them in the name of YHWH. Then two female bears came out from the forest and mauled forty two of those juveniles.”

    November 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Observer

      rkooyers,

      No problem. A Christian explained it all away by saying "maybe they had been warned".

      November 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Logical default

      sounds legit. If I was a loving all powerful god, I'd totally do that.

      November 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  13. gary

    it's all myth and folklore from ancient times

    November 27, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  14. gary

    it'a all myth and folklore

    November 27, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  15. geno marcello

    While I respect David Silverman as an individual and for his Jewish background, I must disagree with his billboard messages. However, I want to thank him for giving Christian churches around the world a new message, based on the Bible. My own church in Springfield, MO. is going to follow the lead of the Creationist Museum. We are going to erect our own large billboard on church property that reads the same as theirs: TO OUR ATHEIST FRIENDS: THANK GOD YOU'RE WRONG. I would urge other church pastors to do something similar. Since the billboard will be erected on church property, the cost should be minimal. Great idea, Mr. Sillverman, and I sincerely thank you and your organization for giving it to Christian believers. Like the Bible says, God works in mysterious ways.

    November 27, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Why not be a better example to Silverman and use that money to help people in need? Ego in the way?

      November 27, 2013 at 10:58 am |
      • Former Xtian

        Because people care more about believing emotional connections to old fairy tales and convincing others of their delusion, than actually practicing what that particular faith teaches.

        November 27, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Welcome to the 18th century

      November 27, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Science Works

      Well Ham and the creation museum should check this out they might learn something .

      I am Diana Xie, a 22 year old neuroscience researcher at Duke University, and I just successfully funded a new online TV show about brain science with Kickstarter. Ask me anything.

      http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1rbfht/i_am_diana_xie_a_22_year_old_neuroscience/

      November 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  16. Joji Zarbo

    The time is near.
    In the last days the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out.
    The Pope has finally said his word.
    Ken Ham is contending for the faith.
    Israel is ready to attack Iran. But Iran will attack first. You'll see.
    America has turned its back from Israel.
    Believers and non-believers alike, you're in for a great ride.
    Enjoy!!!!

    November 27, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Hell NO

      Ronald Reagan's Son Records Atheist Radio Ad: 'Not Afraid Of Burning In Hell'

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/ronald-reagan-son_n_4344364.html

      November 27, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • fnordz

      Do you have any idea how long people have been saying "the end times are near"?

      November 27, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • Now that's just stupid...

        Not long enough; hasn't happened yet. Or will it ever...

        November 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Now that's just stupid...

      Nothing more to be said.

      November 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Former Xtian

      It is indeed the last days as predicted by the great flying spaghetti monster. He predicted the Tsunami and earth quake in Haiti! Heed his great wisdom or burn in the eternal boiling pot.

      November 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  17. Jude

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    November 27, 2013 at 9:11 am |
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  18. Jim In CT

    I am a technically-trained individual with an advanced degree in a science discipline. That has no impact on my ability to be religious or have 'faith'. I am not currently practicing, for personal reasons, but remain a person of faith. I do not believe that my faith 'forces' me to accept creationism. The Gospels were provided, IMHO, as a means of teaching the faithful and can be interpreted allegorically instead of literally.

    So, as Pope Francis eloquently just pointed out, we need to spend less time attacking each other and focus less on dogma and more the practicing, outward-facing, charitable, caring aspects of our faith. We are not here to be religious...we are hear to put our religion into practice. Or, at least that's what I think Jesus said.

    November 27, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Jim In CT

      Oops...typo .... here not hear! 😉

      November 27, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Chikkipop

      "I am a technically-trained individual with an advanced degree in a science discipline. That has no impact on my ability to be religious or have ‘faith’."

      Nor does it have an impact on your ability to commit a crime, or believe in ghosts, or cheat on your spouse. Just because people are capable of compartmentalizing an emotionally comforting belief >>apart from their work<< doesn't tell us anything about the truth value of their "faith".

      Now, where it WOULD have an impact is if you could bring ANY of your training to bear on the question of your faith beliefs.

      You can't, so the silly notion that science & faith are compatible is false.

      November 27, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • Paul

        "You can't, so the silly notion that science & faith are compatible is false."

        The most basic definition of the word "science" is "knowledge." What is the opposite of knowlegdge? Ignorance.
        "Faith" means to have trust or confidence.
        Science and faith go hand-in-hand. The more knowlegde you have, the more faith you have. They are completely compatible.

        November 27, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
        • Chikkipop

          Utterly preposterous.

          Notice how theists always define the ordinary real-world type of faith, as in trust & confidence that one might have in >>actually existing people<<?

          Then they expect that it somehow means the same thing when it comes to faith that there is an invisible, magical being watching over them, concerned with their behavior, who listens to them & has a "personal relationship" with them all.

          Faith plays no role in the search for real knowledge. No one should have it.

          November 28, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  19. Bill

    Maybe the thumpers can put up a billboard explaining why, if the world is only a few thousand years old, scientists keep finding dinosaur bones that are millions of years old.

    November 27, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The standard answeres I've received include:
      1) Scientific dating methods are unreliable. The creationist will invariably cite issues with accurate C14 dating.
      Mentioning the myriad other dating methods used accomplishes nothing. Remember – in their world, to successfully point out a single innaccuracy in their "infallible" Bible and their whole belief system collapses like a house of cards. Many seem to assume that science works the same way and to point out a single flaw in scientific methodology or theory is to dismantle science as a whole.

      2) Satan makes them look old to deceive humanity.
      3) Noah Flood created geological strata that kind of looks old, but really isn't.
      4) God works in mysterious way. Don't ask, don't tell – just believe.

      November 27, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  20. GOOD NEWS

    "They refuse to look at the real world.
    They refuse to look at the evidence we have, and they offer none," Silverman said.

    Here is The Evidence you are asking for, Mr. Silverman!

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    **UNIVERSAL MAGNFICENT MIRACLES

    November 27, 2013 at 4:25 am |
    • Science Works

      Here is a good one for you GOOD NEWS.

      No gods required !

      For-profit asteroid mining missions to start in 2016

      http://news.msn.com/science-technology/for-profit-asteroid-mining-missions-to-start-in-2016-1

      November 27, 2013 at 8:57 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.