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. Mac n Cheese

    That's not a taunt. It's just lame.

    October 11, 2013 at 6:11 am |
  2. drneutrino

    In 2012 Gallup reported "that 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution."

    MAYBE this is why the it was reported 3 days ago that "The U.S. ranked 16th out of 23 countries in literacy proficiency, 21st in numeracy proficiency, and 14th in problem solving in technology-rich environments".

    At least there will be enlightened intellectual discussion's in hell. I cant wait!

    October 11, 2013 at 6:08 am |
  3. Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

    NOVA: Have biblical archeologists traditionally tried to find evidence that events in the Bible really happened?

    William Dever: From the beginnings of what we call biblical archeology, perhaps 150 years ago, scholars, mostly western scholars, have attempted to use archeological data to prove the Bible. And for a long time it was thought to work. [William Foxwell] Albright, the great father of our discipline, often spoke of the "archeological revolution." Well, the revolution has come but not in the way that Albright thought. The truth of the matter today is that archeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and even the New Testament than it provides answers, and that's very disturbing to some people.

    But perhaps we were asking the wrong questions. I have always thought that if we resurrected someone from the past, one of the biblical writers, they would be amused, because for them it would have made no difference. I think they would have said, faith is faith is faith—take your proofs and go with them.

    The fact is that archeology can never prove any of the theological suppositions of the Bible. Archeologists can often tell you what happened and when and where and how and even why. No archeologists can tell anyone what it means, and most of us don't try.

    October 11, 2013 at 6:02 am |
  4. Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

    Science is awesome!

    "In 2004, Blätterhöhle was discovered by archaeologists who excavated more than 450 skeletal fragments. Carbon dating reveals the cave was used in the Mesolithic period, between 9210 and 8340 B.C., and in the Neolithic period, between 3986 and 2918 B.C., most likely as a burial ground, LiveScience reports.

    Mitochondrial DNA results taken from 25 of the skeletons indicated that some were hunter-gatherers while others were farmers. It was only when the isotope content of the samples were analyzed did researcher discover that the hunter-gatherers sustained a diet of fish while farmers relied on domesticated animals, Bollongino said. The two groups rarely interbred.

    “It wasn’t until we saw the isotopes that we realized we were going to have to rewrite the paper completely,” Bollongino told the Washington Post. “They shared the same burial place for something between 400 and 600 years, so it would be very hard to explain that they did not know each other. We believe that they were close neighbors and had contact with each other and traded with each other. But still they didn’t mix.”"

    October 11, 2013 at 5:45 am |
  5. Deol

    Atheism is the strongest desire and the deepest thirst for the LOVE of GOD!

    We need Atheists – Makes our faith in God stronger;
    We need Atheists – Makes it easier for me to get God's attention

    October 11, 2013 at 5:45 am |
    • sybaris

      Wow, delusion much?

      October 11, 2013 at 5:47 am |
  6. atheist

    I don't get why we all have to force our own beliefs unto others. I'm atheist, but I'm definitely not for billboards that put down religion. I say, let people believe in what they want to. After all, isn't that a big reason the US was founded in the first place?

    At the end of the day, it doesn't matter really what you believe.

    October 11, 2013 at 5:40 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Iraq – George W. Bush – Thousands of Americans killed, tens of thousands wounded, and how many Iraqis killed? At the end of the day, it matters.

      October 11, 2013 at 5:50 am |
  7. Riccardo Ray

    The guy said "atheists will spend eternity without God". If I'm not mistaken, a statement like that condemns you to hell........ What a bunch of close minded, ignorant hicks :/

    October 11, 2013 at 5:32 am |
    • saggyroy

      "atheists will spend eternity without God" – something definitely to look forward to. Who wants to spend eternity as a suck up?

      October 11, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • jay

      Evolve beyond Hate, know God. Think about it this way. Say your correct, which is inpossible, but say you are what prize do you win? Nothing you would feed your ego and when you died your done.., hahaha, what kinda of winning is that. Now if your wrong, and God created everything, and thru a lost set of translations false religons were formed, yet thinking your smarter than God and you have it all figued out, wow thats a big ego, with zero reward. Everything we do resorts back to respecting your parents, why ? If your ego is so big you don't need to respect anyone as your statement clearly states.
      GOD is a one on one relationship, if you do not have one, then you missed the purpose of life. If the Game of life was easy everyone would win, yet God made the enter to Heaven simple, if you loose the ego. Its hard to fathom someone greater than yourself...isn't it.., but there is and Jesus gave you the keys to the kingdom, but you have freewill. You decide, thats the whole game of life.., you decide.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:35 am |
      • Michael

        The key point is that neither you nor I will know the truth until the moment we die. My younger brother once asked me about that. "What if you're wrong? Doesn't it make more sense to get saved and cover your bases?" My response was that, no, it doesn't make sense for me to "get saved" because if I did, I would be living my life as a lie. "To thine own self be true." Religion, especially Christianity, makes no sense to me. So I prefer to live an hororable life: I don't lie, cheat nor steal and I try VERY HARD to not be judgemental .... like my "Chrstian" parents are ...

        October 11, 2013 at 8:00 am |
        • jay

          The key point is, your wasting your time debating this. Just go live your life and if your truly certain with your thoughts and belief system there is nothing to debate. Afterall, your here attacking us, that makes no sense. Go about your business. BUT, as I suspect, your not certain of anything, so your here for a reason.

          October 11, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  8. Gatorfan

    Yeah whatever. Let's see some actual evidence. And I don't mean "some guy in a book said.........."

    October 11, 2013 at 5:27 am |
    • Riccardo Ray

      Well, God put dinosaur bones in the ground to test our faith, duuhhh!! Thats proof enough!!!!

      October 11, 2013 at 5:34 am |
    • saggyroy

      Will Jesus's face appearing on my grilled cheese sandwich suffice?

      October 11, 2013 at 6:13 am |
    • Gary

      Ok. Biology has proven that there is no evolution. There is a fixed amount of genes in any body, organisim, none are manufactured within the body to increase its chracteristics. This is consistant with the bible. Each Kind comes from its Kind.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:22 am |
      • truthprevails1

        You fail to comprehend how evolution works.
        Maybe this will help:

        October 11, 2013 at 6:38 am |
        • jay

          Without out God, we are all just animals...

          evolve, beyond an animal and understand God, you will be glad you did.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:22 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Not all are so weak minded to think like that. Not all require imaginary friends...only children and the weak minded do. I get that accepting reality (we share 96% of our DNA with chimps) is hard for you to comprehend but it is reality.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:45 am |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          Understanding involves thinking. Belief involves obeying.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:47 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Absolutely. One of my favorite quotes: Science provides questions that may never be answered, Religion provides answers that may never be questioned.
          Enjoy the day, from the perspective of the East Coast it looks beautiful. 🙂

          October 11, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • jay

      Its called the game of life for a reason, everyone likes playing games right? If you didn't have to play the game, what would be the point of life? You were given freewill to play the game, wait you want to skip the game and just win...hahahaha, sure who doesn't want to win without playing. Life is just a test, yet you want the answers before your test, not gonna hapoen, God judges you based on your actions in life, the beauty of the game is everyone is given different challenges, that way its impossible to cheat...think about it, if we were all the same, or the answer was given before the game, how could God test you.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:46 am |
  9. distorted thinker

    I could have sworn that Christ teaching said don't thru your jewels in front of the swine.

    October 11, 2013 at 5:23 am |
    • sybaris

      There is no evidence that some guy allegedly named Jesus ever said that.

      October 11, 2013 at 5:49 am |
      • If I had a hammer... I'd whack you in the morning

        then why do people repeat it? there is your proof my friend, regardless of the black book, the proof is in the doing of something not the originality.

        October 11, 2013 at 5:54 am |
        • No one

          Just out of curiosity, did jesus know english?

          October 11, 2013 at 6:13 am |
      • saggyroy

        @No One: He didn't need it until he founded his favorite country America.

        October 11, 2013 at 6:31 am |
  10. krehator

    If you truly believe in what you believe, you do not need to taunt anyone. That goes for atheists or religious people.

    October 11, 2013 at 5:06 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Agree – there is no need to be rude, but every thinking person needs to stand and protect science against the backwardness of religious zealots...coming to a schoolhouse near you...

      October 11, 2013 at 5:20 am |
    • saggyroy

      There are people that believe things and go about their own business. There are people that believe things and try to incorporate them into public policy. Then they need the harshest scrutiny and criticism.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:30 am |
  11. dennis


    October 11, 2013 at 4:51 am |
    • Colin

      Why don't you go for a jog this morning. Get the blood flowing.

      October 11, 2013 at 4:55 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        How would you feel if someone said that to either your mother or father. Think before you write – that was very hateful, and shows you have inferior morals.

        October 11, 2013 at 5:16 am |
        • saggyroy

          Dennis is the one that opened his mouth about faith healing. We just want him to test it out. Or maybe he should do something less strenuous like handle some snakes?

          October 11, 2013 at 6:16 am |
    • Bon Voyage


      What are you doing here, then? Fire up that cabover that you are living in and get thee over there to rebuild that temple! Slacker.

      Watch out for those ol' diverse earthquakes and the Wicked Witch of the North.

      October 11, 2013 at 5:10 am |
    • Greg

      BEHOLD the power of positive thinking! Keep it up you can do it.

      October 11, 2013 at 5:33 am |
    • doughnuts

      I guess God hates amputees, then. He's never healed a single one.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:14 am |
  12. dennis

    What do atheist believe started life????
    they cannot explain it. they have no answer.
    But they do believe in aliens, no one one has ever seen.

    October 11, 2013 at 4:40 am |
    • Colin

      Abiogenesis, simpleton. Not a magic act by a late Bronze Age Jewish sky-fairy.

      October 11, 2013 at 4:46 am |
    • MOCaseA

      Simple Question:

      If God can do anything, can God make an object that even he can't move?

      (Paradox of the Infinite God)

      October 11, 2013 at 4:48 am |
    • quotidianus

      most atheists i know don't believe in aliens as you probably are envisioning. are other planets capable of sustaining life? probably. but that life for may just be a very simple organism. i always find it funny that atheists get attacked for believing in realities, when they've more support for their belief and position than people who choose to take literally the myths of their faith.

      however, there is an abundance of empirical evidence to support evolution. there is no empirical evidence to support any of the thousands of creation myths. it really saddens me, because there is wonderment and awe in the origins of life here on earth, as well as the origins of our planet, solar system, etc. it is something simply amazing. and it's supported by evidence. you can have faith in any belief system you choose, but it doesn't make the facts and real science any less true.

      i am a practicing buddhist, and i won't deny science. i recognize the stories in buddhism as allegorical and don't take them literally. and i was so impressed by the dalai lama who recently said "if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims." i hope other spiritual leaders step forward and embrace this same philosophy.

      October 11, 2013 at 4:54 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        As a former Christian and now an atheist, I know a few buddhists and I am very impressed with their life's belief to continuously improve themselves and to help others do the same, and not to convert or condemn everyone they meet who believes (or does not) differently. They have a special kindness that is very pleasant. And I think you point to a truth – one can be spiritual (good) without a deity – it takes dedication and thought – that's it.

        October 11, 2013 at 5:13 am |
        • Sparrow

          You were never a christian in the first place! You don't believe in something, then turn around and say I really didn't believe that?
          Think about it! It's like saying I believe someone wrote me a letter, like this one. Then somewhere down the road going, oh I that never really happened! Sounds like you were/are what I call supermarket religious shopper. Pick what's on sale for the given time. I pity people like you, so confused. It's right in front of your face and you can't see it.

          October 11, 2013 at 5:36 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Sparrow: You're implying that we're born believers and that is simply wrong. Children are indoctrinated in to believing in a specific god/gods. The same thing that leads those of use who were once christian to our disbelief is the same thing that leads you to question the existence of unicorns, dragons, Thor, Odin, Santa, the Easter Bunny...somewhere the story starts to fall apart and the search for evidence starts. There is no evidence, outside of the bible, to support the existence of the christian god, so for those of us who have had the intelligence and ability to see past the fear of the belief, there simply is no reason to believe.

          October 11, 2013 at 5:59 am |
        • quotidianus

          @sparrow, i think perhaps there is a better analogy. some people believed in the tooth fairy as a child, since the myth was told to them by their parents, the ones a child trusts the most. but, later, they realize there is no tooth fairy, that it was just a story told to them.

          October 11, 2013 at 6:15 am |
        • saggyroy

          @Sparrow: If you were born in India, you would probably be a Hindu. If you were born in ancient Greece, you would probably worship Zeus or Apollo, if you had been born in northern viking Europe, you would probably worship Thor or Odin...what's your point again?

          October 11, 2013 at 6:24 am |
      • jay

        Lets get this straight. We have had millions of years to evolve and figure it out. Yet we haven't. God is pretty smart, he leaves clues, yet also gives you reasons to doubt. Its called the game of life. Once you realize we are so smart we figured out how to destroy the earth without God, you wonder what we have evolved into, a truly Godless society of corruption, and chaos. Its time for the next big bang...

        October 11, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Gatorfan

      How dumb can religionists be? They pretend to know that they're sky daddy poofed life into existence, yet they can't explain how sky daddy got there. Theirs is no explanation whatsoever.

      October 11, 2013 at 5:28 am |
      • Sparrow

        Your right! I have never seen your brain so therefore it must not exist!

        October 11, 2013 at 5:37 am |
        • Bill Sargent

          It's "You're" which is a contraction for YOU ARE. Not "your". Let's not talk about people's lack of brains until you learn basic elementary spelling and grammar.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:03 am |
      • jay

        Why is it called the game of life? Why would God test you, to see how you treat others less fortunate than yourself. If we are all just animals, then its survival of the fittest, take advantage of the weak, yet God gave the real power to the weak, wait that goes against evolution, exactly if your ego is to big to understand God, or respect others, then it's impossible for you to win...it's never to late to change, Jesus gave you the keys use them, only then will you get all the evidence you need to understand God and the game of life. Remember you only have one life, 0-100 years to figure it out.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Markus

      It's ironic you are calling someone dumb. Judging by your post, you are an illiterate.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:00 am |
    • Phillip

      Your statement before Dennis made me realize how ignorant you are (dumb is not a nice choice of word to describe another brother or sister, especially if your a man of God). Also if you get all of your information you live by by the news then I really feel for you. The temple of the closed mind breeds ignorance and as an atheist I can proudly say "I don't know," and guess what "that's OK!" Critical thinking Dennis, critical thinking.

      October 11, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • sam stone

      jeeebus is waiting dennis

      show some initiative and go meet him


      October 11, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Mrs. Butterworth

      dumb dennis
      Making up answers to questions for which there is no answer is more stupid than saying "we don't know".

      November 29, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  13. Derek Winsor

    I've got news for them. They're BOTH wrong.

    October 11, 2013 at 4:31 am |
  14. aurelius

    The self righteousness of the creationists has no limits. When we finally discover we are not the only one in the universe, they'll manage to explain alien existence through in their own self serving way. Feel sorry for them.

    October 11, 2013 at 4:14 am |
    • jay

      The ego of the atheist has no limit, why? Simple they fuel their egos by belittling others. If life is just a test on how you treat others how would you score on that test? Trust me, God is keeping score. If you choose not to play the game, thats impossible, its called the game of life. Everyone is in play...everyone...

      October 11, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  15. Steve

    It used to be that the Church was the patron of science, even science that contradicted literal interpretations of the Bible. How is it that in America – and only America! – we have so many science deniers that stubbornly believe that evolution is a myth, dinosaur bones were put in the earth by Satan, and that the Earth is 10,000 years old (even though there is both scientific and archaeological evidence that clearly refutes this)?

    October 11, 2013 at 3:39 am |
    • Observer

      Totally creepy right?!!

      October 11, 2013 at 3:48 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One


        October 11, 2013 at 4:00 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One


          October 11, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Anders

      Making an active choice of being stupid and narrowminded. All to maintain the illussion of that their belief that has something to do with the reality we live in. It´s just not something I am willing to do to myself.

      You even have the perverse fake logic of when a new scientific discovery is made then we have just learned a little more of how god does the things he do. Utter stupidity. Massive levels of ingnorance must be applie to make one misse the fact that all theese advances are piling up more and more evidence against religion/santa/toothfairy etc.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  16. Jesus commanded QUITE CLEARLY to not insult people

    Why are they such hypocrites?

    "Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."

    Matthew 5:22

    October 11, 2013 at 3:35 am |
  17. Jesus commanded QUITE CLEARLY to not insult people

    "Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."

    Matthew 5:22

    Why are christians such hypocrites?

    October 11, 2013 at 3:35 am |
  18. Jesus commanded QUITE CLEARLY to not insult people


    Matthew 5:22

    "Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."

    Once again, Christurds prove they're nothing but hypocrites.

    October 11, 2013 at 3:34 am |
  19. lmori

    Wow. Almost half of the people surveyed believe god just popped us out within the last 10000 years? That's just insane. Get an education America.

    October 11, 2013 at 3:13 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.