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Holy Hoaxsters, Batman!

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The words crackled across the airwaves some 40 years ago.

The seemingly impossible had become reality.

The shadowy images on our televison screens confirmed Neil Armstrong’s message – man had set foot on the moon.

But not everyone is convinced.

In fact, while perusing the local newspaper’s coverage of the upcoming anniversary of the moon landing, I noticed that quite a bit of space had been devoted to a “moon landing truth-er” – a person who believes that the Apollo missions were “a pathetic set up”.

Tucsonan: Apollo was a cosmic hoax

Misty-eyed moon nostalgia makes Tucson security officer Hank Wilson smirk.
He doesn’t believe Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon in 1969 and doubts other Apollo missions accomplished the feat.
“It looked phony to me,” said Wilson. “It was a pathetic setup of a sound stage.”

Wilson says NASA faked the landing to upstage the Soviets in the space race.

Only the astronauts and a small control team knew the landing was a fake. Even mission control thought the journey was legit, he said. The live radio communication among the astronauts was genuine but came from orbit, he said.

Wilson thinks Armstrong and Aldrin starred in a staged scene in the Nevada desert, then launched into orbit while the rest of the world thought they were en route to the moon before splashing down and living a 40-year-hoax.

Even Richard Nixon wasn’t aware it was faked, Wilson said, and the conspirators were paid to stay silent by NASA’s budget. Wilson said he doesn’t know why the Soviets didn’t suspect the fraud or try to expose it.
Wilson’s reasons for doubting the authenticity of the moon landing include the clarity of the images and the way the moon dust settled in the pictures.
From his point of view, this page of history is nothing more than a massive government sponsored hoax.
A heavy duty accusation? No doubt.
If the moon landings were faked, it would make Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and every single Apollo crew after them first ballot inductees in the Liar’s Hall of Fame.
But Wilson doesn’t seem to want to go that far with his theory.

“I do not want to refer to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as liars — they were brave men that contributed vastly to the exploration of space during an era in history they are so well-known for,” he said.

“Where the moon landing, so-called, is concerned, I’d prefer to consider the possibility that perhaps these gifted and highly educated scientists may have been placed in an unexpected situation that presented only one option to them: Play ball and get along.”
Wilson admits that his theory has a hard time gaining traction.
By his own estimate only about 5% of those he shares with believe him.
Probably because it runs into two key obstacles – The eye witness testimony of those who participated in the moon landing effort and the personal credibility of people like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Not to mention the fact that an entire world both watched and was changed by these events.
Yet less than 40 years later, a newspaper devotes a large space to covering such skepticism as part of the story.
Skepticism, no matter how far fetched, seems to sell.
Now does this all sound vaguely familiar?
If you are a Christian, it undoubtedly does.
You see there was an even more profound  history changing event that took place nearly 2,000 years ago – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And yet we are surrounded by “resurrection truth-ers” who tell us that the notion of Jesus rising from the dead is a hoax.
So is the resurrection of Jesus historical?
The Bible claims that the Jesus death and resurrection was a real event that could be verified by eyewitness testimony.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. (I Corinthians 15:3-8)

Does this claim stand up under expert examination?

Professor Thomas Arnold, author of History of Rome and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God bath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”

Brooke Foss Wescott (a famed scholar of the 19th century): “There is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ.”

Dr. Paul L. Maier (a prominent professor of ancient history): “No shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy or archaeology that would disprove that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was actually empty on the morning of the 1st Easter.”

Dr. Simon Greenleaf (a very famous Harvard University professor of Law): “According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.”

But as you know, there are those who will say that Jesus resurrection was faked, or was a case of mistaken identity.

Much like our moon landing skeptic, the weight of this evidence doesn’t seem to convince them.

And also like our moon landing skeptic, they seem to want to deny the resurrection without facing the obvious conclusion – Since Jesus repeatedly predicted His resurrection He was wrong, and hence a false prophet.

In the same way, since Jesus’ followers told people that He rose from the dead, they were guilty of foisting on the world the greatest lie known to man.

Funny how few I find really willing to go there.

Even those who deny that Jesus is God have no problem including Him among the greatest human teachers.

They even refer to the apostles as brave men who changed the world for the good.

But in the same way as in our moon landing debate, you can’t have it both ways.

Great and brave people aren’t cover up artists.

Great movements aren’t built on hoaxes.

Great teachers don’t teach lies.

Great truths aren’t found to have a foundation of conspiracy.

And that’s the thing about Jesus.

He forces us to face facts.

And to make choices.

As CS Lewis so aptly put it:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.


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