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Neat stories of events that
never happened

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Christian Urban Legends are stories of events that never happened. They are generally created by a Christian as a fictional account because they give concrete support to their beliefs.

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Topics included in this essay:

bullet Overview of secular urban legends
bullet Overview of Christian Urban Legends (CULs)
bullet How CULs are created
bullet Why are CULs created and spread

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Overview of urban legends in general:

The term "urban legend" has been used to refer to a type of fictional rumor. These legends often have many of the following characteristics:

bullet the story is truly remarkable, convincing and startling.
bullet it is described as a real event.
bullet in reality, it never happened.
bullet the person telling the legend does not know the individuals involved, but might say that they know a person who knows them.
bullet the story often includes some detailed information about the circumstances or individuals involved in order to increase the legend's credibility.
bullet the legend can spread rapidly and cover much of North America within days.
bullet the story often resurfaces periodically.

Some common urban legends have described:

bullet Alligators in the New York City sewer system. They were allegedly bought as pets when they were very small and flushed down toilets when they grew too large. They allegedly grew to full size in the sewers.
bullet A U.S. couple, while on vacation in Mexico bought what was described as a Mexican hairless puppy. They smuggled it back into the country. When it became ill, they took it to a veterinarian, and were surprised to hear that it was not a dog; it was a sewer rat.
bullet Satanists kidnap about 50,000 infants and children per year, ritually abuse them, kill them, and sometimes eat them.

All are startling, many sound believable, but none ever happened.

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Overview of Christian urban legends:

"Christian urban legends" (CUL) is a term used by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) on their "Science, Scripture & Salvation" radio program for 1999-APR-17. 1 More details. They use it to refer to those urban legends which have a Christian theme. CULs are similar to ordinary urban legends:

bullet the stories are unsubstantiated.
bullet they do not come from authoritative sources.
bullet they describe events that never happened.
bullet etc.

But they have one unique property: they tend to support some biblical passage or theme. 

There are many themes and stories in the Bible for which no hard evidence has ever been found:

bullet If millions of Israelites lived in Egypt for centuries, one would expect some evidence of their occupation to have been preserved in Egyptian writings.
bullet If the Israelites camped for three decades in one spot, as described in the Book of Exodus, one would expect that archaeologists might have found evidence of their sojourn.
bullet Other Christians might expect that there should be some evidence in the archaeological record of Abraham, Moses, Joshua and other major Bible personalities mentioned in Genesis.
bullet If Noah's ark landed on a mountain within a small mountain range there should be some hard evidence of its remains; after all, it was the size of two football fields.
bullet If Heaven is "up there" then there should be some astronomical evidence of its existence.
bullet If Hell is just under the earth, as described in the Hebrew Scriptures, then deep holes drilled into the earth's crust should have produced some evidence of its existence.
bullet If dinosaurs and humans were created in one week circa 4004 BCE, then one might expect some evidence in the fossil record of men and dinosaurs coexisting.

ICR is concerned that sincere, well-meaning Christians may use CULs to prove the accuracy of certain biblical passages and thus "win people to Christ." The danger is that when the new Christian finds that the story was false, they might conclude that other information that they had received was also unreliable. This might destroy their new-found faith.

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How Christian CULs are created:

Some are created by backward reasoning, as follows:

bullet One starts with the belief, held by almost all Conservative Christians, in the absolute truth -- the inerrancy -- of the Bible, when interpreted literally.
bullet There are many Bible stories that involve miracles, or at least require the reader to discount the findings of science. Examples are:
bullet The sun appearing to stop in the sky;
bullet Noah's Ark floating for a year in spite of the fact that it would take dozens of people continuously pumping out the bilge water to keep it afloat.
bullet Hell being located deep below the Earth's crust.
bullet Since God created the first humans and all species of animals in a few days, dinosaurs and humans must have co-existed on Earth.
bullet Devout conservative Christians believe that these events happened. Thus, there must be some evidence today that will prove their existence. Examples are:
bullet There would be a one-day discontinuity in time, back in the 15th century BCE.
bullet There must be some physical remains of Noah's Ark still existing today.
bullet A hole drilled downwards into the earth would reach Hell.
bullet Fossilized dinosaurs and human footprints should exist together.
bullet A conservative Christian then creates a fictional story that contains hard evidence that these events happened.
bullet NASA scientists write a computer program that finds a time discontinuity.
bullet Some remains from Noah's Ark are found in Mount Ararat in Turkey.
bullet Scientists drill a deep hole into the earth and hear people screaming in agony.
bullet Fossilized human footprints are found which intersect dinosaur footprints.
bullet The story spreads quickly and widely because it meshes neatly with people's beliefs and offers proof that the Bible is true.
bullet The story is finally exposed as a hoax. Some find their faith weakened when they discover that a Christian has engaged in a hoax and has intentionally deceived people. Doubt in the inerrancy of the Bible increases.

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Why are CULs created and spread?

Those on the ICR program discussed whether these CULs may be really spread by non-believers in order to discredit Christianity. They decided that it was a possibility. But they felt that it is more likely that it is mainly Christians who latch onto unsubstantiated, romantic ideas from the past, and spread the "evidence" by word of mouth.

It is understandable how some Christians might want to fabricate pious frauds in order to convince others of the reliability of the Bible accounts. A single piece of hard evidence would go a long way towards convincing skeptics of the literal truth of the Bible. The "Well to Hell" story alone allegedly convinced 2,000 people to be saved. It is the case of the ends justifying the means.

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  1. "Urban Legends," Science Scripture and Salvation radio program, 1999-APR-17. Available via RealAudio at:  

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Copyright 1999 to 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Creation date: 1999-APR-5
Last update: 2004-OCT-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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