astronomy Creation/evolution Science

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 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 their Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) 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 (corner cubes) 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.

Recommended Viewing

Video: How Do We Actually Know We Landed on the Moon?

By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.

5 replies on “Apollo moon landing hoax and the ‘Face on Mars’”

Thanks for this. I always have been unsure about the whole moon landing thing. The hoax side always seems to make a compelling case. With this i dont need to wonder anymore. Case closed. 🙂

Liked by 1 person

If the radiation from the Van Allen belts is so lethal, as suggested by the conspiracy theorists, how did ground zero survivors survive the nuclear radiation of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear blasts? It is similar in type and was extremely intense. Do they suggest those bombs were not nuclear and hence had no radiation?

As of March 31, 2015, there were 183,519 Hibakusha “explosion-affected people” alive, mostly in Japan, who were exposed to the radiation because they were within 2 km of the blast centres within two weeks of the bombings. Of these only 1% had developed illness due to radiation. That does not count the many more who were exposed and died in the post-war period but a long time after exposure.


In case there is any misunderstanding I was agreeing with your article. Anyway, no one ever talks about what you just said so I never considered it.


Dr. Hartnett, you are good at clarifying the complex esoteric conundrums we are surrounded by today. You wrote: “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.”

From conversations I have had, as well as from my reading and watching, I would venture to say that possibly 90% of the American population does not understand the difference between “fact and reality” that can be established via experimentation and empirical evidence when placed in contrast to scenarios recreated via an individual’s or a group’s “historical” reconstruction. When an “educated authority” speaks or writes, the vast majority of the public-educated, uninitiated listeners (including Christians) simply swallows, and regurgitates, the whole nefarious twaddle. World views, moral understandings, Christian practices and beliefs, our very foundations are compromised and even fractured. From my perspective, I see everywhere around me the negative consequences of this reality. You are about 9,042 miles from where I live. I am grateful that in God’s providence I reside in a time when your intellect, living in the down-under region of the world, can bring such benefit to my thinking and understanding. Thank you!


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