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

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.

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 an 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 massive 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

Figure 2. So called ‘Face on Mars’ on the plain of Cydonia. Left, 1976 Viking image and, right, 2001 MGS image. Ref. 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 eye-witness 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.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, the earth, or life is 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 eye-witness 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.


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


27 August 2015: I have received several comments on this article on creation.com site where some dispute that humans could survive both travel through the Van Allen Radiation belts and in the lunar surface, due to several websites claiming it would be impossible. here I repeat some of my responses.

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 all part of the cover-up.

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 are designed to equalise the cold side and the 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 the temperature is about -150° C, though on the sun side it is 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 above 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 angled optical reflectors on the moon, which Earth-based labs use to 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.

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 person (or website) who has told you. And you believe that so-called hoax (if you do) against many observational facts, which include images of footprints, blast patterns and stuff left behind from lunar missions.

‘Dark photons’: another cosmic fudge factor

First it was dark matter,1 then came dark energy,2 followed by dark fluid,3 dark flow,4 and dark radiation5; and now a new entity is suggested for the dark sector of particle physics—dark photons. The dark sector is full of hypothetical entities designed to save the big bang story but it is really just a lot of cosmic storytelling.6

Previously I have argued that dark matter is a sort of ‘god of the gaps’, the ‘unknown god’,7  in astrophysics. It is an unknown invoked to explain the inexplicable,8 which, if you follow the chain of logic, is required to maintain a belief in the big bang paradigm. Its existence is only inferred from the application of known physics to certain observations in the universe.Without assuming the existence of some exotic unknown dark matter comprising about 25% of the matter/energy content of the universe10 the standard big bang model would have to be discarded as a total failure.

Dark matter has never been observed in space or in any laboratory experiment.

Colliding galaxies

Now a new observation of four colliding galaxies in the Abell 3827 cluster apparently may shed new light on the conundrum.11 See the four galaxies in the centre of the figure here.

Abell 3827

Figure: Approximately real-colour image from the Hubble Space Telescope, of galaxy cluster Abell 3827. The galaxy cluster is made of hundreds of yellowish galaxies. At its core, four giant galaxies are smashing into each other. As the topmost of the four galaxies fell in, it is proposed that it left its dark matter trailing behind, separated from the normal matter. You can’t see the dark matter in this picture because it is ‘dark’; meaning invisible. But its position is allegedly revealed by the gravitational lensing of an unrelated spiral galaxy behind the cluster, whose distorted image is seen as a blue arc, around the group of four central galaxies. Credit: Dr. Richard Massey (Durham University) image. Ref. 12.

Continue reading

The big bang is pagan philosophy

Is the big bang evolution story of the Universe really science? And is the big bang a valid starting point to argue that science supports the biblical narrative history from the Genesis account and elsewhere? Can we consider a big bang creation in our apologetics?

BB evolution

Foundations for our apologetics

In apologetics1 we are engaged in a spiritual war, which we fight on a daily basis. We win some battles, we lose some, but we know that the war will eventually be won by God. He has told us that fact. Often however our comrades in arms, i.e. other Christians, may themselves not clearly see the enemy’s tactics. That does not mean they cannot see the enemy but may be they are too close in battle to see the whole war.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6 (KJV)

Sometimes we must criticise what our friends have said in an effort to prevent the enemy from developing a breach in the wall of truth and eventually destroying the foundations. In this case our friends are our fellow Christians who have gotten off the track by absorbing too much of the pagan culture in which they live. Continue reading

Life on Earth 2.0—Really?

Discovery of Kepler-452b

The news media is currently full of the news of the discovery of Kepler-452b, the planet that is supposed to be Earth’s twin.1,2 It was discovered using the satellite-borne telescope, Kepler, where the exoplanet was found to be at a distance of about 1400 light-years. It has a mass about five times that of Earth and diameter about 60% larger, hence a gravity nearly double that of Earth. It has a year3 about 20 days longer than Earth. That makes it the most similar planet to Earth yet and it is located in the habitable zone around its parent star, which is a G-class star, the same class as our sun.

You see pictures (e.g. Figure 1 here) of a planet with oceans and land masses and some even with green vegetation drawn in. But none of these are actual images of the planet. It is too far away for such a thing, even with man’s best telescopes.

Figure 1. Artist conception of the planet Kepler-452b. Clouds, continents and oceans are included, for which there is no evidence. Credit: NASA

Figure 1. Artist conception of the planet Kepler-452b. Clouds, continents and oceans are included, for which there is no evidence. Credit: NASA

Why all the hype? Well, it is the hope of life being found elsewhere. The way it goes is: find an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone, called the Goldilocks zone—not too hot, not too cold, but just right—the distance from the parent star where water is in its liquid form—detect the presence of water in its atmosphere and that gives you a good chance of finding life.4 Continue reading

Starlight and time: Is it a brick wall for biblical creation?

Notes of a lecture on starlight and time. Do they present an insurmountable problem for biblical creationists? The lecture was given August 1st, 2015. See Age and Reason Seminar Adelaide for details.

Here is the problem. The universe is truly vast in size, in fact, tens of billions of light-years in size.  One light-year is about 10 trillion kms. It is the distance light travels in one year. By taking a literal history from Genesis chapters 5 and 11 you can calculate that the universe is only about 6000 years old. If so, how does starlight get to earth from a distance greater than 6000 light-years? Shouldn’t we only be able to see to a distance of 6000 light-years in the universe?

Is this a brick wall? Does it mean the bible must be wrong? Distances are billions of light-years. Surely that must mean light took billions of years to travel here from the distant cosmos? How do you explain that?

Ok, lets first look at some simple maths.

Distance = Speed x Time

So if you drive your car a distance of 100 kms and travel at 50 km/hr it will take you 2 hours.  10 billion light-years represents a distance in the Universe to some of the most distant galaxies like those pictured here in what is called the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field 2014. Continue reading

Development of an “old” universe in science

Notes of a lecture on the historical philosophical development of the notion that the universe is very old. Lecture was given August 1st 2015. See Age and Reason Seminar Adelaide for details.

Bishop James Ussher was the Irish Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland. He excelled in education, was fluent in Arabic and Hebrew. In 1654, after an exhaustive investigation, he published his date for the Creation of the Universe – 4004 B.C..When Ussher published this Creation date it was believed. There was nothing remarkable about that. If you add up the genealogies in the Bible, and with a bit of historical knowledge, you can easily get a time since the beginning of the world of around 6000 years. It was believed that God created the world as He said in Scripture about 4000 years before Christ. For roughly 18 centuries of the Christian era such a time period was widely believed.

In the 17th century Sir Francis Bacon developed the ideas of the modern scientific method – scientific empiricism—where one developed a thesis and did experiments to test it. Bacon has been called the ‘father of the scientific method.’

Middle ages onAnd it was from the Middle Ages science was nurtured in the Christian universities of Europe and flourished after that, from the Reformation on, underpinned by the rich Christian worldview that held that the Universe was created by a rational trustworthy God, and the unchanging laws of nature are His creation. Continue reading

Life in the Universe is the ultimate miracle

Life in the universe is rare, so rare in fact, I would wager that sentient life is only found on planet Earth. For nearly 50 years the collection of telescopes and scientists under the umbrella name of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) have searched among the wavelengths of a myriad stars in search of a radio signal, any signal, from intelligent life. But have they detected any? Apart from detecting the odd microwave oven in their own establishment,1 no is the answer.

This artist’s concept depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our sun. Picture: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle Source: Supplied

Earth 2.0: An artist’s conception depicting of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our sun. Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

In 2013 Space.com headlines with “Alien Life May Be Rare Across the Universe2 but on July 23, 2015 NASA announced the discovery of Earth 2.0 with a headline on Space.com of “NASA Finds Closest Earth Twin Yet in Haul of 500 Alien Planets.”3

It is all over the news with a host of pictures of Earth 2.0. But wait, they are only artists’ conceptions.” One such drawing is reproduced here.

The report is that NASA found a near twin to Earth named Kepler-452b. It orbits its sun every 385 days, is 60 per cent larger in diameter than Earth, has a mass probably 5 times that of Earth and is located about 1,400 light years away. It’s a big deal! But why? Continue reading