Did We Really Land on the Moon?

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Many people remember watching on TV the remarkable events of July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Or did they? Not according to those who believe in the moon landing conspiracy. According to this theory, men never walked on the moon—NASA faked the Apollo moon landings. Reasons for this conspiracy vary, from the alleged impossibility of traveling to the moon to cost overruns and technological difficulties that made it impossible to realize President John Kennedy’s challenge to safely land men on the moon and return them to Earth before the decade of the 1960s ended.

Why all the interest in moon landing conspiracies? These conspiracy theories arose almost immediately after the Apollo program came to a close late in 1972. Even at the height of the Apollo program, the United States was rocked by dissension over the Vietnam War, but then came Watergate. These two events seriously undermined confidence and trust in the US government. Prior to the Vietnam War and Watergate, Americans overwhelmingly believed that their government told the truth, but afterward, most Americans seemed to think that the government lied about so many things, so the moon landings could have just been one more thing that the government lied about.

The 1978 release of the movie Capricorn One didn’t help. The movie was a thriller about NASA faking the first Mars landing. Unfortunately, the spacecraft depicted in the film was identical to the Apollo spacecraft that astronauts used to go to the moon. Furthermore, large letters at the top of promotional posters for Capricorn One asked the question, “Would you be shocked to find out that the greatest moment of our recent history may not have happened at all?” People who saw Capricorn One years ago apparently have forgotten major details of the movie, because many of them seem to recall that it was about faking the manned lunar landings, not a fictional account of faking the first manned Mars landing.

Over the years, a number of books about the supposed hoax of the Apollo moon landings have proliferated. The climax of these activities may have been the 2001 broadcast of the Fox television network documentary, Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? These books and this documentary film present all sorts of evidence in support of the conspiracy theory. Many of these are easy to refute. For instance, one argument supposedly is that the shadows cast by things on the moon go in more than one direction. The moon ought to have had one light source, the sun, which would produce shadows in only one direction. But a film set often has more than one light source, producing shadows going in more than one direction. However, the supposed evidence of more than one light source results from improperly drawing the directions of shadows on the photos. There have been numerous attempts to debunk these sorts of arguments, albeit with little success, because the moon landing conspiracy theory continues to gain followers.

Why is there such interest in the supposed hoax of the Apollo moon landing?

Why is there such interest in the supposed hoax of the Apollo moon landing? As previously mentioned, part of the reason is a basic mistrust of government authorities. But conspiracies seem to have an odd attraction for many people, for many other conspiracy theories abound. People appear naturally to be attracted to conspiracies. Conspiracies certainly are far more interesting than the possibility that things are as they seem.

The Apollo moon landing theory has gained some traction among Christians too. Since so many scientists are wrong about the origin and age of the world, it may be that many Christians assume that the same scientists are wrong about landing on the moon too. Sometimes it seems that scientists want to stamp out any dissent on certain issues, such as evolution. This heavy-handed approach can look a bit conspiratorial, so Christians may be justified in being at least a bit skeptical about many things. How should we respond? It is tempting to give a detailed rebuttal of many of the claims made by those who support the idea that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax. However, that has been done many times already.

There is a much more straightforward approach. Two of the twelve men who walked on the moon later were born again Christians, Charlie Duke, and the late Jim Irwin. Both of these dedicated Christians wrote books in which they shared their testimonies and their experiences as astronauts. To doubt the Apollo moon landings amounts to accusing two Christian brothers of lying about the biggest thing that ever happened to them, of course apart from their salvation. The biblical standard for establishing such a matter is two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:15–17; 2 Corinthians 13:1). These two Christian astronauts certainly suffice as reliable witnesses, so we can be assured that the Apollo astronauts indeed walked on the moon.

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