Mormon/ LDS Prophets: Was Joseph Fielding Smith Speaking as a Divinely-Inspired Prophet when He Said Men Wouldn’t Make It to the Moon, and Was He Wrong?
Many people use President Joseph Fielding Smith’s quote about men not going to the moon as proof that prophets are fallible/ they can be wrong (or that Mormon prophets are wrong, or that…). (Of course members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t believe prophets are infallible in thought, word, or deed, but…)
In 1961, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Joseph Fieding Smith, said:
“We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it… The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.”
Then, in Answers to Gospel Questions Vol 2 under Chapter(or Question) 43: Guided Missiles and Interplanetary Travel, he wrote (p. 191):
“When man was placed on this earth it became his probationary, or mortal home. Here he is destined to stay until his earth-life is completed….There is no prophecy or edict ever given that mortals should ever should seek dominions beyond this earth while they dwell in mortality. Here we are, and here we should be content to stay. All this talk about space travel and the visiting of other worlds brings to mind vividly an attempt long ago made by foolish men who tried to build to heaven.”
“The Lord will permit men to go just so far and no farther; and when they get beyond the proper bounds he will check them.”
President Smith probably had in mind these verses in Abraham 3 in the Pearl of Great Price, where the Lord is speaking to Abraham:
5 And the Lord said unto me: The planet which is the lesser light, lesser than that which is to rule the day, even the night [the moon], is above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning [the earth], for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest, therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years.
6 And the Lord said unto me: Now, Abraham, these two facts exist, behold thine eyes see it; it is given unto thee to know the times of reckoning, and the set time, yea, the set time of the earth upon which thou standest [the earth], and the set time of the greater light which is set to rule the day [the sun], and the set time of the lesser light which is set to rule the night [the moon].
7 Now the set time of the lesser light is a longer time as to its reckoning than the reckoning of the time of the earth upon which thou standest.
8 And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is, there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still;
9 And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
17 Now, if there be two things, one above the other, and *the moon be above the earth*, then it may be that a planet or a star may exist above it; and there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it.
These verses seem to indicate that the moon is at a greater level/ in a higher dominion than the earth, which is likely the reason for Elder Smith’s reasoning about man never going to the moon.
And yet, it is “common knowledge” that American astronauts have been to the moon.
Though I can’t find a good source for this (and every anti-Mormon source has the same wording), it is said that “after Apollo 15’s journey to the moon, the astronaut team brought JFS a Utah State Flag that they had taken with them to the moon. They gave him the flag in 1971 as a token of his ‘failed prophecy’.” Interesting… act? motive? What were the exact words they used? I’m interested in knowing.
However, after looking at the evidence, I believe that there is a conspiracy regarding men going to the moon. I am at the conclusion that man never stepped on the moon, nor even got near it. I’ll explain a little about conspiracies, then about why I believe that.
As with most conspiracies, most people accept the “official story” pretty much as told them (as for others, see my article on 9/11 in the Book of Mormon). Most people, including Mormons/ LDS, will never accept “It isn’t true” without a very plausible unofficial version in it’s place, no matter how ludicrous the “official story” might be. Finding the “real story” and proving it the best possible often requires a long and difficult process which might not ever be finished. Unfortunately, if it is accomplished, by that time, either everyone has become habituated about the “official story” and unwilling to budge no matter how strong the evidence, or no one cares anymore… (For example, there are plenty of government documents released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) backing up many conspiracies that conspirators denied—and sometimes still deny!—for years.)
The first part is discovering what in the “official story”, exactly, are the real problems from all the possibilities. Much like solving a puzzle or a mystery, that discovery takes time and will necessarily include many false leads and errors.
At the same time, pro-conspirators (at different levels), sometimes posing as pretend anti-conspiracists, release fake “discoveries” about the conspiracy that cast the investigation in a bad light.
Both the worst of the false leads and errors, and the fake discoveries, are prime targets for being chosen by the conspirators and being put on public display as “examples of the other side”, then most easily dismissed to prove that the anti-conspirators just don’t have any grounds for disbelieving, and are nutcases. For example, the website http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/apollohoax.html, “proving” its fairness and “scientism”, provides a list of “We didn’t go to the moon” websites to balance its “We did go to the moon” websites.
Does the lopsidedness of the number, and explanations of the websites, affect the viewers expecting fairness? Of course.
Is it random chance that most of the sites on the “didn’t” list have rebuttals in the “did” list, but perhaps not vice-versa? I doubt it.
Do you think the best “didn’t” websites were chosen for that list? I doubt it. For example, conspicuously absent is http://www.ufos-aliens.co.uk/cosmicapollo.html–some of the most heated debates have been between its website owner (Dave Cosnette) and members of the badastronomy.com website, and it seems Dave is winning. So why isn’t—for fairness—put first on the “didn’t” list? Hmmm…
It seems there is a pro-moon hidden agenda there.
I’ve found that most “official stories” have very good answers (at least in the mind of the generally-unquestioning public) and often “back-up” answers for much of what the anti-conspiracists see as problems.
For example, the “we did go to the moon” conspirators could “admit” years later that “well, we really did go to the moon, but most of the photos and film were of such bad quality, we did take a few photos and shoot some film in the studio for better PR and to show everyone what it would realistically have looked like”. And there go the majority of the problems with the photos and film, right out the window, by a plausible small admission that would ruffle few public feathers.
Eyewitnesses can be silenced (in many ways, see my 9/11 in the Book of Mormon article), and the public kept in ignorance of many of the problems in the “official story”.
Even with plenty of evidence that the conspiracy’s “official story” is full of holes and a conspiracy is evident (blue skies, stars, doctored or fake photos and film, etc.), most people will still not believe unless there is a “smoking gun” (of course, the more the better). And fortunately for most conspiracies, there is at least one. In this about men going to the moon: is there a conspiracy, and if so, what is the best “smoking gun”?
The Van Allen radiation belts.
Notice that in most discussions about going to the moon, they are never discussed by the pro-moon people, even being amazingly absent from the astronauts.
What are the Van Allen radiation belts?
I’ll let you read about them here: http://www.ufos-aliens.co.uk/cosmicapollo.html
(Start at the “Radiation” section (about half-way down the page); if you’re interested, read the “33 Things” section (about 4/5 near the bottom of the page). Then, head over to http://www.cosmic-conspiracies.com/apollohoax.html for more on radiation. And here’s a pretty humorous one (a little adult language in this series): http://www.davesweb.cnchost.com/Apollo3.html .
So, it’s clearly impossible that not only did astronauts get to the moon, and film it, but that so many are still healthily alive years later.
Which means that the example of Joseph Fielding Smith’s words regarding men on the moon are not just a very poor example to choose to prove that Mormon prophets fail in prophecy, but a “shoot self in foot” example.
(I must say, I love the part on this site: http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/apollohoax.html that says: “Bart Sibrel’s website with a “smoking gun” video proving we never went to the Moon… sold for a price. Surprise!”—as if being paid for work were a bad thing. Wait! In the left column, opposite this comment, is a “Bad Astronomy” t-shirt for sale, under a heading: “Buy My Stuff”. What?? The irony…)