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. Lewis Black on young-earth Creationists

    "There are people who believe that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, that they roamed the Earth at the same time. There are museums that children go to, in which they build dioramas to show them this. And what this is, purely and simply, is a clinical psychotic reaction. They are crazy. They are stone-cold-fvck nuts. I can't be kind about this, because these people are watching The Flinstones as if it were a documentary."

    October 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  2. JJ

    I am so embarrassed for these delusional idiots.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  3. Gypsy

    For those who fail to reason honestly... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebmsFmSe654

    October 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  4. tucson_az

    I am a bapttist pastor, have been one for 20 years. I don't believe in the "young earth theory. " I believe that God is omnipotent and he can create the universe on 10,000 years or less if He wanted to. But the point is, your argument is misguided, and it won't help to further God's Kingdom and doing so in humility.

    The point is our faith is not about what God did, but that He can, when it comes to creation.

    The Genesis DID NOT give the timeline between creation and the Fall of Man. Before sin entered, time was non-existent. To me, the best origin, best measure, and definition of time is how far do you and I have before dying. And Sin dictated that, and came into the picture at the Fall.

    Don't mix that time with scientific time – it's like arguing why a zebra is a power saw (yes, I meant they are never the same. )

    For my fellow pastors, Christian friends, and no doubt the Inquisitors, NO I didn't graduate from a liberal Bible college, I just never had a chance or money to go to ANY Bible college. Just have an engineering degree, and a faith that takes me day by day, and love all, yes, atheists are high on the list too. Would never fight or call them names either, because, as of today, 45 yeasts of life, and 23 years of ministries here and abroad, I still have yet been able to prove the zebra the same as a power saw!

    Remember brothers, Jesus didn't engrossed himself in proving the Athiests wrong, but empathized that grace and salvation are available to nonbelievers too.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • AE

      Thank you. Nicely put.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Phillip

      "..Before sin entered, time was non-existent."

      Well, at least you can admit that something does NOT exist. Keep working on it, and you'll get the whole picture eventually. Your magical sky fairy doesn't really exist.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
      • AE

        Where did he say there is a magical sky fairy? Why do you imagine that?

        October 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
        • Phillip

          Isn't that what, "God" is? Some invisible, magical being in the sky? Or is this the part where you start to tell me, "Modern religion now knows that God is ACTUALLY everything and anything at the same time, that's why nobody can see 'God'."

          October 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • AE

          Your second definition sounds better. What does Jesus say? The kingdom of God is within? I can't find anything where he describes something like an imaginary sky fairy. Help me if I'm wrong about this.

          October 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Our Father who art in heaven...

          October 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
        • Phillip

          You mean the same book where we're told about an ancient desert dwelling nomad where "God" himself from the sky revealed himself to this ancient desert dwelling nomad and gave him a stone tablet? And then magically vanished into the sky again?

          October 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
        • AE

          Nobody has seen God. You are taking poetic language literally?

          October 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
        • Ellen

          "No one has seen god." Yo, AE, that is because there is no god to see, dummy.

          Let's see, thousands of years, no evidence, no god to see, no proof. Anyone smell a rat in this Christian fish story yet???

          October 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
        • AE

          There is plenty of evidence of God. He does speak and show signs. There is a very good reason why you can't visibly see God.

          October 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Don't get entangled in facts, stay away. Only talk about what God can do and could have done if he wanted to. God can prove he exists if he wants to. He just doesn't want to. Believe and be saved.

      October 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Troy

      Have you actually read the Bible?! I have. It's rubbish. You might as well rant about Dr Seuss, or fairy tales. It's on the same level.

      October 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • therealwanderingcrow

      I am a atheist , and don't believe in the "bronze age sky fairies theory"...........Prove your God, and which one are you talking about , there are thousands of them.
      I'd like you to see in Jerimiah 5, (3), O Jehovah, are not those eyes of yours toward faithfulness?+ You have struck them,+ but they did not become ill.+ You exterminated them.+ They refused to take discipline.+ They made their faces harder than a crag.+ They refused to turn back.+

      Your God of the bible announces that he has failed!!!!!
      "You have struck them , but they did not become ill. " so then in later jerimah 5, he uses a human army to attack his foe.
      What god would do that if all powerful?

      October 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  5. Troy

    Well, that was a waste.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  6. Tri0de

    Religion is a mental disease.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  7. susan

    Is this the museum that shows dinosaurs with saddles? That is truly disturbing!

    October 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  8. Timmy

    I'm only 14. I like science and stuff. My teacher says evolution isn't proven. He says we don't have any fossil records with in between animals or something like that. He says natural selection has an interesting way of killing off all animals once they evolve. He's joking of course but he says you don't see any evolving fossils and no in between animals living today. Why not? What do you guys think?

    October 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Observer


      I'll bet your teacher doesn't believe in unicorns, talking non-humans, and dragons, but you can always find them in a Bible if you want to believe in them.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Whether 14 or not, read Scientific American, Science, Nature and look for books on this stuff they review. Read them. Don't believe anything to the degree people ask you to believe things having to do with religion.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      I like honest teachers Timmy. When you have a chance google macro evolution.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • thor

      Timmy your problem revolves around understanding time which not many of us do. We live a really short time on this earth and best live in peace and understanding even if some are off the wall with beliefs u+of other world gods and saints. Simply put we are not smart enough to understand but science does look for answers and will always do so – religion won´t.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Tony

      People criticize evolution because honestly we don't have every single fossil of every creature that ever existed. However, we can see clear lines of evolution in the fossils we do have. People often find evolution unbelievable because of the misconception that it makes big changes all at once. For example, the idea that one day fish sprouted legs. It was far more gradual than that. You might want to read more about the process of "speciation" which is how one species transitions into another. Speciation is going on all the time we have actually observed one species slowly transitioning to another in nature. I think if people were to read more on the topic they will see it's honestly not a very extreme claim, especially taking into account all we have learned in recent years.

      October 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  9. bostontola

    Fast forward 100 years.

    People will put fundamentalist Christians in the same sentence as those that believed in a geo-centric system, witch trials, etc.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • AE

      In 100 years: What we think of as scientific fact is seen as folly due to new technology and understanding.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        And in 100 years, fundamentalist Christians will still believe in retarded mumbo jumbo, regardless of scientific discovery.

        October 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • AE

          Let's hope so! Who else will we ridicule.

          October 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
      • bostontola

        For the past 500 years science has eclipsed religious "knowledge" one after another. That trend will continue and religion will be driven into smaller and smaller ground. You and your followers can be the last buggy whip makers, congratulations.

        October 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
        • AE

          Uh, sorry. My religion supports science. You'd probably be surprised at some of our adult Sunday school topics and discussions.

          October 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Along with astrologists, believer's predecessor on the evolutionary tree of silliness.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  10. Dorine Koster

    Thank God for outspoken Christians! This billboard is just opening the door for discussion just as the atheistic billboard on the "myth" of Christmas. Great job, Ken Ham and Creation Museum!

    October 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Yes, great job attempting to have mumbo jumbo taught as science in schools. Good job for trying to regress the US into the Dark Ages at a time when we really need to be forward thinking.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • mik73

      Atheists: "There is no God"
      Theists: "Yes there is!"
      Dolphins: "Fish"

      So where, exactly, do you think the 'discussion' should go from there?

      October 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
      • yup

        Where? That's the next logical step. Where? Just point; I'll look for myself. Yup, I see fish, fish are real. Nope, don't see god where you are pointing me and claiming him to be there; not real.

        November 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  11. Calcommuter

    Well at least they're improving on their method. When some random guys wrote the bible and the church pushed the message, if you didnt agree with it, you were killed. Now you're just taunted while you eat your hot dog at Nathan's..

    October 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  12. TLORop

    Quite childish.

    That's quite rich for a non-profit. Not sure what to make of that.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  13. Scott

    The opinions articulated in the comments are my proof (I respect some have their own definition of proof), beyond a reasonable doubt, that God designed us. Mere chance and evolution, without a Creator, just don't explain at any level, how only one species could be able to develop these kinds of opinions nd thoughts and then express them the way humans can. The fact that we can even consider our own existence is amazing. God – I can't explain you or "prove" you, but... thanks. I have joy and peace in that. For those who don't have joy and peace, He offers it.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that


      October 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • AE

      There is only one way to know truth and that is through human reason and the scientific method.

      Haha, just kidding! There is soooooo much more to this whole thing than human reason and science (although I use and encourage both!)

      October 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        You were right in the first sentence.

        October 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
        • AE

          I used to try and put my faith in that. Didn't work.

          October 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • Scott

        Yes to your conclusion! I vow to stop saying I know I love my kids and wife (and many others) until it can be scientifically proven. Until then, I'll just chalk it up to irrational thought. This is a great conversation (although I can't "prove" it so let's not waste our time :))

        October 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
        • yup

          Why do we imagine you saying this with "religious fervor" lol. Angry, sweating, maybe on a grandstand somewhere surrounded only by people who have to think like you or be shunned by family, friends, and community for no other reason.

          November 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
      • Scott

        AE – how dare you take the fun out of demanding that nothing that can't be proven has any meritl!! We MUST be able to prove everything!

        October 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
        • AE

          It is what it means to be a human being. We are not strictly logical beings. That is impossible. Thinking you are logical usually only leads to arrogance. Not the truth.

          October 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • Scott

        AE, you are right on about us believing we can "logic" our way through everything. What a boring existence that must be. Thank God I'm illogical! :)

        October 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
        • AE

          We are not robots. We are people.

          October 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • TLORop

      How do you know we are the only species that questions its existence?

      You couldn't possibly know that. Just because they cant communicate these thoughts in a way you can understand doesn't mean they don't have the same thoughts as you do. It also doesn't mean that they cant communicate complex even abstract ideas to each other. Do you know how to tell a bee where to find flowers? A bee does.

      I don't need a creator or a savior to bring me joy and peace. I find joy in life and peace is something you extend to others.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
      • Scott

        Never said that – I said that fact that we can is amazing. I do find it extremely unusual that we seem to be the only species that built an internet, create music/poems, perform surgery, paints masterpieces, etc., etc. etc. No, I can't prove that but the evidence seems to point towards that unless rats are texting each other and I don't catch them. If evolution, without a Creator, set that up and made humans that much more complex than others, now that is one kooky setup. Or, Someone could be responsible...even if I don't understand, at all, how it could be. Glad you have peace and joy – keep on extending it!!

        October 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
        • yup

          So Scott says "God is real because Mice don't make their own Ipads" great...I think you should run this one right up to the supreme court!

          November 1, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  14. Observer

    So the earth cooled, the ice age came and went, the dinosaurs came and went, and the Grand Canyon and Mt. Everest were created in less than 10,000 years.


    October 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • goddog

      Wow... You should be ashamed of yourself for either your ignorance or outright lying. The Grand Canyon is about 16 million years in the making and Mount Everest is about 60 million years old... not to mention your complete lack of knowledge of the ice ages. How about some intellectual honesty. Do you feel good about lying? Isn't that a sin to you? Hypocrite.

      October 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • yup

      There's no winning here. Even if they accept the age of things; they would say god did it. God made them old and put them there. lol. Its best to treat 100% of them like the guy on the corner with a cardboard sign claiming the world is ending tonight.

      November 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  15. Rubbing hands greedily under a website...I mean rainbow...

    "and direct them to our website."...

    October 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  16. Emmanuel

    Just don't get me started on this topic.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  17. jjtroconi

    And lightning happens when Zeus gets angry.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Spencer

      Thor does not approve.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  18. therealwanderingcrow

    Hey , all those that follow religion , why do every picture of Adam and Eve have belly buttons???????????????.....

    I'll leave that one for you to think about for the next few 1000 years...........

    be excellent to each other.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • AE

      I found a pic with no belly buttons!


      October 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Akira

      Or why Adam was created with nipples. One person said, "decoration."

      October 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
      • Heads Up

        Be aware that if you try to say "ni.pples" here it will not post...
        (Akira knows html tricks)

        October 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
        • Heads Up

          clarifying: if you try to say ni.pples without breaking the word up in some manner

          October 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  19. Rubbing hands greedily under a rainbow...

    Thank Leprechauns you're wrong! I'm gonna be rich bltches!!

    October 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  20. nimitta

    "...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 perfect proof of American 'exceptionalism': we are exceptionally dumb. According to international surveys, there are very few countries in the world where a higher percentage of their citizens repudiate the scientific theory of evolution.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      And the ones that do are generally the ones where you can be executed for blasphemy.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
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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.