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. Colin

    Dear Christians:

    God here.

    I don’t care whether you believe in Adam and Eve or not. In fact, I don’t care about anything, because, you see, I do not exist. Is not the concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being (age of the Universe) capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the actions and thoughts of the 7 billion human beings on this planet utterly ludicrous?

    Look, if I did exist, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Greco-Roman Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was compiled with certain writings included and others excluded, nor how it has been edited over the centuries, yet you cite it for the most extraordinary of supernatural claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Greco-Roman Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who elected to withhold all evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifthly, in the same vein, I would not make about 5% of the human population gay, then punish them for being that way. In fact, I wouldn’t care about how humans have $ex at all, given that I created all of the millions of millions of species on the planet, all of whom are furiously reproducing all the time. Human $ex would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Has it ever occurred to you that your obsession with making rules around human $ex is an entirely human affair?

    Sixth, I would have smitten all you Christian activists, and all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric even for a sick, sadistic bast.ard like me to contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you cringed in fear during the Dark Ages and thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.

    Move on – get over me. I did.


    October 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Ted

      Outstanding, Colin. Thank you.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Wow

      You have a third grader's understanding of Christian theology. Turn off the cartoons and put on your big boy pants, or get out of here Holy Troller.

      October 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
      • Colin

        Really? What did I get wrong?

        October 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  2. Non-man

    "When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." – Stephen F Roberts

    October 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • FrmrMrine

      Why do you care?

      October 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • Ted

        Because you get to vote. Quote of the day:

        "Internally held beliefs have external consequences."

        October 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
      • Colin

        Because 46% of the country have been reduced to being dumb enough to think the World began less than 10,00 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking fvcking snake by religion !!! That's why any person interested in the future of this country should worry about religion.

        October 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • Bob

          Right on, Colin.

          October 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
        • Ironicus

          Well said, Colin!

          October 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • That argument

      That argument is a fallacy. I dismiss all other gods for the reason I don't know much about them. As I incorporate them one by one I see them as a manifestation of the same one I started with.

      October 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  3. Non-man

    -The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends. ~Albert Einstein

    October 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  4. Non-man

    -The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief. ~Sigmund Freud

    October 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  5. Non-man

    Al Takeyya (also spelled al-Taqiyya) is an Islamic concept allowing Muslims to deny or hide their faith when forced to do so to avoid harm.

    October 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  6. Organic Dust

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire

    October 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • FrmrMrine

      Like, "the belief in God is a threat to me"? or "Poor people deserve their fate"? There are a million absurdities in this world. Why pick on religion? And why do it on CNN's Belief Blog?

      October 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  7. boneman

    Empirical truths

    Christians cannot prove that God exists.
    Atheists cannot prove they have a moral system that is as comprehensive as the one written by 12 uneducated fishermen.
    Fishermen can point to a published book. Atheists cannot.

    Atheists believe whatever they want.
    Atheists hate that Christians have beliefs of their own.

    Christianity, based on myth, has produced Mother Teresa and hundreds like her who treat people with AIDS, Ebola, TB, etc.
    Atheism, based on reality and humanism, has produced squat.

    October 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Organic Dust

      Mother Theresa was more or less as atheist as I am on her death bed. She couldn't hear god, it didn't answer her, and she questioned its existence.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • Colin

        Correct. Here is the actual extract from her letter written soon before her death

        "Where is my faith? Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness ... If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul ... How painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal, ... What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true.”

        October 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • boneman

          Colin has produced squat

          October 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • Shelley

          LOL, he seems to be one of the few actually posting facts.

          October 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • FrmrMrine

          In the Episcopal Church we have a saying, "doubt is the foundation of faith". But why do you pick and choose? One comment on a deathbed cancels out a life of good works through faith? Is this the world you want us all to believe in?

          October 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • boneman

        Organic Dust has produced squat

        October 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • Shelley

          ....guessing game!!

          You are over 60+ years...white.....male.....overweight......LOVE your church!! ....watch a lot of video.....read the bible...........hmmmm.......not much else? Don't worry, your "next life" will be much better 🙁

          October 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • boneman


          What have you done for the world ?
          You are useless to people.
          Millions of people are helped by nuns and missionaries.
          I'm one of those people who was helped.
          Where were you atheists ?
          You don't do SQUAT

          October 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • Cristeros for Satan

          boneman, it is good to see the church helped a retard. You do not know any better.,

          October 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • boneman

          @Cristeros for Satan

          All talk. No action.
          All you can do is hurl insults.
          That is all that atheists do.
          Useless people.

          October 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Cristeros for Satan

          Truth cannot be an insult. You present yourself as a retard...what do you expect???????????

          October 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • boneman

          @Cristeros for Satan

          Useless insults.
          Useless people.
          The proof is in the actions.
          You haven't done squat.
          Your mother hasn't done squat.
          Millions of people mourned the death of Mother Teresa for the good that she did.
          All you do is hurl insults.

          October 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
        • Cristeros for Satan

          You as sume but know very little. You speak from ignorance.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Bill

      Bronze age desert dwelling deities and their sons have no place in a modern world, sorry 🙁

      October 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • boneman

        Bill has produced squat

        October 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • Cristeros for Satan

          Special Needs Person posting again

          October 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • boneman

          @Cristeros for Satan

          Useless insults.
          Useless people.
          The proof is in the actions.
          You haven't done squat.
          Your mother hasn't done squat.
          Millions of people mourned the death of Mother Teresa for the good that she did.
          All you do is hurl insults.

          October 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Non-man

      Quran (8:12) – "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

      No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • chuckcclark

      Creationists cannot prove God exists. Creationists cannot prove that Jesus or his disciples existed. Creationists cherry pick which of the directives contained in the bible that they will obey and adhere to. None of the bible is the 'word of god', it was written by the very sort of delusional religious fanatics who nowadays blow up aircraft and stage massacres to enforce their backward belief systems, in order to retain power over the ignorant. The very sort of dangerous fundamentalists that the christians fear most. Christians can point to a book of lies that was used to power the Salem witch trials and the Spanish Inquisition. Christians and other religious fanatics have stood firmly in the way of science for centuries, depriving mankind of the possibility of steady advancement as a race. Atheists are fighting for the freedom of mankind from the tyranny of organized religion and they and they alone offer the only real hope of survival as a species. Christianity offers a myth, the tenets of which many christians expound but none actually practice. Atheists offer scientific fact and reason.

      October 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  8. Organic Dust

    Every atom in your body that is not helium or hydrogen was born in the fiery core of an exploding star that exploded millions of years ago, and had possibly burned for billions.

    October 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      I thought it was the most beautiful thing I could ever hear, when I heard it; "we are stardust."

      That origin is like a million times better that the biblical account. The Bible's god lacks imagination, and he's not a great craftsman. I mean, as soon as Adam and Eve 'sinned', he should've struck them down and started over, RIGHT then and THERE. Then start over. Put the tree outside the garden. And watch out for talking snakes.

      But no.......... he decides to damn the offspring. Placing their eternal souls in danger. Then he kills himself because of it. Can't god see the future? Should've seen how much of a FUBAR situation that was.

      October 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  9. truthaboutevolution


    October 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Organic Dust

      This video is better, it actually has facts!! wow.


      October 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  10. Colin

    I have a friend who works for NASA. He was telling me how the latest photographs from the Hubble space telescope are revealing galaxies in the early stages of formation, from about 13 billion years ago. The discoveries are advancing science at an incredible rate and helping us develop very sophisticated theories of galactic formation.

    Fortunately, I have a creationist friend from who informed me that the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars and planets was all created only 6,000 years ago by [the Christian] god with an emphasis on Earth and one man, one woman and a magic talking snake.

    Thanks creationists, if it wasn’t for you, I would believe people like Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawkins. Now, I just read my Bible.

    October 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • FrmrMrine

      I have a friend who works for NASA. She is an astronaut from my hometown. She's a Lutheran. So what?

      October 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Joey

        NObody has a problem with Christians, only creationists. I doubt your friend would try to tell you that the Universe is only 10,000 years old, and therefore her beliefs are harmless.

        October 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Marquel

      has you nasa friend been able to create a tree, how about a river, a star, the sun or moon. has he brought a child back from the dead after 20 minutes of no heart beat, created life inside a womb and designed its hair and nails the same as the next child and the next? Curious what has since or medicine or any of your friends done that you can prove was done by anything, anyone other than "god" – whatever you conceive him/her to be? Pause.....waiting....yep – that is what I thought. Nothing has been created by man...not the air we breath or anything in between. I'll take my chances on the one and only!

      October 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  11. Colin

    I have a friend who is on an archeological dig in the Republic of Croatia. He emailed me about how they had found the remains of the earliest ho.mo erectus outside of Africa, dating to over a million years ago. There is an entire research team there from Oxford University’s paleontology department, the most respected in the World.

    Fortunately, I have a creationist friend who informed me that the entire World began only 6,000 years ago with man already totally evolved (and with a talking snake). So, I am going to write to the team and tell them to all fold up their tents and go home and read their Bibles. The answers to the natural history of the human species are all in there.

    Thanks creationists, you have made me really smart!

    October 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Enough nonsense

    Creationists: I think your money would have been better spent on spreading your gospel through deeds such as feeding the hungry and healing the sick...etc. Hmmmm, kind of like Jesus did.

    Athiests: Why do you even bother responding in kind? Not worth it. Maybe throw your money into scientific education! 🙂

    October 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • FrmrMrine

      I don't think "Creationists" are the kind of religious people who worry about good works here on earth.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  13. A european

    "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."

    Jesus Christ!!! How did you people get the Space Shuttle off the ground?

    October 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Dustin

      "God" kicked it..... LOL

      October 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Joey

      We used the Theory of Intelligent Falling.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  14. Doc Vestibule

    Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power

    You have to admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics.
    This fact proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

    In Matthew 15:14, Jesus says, 'And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.' He says nothing about some gravity making them fall—just that they will fall. Then, in Job 5:7, we read, 'But mankind is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upwards.' If gravity is pulling everything down, why do the sparks fly upwards with great surety? This clearly indicates that a conscious intelligence governs all falling.

    Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work. What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.'

    Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity and they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus.

    (blatantly plagiarized from The Onion)

    October 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  15. maza

    "46% of Americans believed in creationism" Wha?!

    That's embarrassing.

    October 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Unhealthy belief systems

      If that fact is true, its going to take many many decades of teaching our children at a much higher level of education to be rid of all this bronze age nonsense 🙁

      October 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • maza

        I hear ya! Seems we live in the land of the ignorant. You are correct about the children and education...that is where the answer lies. Hopefully most all of these older fruitcakes will die off soon, along with their dogma.

        October 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "a study conducted by University of Massachusetts researcher Robert Feldman, which demonstrates how reflexive the act of lying is for many people" where he found "60 percent of the subjects lied at least once during the short conversation, and in that span of time, subjects told an average of 2.92 false things."

      October 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Dustin

      Ouch.... right in the America

      October 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  16. Dan Harnz

    This issue distracts from the overall goal of Christianity: Bring people to Jesus. These side issues are mundane in the big scheme of things. If you really dive down into the details, you will never be able to prove anything, creationist or evolutionist. You can't even prove you exist.

    These arguments over perception lead nowhere and are a complete waste of time and energy.

    In the end, you are faced with a choice: believe in the world or believe in the Spirit.

    You experience the world daily, so it feels much more real, but again, you dive into the details and POOF, it is all built on a foundation of sand and perception. No one will be able to prove that the Spirit is real, but if you side with the Spirit, and you are correct, then you get a whole heck of a lot more than if you side with the world and you're correct.

    October 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • JWT

      Sounds like worthless proxy threats again.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I feel the spirit.
      Becuase of how the King of Kings touched my heart, I am making sure that when I die, I do it in the way He requires – bathed in the blood of my vanquished foes on the field of battle.
      To deny the spirit of Odin is to deny your soul passage to Valhalla.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • Dan Harnz

        Have fun hanging with Odin until Ragnarök kicks off. Believing in Norse Mythology, if it is correct, gets you a sucker prize, i.e., kickin' it in a big hall until the gods start fighting. Not worth it.

        If you are going to choose a religion, choose one with a high payout. Islam and Christianity have the highest payouts. Christianity is easier to get in.

        Just saying.

        October 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          I would take Valhalla over the Christian concept of heaven anyday.

          October 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Mormons get their own planet...

          October 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • Dan Harnz

          Valhalla blows. Just like Eikþyrnir and Heiðrún eating trees all day. Like, what a lame afterlife. Come on...

          Mormon heaven is stressful. Imagine having to control a whole planet. I have enough trouble with my AC going out. My planet would end up having like way too many dinosaurs. Everyone would get eaten. It would be a mess. Again, not worth it.

          October 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Organic Dust

      ...the actual goal of a Christian, is for each person to save HIS/HER "immortal soul".
      That's it. Just ego. the self. Me. Me. Me.
      It was a clause written into the religion to keep it on a personal level that everyone could relate to. Just telling someone to believe in a fairy tale of nonsense might not work, but telling them that if they don't, they will receive years of torture, like 589,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years as an example.

      That's the stick. They they give a nice little carrot...Oh, if you believe and say the magic words, you get the same after life bonus but in a faerie garden with all your loved ones (and daddy)....


      Why do believers in gods feel so alone and scared of death and the dark? JUST LIVE 🙂

      October 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • FrmrMrine

        "Why do believers in gods feel so alone and scared of death and the dark? "

        Hmm. Is that what we are? Alone and scared of death and the dark? I wasn't aware of that. Please give me a way to contact you so that I can ask yo to explain everything else in my life. Let's start with my cat allergies. Why?

        October 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • Dan Harnz

        I disagree with you over the goals of a Christian. You should come to Jesus. Here's why: Say the Christianity is really really really improbable. Like, there is only a .000000000000001% chance of it being correct. Now imagine that the reward for believing in Christianity is infinite wealth. If you calculate the expected value of the decision to believe in Christianity (i.e., chance of occurrence * payout) you get infinite wealth.

        Do it. Join Jesus. It is rational. You ARE rational right?

        October 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • Colin

          Dan, the logic of the choice you posit is called "Pascal's Wager."

          This is why it is a fallacy:

          a) Pascal's Wager assumes that there are only two options – believe in the Judeo-Christian god or nothing.

          b) Pascal's Wager assumes the Christian god doesn't care whether someone actually believes, or simply goes through the motions;

          c) Pascal's Wager vastly overestimates the likelihood of the risk times the gravity of the risk.

          a. Positing only two options is ridiculous and a Christian prejudice to value the likelihood of the existence of the Christian god over all others. There are, of course, thousands of possibilities when it comes to gods. A non-exhaustive list of gods that various human societies have believed in at one time or another includes Azura Mazda, Angus, Belenos, Brigid, Dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Allah Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, God, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Ganesh, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Shiva Thuno, Tir, Vishnu, Weyland, Woden, Yahweh, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, Saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Herne, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, Endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, Ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac and Zaramama

          To increase the odds of a positive outcome of Pascal’s Wager to the point where it is even plausible, the believer would have to believe in many, many gods, including the ones that haven't been invented yet. This is obviously impossible – particularly as most of them require(d) monotheistic devotion!!

          b. One cannot “choose to believe” something. That has to be an honest conclusion drawn from the facts. I could not “choose” to believe in the Hindu god Shiva or Leprechauns, for example, as that would make no sense. What I can do is SAY I believe or PRETEND to believe. But going through the motions and pretending to believe may fool your community, but it can't fool an all-knowing god. It is very unlikely that anyone would gain the ultimate reward for simply faking belief.

          c. In estimating whether the cost of any given action is worth it, an evaluation the likelihood of a negative outcome and the gravity of that negative outcome must be performed. Here is where proponents of the wager say they have a leg up, as an eternity of perdition must be valued very highly. However, if the concomitant likelihood is close to infinitely low, it balances out to close enough to zero to be ignored. Given that the evidence for the existence of the Judeo-Christian god is zero, much less for the vindictive personality you posit he has, the likelihood must be valued close to zero. If one were to take the believer’s approach, one should live about a mile down an abandoned coal mine to avoid a very, very unlikely, but fatal meteor impact.

          When extrapolated to the extreme of a god, the math becomes meaningless. For e.g., if I posited a god a billion times more vengeful and gruesome than yours, would you drop your belief in God and run over to my super-god based on your Pascal’s Wager logic?

          October 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • Joey

          You don't the god is smart enough to know that you are just hedging your bets?

          October 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • Dan Harnz


          Thanks for that. It sounds like you have done a lot of thinking about Pascal's Wager. You raise very valid points; however, I don't think you can throw out the whole argument just because it has its flaws. True, the wager cannot be used to argue for Christianity, but I think that it still can provide an extremely strong case against atheism, heaven-only religions and agnosticism.

          You are correct that there are many different faiths out there, but the faiths with a a heaven and a hell have a higher expected return on your investment than those with only heaven or those with nothing at all. I am not going to spell out the math, but you can intuitively see that, if you are correct in choosing a heaven and hell religion you go to heaven whereas everyone else goes to hell, while if you are correct in choosing a nothing religion, everyone gets nothing and if you are correct in choosing a heaven-only religion, you everyone (even non-believers) get heaven.

          There are still a lot of heaven and hell religions out there, so which one should you choose? I will let you figure that out, but you SHOULD choose one of those instead of one with a lower expected return.

          As your point regarding beliefs not being a choice, I get frustrated when people argue that you don't "Choose" to believe things. I feel like, when you say that, you are just arguing that people are solely products of information pushed on them and they have no ability to discern what to believe of the information out there and what not to believe. If people truly do not choose what to believe than we would not be discussing this topic right now as there would be a correct belief set that, upon recognizing, everyone would subscribe to. Clearly people believe different things, so I don't see how you and I, having seen very similar views of reality, would believe different things.

          I choose to believe in aliens for example. Some people don't. One day, I might choose to not believe in aliens. We'll see.

          As for God thinking that certain beliefs are less legitimate than others based on their origins, I think that is bunk too. True that if you only took on a faith for the reward, it would not be legitimate, but if you came to a belief set based on expected values of the belief and then committed yourself to that belief set, I think that that is as legitimate as any other way of coming to a belief.

          Lastly, your last point about Super God is moot because God already is Super God. God is infinitely good and infinitely just. You can't posit a God a billion times more good than infinity. You know this! And go to Jesus already. Come on, dude.

          October 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  17. Doc Vestibule

    It isn't that evolution shouldn't be taught in school, it's just that in order to be fair, schools should teach alternative theories.
    In the beginning, Pan Gu escaped from the great universal egg by cracking it open with a broadaxe. The light part of the yolk floated up and became the heavens while the cold, hard part stayed below to form earth with Pan Gu standing between them like a pillar to keep the separated. When He died, His breath became the wind and clouds, His voice thunder, His eyes the sun and the moon, his beard and hair turned to the stars in the sky, His blood the water. His veins became roads and his muscles fertile land.

    This is all clearly laid out in Chinese texts that have been around way longer than Darwin's little book.
    People have the right to make up their own minds!

    Teach the controversy!

    October 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  18. Unhealthy belief systems

    An all knowing, all seeing all-powerful god created Billions and Billions of stars because he wanted a garden for one man and one woman.
    In His wisdom, he put one tree in the garden Adam was not allowed to eat from, and He let a talking serpent in the garden.
    (Now, you may think He would have seen trouble coming, but I guess not.)
    So, when Eve convinced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, god got SO angry that He gave everyone who hadn't been born yet a sin that would send them all to hell.
    (That is the place of eternal suffering He made to show what a loving god he is.)
    Anyway, So that god could judge us all the way he wanted to when we die, He had to send his son to us through a married virgin.
    (He HAD to. There was NO other way to get around the rule He made.)
    Then He tortured His son/alter ego to death ..... for us.
    Now all we have to do is pay Him 10%, admit to being worthless and undeserving, and beg Him to forgive us for being born the way He made us to make him happy.

    What part of this is not obvious?

    October 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "In His wisdom, he put one tree in the garden Adam was not allowed to eat from" Just a minor correction here. The bible says God placed TWO trees in the garden that Adam was not to eat from.

      "In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Gen 2:9

      "22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken." Gen 3:22,23

      Funny how few Christians I have talked to knew about the second tree...it's like they don't even read their own bible.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • FrmrMrine

      Well, you kicked that straw man around quite a bit.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Cristeros for Satan

      Appears the gods need to feed from the tree of life as well. If god left the garden, he would die just like us. Our bodies were made imperfect and it is the tree that sustained us. Sin does not cause death or disease...it was part of our make up from the beginning.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  19. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    4.5 billion year old earth.

    DNA that shows we did not descend from a single pair of pre-made humans.

    Geological record shows no evidence of a global flood.

    Ho mosapian remains from over 30,000 years ago show they had life spans similiar to us, not the 800+ years as claimed in Genesis.

    Our DNA shows humans and neanderthals interbred about 20,000 years ago.

    Gobekli Tepe is about six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey where there are massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery and predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years.

    What do all these things have in common? None of them fit with the myth presented in Genesis, thus any logical and reasonable person can conclude that it is Genesis that is flawed and not the evidence.

    October 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • bostontola

      Logical and reasonable...that borrows it down quite a bit in some groups.

      October 12, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  20. Tanker

    Even if there were a "divine" miracle that happened for everyone to see like Fatima, even if Jesus did heal all those people and people saw him resurrected, that wouldn't be scientific proof that God exists. Science is built on "verification through replication" of the experiment. Future peoples and scientists should be able to reproduce the results. We can't. Therefore, none of these things happened and God doesn't exist..

    October 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Matt

      Say what? Not sure that's good logic.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • Tanker

        Even if the bald pastor healed your daughter, that would not convince me. You could only say "something" happened; not that a god did it. We must verify through "replication" of an experiment. Can't do it. This is the scientific method and has been around a long time.

        October 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • Evolution Is Not Science

          Yes science is the study of the material world being able to produce physically replicable results. No one can physically replicate evolution. Evolution is not science according to the definition of science and the few hundred year old modern scientific method.

          October 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • Colin

          @Evolution etc. What utter bullsh.it. This is what infuriates me about creationists. You lie all the fvcking time. All the fvcking time. Look, your bed time stories from Bronze Age Palestine never happened. there was no Adam, Noah or Moses. Grow up.

          October 10, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • Evolution Is Not Science


          So you can't replicate evlution is what you're saying. Thanks for proving evolution is not science. I guess you can add evolution to your list of fairytales.

          October 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          That is a new one. You don't like the science so deny it. Instead of your ridiculous creation hypothesis, which has no basis in reality.
          Theoretical physics must not be a science, because you can't get verifiable results from an untestable theory?

          You're denying science itself is hilarious, and shows why religion has held back mankind for centuries. Leave science to those of us who understand it.

          October 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          Evolution is observed in thousands of labs and chemical plants daily.

          October 11, 2013 at 9:23 am |
      • Dustin

        Look up scientific method.

        October 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Colin

      Fátima. That modern Catholic myth. Here is an extract of an articel I once wrote on Fátima.

      "As with any story that happened a long time ago, and which contains miraculous elements, it is sometimes hard to definitively sort fact from fiction in the story of Fátima. However, what follows is, I believe, largely accepted by historians, by the Catholic Church and by others who have who have looked into the issue.

      On May 13, 1917, some five months before the purported miracle, three young shepherd children from devoutly Catholic families (Lúcia Santos and her younger cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto) claimed that they saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. They also claimed subsequent sightings in each of the following months leading up to the October incident. In these appearances, they claimed that the Virgin Mary exhorted them to pray and to serve penance for their sins, which they did by saying Rosaries, wearing tight clothing and foregoing water on hot days.

      Portugal in 1917 was a largely rural and relatively uneducated part of Southern Europe. It was also devoutly Catholic and the story of the alleged apparitions spread quickly through the local community. The children had reported that the Virgin Mary appeared to them on the 13th of each month (save August, which was the 19th) and would appear again on October 13 in an event that would be so spectacular as prove to the World the truth of what the children were saying.

      On that day, thousands of people, including scores of journalists armed with cameras, flocked to the location, a field called the Cova da Iria, to await the divine appearance. Contemporary estimates of the crowd range from 30,000 to 70,000. Reporters armed with cameras were all over the event.

      Alas, Mary was a “no show.” Her doubt-erasing public appearance did not materialize. However it had been a rainy morning and as the clouds dissipated around noon, many people claimed that they saw the sun dance against the blue sky. The reports are largely inconsistent, with some claiming the sun changed colors, others claiming it simply danced and still others claiming it spun around or shot toward the Earth. Having inconsistent reports as to what exactly transpired is nothing unusual, however. Given a large enough number of witnesses this will always be so and should not, of itself, be taken as proof that nothing happened. Even in noncontroversial events captured on live television, witness reports will vary widely as to what actually occurred. We human beings have a surprisingly low ability to perceive and report with acuity.

      Nevertheless, a few spectators here and there claimed that Mary appeared privately to them, while many saw nothing. However, it is fair to say that the core claim of the Catholic Church, that many people recorded the sun dancing in the bluing sky, is true. Many did claim this. Certainly not the “thousands” the story has subsequently grown into over the years, but a number of people. While I cannot discern an exact number from what I have read, my “best guess” is a few hundred.

      Apart from the “three secrets of Fátima,” which were gradually released by Lúcia, the oldest of the children, over the decades following the incident, that is pretty much it. The appearances stopped, the Cova de Iria became a sacred site for the Catholic Church, and the local population went back to farming and herding.

      So, exactly how substantial is the claim of the solar dance at Fátima?

      The first point to note is that no other people anywhere in the World recorded the sun performing these maneuvers. Given that October 13 is about three weeks after the annual September Equinox, which means days and nights around the World are of roughly equal duration, and given that the sun’s dance supposedly took place at roughly noon Portugal time, the solar pirouettes would have been visible to everybody in Southern and Central Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Africa, Russia, the Middle East and much of Asia. This entire hemisphere was bathed in daylight. Yet nobody in any of those locations recorded anything.

      In addition, no solar or other astronomical observatory anywhere in the world recorded the alleged event. None of the thousands of ships at sea that still navigated by the sun recorded anything unusual and nobody at the Vatican itself (a seemingly more appropriate and very receptive audience) saw a thing. Finally, no Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, agnostics or atheists in Portugal itself recorded anything out of the ordinary. Clearly, whatever occurred was a purely local, Catholic affair.

      More fundamentally, the sun has a diameter of a little under 1,400,000 kilometers. The speed of light is 300,000 kilometers per second. That means that, for the sun to appear to the naked human eye to have danced, it would had to have moved no less than about half its diameter in a very short time. If it did so in less than about 2.33 seconds, it would have been moving faster than the speed of light, which would have broken a law of nature or two being developed around that time by a certain unknown Swiss patent clerk called Albert Einstein. Additionally, if the sun did indeed move, the orbits of the planets would have been thrown into chaos and the Earth would have experienced monster tides all over the planet. Obviously, none of this occurred.

      Despite the huge number of journalists present, all toting cameras in the hopes of snapping the photograph of the millennium, not one photograph of Mary or of the sun’s dance was taken. I think it is fair to say that, like beauty, the “Miracle of Fátima” was in the eye of the beholders.

      But that still leaves open the question of what did happen. We are still left with the claims of hundreds of people to have seen various “miraculous” things. Is it possible that so many people could all be wrong? A closer look at the personalities involved is warranted.

      The first thing to note is the three shepherd children themselves. At the time they made the claims they were ten, nine and seven years old. That is, the eldest would have been in fifth grade and the youngest in second grade – about the age of the children on South Park. Second, they were all totally illiterate, as was much of rural Portugal at the time. Think back to how developed your mind was at that age and how easily you were given to flights of fancy and familial and social pressures. I expect you (as I) still believed in one or more of Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Monsters lurked in my bedroom at night and fairies and pixies pranced in my garden by daylight.

      This was not their first claim to have seen figures from heaven. The year before, they claimed to have seen angels on three separate occasions. The children all came from very devout Catholic families, who positively reinforced their stories. It is also telling to follow what happened to the three children after matter died down.

      Despite being worthy of a personal visit from Mary, when the two siblings, Francisco and Jacinta, contracted influenza shortly after, Mary was strangely absent. Mary was apparently deaf to the nightly prayers and pleadings of their families, as the health of both children degenerated and they died slow agonizing deaths. Francisco Mato died a painful death at home, while his sister’s death was even more drawn out and agonizing, including operations (without anesthetic due to her poor heart) and numerous hospital visits in a desperate effort to save her life. In short, they both suffered horrible illnesses as the months of prayers from their parents went unanswered, and were both dead within two years of the alleged miracle.

      I don’t know about you, but it seems to me a strange way for the mother of Jesus to treat her chosen messengers. It reminds me a bit of a cartoon I once saw, where two Jews are standing outside of Auschwitz Concentration Camp on the day of its liberation by the Red Army. They both stand open armed, looking toward the sky and pleading, “Next time, choose someone else.”

      The third child, Lúcia, had an even more telling life after Fátima. It seems she liked the taste of fame that it brought her. In addition to seeing Mary and various angels above, she reported seeing the Virgin Mary again in 1925 at a convent in Spain. She then reported being visited by Jesus at the same convent. She was transferred to another convent and, sure enough, in 1929, reported that Mary returned and appeared to her again.

      Indeed, Lúcia reportedly saw Mary in private visions periodically throughout her entire life. For example, a particularly bright Aurora Borealis in 1938 provoked poor Lúcia into believing that Mary was again appearing to her. She eventually left her convent and enrolled in yet a third. She would also periodically claim that, back in 1917, Mary revealed certain “secrets” to her. The secrets themselves are long and rambling but to give you a taste, here is a representative part of one of them, revealed by Lúcia in 1941, some 24 years after Mary supposedly related it to her:

      When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred….

      You get the picture.

      I think it is fairly safe to say that Lúcia suffered from lifelong delusional schizophrenia. She was what an impatient person might term an attention seeking nut job – a complete head case. In fact, Lúcia’s apparitions increased in frequency to the point where the Catholic Church started wishing she would shut up and go away. It pretty much locked her away, prevented anybody from seeing her and forbade her from talking about the apparitions. It is hard not to conclude that the basic idea of the Church was, “Look, they believe us. Just shut up and go away or you’ll blow the whole thing.”

      In short, like most "miracles" claimed by the RCC this one does not stand up to scrutiny.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • FrmrMrine

      Oooh. And I though you were a believer in rational thought. Logic tells us that you can't prove a negative. But that's what you've just tried to do. At best, you can claim, based upon your argument, that science is a better predictor and explainer of what is true and what is probable. And science is a wonderful tool for that. But to set up a false dichotomy of science v religion is just a masturbatory exercise. Faith isn't science and science isn't faith. Neither are they mutually exclusive. Nor are they opposites. From my perspective science is the product of the rational thought that our brains are capable of. And science is out attempt to explain to ourselves how the universe works. And it works well for that. But for science to be true it is not required that God be false. They can both be true even though one can't prove the other. Here's a rather weak example, but maybe it'll work for you. English literature isn't used to prove or disprove physics. A doctor of medicine isn't the same as a doctor of political science or law. They are just different things.

      But why are you on CNN's Belief Blog arguing about the existence of God? What is the point of tat?

      October 10, 2013 at 2:38 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.