2005-08-17 22:31:47 UTC
"We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the
power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:16).
What is an urban legend? Urban legends are stories that sound good, but have
no basis in fact. They are rumors that keep getting passed on to others, but
are not true.
This is such a common problem that people have created a Spoof of Urban
Legends and a List to Post Beside Your Computer.
Sadly, Christians seem to be especially gullible when it comes to urban
legends. We believe an email because it is sent to us by a friend or because
we want to believe it since it confirms our world view or because we are
just too lazy to check it out. Unfortunately when we pass around falsehoods,
we violate the command against bearing false witness and we make it harder
for people to believe that our most important message (about Jesus) is true.
Christian internet users are urged to examine themselves for symptoms of the
UL Virus. Symptoms include the following:
a.. The willingness to believe improbable stories without thinking.
b.. The uncontrollable urge to forward multiple copies of such stories to
c.. A lack of desire to take 3 minutes to check to see if a story is true.
Email is a powerful tool, but its ability to quickly, widely and cheaply
spread false information is a danger. "Let every matter be established," the
Bible says. As stewards of the truth for the rest of the world, Christians
need to be careful in their use of the forward button.
The following are some common Christian urban legends . . .
Christian Myths & Urban Legends
a.. Urban Legend: "The Beast," a supercomputer in Belgium, is Being Used
to Track Every Human Being on Earth.
Truth: There is no "The Beast" computer. The story of the Beast Computer
of Belgium is the work of fiction writer Joe Musser. He says he created it
for a novel he wrote titled "Behold the Pale Horse" and for a screenplay for
a film for evangelist David Wilkerson. He never intended for it to be
viewed or circulated as fact.
b.. UL: Soviet Scientists Drilled into Hell. Scientists conducting deep
hole drilling experiments in Siberia break through the earth's crust at more
than 14 kilometers. They find it unusually hot at that depth (2,000 degrees
F). As a part of trying to listen to movement in the earth's crust, they
drop a microphone into the drilled hole and are horrified when they realize
they are hearing the voices of millions of people crying out in torment.
Terrified, they decide to abandon the project.
Truth: The original story of the deep hole drilling in Siberia came from
tabloid newspapers in the early 1990's. For more details see Drilling to
c.. UL: Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the noted atheist, has proposed that the
Federal Communications Commission ban all religious broadcasting.
Truth: The FCC says, "Since 1975 to the present time, the FCC has received
and responded to millions of inquires about these rumors." In 1985, the FCC
averaged 100,000 letters per month protesting this non-existent petition.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair has never submitted any such petition and has been
missing and presumed dead since 1995. The FCC cannot prevent or inhibit the
broadcasting of religious programs. For more detail see Religious
Broadcasting Rumor Denied.
d.. UL: The CDC reports HIV-tainted needles in movie theaters, MacDonald's
ball pits, and in coin returns of phone booths.
Truth: There are many different variations of this legend. In spite of the
stories the CDC web site says: "...no foundation in fact....CDC is not aware
of any cases where HIV has been transmitted by a needle-stick injury outside
a health care setting. For more details see Frequently Repeated Rumors About
e.. UL: Darwin repudiated evolution and accepted Jesus before he died.
Truth: This story appears in an evangelistic tract. It would be nice if it
were true, but there is no verified evidence that Darwin rejected his ideas
before his death. His friends and family deny it. For more on this story see
Darwin Became a Christian and Renounced Evolution.
f.. UL: NASA scientists have discovered the missing day of Joshua's time.
Truth: This story has been circulating in its NASA version at least since
the 1960s. NASA denies that this ever occurred. The story goes back to a
book by Charles Totten entitled "Joshua's Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz: A
Scientific Vindication" (1890). Harold Hill told his version in "How to Live
Like a King's Kid" (1974). Hill, the former president of the Curtis Engine
Company of Baltimore, was involved in diesel engine operations at Goddard,
but had no involvement with any computer operations. For more detail see Has
NASA discovered Joshua's Lost Day?
g.. UL: The Procter and Gamble logo is Satanic.
Truth: The real origin of the P&G symbol goes back to the 1800s when P&G
was shipping candles down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Crate makers who
would build the shipping crates right on the spot invented their own marks
that they would carve or burn into the crate they had just built. There was
some confusion about which crates held P&G candles, so a contest was held
and the man-in-the-moon-with-stars symbol used by one crate maker was chosen
as the winner. P&G was forced to change the symbol in the 1980s due to the
persistence of this urban legend. For more details see Does Procter & Gamble
have Satanic ties?
h.. UL: The Christian Church during the Middle Ages promoted the idea that
the earth was flat.
Truth: Statements by Christians about the earth being flat were actually
refuted by the early church fathers. During the Middle Ages there was a
continuing battle between the defenders of ignorance and the enlightened
science, but the church never weighed in on the side of a flat earth.
Through antiquity and up to the time of Columbus, "nearly unanimous
scholarly opinion pronounced the earth spherical." In fact, not only did the
church not promote the flat Earth, it is clear from such passages as Isaiah
40:22 that the Bible implies the earth is spherical. For more detail on the
origins of this charge against Christians see Who invented the flat earth?
i.. UL: CBS is being forced to take "Touched by an Angel" off the air,
because they talk about God too much.
Truth: The petition that is named in the legend (RM-2493) was considered
by the FCC in 1974 and rejected in 1975. Long before "Touched by an Angel"
was ever on the air. For more details see Religious Broadcasting Rumor
j.. UL: Halloween was a Satanic holiday.
Truth: Halloween does have some roots in a pagan (not Satanic) harvest
festival. But the name of the holiday, pumpkins, and Trick-or-Treat come
from good origins! For more details see The History of Halloween.
k.. UL: Mike Warnke was the head of a satanic coven before becoming a
Mike Warnke's ministry and public profile are based upon the story he
tells of his previous involvement with Satanism. As written in The Satan
Seller, the story goes like this: a young orphan boy raised in foster homes
drifted from whatever family and friends he had to join a secret,
all-powerful satanic cult. First, he descended into the hell of drug
addiction. Then he ascended in the satanic ranks to the position of high
priest, with fifteen hundred followers in three cities. He had unlimited
wealth and power at his disposal, provided by members of Satanism's highest
echelon, the illuminati. And then he converted to Christ. A generation of
Christians learned its basic concepts of Satanism and the occult from Mike
Warnke's testimony in The Satan Seller.
Truth: A 1992 article in Cornerstone magazine provided documentation and
eyewitness testimony that contradicts the claims Mike has made about
himself. Much of this testimony is by close associates and friends of Mike.
The article also exposed Mike's multiple marriages and divorces as a
Christian. For more detail see Cornerstone: The Mike Warnke series. Mike
later admitted "I am guilty of some embellishing of the story," although he
stands by his previous testimony of some satanic involvement. An
accountability board from his church was organized and has provided
oversight of Mike and Susan Warnke and their ministry since 1993. Mike's web
site has more information.
Unfortunately Mike Warnke's "embellishments" are just one example of a
long line of people who use falsehood and religion for profit (2 Corinthians
2:17). For an example of the taste that this leaves in an unbeliever's mouth
l.. UL: An English fisherman was swallowed by a whale, hence proving the
story of Jonah.
Truth: This story has been researched very thoroughly by many people and
there is no evidence to support that it ever happened. Most damaging is a
letter written by the wife of the captain of the 'Star of the East,' Mrs
John Killam. The contents of her letter were published in 1907 in 'The
Expository Times' by a reader who had corresponded with Mrs Killam about the
whale story. She said: "There is not one word of truth to the whale story. I
was with my husband all the years he was in the Star of the East. There was
never a man lost overboard while my husband was in her. The sailor has told
a great sea yarn."
Despite this, the story has been repeated by a number of conservative
Christian writers, including Bernard Ramm, Harry Rimmer and the creationist
Henry Morris; and also in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary on Jonah and
the IVP Bible Dictionary. See A Whale of a Tale for more details.
The historical reality of Jonah doesn't need to be based on a myth. It
should be based on the truthfulness of the Son of God. Jesus said, "For as
Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the
Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth"
(Matthew 12:40). Jesus believed that Jonah was historical fact.
Incidentally Jonah was swallowed by a "great fish," not a whale (Jonah
1:17). Whales are extremely rare in the Mediterranean Sea. The fish was
probably a whale shark which is very common in the Mediterranean and has so
large a throat, that it can swallow a living man whole. There is documented
evidence of one of these sharks being captured and an entire horse was found
inside. Of course, "natural explanations" should only be taken so far. The
whole point of what happened to Jonah is that it was a miracle by God.
a.. UL: The candy cane was made by a Christian Indiana confectioner.
Truth: See page called The Candy Cane.