I remember sitting at my television the evening of July 20, 1979. I was 20 years of age. From 240,000 miles away I saw live footage of Neil Armstrong become the first man to step on the moon and say the famous words: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The movie, “First Man” retells the story of the historic event of Apollo 11.
As incredible as the moon landing was, something that has been overlooked is the expression of Christian faith by the second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin. He was an elder in a Houston Presbyterian church who broke bread and sipped wine in his own private communion service. Aldrin read from Psalm 8: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth, who has displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!…When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained. What is man that Thou didst take thought of him” (vs. 1, 3). Buzz Aldrin also read from John 15 about Jesus being the “true vine.” So, from the surface of the moon God was acknowledged and the first words read were those from Jesus and the Bible.
The public acknowledgement of God has been continually proclaimed through the course of America’s space program. Let’s take a step back to the year 1962 when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. He said, “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God, is to me impossible.”
Now to the ill-fated flight of Apollo 13. Jerry Woodfall, a NASA warning systems engineer, stated that without divine intervention the crew would not have been able to overcome the obstacles necessary to safely return to earth. He said, “An unrehearsed script seemed to be guiding the drama” even down to a roll of duct tape left on the spacecraft.
James Irwin was the eighth person to walk on the moon on Apollo 15. He was conducting an experiment that was not going well and prayed, “God, I need your help right now.” He not only found the solution, but reportedly felt the presence of God unlike anything on earth. As he traveled the world after the moon mission he told people that “Jesus walking on the earth is more important than men walking on the moon.”
Something necessary as a prerequisite to the moon landing was the first manned lunar orbit. Just like the moon landing I vividly recall seeing this on television. It was Christmas eve of 1968. With the passing of the lunar surface beneath and the earth in the background, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, William Anders, and Jim Lovell, took turns reading from Genesis 1:1-10, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…” What an inspiring moment that was! From the video below it looked just like it is described in Job 26:7. “He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing.”