Astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin poses with the American flag on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.

ne Giant Leap for Mankind

With one small step, humanity accomplished the dream of standing on another world.

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon, becoming the first humans to do so, less than 70 years after humans first took flight.

The moon landing had involved thousands of people, with millions watching across the globe. For some, such as Aldrin, this epic journey was significant for his faith. Before leaving the moon’s surface, Aldrin celebrated communion.

This Lunar Bible in the museum’s collection landed on the surface of the moon. It contains all 1,245 pages of the King James Bible.
Courtesy of Museum of the Bible

A Mission to Bring Bibles to the Moon

The Apollo Prayer League was formed in 1968 by Rev. John Stout, a NASA scientist and chaplain, to create a prayer network for the safety of astronauts and other NASA employees and to put a Bible on the moon. At its height, it counted more than 50,000 members nationwide.

Stout was inspired by the deaths of Edward White II and two other astronauts a year earlier during training exercises. Before his death, White had told a reporter that he hoped to carry a Bible to the moon. Stout’s dream came true in 1971 when Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell carried 300 microfiche copies of the Bible to the lunar surface.

“Apollo first placed human feet on a planet other than earth. . . . It is a symbol of humans reaching outward—a symbol of the human spirit. Yet, it was not accomplished by human endeavor alone. It was strengthened with the spirit of God within those who accomplished it.”
Dick Koos, Apollo Flight Simulation Supervisor, 1993

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This exhibition explores the Bible’s role in the historical relationship between science and religion. Many today believe that religious faith and the natural sciences are very separate subjects. Indeed, many consider the Bible to be an obstacle to scientific progress. Yet, for centuries, faith and the study of nature were very much entangled. At times, biblical beliefs helped encourage people to study the world. They even influenced the rise of science as we know it today.