An extraordinary event that few would believe before it happened. In fact, an event so extraordinary that many deny that it ever happened at all. Only twelve witnesses that were actually present to see the event. This month we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this event – humans walking on the moon.
Before the NASA moon program, the idea of people walking on the moon belonged strictly in the realm of science fiction. Jules Verne wrote his famous novel From the Earth to the Moon in 1865, and H. G. Wells his The First Men in the Moon in 1901, and the ideas of people walking on the moon were taken as seriously as other worlds below the earth’s crust, or invaders from Mars.
Today, the suggestion that the moon landings were hoaxed is one of the most popular conspiracy theories in the world, based on many different plausible clues, such as the supposed deadly consequences of passing through the Van Allen belt, the shadows and fluttering of the flag in photographs, and the clear motive of the United States to beat the Soviet Union in the race to the moon.
There are even entire proposed backstories, such as the idea that Stanley Kubrick was employed to create the video evidence on a sound stage using slowed down footage of astronauts in spacesuits.
And yet, when we look closer, these plausible clues offered by the conspiracy theorists are all able to be explained by those who believe the moon landing happened. And we, as non-experts are left with a choice … who do we trust?
A good place to start is the twelve people who actually walked on the moon. If the moon landing was faked, then these men would have needed to be in on the ruse. But it extends beyond that. There were dozens of others who were in Mission Control in Houston, or involved in the preparation, launch, and tracking of the mission, of whom at least some would have to have been in the know as well. And there has never been any person who would have been in the know who has ever suggested that the moon landing was hoaxed. None of them has ever had a pang of conscience about perpetuating a lie to the whole world. Why? Unless the moon landings were not hoaxed and they in fact have clear consciences.
There was another extraordinary event that happened, that many people say is so extraordinary that it never happened.Coincidentally there were twelve key witnesses to this event as well. This event happened almost 2000 years ago – Jesus rising from the dead after his crucifixion.
The idea of someone rising from the dead was considered just as miraculous in those days as it is today. Thomas famously said that he would not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead unless he could see and touch the wounds in Jesus hands and side.
In the centuries since then, there have been many skeptical denials of the resurrection. Some have opposed on the grounds of science, claiming that it is impossible for someone to rise from the dead. Some have suggested that early Christians deliberately perpetuated a hoax, and others that they naively believed without evidence. And so we find ourselves in a very similar position to evaluating the historicity of the moon landings. Do we trust the witnesses? Is a hoax or a legend a more plausible explanation?
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, “for what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
Similarly to the moon landings, we have twelve witnesses who had special close-up knowledge, but also a larger number of other witnesses – in the case of the resurrection, 500 – who also had first-hand knowledge of the facts. And we have the same problem with the hoax theories of the resurrection as we do with the hoax theories of the moon landings.
None of these witnesses recants, or even casts doubt on the truth of what is claimed.
Chuck Colson spent several months in prison for his part in the Watergate scandal. A scandal that was uncovered because a small inner circle of people who knew the truth of what happened could not keep their secret.
He Says, “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
This is why we can trust that the moon landings happened. And it is why we can trust that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. The alternative is a conspiracy that is humanly impossible to maintain.
As we remember the moon landings of 50 years ago, think about how the witness accounts of those events have been proven trustworthy, and also consider that the witness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection have been proven trustworthy in a similar manner. Perhaps take the opportunity to share this with a friend. You could chat with them or send them a link to this article through email or your preferred instant messaging channel.
Written by Karl Udy