Apollo 11 astronauts looked to God
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2019 - 12:00am

David Szondy (New Atlas, July 19, 2019) in his internet message, wrote: “Fifty years ago, two men first set foot upon the surface of the Moon. That’s a very simple sentence to write, but getting to grips with what is almost certainly one of the top five events in the whole of human history – perhaps even for life on Earth – is not so easy. The Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969 has become an integral part of our history, our folklore, and even our popular culture, but it’s still hard for those who didn’t witness it live to appreciate what a pivotal, world-changing thing the conquest of the moon was. Even that momentous phrase said by Neil Armstrong has, over the past half century, become a cliché, a catch phrase, and even a punchline. On its 50th anniversary, let’s relive this momentous event.”

The world focused its attention on Apollo 11’s landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. The event was monumentally world-changing; Mission Commander Neil A. Armstrong said upon stepping down the ladder of the Saturn V rocket, “This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Those who don’t know it, the moon, according to Wikipedia, is “neither a planet nor a star. It is Earth’s natural satellite which was formed 4.5 billion years ago.”

Apollo 11 began its journey on July 16, 1969 at 13:32 GMT as the two spacecraft and their crew of three NASA astronauts lifted off on the fiery tail of a skyscraper-sized Saturn V rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Strapped in their couches inside the Command Module were Mission Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin Jr. All were veteran astronauts with one flight under their belts, though their choice as crew for Apollo 11 was due strictly to NASA’s complicated astronaut rotation system.

About one million people were present to see the launch in person, including US Vice President Spiro Agnew, former US President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird Johnson, chief of staff of the United States Army General William Westmoreland, members of the US cabinet, 19 state governors, 40 mayors, 60 ambassadors, 200 congressmen, and 3,500 reporters from around the world.

According to NASA’s official press materials for the mission, the mission’s prime objective was very simple. It was to “perform a manned lunar landing and return… Indeed that was the objective, but those seven words covered a lot more. Apollo 11 was the final push in a bloodless battle of the Cold War, a decades long competition between the United States and its allies versus the Soviet Union for dominance of the Earth.”

 After Apollo 11, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent six more flights to the Moon: Apollo missions 12 through 17. Only Apollo 13, according to NASA, failed to make a lunar landing when an accident en route to the moon forced the crew to abandon the mission and return to Earth after reaching lunar orbit. The last flight, Apollo 17, occurred in December 1972. In the six spaceflights, 12  men walked on the moon.

Of great interest to me and many others is that the astronauts, walking on the satellite hundreds of thousands of miles above us, expressed wonder and their strong belief in God, creator of the moon, the heavens the earth, and humanity.

Our belief is justified by an article by Paul Strand in Breaking Christian News  (internet), “Let there Be Light’: How God Kept appearing Over and Over during America’s Missions to the Moon.”

CBN News, according to Breaking Christian News, declared, “On July 20, 1969, man first touched the surface of another world when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Though conquering space certainly marked a triumph for science and mankind, God kept coming up in conversations on these missions to the moon.” 

According to Strand: As Apollo 11 headed back to earth, Aldrin said to a listening world, “This has been far more than three men on a mission to the moon. Personally, and reflecting on the events of the past several days, a verse from Psalms comes to mind: ‘When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers and the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou are mindful of him?”

Historian William Federer, author of the daily online history lesson Americanminute.com, wrote of the Apollo 11 moonwalkers:

“Before they got out of the lunar module, they had a moment of silence and Buzz Aldrin celebrates communion,” Federer said of that day. “He pours the grape juice in one-sixth gravity and it does a slow little circle. He reads John 15: “I am the vine. You are the branches.’ And he takes bread that was partly consumed at the communion service before the launch… he saved a piece of the bread. And he celebrated communion. So the first items that were consumed on the moon was communion.”

As early as Apollo 8, there was negative reaction to astronauts reading from the Bible. According to Federer, the world “didn’t hear it because a famous atheist had given NASA grief over Apollo 8 astronauts’ publicly reading from the Bible.

This atheist asks “for radio silence because Madalyn Murray O’Hair had threatened to sue because the Apollo 8 mentioned God and his quiet communion. They read from the Book of Genesis.”

Lunar Module Pilot William Anders began their Christmas Eve, 1968 broadcast saying, “The crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you: In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth. And the earth was without form and voice and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, ’Let there be light.’ And there was light.’”

Nine months later, when an accident occurred on board Apollo 13 that might have doomed its three astronauts to die in space, much of the planet turned to God, wrote Federer.

Federer said of that week, “President Nixon calls the nation to pray. And they have a prayer in the Chicago Board of Trade, in the Vatican, and the Wailing Wall… all around the world.”

Their prayers were answered and after many trials, the crew of Apollo 13 was saved. President Nixon met with the astronauts in Honolulu, Hawaii, and said of them, “The exploration of space has been a hazardous adventure. The voyage of Apollo 13 dramatized its risks. The men of Apollo 13 by their poise and skill under the most intense pressure, epitomized the character that accepts danger and surmounts it.”

“President Nixon has a national day of thanksgiving to celebrate this,” Federer explained. “And the cover of Time Magazine is the astronauts praying and it was put on all kinds of memorabilia that the whole nation prayed.”

One of the last Apollo flights featured Mission Controls’ Charles Duke getting to walk on the moon. He spoke of it later. 

“Charles Duke is a great Christian,” Federer noted. “He’s an astronaut and he says, ‘I used to think that . . .’– paraphrasing here –’ …going to the moon would be my greatest achievement. But my walk with Jesus is more memorable because it’s an everyday affair.’”

“Just as fascinating faith that Charles Duke had,” Federer continued. “Plus all the astronauts: Jim Irwin – Apollo 15 –  became an evangelical minister. And Apollo 14 left a microfilm copy of the King James Bible on the moon.”

“It’s interesting to note how many of those men who flew far into the heavens couldn’t get the God of Heaven out of their thoughts,” declares Breaking Christian News.

* * *

Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

APOLLO 11 ASTRONAUTS
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