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The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati

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Apollo moon landing hoax and the ‘Face on Mars’

Published: 25 August 2015 (GMT+10)


According to some people, denying evolution and believing biblical creation is like saying that NASA faked the Moon landings.

Conspiracy theorists claimed that the ‘Face on Mars’ was an enormous mountain-sized artificial structure carved by aliens.

That’s how I sometimes hear people speak of my biblical creation worldview on origins. However, to say that 6-day biblical creation, also known as Young Earth Creation, has any correspondence to the moon-landing-hoax theory, by any measure is beyond all reason.

NASA did land astronauts in the moon in 1969, and after that. That is a historical fact. The conspiracy theory claims that it was all faked in a Hollywood film studio. This hoax had developed to such a point that NASA used its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to take new photographs in 2011 from an altitude of 50 km (31 miles) of the surface of the moon that clearly show astronaut footprints, the lunar rover tracks and spacecraft scorch marks.1


Figure 1. Four images from NASA clearly showing the surface of the moon with astronaut footprints, rover tracks, and scorch marks from the spacecraft used. Source: Ref.1

The fact of the moon landing is a historical question for which there is strong supporting evidence. To add to this is the testimony of probably a hundred thousand people involved in the Apollo missions. To cover that up would take a deception of gigantic proportions.

A visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

In 1998 I visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena (California) and spoke with the engineers of the space program. The head of the space program at that time addressed the group of scientists I was with, and she specifically mentioned the lunar landings, and the hoax claims, and in particular the ‘Face on Mars’ conspiracy that proposed a big cover-up at NASA.


Figure 2. So called ‘Face on Mars’ on the plain of Cydonia. Left, 1976 Viking image and, right, 2001 MGS image.3

Conspiracy theorists claimed that the ‘Face on Mars’ was an enormous mountain-sized artificial structure carved (by aliens) into the form of a face on the surface of Mars, in the region called Cydonia.2 The Viking spacecraft captured an image in 1976 that looked like a face (see left image Fig. 2). The program director explained to us that, because of the conspiracy theory, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft was given a specific mission by NASA to scan the Cydonian landforms in detail. It revealed no such artificial structure (see right image Fig. 2).3 Detailed images including a stereo image are available here.

There you have it. One hoax theory that man never walked on the moon put to bed with high resolution images of the lunar surface, and another, the ‘Face on Mars’ NASA cover-up conspiracy also resolved by high resolution images, this time of the surface of Mars.

These evidences are circumstantial because the first resolves a historical argument that man did not land on the moon and the second resolves also a historical argument that some alien race built a civilization on Mars leaving a mountain-sized face for mankind to see. Of course, we cannot go back into the past and re-live the moon landings. Hence the evidences are circumstantial, meaning they are not direct eyewitness accounts of past events: man setting foot on the lunar surface or some alien race constructing the face-shaped mountain on Mars. In fact, humans have not even landed on Mars yet, but have only sent robot landers there, which have found no evidence of past alien life, or any type of life, even bacterial, for that matter. But doubts may linger. Nevertheless, these high-resolution survey images, in both cases, provide very strong evidence refuting these hoax claims.

Spot the hoax!

These hoaxes, however, bear no resemblance to one doubting the flimsy historical/circumstantial evidence in support of Darwinian goo-to-you evolution over billions of years of Earth history or to one doubting the even flimsier historical/ circumstantial evidence in support of a big bang origin of this universe. Anyone drawing a correspondence demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the evidence against (or the lack of evidence for) the alleged origin of the universe from nothing in a big bang 13.8 billion years ago, the assumed naturalistic formation of stars and galaxies, the alleged formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago, the spontaneous origin of life on this planet 3.8 billion years ago, the alleged subsequent biological evolution adding billions of bits of specified complex code to all genomes as multiple organisms supposedly evolved on this planet culminating with the arrival of man some hundreds of thousands of years ago. Any claimed similarity is perverse.

The biblical creation worldview has a solid basis in historical science. Scientism, the belief that science can answer all questions of life and the universe, even origins questions, has corrupted that biblical worldview by removing the Creator from His own creation. There are those in the Christian church, misguided as they are, who say that the big bang is allegorically described in the Genesis account of creation. And there are those who claim that the texts of Scripture are consistent with evolution of all life on Earth. This situation resulted when Christians yielded the biblical worldview to atheistic scientism. Scientism attempts to explain the creation without its Creator.

The creation worldview results from logical reasoning minds looking at the evidence.

Even though the biblical creation worldview may not have all the answers, it does not require the invention of ‘unknowns’ or ‘gods of the gaps’ to fill in where the science goes haywire.4 In cosmology these ‘unknowns’ come in the forms of dark matter,5 dark energy, cosmic inflation, even the expansion of space itself,6 none of which has any basis in hard experimental facts.7 These are all make-believe made up to save the false paradigm from being discarded because the alternative (creation) is unthinkable.8 Talk about a hoax!

Many famous scientists (Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Copernicus, Faraday, Maxwell, etc) have held strong beliefs in the 6-day biblical creationist worldview. I personally know a JPL physicist, involved with the Cassini satellite mission to Saturn who is a 6-day biblical creationist. The creation worldview results from logical reasoning minds looking at the evidence around them. The Creation itself speaks of being created—the design arguments are many. To hold to such beliefs has no correspondence with conspiracy theories like the moon-landing hoax or the ‘Face on Mars’ ancient civilization and NASA cover-up.

Landing on the moon involved operational science and engineering. The evidence supports the reasonable historical event of the moon landings. The ‘Face on Mars’ never existed, it was only a trick of light due to poor resolution images, but operational science resolved the issue by better high resolution photographs.

The age of things?

The origin of the universe, the solar system, Earth, and life on it all fall into the realm of historical science, because all of these events are one-off past events, and none of the events are repeatable. The question of the age of the universe, Earth, or life on this planet, cannot be answered by science alone.

How can you determine the accuracy of any dating method without a prior knowledge of the true age of something? You can’t, and that is why these questions fall into the realm of historical science and are subject to the bias and worldview of the investigators.

How can the so-called moon-landing hoax fall into the same class as biblical creation? To say so is deliberately to use derogatory language. Biblical creationists understand and use the scientific method but they also recognize its limitations, especially when dealing with the unobserved past and only circumstantial evidence.

There is only One who was there in the beginning and He has given us His story—history, the written testament of an eyewitness account. When the interpretation of circumstantial evidence contradicts that account, it should be discarded. The atheist however will add all types of auxiliary hypotheses to maintain his own story; he must reject the account by the Creator else the atheist will have to obey the Creator’s moral laws, which He plainly laid out in His written Word.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Thornhill, T., New photographs released to silence conspiracy theory that Moon landings were a massive NASA hoax,, 8 September 2011. Return to text.
  2. Bates, G., That ‘face on Mars ’…, Creation 31(1):22–23, December 2008; Return to text.
  3. Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Orbiter Camera, Malin Space Science Systems,, accessed June 2015. Return to text.
  4. Hartnett, J.G., Is ‘dark matter’ the ‘unknown god’?, Creation 37(2):22–24, 2015. Return to text.
  5. Hartnett, J.G., Why is Dark Matter everywhere in the cosmos?, March 2015; Return to text.
  6. Hartnett, J.G., Expansion of space—a dark science,, 13 November 2014. Return to text.
  7. Hartnett, J.G., Theory of everything by dark matter,, 6 April 2015. Return to text.
  8. Hartnett, J.G., ‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics’, 3 December 2008; Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Terry W., Canada, 30 August 2015

Due to the Earth's magnetic field being off-center, there is a South Atlantic Anomaly (labeled "SAA" on the maps you can see on NASA TV) just east of Brazil, where the inner Van Allen Belt dips low enough for the ISS to enter it. They avoid having astronauts outside on spacewalks while the station is passing through it.

Gary H., United States, 27 August 2015

Here a NASA scientist admits we need to understand the Van Allen belts before sending man thru them twice, once leaving and again returning.

It happens at about minute 3 into it. No conspiracy theorist involved here.

John Hartnett responds

The fact that the radiation in the Van Allen belts could be a problem for astronauts has never been denied. For that reason the International Space Station has a low earth orbit but also radiation was a concern during the Apollo missions and the astronauts wore dosimeters to monitor their dosage.

On the video you referenced, the engineer's meaning is not that astronauts were never sent through the Van Allen belts before, but that they are using a new spacecraft and they are going to send it up first loaded with sensors (no human occupants) which will be able to measure the radiation levels on passing through the Van Allen belts. No time is it stated that Apollo spacecraft, or any others, never passed through the Van Allen belts.

The comments on the video are so typical of the conspiracy theorists. Conclusions are drawn from what isn't said rather than what is said.

Besides if the radiation is so lethal as suggested by the conspiracy theorists how did ground zero survivors survive the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear blasts? Do you suggest they were not nuclear bombs and hence had no radiation?

As of March 31, 2015, there were 183,519 "explosion-affected people" alive, mostly in Japan, who were exposed to the radiation because they were within 2 km of the blast centres within two weeks of the bombings. Of these only 1% had developed illness due to radiation. That does not count the many more who were exposed and died sometime in the past.

Terry W., Canada, 26 August 2015

There are plenty of faces in space, the one on the near side of the Moon being "oldest". UFOlogists and pareidolia fans (who don't associate them with aliens) have collections.

As for that hoax, Walt Disney must have been in on it too (just kidding): Link to an image of Mickey Mouse formed by caters on the moon.

John Hartnett responds

I like your last point: the image of Mickey Mouse formed by craters. Sometimes it does not take so much imagination, but it does not mean some sentient alien from Zeta Reticuli built the face-shaped mountain on Mars, when, in fact, it does not even look like a face when more closely examined.

Russell M., United States, 26 August 2015

I agree that we did land on the Moon and left equipment and footprints there. I keep hearing about the impossibility of the astronauts surviving the Van Allen Belt on their way to the Moon. What are the facts concerning the Van Allen Belt?

John Hartnett responds

Van Allen Radiation belts absorb the energy of the fast moving particles from the sun. They are actually a design feature and help protect the earth environment from these particles. Here is a good summary about them including a nice graphic showing their location. Astronauts leaving the earth environment spend little time in these belts and would minimize exposure.

The principle danger of the Van Allen belts is high-energy protons, which are not that difficult to shield against. And the Apollo navigators plotted a course through the thinnest parts of the belts and arranged for the spacecraft to pass through them quickly, limiting the exposure. But each astronaut wore a personal dosimeter. The accumulated dose for each astronaut was regularly reported to Mission Control over the radio.

Regarding that issue:

"The recent Fox TV show, which I saw, is an ingenious and entertaining assemblage of nonsense. The claim that radiation exposure during the Apollo missions would have been fatal to the astronauts is only one example of such nonsense." -- Dr. James Van Allen quoted here. That link goes into much more detail.

On the moon and while travelling between the earth and the moon I believe solar flares are a far more dangerous issue for astronauts. On January 20, 2005 a major solar flare hit the moon. If astronauts had been there then they would have been exposed and would have experienced radiation sickness. That solar storm was very significant. More here. But that is a NASA website and the conspiracy theorists will just say it is a cover-up.

Gerald D., Canada, 25 August 2015

When having conversations with fellow Christians who don't prescribe to the Young Earth Creation, I find it important to remember that even I don't know everything. However, on occasion I am able to have the 'wisdom v knowledge v foolishness' conversation with them. A central part of this conversation is 1 Corinthians 3:19.

It was interesting to read an article a couple days ago where they talked about an orchard owner who seemed to suggest natural selection. Part of the writing seemed to suggest he believed in a much younger earth (than evolutionists today do), but still not in God. In my modern position in his-story I've taken for granted that there may be those who believe in God and old earth, but there are few (if any) who don't believe in God and a Young Earth. It should be noted that I don't believe either group has seriously considered their worldview. However, the first group I find is quite resolved they don't have an issue. I've not found someone in the second group.

The most important point of my comment is that we must remember that many people of this world are misled (by hoaxes inc. scientism). If we honestly examine ourselves we must admit that even we are limited in our perspective. By examining scriptures together, and apart, I believe we are able to better understand and live in the world we are placed in. We must remained resolved to the truths we know (1 Corinthians 2:2). Then we must try to be a light to those in the world who are misled. However, don't be surprised if you encounter someone who is also resolved in their position. Many times their tactics are unfair (such as comparing YEC with hoaxes), but they are misled, and they will only be persuaded with truth and light.

That is one reason I find such a good site.

Gary H., United States, 25 August 2015

Man did NOT fly through the Van Allen Belts TWICE, once going to and a second time coming back from the moon. Neil Armstrong REPEATEDLY refused to place his hand on the holy Bible and swear to God that he actually walked on the moon. He was indeed a God fearing man. I 100% believe in the literal 6 days of creation, but I know man did not walk on the moon.

John Hartnett responds

I am sorry I disagree with you. You cannot know for sure that humans have not walked on the moon. Don't forget that this is historical science, and we have no access to directly observe a past event, so we can only look for evidence consistent with those past landings on the moon, and it is there in abundance. In fact, you only believe that humans didn't because you take authority from some other guy who has told you. And you believe that so-called hoax against many observational facts, which include images of footprints, blast patterns and stuff left behind from lunar missions.

Regarding the Van Allen Radiation belts see my response to Russell M. And regarding walking on the moon see my response to jeremy S.

Bill I., Canada, 25 August 2015

I listen to KARI radio here in the west. Hank Hanegraaf comes on around 3 pm local time. I was quite disappointed that he who calls himself the Bible answer man told a caller that there was too much evidence of earth being 4.5 billion years old. The caller kept asking Hank why did God let so many people suffer for so long without intervening. It seemed as if Hank had a hard time explaining this from the Bible.

It's disappointing that someone who wants to give answers from the Bible gets it so wrong especially from this starting point. I like Hank but find that he tends to over answer and really uses language that is hard to understand.

John Hartnett responds

Hank had a hard time explaining it from a biblical perspective because the biblical worldview is a complete disconnect from big bang/evolution. See The big bang is not a Reason to Believe! and Cosmic storytelling.

michael S., United Kingdom, 25 August 2015

I think we can go further than this, still. When we think of the miraculous level of intelligent design in nature, this is actually a factual claim we can actually evaluate.

Evolutionists claim an appearance-of-design but logical rules show that if something only appears to be something IT ISN'T, then on some level it must fail to be what it appears to be.

For example, a waxwork human appears to be human but logically it is actually not possible for it TO ALSO BE human, and still remain something that only appears to be human, as that would break the law of non-contradiction.

In the same way, the construction of an eyeball is not up for debate. The design of an eyeball is not by appearance, otherwise like the waxwork, it would not have all of the elements of design, just as the waxwork wouldn't have all the elements of a human such as DNA, even though it APPEARS to be human.

So then an eyeball has every element of I.D. Those elements are Specified-complexity and function, information(DNA code), contingency-planning, aesthetics and symmetry, directed-energy, Irreducible complexity, congruency to the whole (ultimate goal = sight), use of natural materials for artificiality.

The case for intelligent design is a sound deductive syllogism that can't be broken, and here it is:

-If you have every element that makes something intelligently designed then it is designed. (Law of Identity; X is X)

- Life has all the elements of design (even hyper-design, biomimetics proves that!)

- Therefore life is designed.

(If X then Y

P is X, ergo Y)

So then biological evolution can be dismissed, as life IS intelligently designed and evolution has no intelligence. (a contradiction in terms)

jeremy S., United Kingdom, 25 August 2015

Yes, the moon landing was a hoax, as the late William Cooper took pains to prove. And even Stanley Kubrick was in on the scam. Amazing that people reduce such exposures using the frayed old term 'conspiracy theories'. Seems to me that Revelation's 'old Serpent' didn't begin and end with evolution to deceive the world.

John Hartnett responds

William Cooper's arguments of why man could not have gone to the moon are contrary to known physics. He speaks of the problem of the astronauts suits not being able to keep them cool enough on the moon because their space suit air-conditioning system could not work there. But their suits equalised cold side and hot side of their bodies. The moon has no atmosphere and as a result there is no convection and no gases to absorb the radiated energy from the ground. Hence the shadow side and the sun side of anything will have an enormous temperature difference. Cooper has forgotten all about radiative heat transfer. On the moon on the shadow side that amounts to about -150 C, though on the sun side about 130 C. I would think the astronauts would need to use heaters rather than air-conditioners.

The Mythbusters took on many of the alleged 'proofs' of the alleged hoaxed moon landings. See Mythbusters Moon Landing Hoax 1 for example.

As I mentioned NASA pointed the HST at the lunar landing landing sites because of these claims. To say that those footprints are fake you have to involve a lot of people in the cover-up. The astronauts left optical reflectors on the moon which Earth-based labs bounce laser beams off and measure the distance to the moon with exquisite precision and accuracy. If they did NOT place them there, who did? More conspiracy cover-ups. It never ends. The absence of evidence becomes evidence for the conspiracy itself.

I agree that Revelation's 'old Serpent' didn't begin and end with evolution to deceive the world. He has sold the world many lies but this is not one of them. The biggest one of them was to get people to deny their Creator and to believe they can determine truth themselves apart from God.

Sara Cecilia G., Sweden, 25 August 2015


(Reminds me of:) Young children puzzled with world maps and even of babies studying fine layering and erosion.

However, a new and at times rather tedious children’s play have arisen: the studying of presumed evolutionary as well as cosmological materialistic forces.

After a dry month young students toss up dust in the air to watch it following the breeze. But no, they never get it dancing.

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