Apollo moon landing hoax and the ‘Face on Mars’
According to some people, denying evolution and believing biblical creation is like saying that NASA faked the Moon landings.
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
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.
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.
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.
References and notes
- Thornhill, T., New photographs released to silence conspiracy theory that Moon landings were a massive NASA hoax, dailymail.com, 8 September 2011. Return to text.
- Bates, G., That ‘face on Mars ’…, Creation 31(1):22–23, December 2008; creation.com/face-on-mars. Return to text.
- Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Orbiter Camera, Malin Space Science Systems, msss.com, accessed June 2015. Return to text.
- Hartnett, J.G., Is ‘dark matter’ the ‘unknown god’?, Creation 37(2):22–24, 2015. Return to text.
- Hartnett, J.G., Why is Dark Matter everywhere in the cosmos?, March 2015; creation.com/why-dark-matter-everywhere. Return to text.
- Hartnett, J.G., Expansion of space—a dark science, biblescienceforum.com, 13 November 2014. Return to text.
- Hartnett, J.G., Theory of everything by dark matter, biblescienceforum.com, 6 April 2015. Return to text.
- Hartnett, J.G., ‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics’, 3 December 2008; creation.com/not-astrophysics. Return to text.