Bibles Placed on the Moon by Apollo Astronauts
Not widely shared in Apollo news is that the astronauts wanted to take a Bible to the moon – and succeeded.
In addition to the leading lights of God-fearing scientists mentioned in yesterday’s post, there have unquestionably been many, many others who worked quietly and productively in their contributions to science and engineering that culminated in Apollo. To those could be added others who, while perhaps not overtly Christians or creationists, recognized the value of the Bible. These include the Apollo 8 crew members who read from Genesis from lunar orbit on December 24, 1968 (see 10 December 2018).
The Apollo Prayer League
Live Science wrote last year about a microfilm Bible that was up for auction last year. There was an “Apollo Prayer League” (APL) that had plans to take these to the moon:
Along with the microform King James Bible, which is mounted and framed in a gold-and-enamel setting, the auction lot includes two certificates of authenticity. One document was signed by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, verifying that the Bible made a lunar landing; the other was signed by the Rev. John M. Stout, a NASA information scientist and the director of the Apollo Prayer League (APL), which organized the moon visits of this and other lunar Bibles.
According to the Apollo Prayer League website, some 40,000 NASA employees became involved in the project to take Bibles to the moon and preserve those that remained. “Founded in 1968 by NASA Scientist and Chaplain Rev. John Stout, an ordained Presbyterian Pastor, at the Houston Manned Spacecraft Center,” their “overreaching mission was to pray for the safety of the astronauts and the skill of NASA employees who built the rockets they would fly” and “most importantly—to land a Bible on the moon.” Rev. Stout (see his photo at LunarBible.com) was known as a chaplain to the Apollo astronauts, but NASA wanted to keep his Christian ministry activity, including the Lunar Bible project, below the radar. Consequently, few have heard about this amazing story.
Ed White, to whom Rev. Stout had ministered, desired to take a Bible to the moon, but he died in the Apollo 1 fire. Stout resolved to get a Bible to the moon in Ed White’s name. He founded the Apollo Prayer League in 1968 after Apollo 7. Three hundred of these small microfilm Bibles were carried on Apollo 14 after failed efforts to take them on Apollo 12 and 13, the article says. A hundred were carried to the surface on the Lunar Module; the others were kept in the Command Module in orbit. Of the hundred that reached the moon aboard Apollo 14, only a few that remain intact have a certificate of authenticity and serial number; those are rare and valuable. One is housed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.
Irwin’s partner Dave Scott left one on the dashboard of the Lunar Rover during Apollo 15, so we know that the moon has at least one copy of the entire Bible on its surface today. Within it are the shepherd boy David’s memorable words—”When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
Fifty years after Apollo 11, it’s time to make this story more widely known. The Apollo astronauts and many on the ground support teams wanted to get the Bible to the moon. What does that signify? God’s Word, the foundation of western civilization, mattered to many people in the space program!
One caution: the LunarBible.com website, while it contains valuable historical information about the project, endorses the unbiblical cult of Freemasonry, to which Apollo 14 astronaut Ed Mitchell belonged. Other than that, the site appears careful to clear up misconceptions and document the story of what happened to get the Bible to the moon. The APL website appears doctrinally sound.