Apollo 8 was the inaugural human space mission to depart from low Earth orbit and reach the moon. Its three astronauts—Frank Borman, William Anders, and James Lovell—made history when they observed and documented an earthrise and the moon’s far side.1 The spacecraft splashed down in the northern Pacific Ocean on December 27, 1968.2 Upon their return, the crew members were designated as Time magazine’s “Men of the Year.”3
The entire journey spanned 147 hours, during which time the astronauts performed 10 orbits of the moon over the course of 20 hours. The achievement of Apollo 8 served as a catalyst for future lunar expeditions, culminating in July 1969 with Apollo 11. That mission achieved the objective set by U.S. President John F. Kennedy to accomplish a human landing on the moon prior to the decade’s close.4
However, Apollo 8 was different from other missions because the crew, awestruck by the celestial sights they witnessed on Christmas Eve, read the creation story in their mission broadcast. TV Guide reported that one in every four people on the planet turned on a television to observe Borman, Lovell, and Anders circumnavigating the moon's stony surface from an altitude of 60 miles. An estimated one billion individuals heard the astronauts recite the first 10 verses of the King James Version of Genesis. The words sparked excitement among many, caused debate among some, and confounded others who failed to see the relationship between one of the modern era’s greatest scientific expeditions and an ancient religious text.4
As a camera captured the lunar surface passing beneath a window during this historic transmission, the three astronauts read the Scriptures from a sheet of paper. Borman, the mission commander and the astronaut who selected the opening chapter of Genesis to recite, concluded with verses 9 and 10:
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.
Borman ended by stating, “From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”5
The simultaneous beauty and fine-tuned operation of the heavenly bodies foster awe and reverence for their Creator. This wonderful revelation from God is available to all people, irrespective of their location or standing in Christ. Psalm 19:1–4 pronounces:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
True to this verse, Frank Borman and the Apollo 8 crew chose to honor God for His creation by reciting Genesis on their mission, thus proclaiming the clear evidence of His eternal glory.
- An earthrise is a view of Earth rising above the horizon of the moon or other celestial object. During the Apollo 8 mission, William Anders took the famous photograph that goes by that name.
- Apollo 8 Description. NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. Posted on nasa.gov, accessed November 16, 2023.
- Garrido, H. 1969. Men of the Year. Time. 93 (1).
- Silliman, D. Died: Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Astronaut Who Broadcast Genesis from Space. Christianity Today News & Reporting. Posted on christianitytoday.com November 10, 2023, accessed November 16, 2023.
- Williams, D. R. The Apollo 8 Christmas Eve Broadcast. The Apollo Program (1963-1972). Posted on nasa.gov, accessed November 16, 2023.
Stage image: United States postage stamp honoring Apollo 8, the first crewed spacecraft to orbit the moon
Stage image credit: Copyright © United States Postal Service. Used in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holder.
* Dr. Corrado earned a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Colorado State University and a Th.M. from Liberty University. He is a freelance contributor to ICR’s Creation Science Update, works in the nuclear industry, and is a senior officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve.