October 9th, 2013
02:27 PM ET

Creationists taunt atheists in latest billboard war

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

(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. hello

    There is proof that the Christian myth is a MYTH.
    go to Caesar's Messiah web site for the info

    October 10, 2013 at 6:50 am |
  2. lulu

    Love u thambone!

    October 10, 2013 at 6:49 am |
  3. Riddles

    If we are wrong and there is a god then thanking him would be the last thing we would do. We would then have a person to blame for all the things wrong in the world beyond our control, immediate or otherwise.

    Saying we are wrong as if that ends everything without providing any evidence is pretty weak.

    October 10, 2013 at 6:48 am |
  4. lulu

    No comment, dodo? How can anyone b as stupid as u?

    October 10, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • lulu

      Y would u think we don't monitor every hacking event you attempt? Just curious

      October 10, 2013 at 6:46 am |
  5. Square Time

    A right message,

    at the right place

    to the right audience

    from the right source!

    btw, great color theme, hard to miss!

    October 10, 2013 at 6:22 am |
    • Milan

      To our atheists friends:

      We all have faith it's just that your faith is misplaced.

      October 10, 2013 at 6:36 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        No, we just believe that if someone is going to ask us to drop the reins and let an ancient set of beliefs run our lives, we're going to require a lot of proof of those beliefs. So far, the evidence is in favor of non-belief, and we don't have to keep playing that message inside our heads, the one that tells you are a sinner.

        October 10, 2013 at 6:45 am |
        • REAL Atheism

          REAL Atheism does not believe in a god or supreme beings

          You said: "So far, the evidence is in favor of non-belief, and we don't have to keep playing that message inside our heads, the one that tells you are a sinner."

          REAL Atheists have evidence of not believing the voices in their head telling them they are sinners.

          October 10, 2013 at 7:03 am |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          The point of my argument is that no one has provided that evidence, so we don't believe.

          October 10, 2013 at 7:08 am |
  6. Pete Hector

    As I Christian, I find this antagonistic, sanctimonious, and so counterproductive. It's also cliche and meaningless. . . definitely a waste of space. Unfortunately, someone is going to look at that, give it some thought and realize they've just wasted time and thought and can't get it back.

    October 10, 2013 at 6:08 am |
    • saggyroy

      But for atheists "wasted time and thought " defines religion.

      October 10, 2013 at 6:15 am |
      • REAL Atheism

        REAL Atheism does not believe in a god or supreme beings

        You defined religion as wasted time and thought. Religion is a belief in a god or supreme beings

        REAL Atheists do not believe in time or thought!

        October 10, 2013 at 6:20 am |
        • saggyroy

          It isn't that we don't believe in god, it is just there's no evidence of a god or gods.

          October 10, 2013 at 6:24 am |
        • REAL Atheism

          REAL Atheists don't believe in a god or supreme beings

          saggyroy said "It isn't that we don't believe in god, it is just there's no evidence of a god or gods."

          REAL Atheists don't need evidence to not believe in a god or gods

          October 10, 2013 at 6:31 am |
        • Riddles

          Religion isn't belief in a god or gods, that's theism. Religion is a system of beliefs and ritual practices followed by people, it's just most religions are theistic.

          October 10, 2013 at 6:51 am |
      • billy

        Religion is a $50 billion a year business and faith is about service and humility and I don't see much of that on this site or in any of today's so called religions. What I do see is a bunch of people ca$hing in on the theory of god. Some do it for the poor and some do it for pure profit – take your pick. Until there is absolute proof god actually exists I wish all of you would just shut up.
        If it makes you feel better to give your money to some nut job and maybe buy a seat next to god then have at it.

        October 10, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • Sara

      A lot of people will realize the organization wasted money that could have been better spent, giving them far less credibility. Then again, we aren't exactly talking about the intellectual arm of Christianity.

      October 10, 2013 at 6:16 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      As a former Christian, and now an atheist, I can see that you think for yourself. Good for you. That's not true of many Christians.

      October 10, 2013 at 6:47 am |
  7. saggyroy

    I think this is the mark of a civilized society. We're not blowing each other up, both sides are taking out ads.

    October 10, 2013 at 5:46 am |
    • Sara

      Because no religion has banned the criticism and the state still allows free speech. The former is a problem in the middle east, the latter in much of Europe.

      October 10, 2013 at 5:51 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        That's not true. The very nature of all religion is to discourage criticism – what do you think the whole Protestant movement by Martin Luther was about, and why he put his life at risk by doing what he did? Religion wants compliance, not criticism. Thank goodness the few wise founders (Franklin, Jefferson, Paine, Adams, etc.), who understood the harm of Christianity, made the smart compromise of "freedom of religion" so that we have freedom from religion to this day.

        October 10, 2013 at 6:51 am |
        • Sara

          I was making a culturally specific reference related to the original post. Religions in the US do not impose penalties for criticism that stretch outside of religious bans. Many, like Unitarianism ans more liberal Christian and Buddhist religions welcom criticism.

          October 10, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  8. David

    Before you were born you did not exist do you remember been in some sort of lit up place like a cow waiting for the slaughter but in this case to be born? i do not think so – so to speak you were dead before you were born then brought in to conscious or life.

    When you die you leave such conscious. therefore, you no longer exist – so its like been not born again 😀

    IIf I saw billboard like that around my area I would laugh until super Jesus(the guy with the magical powers that gets all the ladies) comes to strike me down.

    Agnostics and Atheists have it right and when looking at something like that plastered to the side of building will have them heeps of ye olde laughter!.

    All ye followers of whatever Church of fairy tales you so dearly believe in, this is where your beloved donations go to when the lovely collection plate goes around in the house of Harold Houdini(sorry Jesus and the gang) goes to.

    II would love it if the afterlife existed but my beliefs say otherwise, and if I was wrong about what I believe to be true when I die, I have an eternity of questions to ask before I get sent down to the old spa AKA Hell with all my buddies.

    Because lets face – according to most religions, pretty much all going to the spa, see ye all there guys!!!!! 😀

    October 10, 2013 at 5:41 am |
    • David

      Because lets face everything we do is a sin lol***

      sorry for the edit. 🙂

      October 10, 2013 at 5:42 am |
      • David

        II'm 99.9999999999% Atheist, I didn't imply I was religious in anyways what so ever. I was pointing out a few things to get some religious responses from brainwashed people, I love seeing there 100% factual know it all responses 😉

        October 10, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • REAL Atheism

      REAL Atheism says there is no god or supreme beings.

      Fairies are not gods or supreme beings.

      REAL Atheists believe in fairies.

      October 10, 2013 at 5:48 am |
      • Sara

        Atheists could believe in faeries. In practice, few do.

        October 10, 2013 at 6:23 am |
  9. Tony

    I am a Christian. Been one about 40 years. But....lets say the atheists are right. No God...No Heaven...No Hell. How would they judge my life? Amount of money I made? My house? My good works? I am retired, live in Hawaii, and have enuf money to live comfortably. Done lots of "good works". Would I get a 7+ on a scale of 10? Higher than that? I think most folks would say well done...but your theology needs some work....
    But....what if Christians are right? If Father God is real...if Jesus is real...if Heaven and Hell are real...then we have a a problem....

    I would ask those who do not believe in God....are you willing to risk your eternity on your belief system? I believe your soul will live FOREVER...in one place or the other....and you will be dead a lot longer than you are alive.....

    think about it.

    October 10, 2013 at 5:09 am |
    • Darren

      You will not be judged thats the point. No god no heaven , nothing when you are dead you are dead , the end.

      Have a good day.

      October 10, 2013 at 5:13 am |
    • eddy

      We Christians following Jesus will forgive; but ISLAM will burn Atheists up into ashes or hang them all......

      October 10, 2013 at 5:16 am |
      • saggyroy

        And it only took Christians 2000 years to get to that point.

        October 10, 2013 at 5:49 am |
      • sam stone

        we do not need or want the forgiveness of you or your god, eddy

        October 10, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • GMR

      I have a question for YOU: what if neither are true, and Islam is the correct choice? Or Mormonism? Or Scientology? Your argument lies on the totally false premise that there are only two options: atheism and Christianity. Uhh, hello!? There are thousands of other religions out there. Come on.

      October 10, 2013 at 5:17 am |
    • Bacon

      Even if he does exist. Who is he to judge?

      If i created a test tube baby, am i that baby's God? Do i dictate how he lives his entire life?

      Seriously, wake up you moronic sheep

      October 10, 2013 at 5:37 am |
      • REAL Atheism

        REAL Atheism does not believe in a god or supreme beings

        You said if you made a test tube baby you are its god.

        REAL Atheist Test Tube Babies do not believe in you!

        October 10, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Ah good ol' Pascal's Wager. That will whip all the remaining non-believers into shape!

      October 10, 2013 at 5:38 am |
    • Robert

      One question. How do you know? Goes both ways but there is much more evidence to suggest there isn't a god. It is stupifying to try to understand the argument that it is faith. Faith in what? The absence of morality detailed in punishments and ways one should lead their lives in the book, let alone how it is conveyed and twisted by it's followers to suit a goal to manipulate, divide and ultimately control people is simply shameful. Never heard of one atheist mass murdering in the name of atheism. Atheism is clearly the true moral path and has a track record to prove it. Give your heads a shake. Holy sh1t!!!

      October 10, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • Sara

      And what if neither of those options are right and the whole of life is just a test of your gullibility and you lose and have to go back for unpleasant remedial classes? Or what if "living comfortably" in Hawaii is a fail and you should be living a stoic life, meditating six hours a day. You are making Pascal's Wager which is just an argument from ignorance of the possibilities.

      October 10, 2013 at 5:55 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        If you have proof of "remedial classes" or something else, please provide it. So far, no religious person has provided evidence that even remotely proves their religion is true. As a former Christian I can tell you they "believe," but they have no proof. It's not about belief – it's about proof for extraordinary claims.

        October 10, 2013 at 6:54 am |
        • Sara

          What on earth are you talking about? First, there is no such thing as "proof" outside mathematics and formal logic. Second, I certainly wasn't proposing this as a likely scenario, only about as well supported as the other alternatives. Third, that was the point...the wager fails.

          October 10, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      You sound arrogant. Think camel and eye of a needle.

      October 10, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • TasieSceptic

      the thing is, see, if I don't believe as you do about a personal god, or that christianity is valid and all other religions are false then I can't just choose to believe in what, to me, is an absurd proposition.
      I agree that it makes one feel warm and fuzzy inside to think that there is an undying part within us that will continue after death although with no nerves to feel and no glands to excite emotion the warmth and fuzzines is sure to fade

      October 10, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • sam stone

      i believe what i believe

      and cannot be influenced by what i consider to be empty proxy threats

      i got no problem with people's beliefs

      until they start preaching

      October 10, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • Riddles

      You just gave the fallacy known as Pascals Wager.

      Tell me, are you willing to bet your eternal life that the god Squixthzothorn does not exist? Never heard of him? Doesn't matter, he sends non-believers to burn in agony forever. If you really don't want to risk that then you should start worshiping him right now.

      Need evidence to believe in Squixy first to devote your life to a god you don't even believe exists? Now you see where we come from.

      October 10, 2013 at 6:56 am |
  10. satanicviews

    Waste of money, no atheist will change their position based on advertising on a billboard.

    October 10, 2013 at 4:48 am |
    • Sara

      No, and the ones blatantly ridiculing evolution are much more entertaining.

      October 10, 2013 at 5:56 am |

    "I would suggest, if they are actually trying to attract atheists, they should talk about proof and reason to believe in GOD,
    not just some pithy play on words." Silverman said.

    So here is what you are looking for, Mr. Silverman!


    October 10, 2013 at 4:38 am |
  12. Roland

    When will grown ups stop believing in fairy tales? There is nothing more frightening then knowing 7 out of the 10 people you meet are morons.

    October 10, 2013 at 4:31 am |
  13. Bob

    I'm an atheist and I love these petty rivalries, in the 80s you had ad wars now you have this.

    October 10, 2013 at 4:13 am |
    • REAL Atheism

      REAL Atheism does not believe in a god or supreme beings

      You said you like petty rivallries! Rivallries with who?

      REAL Atheists have no rivallries.

      October 10, 2013 at 6:08 am |
  14. doug

    Not sure where people get off saying young earth, humans are young 200,000 years plus. Way to young for evolution as proposed length of time. I have seen proof of rapid evolution. smoking fathers caused offspring to be fat and have shorter lifespans and some other things. Basically what it was showing is that in one generation our genetics will change suitable to the environment we are conceived in. Its still very silly to say God doesn't exist everything came from some where. And to think that a living cell more complex than anything known just came together is the same as believing that robots and computers just came into being because the silicone was just right.

    October 10, 2013 at 4:07 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Childhood obesity is environmental and not from genetic mutation.

      October 10, 2013 at 6:00 am |
  15. sdg

    Yes God is real.. and so is i..

    October 10, 2013 at 3:54 am |
  16. CathyJ

    I hope it cost them a lot. Unfortunately you can't buy truth.

    October 10, 2013 at 3:52 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      But you can buy the appearance of truth, which is what the creation museums are about.

      October 10, 2013 at 7:13 am |
  17. cooeerup

    Shame on you CNN for calling one of the options "atheistic evolution". There is no such thing. There is just evolution, a scientific theory supported by mountains of evidence. Atheists may accept the science of evolution, but that doesn't make it "atheistic". It's jiust that atheists usually accept claims that have evidence to support them. Atheism, for the gazillionth time, is just a lack of belief in god/s. That's it. Once we get some credible evidence for the existance if gid/s we'll change our minds. Simple really.

    October 10, 2013 at 3:44 am |
    • gh

      "Atheistic evolution" is just a succinct way to classify respondents who believe in evolution without the influence of a divine creator. Chill out.

      October 10, 2013 at 4:04 am |
      • Sara

        Exactly, though it could have been worded better. Some deists believe in non-guided evolution though they aren't technically atheists (despite being a-theistic...I didn't invent the language). Further, you could have a disinterested god who set things in motion and then came back to check on and play with the experiment later. Something like "unguided evolution" would be more clear.

        October 10, 2013 at 6:01 am |
        • Mojo Jo

          That is exactly correct.

          November 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • REAL Atheism

      REAL Atheism doesn't believe in a god or supreme beings

      Since there is no god evolution is spontaneous.

      REAL Atheists believe dead matter became single celled living matter because it adapted better than dead matter. Then living single-celled matter made itself into bigger living matter because it had to adapted better than single-celled living matter. Then bigger living matter evolved into stronger living matter to adapt better than bigger living matter. Then the stronger bigger living matter evolved into smarter living matter to adapt better than stronger bigger living matter. Then the smarter living matter evolved into humans and now we wait to get evolved out by even smarter living matter!

      October 10, 2013 at 6:03 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.