Oooh look there was a scientific fraud 100 years ago.
That proves that any discovery might be faked.
The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is considered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be a divinely inspired book of equal value to the Bible. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, claimed that he was directed by an Angel to a hill near his home in which he found golden tablets containing the full text of the book. With the books he found two objects called the Urim and Thummim which he described as a pair of crystals joined in the form of a large pair of spectacles.
Unfortunately, after Smith finished his translation, he had to return the tablets to the Angel, so there is no physical evidence that they ever existed.
The book refers to a group of Jews that moved to and settled in America where Jesus visited them. Some segments of the Book of Mormon contain sections copied directly from the King James version of the Bible – the Bible that was most popular at the time and used by Joseph Smith. One example is Mark 16:15-18 which is quoted nearly word-for-word in Mormon 9:22-24.
In addition, the book mimics the literary and linguistic style of the King James Bible. Linguistic experts have stated that the entire book is written by one man, and is not written by a combination of authors (the prophets as claimed by Smith). Additionally, the book refers to animals and crops that did not exist in America until Columbus arrived: ass, bull, calf, cattle, cow, domestic goat, horse, ox, domestic sheep, sow, swine, elephants, wheat, and barley.
The most compelling proof that Joseph Smith was perpetuating a fraud is the Book of Abraham. In 1835 Smith was able to use his Urim and Thummim to translate some Egyptian scrolls that he was given access to (at that time no one could read hieroglyphics). Upon inspection, Smith declared that they contained the Book of Abraham. He promptly translated the lot and it was accepted as scripture by the church.
The scrolls vanished and everyone thought the story would end there. But it didn't - in 1966 the original scrolls were found in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The scrolls turned out to be a standard Egyptian text that was often buried with the dead. To this day the Book of Abraham is a source of discomfort for the Mormon religion.
Historical Religious Frauds
1. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
Perhaps the most infamous and malicious religious hoax in history, 'The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion' is a book supposedly revealing a secret Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. It first appeared in Russia in 1905, and though the book has been completely discredited as a forgery, it is still in print and remains widely circulated.Many people have endorsed this religious hoax, including actor Mel Gibson, Adolf Hitler, and automaker Henry Ford, who in 1920 paid to have a half-million copies of the book published.
2. The Shroud of Turin and Other Holy Relics
Though many believe that Italy's Shroud of Turin is the burial shroud of Jesus, there's compelling evidence the shroud is in fact a hoax, including a 1389 letter from French Bishop Pierre d'Arcisto Pope Clement stating that a painter confessed to creating it. Indeed, the Bishop's evidence was so convincing that even Pope Clement acknowledged it as a forgery - one of countless faked religious relics circulating at the time.
Carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin revealed it does not date back to the time of Christ but instead 14 centuries later - exactly when the forger confessed to making it. Even more damning for its authenticity, there is no record of its existence before then; if it really is the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, it seems suspicious that no one knew anything about it for 1,300 years.
Though many remain convinced of its authenticity, the historical and scientific evidence suggest the Shroud of Turin is probably a religious hoax. As researcher Joe Nickell noted in his book "Relics of the Christ" (The University Press of Kentucky, 2007),the shroud on display in Turin is only one of over 40 such Jesus shrouds - all claimed to be the real one.
3. The Cardiff Giant
When farm workers digging a well in Cardiff, N.Y., uncovered a fossilized man in 1869 they found something remarkable. The Cardiff Giant, as the figure became known, was a somewhat realistic figure with roughly human dimensions - except that it was nearly 10 feet tall. It was clearly something unique - but what exactly it was divided the public.
Some believed it was a stone carving, but who would have made it so long ago that it was buried so deep in the ground? Others, including a local reverend, were convinced it was proof of the literal truth of Biblical scripture, specifically Genesis 6:4 ("There were giants in the earth in those days" KJV). Here, finally, was one of those Biblical giants, discovered on a rural New York farm!
It was in fact a clever hoax by a man named George Hull who had planted the carved stone where it would later be found by the farm hands, partly to prove the Bible literalists wrong.
4. Indian Guru Sai Baba's Legerdemain
One of the most influential spiritual leaders in India, Satya Sai Baba died last year at the age of 84. For over five decades the charismatic guru enthralled and mystified followers by performing minor miracles, including producing holy ash, watches, statues, necklaces and rings seemingly out of thin air.
However, skeptical investigators including Basava Premanand of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations accused Sai Baba of simple magicians' tricks, and pointed out that all the objects were small and easily concealed in his hands and long-sleeved robes.
In at least one case Sai Baba was caught on film by British investigator Professor Richard Wiseman secretly pulling small objects from his person while pretending they appeared out of nowhere.
5. The Discovery of Noah's Ark
Those seeking to find archaeological and historical proof of events in the Bible have often looked for — and, some claim, even found - Noah's Ark. Though many claims of finding the ark are honest mistakes, in 1993 a man hoaxed CBS television into running a two-hour primetime special titled "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark." It featured a man named George Jammal, who claimed to have found the ark on a mountain in Turkey. As proof of his incredible claim, he proudly displayed a piece of wood from the ark; it was in fact scrap pine marinated in soy sauce, and Jammal was an actor who had never even been to Turkey.
6. The Ossuary of James, Brother of Jesus
In 2002 an antiquities dealer in Israel claimed to have discovered a limestone ossuary (used to hold bones of the dead) with an inscription in Aramaic on one side of the box identifying its (missing) contents as those of "James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus."
The find made international news because if genuine, it might provide archaeological evidence for Jesus Christ. However many archaeologists were skeptical for several reasons, including that there was no clear provenance (history) for the item and because carved rosette patterns on the other side of the box were rounded from age and decay, while the script on the disputed inscription had sharp edges suggesting it was recently added.
A chalk wash also appeared to have been added to the lettering to make it appear older than it actually was. In 2003 the Israeli Antiquities Authority published a report concluding that the inscription was a modern forgery carved on a genuinely old ossuary box.
The LifeWay Christian bookstore chain sells some of the most popular books in the genre of spiritual faith. The store, however, will no longer sell any book about contemporary people returning from heaven after a near-death experience.
Executives with the chain decided to pull from their shelves the entire category of so-called 'experiential testimonies,' such as the popular 'The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,' which was recently recalled by the publisher after the co-author recanted his story.
The bookstore has stopped ordering any similar titles from publishers and 'the remaining heaven visitation items have been removed from our stores and website and will not be replenished,' according to company spokesman Marty King.
Nashville, Tennessee-based LifeWay is among the largest faith-based bookstore chains, founded in 1891, with more than 180 locations, including two in the Tampa Bay area.
It's a significant move for any bookstore to remove an entire category of titles, but particularly so for a Christian-themed organization.
Heaven and the topic of resurrection play a vital role in Christian theology. The Bible includes St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians, saying 'if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.'
The bookstore did not take its decision lightly, King wrote in an email.
'Last summer, as we began developing LifeWay's new structure and direction ... the role of heaven visitation resources was included in our considerations,' he wrote. 'We decided these experiential testimonies about heaven would not be a part of our new direction.'
The Southern Baptist Convention last summer adopted a resolution acknowledging 'numerous books and movies purporting to explain or describe the afterlife experience' that 'cannot be corroborated.' Furthermore, many of the titles 'are not unified and contain details that are antithetical to Scripture.'
The issue, the convention found, was that 'many devout and well-meaning people allow these to become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife rather than scriptural truth.' The convention noted the Bible recounts several instances (besides Jesus) of 'persons raised from the dead' such as Jairus' daughter, the widow of Nain's son, and Lazarus, whom Scripture says Jesus raised from the dead.
With that in mind, the convention found the Bible is sufficient, 'over subjective experiential explanations' as a guide for anyone's understanding of 'the truth about heaven and hell.'
King notes that the bookstore chain was not mentioned in the convention resolution, but noted “the resolution was approved overwhelmingly and was considered during our process.”
Though the move by LifeWay was decided months ago, it only recently has started to make waves in the publishing world, and it came just days before Easter.
One book at the center of this topic is 'The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,' which made best-seller lists five years ago and helped build the popularity of heaven-visitation titles. A similar title, 'Heaven Is for Real,' has been turned into a movie.
'The Boy' title debuted as Alex Malarkey's testimonial of suffering a horrific car crash at age 6, visiting heaven, and returning to life to tell the story. More recently, his mother has sharply criticized how the story was handled.
In January, Malarkey said he made up the story and issued a statement, saying in part, 'I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. ... People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough.'
Faith-oriented Tyndale House Publishers said it would pull the title and all its ancillary products from shelves.
Rev. Roger J. Smith, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Seattle, WA, writes: "Catholics do not worship paintings, or statues. They are just a way of conveying something about God, and are not God themselves. It is quite clear to any thinking person that stone or paint cannot be God, but can only represent, or tell something about, some small aspect of God.....saints are venerated in the sense of having profound respect for them. Icons and images are venerated only in the sense that we venerate, i.e. show respect for, the person depicted."
However, some devout believers depart from the church's teaching and attribute miraculous powers to statues and other images of Jesus and the saints. Stories of statues that bleed, weep tears, exude oil, etc. surface from time to time all over the world.
How to make a weeping statue:
In his book "The Unexplained," Doctor Karl P.N. Shuker, mentions a paper by Dr. Luigi Garlaschelli from Pavia University published in Chemistry in Britain. It describes how to make a statue weep.
An except from the book is: "What is needed is a hollow statue made of a porous material such as plaster or ceramic. The icon must be glazed or painted with some sort of impermeable coating. If the statue is then filled up with a liquid (surreptitiously, through a tiny hole in the head, for example), the porous material will absorb it, but the glazing will stop it from flowing out. If the glazing, however, is imperceptibly scratched away on or around the eyes, tear-like drops will leak out, as if materialising from thin air. If the cavity behind the eyes is small enough, once all the liquid has dripped out there are virtually no traces left in the icon. When I put it to the test, this trick proved to be very satisfactory, baffling all onlookers."
God Speaks to Peter Popoff
Via Short-Wave Radio)
One of the most prominent televangelists in the 1980s was Peter Popoff, who, during his services and revivals, would call out names and home addresses of audience members he'd never met. He even knew personal details such as family members' illnesses or their deceased loved ones' names. It seemed that Popoff got his messages from God or angels, and it greatly impressed his audiences and followers.
In 1986, magician James "The Amazing" Randi heard about Popoff's amazing abilities and decided to investigate. Randi noticed an apparently minor detail that most people missed: Popoff was wearing a hearing aid or earpiece. Using a radio scanner, Randi discovered that Popoff was actually getting biographical information about audience members from his wife (who had earlier spoken to the audience) using a short-wave radio. The scandal tarnished Popoff's ministry, but he eventually recovered and remains active today.
Dumb Things Gullible People Believe
These are trying times for the church -- if you believe everything you read. According to fliers circulating through area churches in recent years, the church is under attack as never before:
The organization founded by former atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair (she's not an atheist any more, is she?) is petitioning the federal government to ban all religious broadcasting.
The head of Procter & Gamble is appearing on talk shows to admit his company's ties with the Church of Satan.
An Illinois company is making a movie about the "sex life of Christ."
These stories are shocking, outrageous -- and completely false. They are examples of hoaxes which continue to circulate in the church, even though there is no credible evidence to support them. Despite efforts by responsible church leaders to expose these stories for the lies that they are, the rumors have taken on a life of their own and refuse to die.
That FCC petition
The best-known example of this kind of hoax is the non-existent Madalyn Murray O'Hair petition to ban all religious broadcasting.
You've probably been exposed to this hoax through it's most common form: a photocopied petition, warning "Madalyn Murray O'Hair, an atheist, whose efforts successfully eliminated the use of Bible reading and prayer from all public schools fifteen years ago, has been granted a federal hearing in Washington, D.C.... The petition, R.H. 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the Gospel on the air waves of America.... Madalyn is also campaigning to remove all Christmas programs, Christmas songs and Christmas carols from public schools."
The often-photocopied form says that one million signed petitions are needed, and that "This should defeat Mrs. O'Hair and show that there are many Christians alive and well and concerned in our country." Readers are urged to sign and mail an attached form to the FCC, and to make 10 copies of the flier to give to friends and relatives.
The hoax has generated enough response that -- at least at one point -- the FCC had "religious petition" as one of the options you could select with your touch-tone phone when calling the agency's consumer switchboard. That triggers a recorded message declaring that the "rumors are absolutely false." The agency has received more than 30 million pieces of mail on the subject, and has worked to advise the public that the rumor is not true.
FCC spokesperson Maureen Peratino says that despite repeated efforts to kill the rumor, it remains alive and well. "It holds steady," she says. "We receive a couple million pieces of mail each year. We don't see any let up in the phone calls either. Our consumer assistance office handles anywhere from 200 to 300 phone calls a month on this."
Not only isn't there a petition to ban religious broadcasting, but no such petition would have a chance of succeeding, says Peratino. "Under the First Amendment the Commission does not involve itself in the programming content of radio and television stations ... there's nothing under the First Amendment or in the Communications Act that would allow the Commission to ban any particular type of programming."
Procter and Gamble
The third of the "big three" rumors making the rounds in Christendom involves Procter and Gamble. In this rumor, the president of the company is falsely alleged to have appeared on Phil Donahue's talk show and admitted that his company gives its profits to the Church of Satan, and that its familiar "moon and stars" logo is a satanic symbol. Variations have had the president of McDonald's appearing on "The Tonight Show," and Liz Claiborne appearing on "Oprah" to make similar admissions about their corporate ties to satanism.
In reality, the president of Procter and Gamble has never appeared on any talk show to discuss satanism. (Donahue once tried to get him to appear to debunk the rumor, but the company determined that being able to say he had never been on was more convincing.) The company has successfully filed lawsuits over the years against a number of people who were intentionally spreading this rumor -- some of whom were multi-level marketing businesspeople selling products which compete with Procter and Gamble brands.
The company has an information kit it distributes to media which includes a letter from Donahue confirming that the rumor is false, and letters from a number of religious leaders, including Jerry Falwell and an executive with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Hoaxes, hoaxes everywhere
The "big three" hoaxes account for most of the pointless mail and phone calls in the Christian community, but there are many other examples of "things we know that just aren't so" circulating:
NASA scientists are reported to have been puzzled while calculating the historical orbits of the planets because of a "missing day." In this legend their dilemma was resolved when a Christian member of the team showed them passages in the Bible where God stopped the sun. The stoppages, we're told, exactly equal led the unaccounted for "missing time" that had stumped the scientists. This rumor persists despite NASA's denials, and despite the scientific impossibility of a "missing day" -- a finding that would presuppose a precisely known starting point for the universe.
The Christian version of the "Vanishing Hitchhiker" story has a person, often a pastor, stopping to pick up a hitchhiker, who delivers a prophetic warning (often of Christ's imminent return), then vanishes. The "hitchhiker" is often assumed to be an angel or Jesus Christ. This story recently turned up in Australia and New Zealand.
Amsterdam and Brussels are popular locations for a rumored super computer that the anti-Christ will use to usher in his one world government. The computer, said to be nicknamed "The Beast" by its operators, will contain information about every person on earth. Some versions of the story have "666" as the code command that activates the computer's plan for world domination.
Another legend with a "666" component has a retired pastor or missionary going to the social security office to get a check for a missed payment. In this rumor, the director of the office provides a check with the number "666" in the lower left corner, then hurriedly takes it back, explaining that a mistake has been made that those checks aren't to be distributed yet.
Scientists in the Soviet Union are alleged to have drilled a hole straight to Hell. In this story, scientists on an oil drilling platform in the North Sea drilling the deepest hole ever stopped when they heard human screams of anguish and smelled sulphur, leading them to conclude that they had drilled right into Hell. This supermarket tabloid story was once reported as truth by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). A bogus English-language translation of a non-existent Norwegian newspaper account of the incident was sent to TBN as a hoax by someone who wanted to see if the network would bother to check its sources; TBN didn't check.
The "satanist on the plane" story was popular more than a decade ago. In this story, which was presented as truth in various cities across the nation, a Christian is flying home from a conference, and notices that their seat-mate is refusing supper. The Christian asks if the person is sick, and is told that they're fasting. With a little more questioning, the person volunteers that they're a member of the church of Satan and are fasting and praying against three churches in that Christian's home town that are giving them particular trouble. Which churches these are varies depending on who's telling the story.
Christian urban legends
Six of the Christian urban legends exposed as false by the Institute for Creation Research in their Science, Scripture and Salvation radio program on 1999-APR-17:
Charles Darwin's deathbed conversion
Charles Darwin confesses evolution is a hoax
The missing day of Joshua:
Janet Reno critical of Christians
Earthquakes are increasing
Vultures multiply in the valley of Armageddon
This message, which is currently circulating rapidly via social media websites, causing outrage and indignation as it travels, claims that Facebook is about to launch a 'No Religion' campaign. According to the message, come 20th March 2014, Facebook will be implementing a campaign designed to stop people from spreading their religious beliefs on the network.
Supposedly, users who break these new 'no religion' posting 'laws' will have their accounts locked pending further investigation. The message, which circulates in image format, suggests that the campaign is in response to pressure from advertisers and groups who are petitioning for a more logical and adult social network. It further adds that users who continue to circulate 'religious propaganda' will have their accounts permanently banned.
But, the message is just a silly hoax with nary a grain of truth. Facebook is certainly not going to launch any sort of 'no religion' campaign. In fact, the message is nothing more than an alternative version of an earlier message that claimed that Facebook was set to launch a 'no swearing' campaign on the same date in March. The format and presentation of both hoaxes is identical as is much of the wording. Of course, the claims about a 'no swearing' campaign are also nonsense.
And, there are several other equally silly variants of the same 'Facebook Campaign' (or 'Campain') hoax, including one supposedly warning of a 'No Marijuana' policy.
All of these 'campaign' messages are nonsense and should not be taken seriously. And, for the record, if Facebook were to launch a change in its posting policies, it certainly would not do so via a poorly rendered viral picture message.
Think Before You Jump
Bob Passantino of Answers in Action offered several tips for identifying false legends. "Use extra caution if the story fits any of the following characteristics," he warned.
There's no evidence to back it up. "Sometimes there is no evidence because of the very nature of the story," he says. "That doesn't mean such a story can't be true; it just means that it's not a story that can be considered trustworthy research. At most it's an illustration or example."
It's so detailed or bizarre that we can't believe someone could make it up.
Its strongest commendation is that it ought to be true. "Be careful that you are not persuaded to believe a particular story simply because you wish it to be true," Passantino concludes. "This can be a strong temptation, but don't give in to it. God won't excuse us for supporting made up stories because they serve a useful purpose."
The Mother of all Urban Legends:
Focus on the Family, a Fundamentalist Christian agency, posted an humorous essay about Urban Legends on their CitizenLink web site. 1They described the following as "a montage of several of the urban myths currently floating around cyberspace. This anonymous email is being passed around under the heading, 'It Must be True, I Saw it on the Internet.' "
I was on my way to the post office to pick up my case of free M&M's (sent to me because I forwarded an e-mail to five other people, celebrating the fact that the year 2000 is "MM" in Roman numerals), when I ran into a friend whose neighbor, a young man, was home recovering from having been served a rat in his bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (which is predictable, since as everyone knows, there's no actual chicken in Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is why the government made them change their name to KFC).
Anyway, one day this guy went to sleep and when he awoke he was in his bathtub and it was full of ice and he was sore all over and when he got out of the tub he realized that HIS KIDNEY HAD BEEN STOLEN. He saw a note on his mirror that said "Call 911!" but he was afraid to use his phone because it was connected to his computer, and there was a virus on his computer that would destroy his hard drive if he opened an e-mail entitled "Join the crew!"
He knew it wasn't a hoax because he himself was a computer programmer who was working on software to prevent a global disaster in which all the computers get together and distribute the $250.00 Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe under the leadership of Bill Gates. (It's true - I read it all last week in a mass e-mail from BILL GATES HIMSELF, who was also promising me a free Disney World vacation and $5,000 if I would forward the e-mail to everyone I know.)
The poor man then tried to call 911 from a pay phone to report his missing kidneys, but a voice on the line first asked him to press #90, which unwittingly gave the bandit full access to the phone line at the guy's expense. Then reaching into the coin-return slot he got jabbed with an HIV-infected needle around which was wrapped a note that said, "Welcome to the world of AIDS."
Luckily he was only a few blocks from the hospital - the one where that little boy who is dying of cancer is, the one whose last wish is for everyone in the world to send him an e-mail and the American Cancer Society has agreed to pay him a nickel for every e-mail he receives. I sent him two e-mails and one of them was a bunch of x's and o's in the shape of an angel (if you get it and forward it to more than 10 people, you will have good luck but for only 10 people you will only have OK luck and if you send it to fewer than 10 people you will have BAD LUCK FOR SEVEN YEARS).
So anyway the poor guy tried to drive himself to the hospital, but on the way he noticed another car driving without its lights on. To be helpful, he flashed his lights at him and was promptly shot as part of a gang initiation.
Send THIS to all the friends who send you their mail and you will receive 4 green M&Ms -- if you don't, the owner of Proctor and Gamble will report you to his Satanist friends and you will have more bad luck: you will get sick from the Sodium Laureth Sulfate in your shampoo, your spouse will develop a skin rash from using the antiperspirant which clogs the pores under your arms, and the U.S. government will put a tax on your e-mails forever.
I know this is all true 'cause I read it on the Internet.