Thank God You’re Wrong

When in doubt, look to the heavens.  These days, your view might be blocked by a billboard from the young-earth creationist outfit Answers In Genesis.

Image Source: Answers In Genesis

From Times Square. Image Source: Answers In Genesis

If you look closely enough, you might see a clue as to why the creation/evolution debates have been so divisive for so long.

According to their press release, yesterday AIG rented billboards in high-visibility sites in New York’s Times Square and San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  Soon similar billboards will hit the skies in Los Angeles.

The billboards announce, “To All Our Atheist Friends; Thank God You’re Wrong.”

Image Source: Answers In Genesis

San Francisco. Image Source: Answers In Genesis

AIG leader Ken Ham described the choice of wording.  AIG wanted to be “cordial and engaging,” he explained.  Though these high-profile billboards were an explicit response to Christian-bashing billboards posted by atheist groups, Ham said he wanted to take the high road.

Image Source: Answers In Genesis

An Atheist Billboard. Image Source: Answers In Genesis

“We are not angry at the atheists at all,” Ham wrote.  Instead, AIG feels “burdened” by atheists’ separation from God.

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.

Many non-creationist commentators on the creation/evolution issue assume that if readers can be convinced of the scientific truths of evolution, the debate will be over.  Even the insightful philosopher Philip Kitcher seemed to fall into this trap in his book Living With Darwin.

These AIG billboards demonstrate the difficulty of the issue.  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.


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

    (John 1:1-3, Bunto Skiffler Translation)
    1 In the beginning was the Slogan, and the Slogan was with God, and the Slogan was God. 2 Buzz was with God in the beginning. 3 Through Buzzworthy all things were made; without Buzzworthy nothing was made that has been made.


  2. I do like those billboards, simply because without the explicit reference to atheism & AiG it could be ambiguous. An atheist group going for irony or Christians trying to get a message out there.

  3. Reblogged this on hitchens67 Atheism WOW!! Campaign and commented:
    Ken Ham is an ignorant hack and no amount of billboards will convince a rational person to believe the absolutely ridiculous claims of his myth book!

  4. Warren Johnson

     /  October 8, 2013

    To ILYBYGTH, I was struck by your statement: “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.”

    To this physicist, the behavior of Ken Hamm, and his minions, strikes me as plainly sinful: dishonest, harmful to children, scapegoating the innocent biology teachers, impeding the progress of medicine, etc. No way that he could be a “Christian”, in the sense I learned it.

    It has always seemed to me that evolutionary biologists could claim the moral high ground in the evolution/creation debate, but shy away from discussing moral concerns. In your experience, or in the experience of your readers, have you seen creationists taken to task for violating their own moral codes? (Which would implicitly risk the salvation of themselves and their followers. Is this an argument with any traction?

  5. Adam – I see that you have a link to Coyne’s post about the billboards – I had sent him an email with a link to your post and was glad to see that he used it.

    • Yes, made for a busier day than usual here at ILYBYGTH, thanks. I’m proud to join the ranks of those called “accommodationist” by Prof. Coyne. If I read him correctly, that includes such folks as the Templeton Foundation, BioLogos, and even the National Center for Science Education. I do indeed agree with their work, and I sharply disagree with Prof. Coyne’s assertion that such attempts to spread evolutionary science can’t work. I’m a fan of Prof. Coyne, but I think his refusal to think politically is a weakness, not a strength.

  6. Many folks, including some atheists in university biology departments, agree with your last two sentences. They understand that calling someone stupid is not a particularly good way to convince them that they should listen to the evidence supporting evolution. When BioLogos was launched, several of us were willing to work on curriculum materials that would present the data in as much of a non-threatening manner as possible. The whole project got scrapped when conservative evangelical leaders decided that not affirming an actual Adam was not acceptable.

  1. Believers strike back: an anti-atheist billboard in Times Square « Why Evolution Is True
  2. Science and Its Discontents | I Love You but You're Going to Hell

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