The 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing was celebrated on July 20th, 2019. My father worked in the space industry in Huntsville, so it was a big event for our family. I remember we pulled the dinner chairs out from the table and parked them in front of our black and white Zenith television. The Eagle had landed in the Sea of Tranquility earlier in the day and we watched in amazement with 650 million others world-wide as Neil Armstrong came out and walked on the lunar surface followed by Buzz Aldrin. It was just one of those moments frozen in time that you remember forever.
Unless you are part of the 10% of people who believe it never happened.
SatelliteInternet.com recently polled Americans in regard to whether or not they believed the moon landing really happened and 10% of them said it was staged. What’s really fascinating though is the age distribution of the unbelieving. Only 3% of people over 54 thought the moon landing was faked, while 8% of people 35-54 fell into that category. But in the 18-34 group, a whopping 18% thought the lunar landing was a hoax. (YouGov came up with very similar numbers for this age group when it surveyed people in the UK). That’s interesting when you think about the technology and information available to them. Despite the fact that high definition images from satellites show footprints and flags on the moon, almost a fifth of this age group doesn’t believe it happened.
One explanation offered was that in previous generations hoax advocates weren’t able to get their material into the mainstream as they are today through the internet and therefore the greater percentage of doubters is simply the result of the greater exposure of arguments against the moon landing. I suppose that’s a possibility, but I think there’s a simpler explanation: the moon landing didn’t happen on their watch so it’s harder for them to think of it as real. In fact, the last moon landing was in 1972, so their lifetime has been relatively free of the heavy space exploration emphasis that characterized previous generations. For the people who lived during that time (those over 54)—there are very few unbelievers because they lived through it and know better.
All of this comes into play as we think about the Bible. There are many people who don’t believe in the events recorded in Scripture. After all, none of the things happened on their watch so for some people their sense is that none of it is real—especially if it has never been part of their lives in any way, shape or form. For disciples, we’re sometimes satisfied to merely affirm the opposite—that what is recorded in Scripture really did occur. That’s healthy and a good starting place but we don’t want to stop there. We also need to have the conviction that spending in the word will deepen and enrich our lives and greatly strengthen our faith. Finally, there is one more layer to add—when we begin to think of what is found in Scripture as our story. Though the people we read about in the Bible are distant culturally and chronologically from us, they were flawed but faithful followers of God just like us. As we take our place with these men and women who go back to the beginning of time, we become part of something much bigger than ourselves and firmly rooted in our identity as part of the ever-expanding people of God. We become part of them, they become part of us and we experience the Bible as the living, breathing word of God.
It is always there for us to explore.