For as far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated with space. When I was a young boy I dreamed of one day becoming an astronaut. Then I learned how much math was involved. Now I’m a pastor.
As an adult, I still remain captivated by the mysteries of the cosmos. Let me come across a book or documentary about space exploration, quantum entanglement or time dilation, and I will totally “geek out.” I wear my nerd badge proudly.
My love for science isn’t something distinct from my love for God and his word. The beauty of creation and the wonders of the universe often overwhelm me with joy and fuel my admiration and love for God. I resonate deeply with King David when he writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 (ESV). The universe is amazing, and I love to study it while having the privilege of intimately knowing the God who created it all.
So then, it should come as no surprise that I love just about everything from NASA’s Apollo program and the Moon landings that took place between 1969 and 1972. I grew up in the 80s learning everything I could about the Apollo missions. I hoped that during my lifetime I’d see people go there again and perhaps even beyond, a hope I still have. This past Christmas a good friend of mine gave me a Lego model of a Saturn V rocket as a gift. I may or may not have squealed like a teenage girl when I opened it.
I grew up assuming that everyone accepted the Moon landings as fact. It wasn’t until college that I encountered my first “Moon landing hoaxer.” At first I didn’t know what to make of it, and was even somewhat curious. For a brief time I wondered, “Have I been duped?”
But any doubts I had didn’t last long. A quick evening perusing through several of the Moon landing conspiracy websites left me laughing. All of the supposed “evidences” that were being put forward, trying to prove that the Moon landings were faked could all be easily disproven. Whatever thoughts I had entertained about the Moon landings being a hoax faded quickly.
Shortly thereafter I ended up in a chat room on the subject, and that’s when things became clearer. Going into the discussions I thought that if I rationally and clearly presented facts supporting the Moon landings, then the doubts people had would simply melt away. Boy was I wrong!
What I found instead was not really a quest for truth about the Moon landings, but people already convinced that 1). It was faked, and 2). Nothing I could say would change their minds. Any bit of evidence, no matter how convincing, no matter how plenteous, objective, clear, or scientifically provable, simply didn’t matter. I began to realize, for many, this really wasn’t about whether or not man went to the Moon, but about feeling “awakened” to some kind of secret truth about a global conspiracy. All those believing the Moon landings to be a hoax demanded evidence, but would accept none, because whether or not man actually landed on the Moon wasn’t the issue.
Over time as I grew in my faith and got more involved in church ministry, I began to notice that, while not pervasive, there were even many Christians who questioned the Moon landings. The reasons varied from person to person. For some, it was simply that they didn’t fully understand how it all worked, and a simple explanation was enough to convince them. Others, though, fell strongly into the “global conspiracy” category.
Over time, talking with other Christians who think the Moon landings were faked has raised questions in my mind about how Christians discern and believe what is true, how they evaluate the world around them and whether or not they should be concerned with conspiracy theories. I won’t address all of those subjects here now. But with the approaching 50th anniversary of the first Apollo landing, and seeming revival of conspiracy theories surrounding it I think there’s a question worth asking. Does it matter that Christians really believe men walked on the Moon?
I think the answer to this question is yes! By this I don’t mean that it is a gospel issue. But what I do mean is that there is a Biblical way to approach the subject. If one applies Scriptural principles in his or her reasoning and understanding of the world, then it should actually make sense to believe that the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon between 1969 and 1972. Here are three reasons why I believe this.
1. The Evidence is Overwhelming
The amount of evidence supporting the Moon landings is beyond enormous. It goes well past a few YouTube clips and photos. There are literally thousands upon thousands of hours of video footage from every aspect and stage of the Apollo program. There are millions of documents, calculations, records, specs, drawings, tests, etc. For every question of “Why did the flag wave like that?” or theory about the letter “N” being written on a rock, there’s an Everest-sized mountain of factual evidence that provides an easy explanation if one is willing to accept it.
Christians are to love what is true and hate what is false. This applies first and foremost in the Bible to what is true about God, but also applies to all of life.
“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.”Leviticus 19:11 (ESV)
Christians, in everything, are to believe what is true. This applies even to something like the Moon landings. A Christian cannot let his or her presuppositions about conspiracies be the trump card when overwhelming facts about the Moon landings are presented.
Two very compelling facts for those who might think the Moon landings were faked are,
- The technology needed fake the footage of the Moon landing didn’t exist in 1969. Among many aspects of the videos taken from the moon that would have been impossible to fake in 1969, one that stands out is the gravity. There’s a reason why in space movies you might commonly see “zero-gravity” portrayed, but not “low gravity.” Those in the film industry have commented in interviews that it’s difficult and expensive to do “low gravity.” Even big-budget movies like The Martian didn’t really try to portray the lower gravity on Mars as Mark Watney moved around the planet. The technology to represent the one-sixth gravity of the Moon on television, for hundreds of hours, before millions of viewers simply wasn’t possible in 1969. This, among many other reasons, is clear evidence that the footage is genuine.
- Science experiments left on the moon are still being used today. On Apollos 11, 14 and 15 the astronauts left special mirrors on the surface of the Moon so that scientists back on earth could point lasers at them and make various measurements. When a researcher on Earth aims the laser at one of the correct mirror spots on the Moon and fires it, the signal travels at the speed of light, bounces off the mirror and returns to earth where it’s intercepted, precisely according to the interval it should take the photons of light to travel the 488,800 mile round trip. This experiment would be impossible if the mirrors had not been placed on the Moon exactly where the Apollo astronauts left them. Scientists still use these mirrors today to conduct research.
2. Even the U.S.S.R. Acknowledged it
Apart from the mountains of evidence, there’s also the practical realities of what was going on during the time of the Apollo landings. It was the height of the Cold War. The space race was in full throttle (pun intended). So if the Apollo 11 landing was faked, it would make sense that the first people to cry foul would have been the Soviets. The various propaganda entities of the U.S.S.R. could have easily called it’s greatest enemy’s “bluff.” Yet, even to America’s foe and fiercest competitor, the evidence was clear. The success of Apollo 11 and the subsequent lunar missions was real, and the Soviet Union acknowledged it.
3. Many Christians Worked on the Apollo Program
It is a serious thing to accuse another believer of lying. There were an estimated 400,000 people involved in the Apollo program over the years, and in that group there were undoubtedly a number of Christian brothers and sisters. Over the years some have talked and written about their experiences and can attest to the fact that the Moon landings were indeed real.
In this group of believers are three men who actually walked on the Moon. Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), and Jim Irwin (Apollo 15). All three men are Christians, and all testify to the fact that they really walked on the Moon. Charlie Duke actually became a believer six years after his mission on Apollo 16, and shared his story of coming to Christ with the Billy Graham Association in an article published in 2015.
For a Christian who questions the reality of the Moon landings, this evidence should be the strongest. Are all these fellow believers lying? To accuse them of such is not something to be taken lightly.
“And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”Deuteronomy 5:20 (ESV)
The evidence and reasons I’ve presented here likely won’t change the mind of the convinced skeptic. That’s not my aim. My goal is, though, to show that clear, consistent, Biblical thinking can even be applied to something like how one views the Moon landings.
As we come to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, I would encourage you to enjoy and celebrate the grace of God that granted man the knowledge to explore his creation. Be thankful that in his common grace, many technologies that were developed during the Apollo program have gone on to provide various practical and even life-saving benefits for people today. But most of all, if you take a few moments to watch some of the historic footage, marvel at the beauty of it all. Be amazed with what Buzz Aldrin called the “magnificent desolation,” and be thankful to the God who created it all for his glory.