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. DP

    I'm fine with AiG's mission, but they execute it too poorly for me to look into them any further. They promote Ted Tripp in their magazine and now they're doing this infantile match with atheists.

    October 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  2. tony

    When it comes to answering prayers, Allah seems to be doing a far better job for Al Queda, that Jehova is doing for us Yanks.

    October 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  3. Ralph Monkman

    An eternity with god?? how awful that sounds. Glad I'm an atheist.

    October 20, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • counterww

      The alternative won't be pretty, dude.

      October 20, 2013 at 11:17 am |
      • tony

        How would you know?

        October 20, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • sam stone

        still waiting on that answer.

        how do you know what "hell" is like?

        or, do you just like bloviating empty proxy threats?

        October 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • corridorwatcher

        What if you've got the wrong "god?" Will you still burn in hell or is there another wrong hell just right for you? Do you believe in a sadistic god that like to torture people to satisfy his ego, bruised by non-belief?

        October 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

        Oh, and what alternative would that be? That other place with that other guy that were also created by the human imagination and based very closely on Roman mythology....Neptune with his trident who lived way, way down beneath the waves of the sea? That "real" guy and his "real" place? Yeah, we're scared.

        October 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
      • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

        Do you honestly think that an eternity with a petty, angry, vengeful, hateful, hypocritical, inconsistent, biased, infanticidal god is something to look forward to? Your "good" book very plainly points out all these negative characteristics about him or, uh, haven't you read that horrid book?

        October 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
        • Jefe

          Nicolas, it is obvious you fit your Grumpy name. So you don't believe in God. Too bad for you, but why be so hateful? You are citing that those that believe God follow a hateful, vengeful God. So create your "heaven on Earth" that your Atheist site talks about and be nice to people no matter what they believe. The one thing that is clear to me, even if sometimes religion is used for the wrong purposes, is that generally we are working to be better humans. You may not believe what we do about what happens after this life, but why can't we agree to all be better people? Your Atheist site doesn't talk about anything good – only about lawsuits, separation of church and state, etc. Where is the love? Why be so GRUMPY?

          October 21, 2013 at 2:41 am |
  4. Peter225

    46% of the population believe that the Earth is 6000 years old. This would be funny if it weren't so sad.

    October 20, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Laurie B29

      You're confused. Everyone knows the earth is billions of years old. Its HUMANITY that only provides evidence of being around 6,000 years old.

      October 20, 2013 at 10:08 am |
      • Richard Cranium

        That is not true either. There is evidenc of human habitation well over 100,000 years ago.

        October 20, 2013 at 11:31 am |
      • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

        You probably don't know it but you're embarrassing yourself by displaying your ignorance here as per how long human beings have been around. The earliest civilization, as noted to date, was discovered at the southern tip of Africa (yes, the Cradle of Civilization) dating back some 200,000 years. So, you see your Holy Babble has it completely wrong. Also, the first humans were not white as so suggested by the Bad Book. In summary, it's OK to believe facts. It's not a good idea to take complete fallacy as truth.

        October 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
        • Megatron

          Not quite Nico. The "Cradle of civilation" is present day Iraq from about 6,000years ago. Depending on your definition of "Civilation", perhaps we can go back about 10,000 years ago to the first cities/towns. Biologically/evolutionally speaking, we humans have been here about 200,000 years as analysis of our genome shows, And that cradle of humanity was in northeast africa, not the tip of africa.Either way, years of careful analysis, research and critical thinking have caused me to not see any issue whatsoever in accepting the reality of our physical world along with the myriad possibilities of what many call the after-life/spirituality/heaven/hell/God.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  5. Doug

    Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.

    October 20, 2013 at 6:53 am |
    • tony

      We often have roast lamb on Sundays. Thank goodness for sheep.

      October 20, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • corridorwatcher

      Hisfollowers like himself is unhinged. That explains a lot.

      October 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  6. Daniel

    Who the f believes the Earth is less than 10,000 years old? This is fk'in preposterous.....

    October 20, 2013 at 6:37 am |
  7. Daniel

    Jesus was the greatest snake oil salesman the world has ever known....what a pity...

    October 20, 2013 at 6:33 am |
  8. 3x a Wendy

    Christian: Someone who quotes scripture and wants to micromanage my thought life for fear I'll wind up in a fiery chasm for all time.

    Atheist: Someone who quotes scripture and wants to micromanage my thought life for fear I'll vote for the wrong candidate.

    October 20, 2013 at 6:01 am |
    • tony

      atheists are the ones who expose "scriptures". As if writing something down makes it factual.

      October 20, 2013 at 11:28 am |
      • fred

        If it is on the internet it has to be true.

        October 20, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • Frank

        Same stuff, different agenda

        October 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • HowdyDo

      Wendy I totally agree, I find that agnostics are usually my homies. No one knows anything for sure. Everyone "feels" what they feel.

      October 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

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

    Here is what you are looking for, Mr. Silverman!


    October 20, 2013 at 5:11 am |
  10. jp0

    The correct response is "Never argue with a fool."

    October 20, 2013 at 3:43 am |
  11. Haha

    It ought to addressed to La Vayen Satanist, that is what all theses Gen Y atheist are, they are just so ignorant of all religions including that one that they don't recognize it. Playing Halo 4 and deciding that you're the smartest person in the world and that you'll be you're own god cause that way all you have to do is play more Halo doesn't make you a true atheist. That's not decision about belief in God, its a decision to be lazy and ignorant.

    October 20, 2013 at 2:06 am |
    • My opinion

      Far too many gen Y have the same philosophical ideas as my fish tank.

      October 20, 2013 at 6:24 am |
  12. Peteyroo

    What nonsense! 仆街

    October 20, 2013 at 1:51 am |
  13. Peteyroo


    October 20, 2013 at 1:50 am |
  14. Peteyroo

    I hope the folks professing belief in religion are kidding.

    October 20, 2013 at 1:49 am |
  15. Peteyroo

    I hope all the people professing belief in God & Jesus are kidding.

    October 20, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • boston_guy

      Unfortunately peteyroo they are not kidding. And it is impossible to argue with those who believe in a religion. Whether they believe in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Ancient Greek Gods. etc etc. May Zeus throw a lightning bolt on them! Lmao. Im sure the believers would think that is silly. But they would wholeheartedly believe that their god would smite non believers, pagans and so on.

      October 20, 2013 at 5:14 am |
  16. Michael O'Brian

    Wow. 78% of Americans believe in creation or intelligent design. What a shameful, massive failure of your education system.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • Sean Lynch

      I'm embarrassed to say a majority of my fellow US citizens are scientifically illiterate according to Californian Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Sciences.
      A lot of scientists are leaving the country for Europe.
      It's very sad for scientists in the US Michael.
      The wise rule by stuffing bellies and weakening minds.

      October 20, 2013 at 2:11 am |
      • Peter225

        For the life of me I don't understand why it is this way here in the U.S. It's embarrassing.

        October 20, 2013 at 9:14 am |
      • Megatron

        No need to be embarrassed Sean, except perhaps for your own closed-mindedness. I'm sorry that the only religious people you have ever met must have been mindless automatons or clinically/mentally disabled. As for myself, years of careful analysis, research and critical thinking have caused me to not see any issue whatsoever in accepting the reality of our physical world along with the myriad possibilities of what many call the after-life/spirituality/heaven/hell/God.

        October 21, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • Chikkipop

          "....years of careful analysis, research and critical thinking have caused me to not see any issue whatsoever in accepting the reality of our physical world along with the myriad possibilities...."

          Myriad possibilities. No issue, whatsoever.

          Did you forget to mention you were doing all this "research" in Play Skool!?

          You have a lot more work to do.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  17. tony

    If there really was a god,rthere wouldn't need to be billboards. . . . . . .

    October 19, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Paul

      If there were no god, the atheists wouldn't need billboards.

      October 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
      • Michael

        Very nice response for an adult. (sarcasm)

        October 19, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
      • tony

        I drive by eleven just on my way to work. All are outside churches. All the churches believe different things . . .

        October 19, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Matty

      Look at the design around you. How much bigger of a billboard do you need?

      October 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  18. Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

    "All of which is baby stuff when compared to the Toba super-eruption. Once again brought to the world by Indonesia, Toba is thought to have erupted basically a few seconds ago in geological time—between 69,000 and 77,000 years ago. The blast was so huge that measuring its devastating effects is a branch of science in itself, but the best estimate is that it was about three times the size of Yellowstone, and thus an event so cataclysmic that it definitively changed the history of the world and all the species upon it. If Tambora caused a year without summer, what then did Toba bring in its fiery wake? The tsunami alone would’ve wiped out coastal areas all over the world, and the amount of crap in the air didn’t just mess with one tanning season, but cooled the temperature of the planet by 3 – 5 degrees Celcius for an extended period of time, accelerating a new ice age.

    According to the genetic bottleneck theory, Toba may have slowed down the evolution of the human species. The mean cooling of the planet meant that it was tougher to hunt, tougher to survive winters and much easier to ice skate. That said, the theory is by no means universally accepted, but Toba must have been one hell of a show for our hairy ancestors—those who lived to process the experience, at any rate."

    October 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  19. Rick Shultz

    "The Gallup Poll has been tracking Americans' views on creation and evolution for the past 30 years. In June it released its latest findings, which showed 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution..."
    Mr. Nye's video is going to get him in a great deal of trouble. As unfortunate as it may sound to atheists. Americans who believe in God, and in the Creation in one form or another are in the vast majority, and are likely to remain so for more than just the next two centuries. Considering how passionate most Christians are about their beliefs, especially those of us you
    silly heathens insist on referring to as "fundies", if Mr. Nye does not stop quacking about what we should teach our children in this insipid video: "In another couple centuries I'm sure that worldview won't even exist. There's no evidence for it...", he, and atheists generally, may not last for another couple of YEARS. I am sure you will quack about empty threats and all that, but considering how small a percentage of the population you comprise according of one the oldest and most accurate polling organizations, and considering (1) there are ten times more of us than you and (2) most of us are heavily armed. If I were you, I would seriously consider shutting up.

    October 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • zampaz

      Rick Shultz, what differentiates your position from that of an Islamic terrorist willing to kill infidels in the name of Allah?

      October 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • tony

      As well as the fact that you can't count, this has to the most infantile post I've ever seen on this blog.

      October 19, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • B'bye

      We shouldn't teach our children WHAT to think. We should teach them HOW to think. That's all Nye is saying.

      October 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • doobzz

      Typical christian bully. Guns, a six pack and a bible.

      October 19, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  20. Doris

    President Bush after 9/11: "Our God is the God who named the stars".
    How erroneous. Two-thirds of star names have Arabic names. They came from Islam's fertile period (AD 800-1100.) During that time Baghdad was the intellectual center of the world, open to people of all or no faiths. During that time were some of the greatest advances known to mankind: engineering, biology, medicine, mathematics, celestial navigation; this is the time and place that gave us numerals we use, terms like algebra and algorithm.

    Enter Imam Hamid al-Ghazali in the 12th century. The fundamentally religious period of Islam begins, and so begins the steady decline of free intellectual expression in that area of the world. Some would argue that it has since never recovered.

    As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains, throughout history most of the great minds give virtually no mention to any god for their discoveries and explanations. (Ptolemy, Isaac Newton, Laplace, Huygens, Galileo.) That is, until they reach the problem they feel they cannot and will never fully tackle. Dr. Tyson demonstrates this with writings from the great minds in his talk "The Perimeter of Ignorance".

    Perhaps that is all God has ever been – a placeholder for discomfort or frustration over the unknown; an excuse of last resort when, for one reason or another, one gives up investigation. It is at that point of discomfort over the unknown when one should remember what humanity has already witnessed: that today's scientific explanations were often yesterday's gods.

    October 19, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • zampaz

      What Doris points out is truly frightening for America:
      "Enter Imam Hamid al-Ghazali in the 12th century. The fundamentally religious period of Islam begins, and so begins the steady decline of free intellectual expression in that area of the world."
      The majority of the US public is scientifically illiterate.
      The public is unable to distinguish between "theory" and "scientific theory."
      Well funded PR campaigns of "teach the controversy" exist where there is no controversy.
      Scientists are regarded as overpaid intellectual elitists.
      We have "creationist" museums in America.
      When religious doctrine denies science humanity loses.

      October 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        Not really. Dr. Tyson also talks about the attempt to teach creationism in a school in PA(?), but he said that while many people were worried about the outcome, he was not, because having spent quite a few years around Republican politicians in DC, the one thing he learned about them is that they (1) understand that science drives the economy and (2) Republicans don't like being poor. If we were a theocracy, on the other hand, it would be serious. The Pew poll should reassure everyone of the direction that religion is moving in this country.

        October 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • David

      The great scientist such as Newton were Bible believing GOD FEARING MEN. Newton wrote more ôn his belief of on a creator God than on his scientific finding! As we do not know how large the universe is we can not say there is no God as well the number of stars!

      October 19, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
      • Sean Lynch

        Newton was a genius. He didn't tackle the many body problem of planetary orbits feeling the problem was too complex for mortals to understand. La Place tackled and solved the problem. Newton surely could have done the work had he pressed on.
        Did Newton give up the quest because he was "god fearing?"
        Newton didn't get things quite right, because the speed of light is constant, not time and and space, as Newton assumed.
        The world admires Newton for his contributions to science, not religion.
        Individuals who are religious can and do contribute to society. Religion of itself, by doctrine alone, contributes nothing to society except to act as a refuge for the willfully ignorant.

        October 19, 2013 at 11:30 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.