Believers strike back: an anti-atheist billboard in Times Square

October 8, 2013 • 12:15 pm

Today’s New York Times reports that the creationist organization Answers in Genesis has paid for and installed an anti-atheist billboard in Times Square:

Wedged amid an advertisement urging revelers to take a trip to Atlantic City, promotions for the new CBS drama “Hostages” and a promotion from Google was a 15-second video directed at New York City’s atheists.

“To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong,” the digital billboard blared on the corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue.

As the lunchtime crowd passed by on the streets below, few gave it more than a passing glance, perhaps distracted by the frightening, blood-soaked photograph promoting the horror movie “Carrie” above the theater next door.

Or, perhaps, religious billboard battles between believers and nonbelievers just do not have the punch they once did.

Here’s the billboard’s 15-second video:

You’ll recall that Answers in Genesis is Ken Ham’s outfit, and built the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  The fact that they’re putting up billboards like this seems to me a sign that they’re taking atheism (and its own billboards) more seriously than they used to.

The Answers in Genesis press release also notes that there’s a billboard in San Francisco, and others will shortly go up in Los Angeles and Hollywood. And they quote the boss:

Ken Ham, president of AiG and the Creation Museum, stated:

“In a friendly way, we want to reach out to people in secularized parts of the country and share the hope we have in Christ. Atheists live in a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness. But the good news is that God sent His Son to offer the free gift of salvation. There is purpose and meaning in life. And we thank God for that.”When visitors go to AiG’s website, they will see AiG’s article “How Do We Know There Is a God?” and one of Ham’s videos.

With the Times Square “digital spectacular,” the animated image will be visible for 15 seconds every 2 minutes. Located at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, it measures a whopping 45 feet by 90 feet.

. . .Ken Ham added:

More than ever, people are asking us to prove that there is a God. I tell them our faith is not a blind faith but a reasonable one. Furthermore, Romans 1:20 says that the creation of the world by God is so clearly seen that none of us has any excuse for rejecting God. At the same time, AiG understands that atheists like Richard Dawkins look at the same evidence and interpret it differently in light of their humanistic worldview. But theirs is not a reasonable faith.

Ham is starting to sound like Alvin Plantinga with the “basic belief” and “reasonable” business.  But all of these people conflate what is logically possible (God) with what is probable or reasonable (no God).

The site “I love you but you’re going to Hell” deconstructs the sign’s message.

For those new to the creation/evolution debates, it might seem surprising that this latest publicity stunt does not mention creationism, dragons, or zip lines.  After all, AIG has had some success in the past with such creation-focused billboards.

But as Ken Ham repeats, creationism is not the main interest of his organization.  Rather, salvation is the point; creationism is merely the vital theme.

For those of us interested in conservative themes in American education, this distinction matters.

. . . The young-earth creationists at AIG care a lot about creationism, but that is not their central concern.  Their central concern is salvation.  As long as evolution is seen as a threat to salvation, it will never be open to discussion and compromise.

More perspicacious religious minds understand this.  Francis Collins and the BioLogos Foundation set out to prove not only that evolution is true, but that evolution does not threaten salvation.  Without that focus on salvation, creation/evolution discussions will get nowhere.

These AIG billboards do more than attract attention in America’s big cities.  They demonstrate the true heart of the evolution/creation controversy.

Well, this is just the accommodationist message that if you tell people their faith isn’t threatened by science, they’ll be more likely to embrace evolution. That message hasn’t worked, for BioLogos or anyone else. The discussions are still going nowhere at accommodationist sites.  That’s because, of course, you can’t convince people that evolution doesn’t threaten their faith. It does, and in many ways.  If by “discussions getting somewhere,” the author means “people accepting evolution” (and here I mean naturalistic evolution, not that bastard hybrid called “theistic evolution”) that’s not gonna happen until we get rid of the kind of religion that is threatened by naturalism. And that includes most religions.

The billboard at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street. Photo by Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

h/t: Douglas

143 thoughts on “Believers strike back: an anti-atheist billboard in Times Square

  1. To be fair, if I am wrong, it is God’s fault. If he hadn’t hidden all the evidence for his existence then there would have been something to potentially persuade me.

    “Atheists live in a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness.”

    I love the humility and lack of presumption in that statement.

    1. “Atheists live in a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness.”

      Yes. And so does everyone else.

      We can find meaning and purpose for ourselves without inventing supernatural agencies.


        1. “Atheists live in a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness.”

          Whereas the true believers get to spend eternity kissing God’s ass and telling him what a great guy he is. Some “purpose”!!

          I think this billboarding should be seen as a positive sign that they are rattled. You don’t spend time, money and effort attacking opponents unless you see them as a threat. They aren’t putting up signs attempting to counter the influence of Jains, Zoroastrians or worshippers of Odin. They are definitely worried that atheist voices are getting louder and our message is hitting home.

          1. Believers’ purpose is to stay out of Hell. Sort of like living in the worst part of town surrounded by gangs, and living your life solely to stay out of prison. It’s a goal, and you can understand it, but there are so many better ways to live than with that limited, self-serving goal. The positive purpose of improving life for others, is so much more fulfilling and worthwhile than agonizing about Hell for 85 years. But when Hell is a live option for you, it’s hard to focus on anything else.

      1. Just out of curiosity what does Ken Ham say is the purpose and meaning in life?

        If the purpose of life is to earn/merit eternal afterlife basking in the glory of god then it doesn’t sound particularly meaningful or purposeful.

          1. Yes, that’s it! I was having a brain fart & couldn’t remember where I had heard that. Terminator. Though the original line was “fate” instead of “purpose.”

            That movie was almost as captivating for me when it first came out as when I first saw Star Wars. Perhaps Arnold’s best role, since he merely needed to portray an inhuman automaton.

  2. A more honest sign would be
    To all of our atheists friends: We won’t stop till only our religion is taught in schools.

    1. Your correct, but theists are allergic to any truth and rarely speak it.
      Been seeing a NEA ad on TV pushing there “critical thinking” approach to teaching out kids nationwide… Hopefully in response to texass’ attempt at rewriting out text books. This is a fight worth having.

  3. “Atheists live in a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness.”
    So says ham who couldn’t muster an original thought if his salvation depended on it.
    As if one needs a mythical master to have meaning and purpose in life, how sad a statement that is. Only their sky daddy gives meaning to their life?? Wow !! How sad…
    NYC has always been an “evil sin city” to the fundies. Calvin Kline has had a billboard up there for decades, do you think its made me or others buy his underware or jeans?? nope.

    1. The most important thing about this billboard is that it’s a large public billboard with the word “ATHEIST” on it.

      Just what I was thinking. No such thing as bad publicity.

      1. About the billboard:
        Yes, a scientific publisher once told me that even a negative review of a monograph resulted in a peak in sales.

          1. Not really. Why should you not read a monograph in your area of research because of a bad review? The reviewer could be wrong or biased, and you can always learn from other researchers in your research area, even if they are criticised. After all, the book proposal has been peer reviewed and accepted in order to be published. Science is an ongoing discussion…

    2. Too true! What’s that Hollywood saying? “There’s no such thing as bad publicity!”

      Besides, these anti-atheist billboards will soon be so numerous as to prove Christian extremists are more afraid of atheists than they are of Muslim terrorists (their very counterparts)!

  4. They get billboards now too? There are about 13 buildings in my city alone dedicated to this.

    There is a stretch of street in Los Angeles that may have more churches than I thought would be possible. 53 churches in about 2 miles. 53.

    It wasn’t in an affluent neighborhood either.

    Just saying.

    1. You can’t complain:
      there are 126 churches in Venice, in the old centre, an area of a few square miles:


      1. I wasn’t complaining. I asked a friend in Rome to check and we had him beat. Of course we compared a straight line from one point to another.

        I just feel bad, on some level, that all of this hope exists and energy spent on bullshit; no matter the city.

    2. I suspect that there is an inverse correlation between the number of churches in an area and it’s affluence.

  5. As I said elsewhere, American Atheists should fight to get that ad space next and put a counter ad there. The Hitchens quote above would be a great rebut.
    “That which can be asserted without proof, can be dismissed without proof.” -Christopher Hitchens.

    1. I suspect they will. I like that the advertisement for Carrie is beneath the sign in the meantime.

  6. > Their central concern is salvation.

    Each is born as all each needs to be,
    life-expressing – temporarily;
    “salvation” is Man-made-phantasy.

        1. [atheism] seems to have its own doctrines and dogmas etc..???

          By definition, religious doctrines and dogmas are truths accepted without evidence. The central feature of atheism is that it does not assume any dogmas (and specifically: the existence of a deity) without evidence. Thus, atheism is a polar opposite of religion, as the word “a-theism” itself implies.

          1. That’s 3 times you’ve posted a link to your blog (some of the links don’t work) instead of just answering the question. I am starting to think you just want us to go to your blog.

            1. Save yourself, I went there and now I’ll have to rinse my brain in bleach and update my tetanus and rabies shots.

        2. > It seems to have its own doctrines and dogmas etc..???

          1 doctrine – All Religions are based on phantasy.
          1 dogma – God(s) is~are figment(s) of Human mind.

        3. Arrgh! I followed that link. So you (Spook) have your own site, just marginally more coherent than Timecube.

          Still, I found it rather pathetically touching that you (a raving Protestant) and your chief and only correspondent, a Catholic (or possibly a troll), could agree on one thing – you both hate atheists. How sweet.

        4. Our dogma and doctrine is simple. It’s “you’re full of crap”.

          Which I’m sure makes you mad, but it’s the truth regardless.

    1. Forgive me for not clicking on that link but trust in any theist is something I lack.
      As for “its own doctrines and dogmas etc..???” Absolutely not.
      Its simply the conclusion one holds from the lack of evidence for the existence of any god(s). NO doctrines NO dogmas, we all do not march in locked step, nor do we do anything because of a promise of a reward only attainable after death or under fear of supernatural punishment. no devils no demons no myths no heaven no hell no god(s)

        1. Of course it doesn’t. You, like so many other believers (not just Christians), seem to be unable to intellectually and/or emotionally process the concept of no god(s)/no religion. That’s why you make meaningless statements such as “atheism is a religion” (of course the assumption behind this is that atheism is based on faith just as religion is; what you’re implying is that faith is a bad reason for believing anything. I agree.) and other believers make equally inane statements like “atheists believe they are themselves gods.” The fact is that god and religion are meaningless concepts to us.

          You want atheism to make sense to you? Educate yourself: about the scientific method, the conclusions of the sciences (biology and cosmology in particular), the true origins of your religion (I suggest Bart Ehrman) and it’s book, the psychology and neurology behind religion, the arguments against religion & the existence of a god, and other religions. And ask yourself a few questions: How do you know my religion is right while all of the others are wrong? Could it be that your religion is a result of childhood indoctrination and the lack of exposure to any other ideas? Can it possibly be a coincidence that your religion just happens to be the dominant religion of the culture in which your were born and raised? Why is it that those raised in Islamic cultures are Muslims, those raised in Hindu cultures are Hindu, those raised in Jewish cultures are Jews? In other words, isn’t your religion simply a result of where you happened to be born and the religion of your parents (I’m willing to say with 99.9% certainty that you follow either the exact same religion as your parents or some denomination of that religion)? What evidence do you have for the existence of your god? Try some of the above and atheism will make sense to you.

          1. Strictly speaking, atheism doesn’t have to ‘make sense’. It’s an absence of belief in god(s). How does an absence of something make sense (or make anything else for that matter). I guess what I’m saying is, atheism is just the default state you arrive at when you decide no religion makes sense.

    2. Wow Mr spookxtian, you certainly have a hard on for catholics.

      And that’s about the only thing that all those thousands of sects of xtianity have in common, each one thinks that all the other sects are wrong and going to hell.

            1. But none at all not to believe in any god.

              And to conclude, with a probability asymptotically approaching unity, that there is no god is a rational judgment exactly in proportion to the evidence (logical or empirical) we have in our current state of knowledge.


              1. The evidence is all around you friend…
                you just dont want to believe that ..
                look in the mirror..
                Im not being nasty OK..
                but the human body in itself is actually a miracle….
                I think so…

              2. @spookxian, friend your confusing blind faith with facts or proof or evidence… i’d hope you are honest enough with yourself to see that.

              3. @ 👻🐟

                Hardly. All the faults* with the human body make sense only in the light of evolution.

                If you insist that we are evidence of a creative intelligence, I must conclude that it was grossly incompetent and fallible — ergo, not a god.


                * blind spot, reflex laryngeal nerve, bad backs, fallen arches, cleft palates, … 

              4. You continue to impress me with your keyboard mastery – how’d you make that ghosty & fishy?

              5. @ 🌙

                iMac, OS X 10.8.5, via Character Viewer, Emoji.

                (On an iP*, you could use the Emoji keyboard.)

                I’m not sure people ŵ/o Apple OSs see them properly… 


              6. Oh I see. I only see them in my email but the people on the Web are robbed. Still awesome though.

              7. “Oh I see. I only see them in my email but the people on the Web are robbed. Still awesome though.”

                Huh? I see them fine on my IE laptop…

              8. & on my iMac, I see only boxes in Chrome. (Firefox and OmniWeb don’t even show those… nothing to show you there’s something you’re not seeing.) But they display in SeaMonkey as well as in Safari.


              9. “I see only boxes on my Windows 7 laptop (in both IE and Chrome); I must not have the right font installed. ”

                I certainly haven’t installed any fonts…

              10. @ Ant

                Yep, my point was that my standard white-bread much-maligned pre-packaged platform is coming through for me.

                Suppose it’s a bit obvious the schadenfreude I’m experiencing. 😀

            2. This is for antallan; if it’s in the wrong place, sorrymybad.

              Ant: Thanks to you, I’m now out $0.99, plus another $1.99 for the allart package.

              For the spookster: creation of people from dust and ribs is a prehistoric explanation.

              The correct response to the question the Genesis explanations attempts to answer is “I don’t know.”

              There was never only two divinely created human beings in our image, from whom all others descend. Nor an ensoulment moment/event (no soul, you see), or a spook (Holy Ghost) creator which shazam!!! created itself. Or some kind of nothing that somehow existed somewhere before a creator that ex nihilo created itself and the universe as we presently know it.

              Here for you to cut out and carry in your wallet is a depiction of an ancestor common to all us humans, though:
                           
                   🐬           
              ┃╰╯╯╯╯👀┃ ≀
                             🐟

              1. To Ant about emoji:

                I purchased emoji from the iPad App Store. Some of the symbols are free, but the rest are behind the $1.99 firewall. I paid that fee & then it was a straight copy/paste process onto the comment dialogue box here.

              2. hi guys… think getting eachothers e-mail or text numbers might be wise and considerate so your off topic banter isn’t coming through in ALL of our in boxes and loading them up?? just a thought….

              3. P.S. I think that allart is the name the app popped up when it informed me of the firewall fee for access to specified image files, but I could be wrong. The word “art” is included, I remember that much.

                It was not necessary for me to use any code language to accomplish the imbed; I copied to clipboard from the emoji app, and pasted from clipboard to this site.

                The image I imported here is visible on my iPad. I’d like to know if it is invisible to everyone else.

        1. sect?? we are far from a sect. your entitled to think anyway you wish, we instead to go with proof, facts and evidence before we make a decision instead of blind faith. my suggestion to you is to read pulseteresa’s response to you and apply some of what he said. if your in fact correct your beliefs should stand the test, correct??
          or are you in fact a science denyer who hold to the young earth creationist story??

        2. Looks like you are yet another theist who thinks that the ultimate insult to be thrown at atheism is to call it a religion :-).

          1. Yep, he is, pretty much.

            “Bible believing.
            Born again.
            Protestant,as a consequence of my understanding of Gods Word.

            From his site (

            Personally, I find AIG more… coherent.

          2. Indeed. This seems to be more and more common. The argument seems to be “Well you’re just bad as us.” A similar and frequently made criticism of atheism is “Atheists rely on faith too.” It’s as though they are acknowledging that faith is a bad reason for believing anything. I once pointed this about to a street preacher* who was arguing that me and a couple of friends I was with had just as much faith in what we believed (also known as reality). He blurted out “no,” but was clearly taken aback. He’d clearly never heard that response before.

            *He was actually with a group, all of them from the same church. They were dispersed among two corners of a major intersection, holding up signs telling the people in the cars driving by they were going to hell. More disturbing, they were yelling the same things at the cars. The craziest, and most hilarious, thing this guy yelled at the cars was “Just because you’re going to hell doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t love you!” There were also a couple of teenage girls with the two guys on the corner and they looked miserable and embarrassed. It was obvious they didn’t want to be there, but were probably forced. Sad and disgusting.

        1. Well they do have lots and lots of sects. Approximately 40,000 worldwide. I wish I had that much sects (it might kill me, but I’d die happy). 😉

    1. That was my first response, too.

      I try to choose as friends people who are intelligent, honest, open to others, and who have a sense of humor. To use a baseball metaphor (it’s the season!), Ken Ham is oh-for-four.

    2. I have to admit to a small degree of respect for AIG for maintaining their list of “Arguments creationists shouldn’t use”. They include ones like the ‘darwin-converted-on-his-deathbed’ for example.

      It does show a certain respect on their part for the value of reasoned argument – I may not agree with their arguments, but at least they’re making the attempt.

  7. I don’t believe that a god is even logically possible – not with what we currently know of the world and how it works. Gods are just silly ideas concocted to explain everything and nothing all at once. It’s trivial to come up with a defective idea which may sound good but which is not possible – just look at the vast number of perpetual energy/motion machines.

  8. For a two-second look at how utterly disingenuous AiG is, click on the link Jerry so kindly provided and see:
    “While we may not be able to scientifically prove the eternal, almighty God exists, we can see how the Bible is consistent with operational science. With the account of the Flood, we would expect to find billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth, which is exactly what we do find!”
    That was written by a young-earth creationist?
    One flood implies one layer implies one age of all the rocks, Mr. Ham – would you care to comment further on those billions of dead things buried separately in different layers?

    1. I didn’t say “different layers of different ages” because I understand that Ken and his colleagues don’t believe in isotope dating and such new-fangled science.

    2. “Operational science”, WTF is this do you suppose? The way these snake-oil salesmen play fast and loose with the language really pisses me off.

      1. My guess is it is another attempt to use an antirealist philosophy of science to shore up a pet belief. After all, it is matters like background knowledge and consilience which also rule out silliness like “flood geology” in addition to the straight up rocks. However, if one denies the merit of the background, etc. one might be able to – momentarily – convince oneself that these matters do not in fact need to be considered. Of course, an instrumentalist (operationalist) philosophy of science fails, in part because these matters are not so-easily described. The subjectivist “other ways of knowing” card which we get a lot of, is just an extreme version of this “appeal to (bad) philosophy of science”.

  9. Really, creationists shouldn’t try to play this revealing game:

    Atheists live in a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness.

    We all live a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness, as evidenced by the lack of evidence for magical meaning and purpose.

    Secularists, not only atheists, do something about it by creating relative meaning and purpose out of existing minds.

    Religious however insist in acting out the ultimate of meaninglessness and purposelessness that belief in non-existing magical agencies is.

    So who is ‘gifted’ and who is ‘damned’?

  10. I saw the one in San Francisco (not actually in the city itself) on my way home last night from seeing Richard Dawkins. After an hour of Dawkins I can say that just thinking of Ken Ham got us laughing for the few miles back to Oakland.

  11. The sign should really read, “To all our atheist friends and family and people of other “faiths”. We won’t stop trying to impose our religion into every aspect of your lives until you accept the love of Jesus. Oh and you’re going to burn in hell. We love you”

  12. In the context of the flash of Times Square, the billboard/ad looks positively quaint.

    No mention of how frequently it runs, but I would guess that’s very expensive advertising space. A lot of money for very little return.

    1. 15 seconds every 2 minutes.

      What an insane waste of time, money, electricity, carbon and oxygen.

  13. I think this billboard is great because it will help Christian doubters realize that atheism has legitimate criticisms to Christianity. If atheism was trivial and totally incorrect it would not merit such a billboard as a response. Atheism may be at a point that any publicity is better than no publicity, and this will help everyone realize that atheism is an alternative, even if it is one the billboard creators don’t agree with.

  14. This sign is a sign of real progress.
    The fact that Ken Ham and kin feel the need for this actually fills me with hope.
    I think many wavering “believers” will see this, and feel less afraid to explore reality.

    As an Australian, let me apologise for Ken again.(But please don’t deport him)

  15. It irritates me to no end when religious people assume they can define meaningfulness and purposefulness for me and my life. Such arrogance is appalling.

  16. I guess one good thing about the billboard is that atheists get some attention! The fact they put something like that up shows they recognize that atheists have some really significant numbers.

  17. When I read “…Richard Dawkins look at the same evidence and interpret it differently in light of their humanistic worldview”, all I could think was, “What? Do you mean, as opposed to inhumane-istic world view of Christians?”

  18. Ham cannot win a debate on the issues so he might as well just declare a victory. It’s what Christians do every day.

  19. “In a friendly way, we want to reach out to people in secularized parts of the country and share the hope we have in Odin. Atheists live in a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness. But the good news is that the All-father needs warriors to help fight the frost giants at the ending of the world, so He has sent His Daughters to offer those who fall on the battlefield the gift of salvation (and all the meade they can drink!).”

    Religions come and go. In a few hundred years, most people will likely talk about Yawheh or Allah in the same way we talk about Odin and Zeus today. Hopefully religion will have mostly died out in a few hundred years, but that seems optimistic. Perhaps the dominant religions will involve the worship of Ceiling Cat, Raptor Jesus, and Cthulhu. 🙂

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