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.