Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:
“The Savior said that preceding his coming there would be signs in the heavens. No doubt there will be appearances of commotion among the heavenly bodies. We are informed by prophecy that the earth will reel to and fro. This will make it appear like the stars are falling. The sun will be darkened and the moon look like blood. All of these wonders will take place before Christ comes. Naturally the wonders in the heavens that man has created will be numbered among the signs which have been predicted—the airplanes, the guided missiles, and man-made planets that revolve around the earth. Keep it in mind, however, that such man-made planets belong to this earth, and it is doubtful that man will ever be permitted to make any instrument or ship to travel through space and visit the moon or any distant planet.”
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions [1st edition] (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957), 2:190-191)
Again, a few years later, Apostle Smith reiterated this idea,
“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.” (Honolulu stake conference, 1961)
But surely this Apostle was proven wrong in 1969 when Buzz Aldrin became the first man on the moon, right? Everyone saw it on live TV, and even good members of the Church have witnessed to their involvement in getting men to the moon. No one in their right mind would defend these “outdated” words of a man sustained (at the time) as a “prophet, seer & revelator”, would they? How about NASA?
In a video produced by the space agency, one of their astronauts explains some issues they will have to solve BEFORE making a future trip to Mars saying,
“As we get further away from Earth, we will pass through the Vann Allan Belts, an area of dangerous radiation. Radiation like this can harm the guidance systems, onboard computers, or other electronics on Orion. Naturally, we have to pass through this danger zone twice, once up and once back. But Orion has protection, shielding will be put to the test as the vehicle cuts through the waves of radiation. Sensors aboard will record radiation levels for scientists to study. We must solve these challenges before we send people through this region of Space.”
The Van Allan Belts are several radiation belts located BETWEEN the Earth and the Moon that are not only life-threatening to humans, but even destroy satellites when they expand closer to the Earth. If NASA says the belts cannot be passed through safely in our day, how could they have done it in 1969?
But didn’t Apostle Smith admit he was wrong? Anti-Mormons disguised as friendly apologists at FAIR claim Smith said,
“Well, I was wrong, wasn’t I?” (Personal reminiscence of David Farnsworth provided to FAIR, 21 November 2010).
Their reference is a single person remembering the statement forty years after the fact and with no way to verify with the Apostle-turned-Church President who incidentally, had plenty of time to publicly correct his widely published remarks but chose to let them stand.
Is there another statement supposed to have been made by a Church leader that would-be apologists have addressed? How did they handle it in that instance? In fact, one such statement made the rounds this past election. The remembered statement, attributed to Ezra Taft Benson, was,
“If you vote for the lesser of two evils you are still voting for evil and you will be judged for it. You should always vote for the best possible candidate, whether they have a chance of winning or not, and then, even if the worst possible candidate wins, the Lord will bless our country more because more people were willing to stand up for what is right.” (Personal reminiscence of Mike Thompson, Orem Utah.)
Mike has been sharing this with people for at least ten years now (late 2016). What was the response by apologists to this reminiscence?
LDS Mag dismissed the statement saying,
“This quote does not originate from any talk or official document, but rather, an account given by Mike Thompson in an online forum from 2009. If you’re wondering who Mike Thompson is, no one really knows. Except for Teri.”
Couldn’t the same be said, but with more veracity, about David Farnsworth?
LDS Living addressed the quote by saying,
“there are no official documents, talks, speeches, or text to show that President Ezra Taft Benson actually said it”
Again, how about Farnsworth’s statement about Joseph Fielding Smith? Any official document, talk or speech to show Joseph Fielding Smith said he was wrong?
Even Salt Lakes local CBS affiliate got into the fray over this quote from Benson getting a statement from the Church saying they,
“cannot confirm the quotes source or accuracy because it was apparently made in a private discussion.”
For so-called apologists to hang their hat on a reminiscence that, when applied equally to other reminiscences, would not be treated with any sort of reliability shows either deception or desperation.
The fact remains that Joseph Fielding Smith stood by his statements and modern science admits he was right.