Did we go to the moon?
For those of us who haven't been there, the answer depends on whose version of the truth we like. Some say we did go, some say we didn't. Some point to evidence "A" to support their claim, some point to evidence "B", "C", or "D." Ultimately, it comes down to faith.
Our process of obtaining knowledge is "descending" rather than "ascending." In other words, receiving knowledge from a qualified source is a more quick and effective means of learning than inference or speculation. This is the essence of the parampara system, by which the Vedic wisdom has been passed down since forever. This is also the quickest way to learn new computer software and other things it would be hard to figure out on our own.
How could anyone have faith in such an unscientific system? If we want to conclusively know who our father is, for example, we could embark on a costly and time-consuming program of DNA research—which may prove inconclusive anyway—or we could ask our mother. It's true that our mother may lie to us, but in most cases it would be reasonable to expect the truth.
Controversies, conspiracy theories, and speculations abound on the subject of whether any manned rockets from Earth have actually gone to the moon. Many doubts have arisen over the years—since the time of the purported Apollo landing—as to the authenticity of such missions.
Srila Prabhupada generally expressed doubts that any rocket-assisted moon landing was possible, based on his familiarity with Vedic cosmography and astronomy, which include descriptions of the moon, its inhabitants, and the requirements for interplanetary travel.
Vedic writings designate the moon as a planet more opulent and pious than the earth, full of all varieties of life, where the inhabitants live considerably longer than we do. Citizens of Earth may go to the moon only after performing considerable austerities, sacrifices, penances, and pious activities—not by mechanical conveyances.
Since the Apollo astronauts returned with nothing more substantial than rocks, Srila Prabhupada's conviction was that, wherever the astronauts may have gone, it wasn't to the moon. He suggested that, even if they did somehow manage to pull off such a voyage, the astronauts' descriptions of the moon didn't at all match the Vedas' version, so they weren't actually able to enter into the moon's atmosphere.
He once hinted that, considering the motion picture industry's considerable capabilities for making fiction appear real, the moon landing could quite easily have been staged. He also questioned the value of such a mission—even if it was actually carried out—by pointing out that all that came of it was a collection of rocks and dust.
Recently, the authenticity of such so-called "moon rocks" has come into question, when one that the United States had given to another nation was scientifically proven to be fake.
- Srimad-Bhagavatam, 3.32.3, purport:
"It is not possible to reach the moon by any material vehicle like a sputnik, but persons who are attracted by material enjoyment can go to the moon by pious activities."
- Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.22.54, purport:
"In the modern age, people from earth have tried to go to the moon, but they have not been able to find anyone there, what to speak of meeting the moon's predominating deity. The Vedic literature, however, repeatedly informs us that the moon is full of highly elevated inhabitants who are counted amongst the demigods. We are therefore always in doubt about what kind of moon adventure the modern scientists of this planet earth have undertaken."
- Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.1.8, purport:
"The interplanetary system undoubtedly exists, and residents of different planets may go from one to another. On this earth, however, we have not invented any machine that can go directly from one planet to another, although an unsuccessful attempt has been made to go directly to the moon."
- Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.17.4, purport:
"So-called advanced scientists of the modern age are trying to go to the higher planets, but at the same time they are experiencing a power shortage on earth. If they were actually capable scientists, they could personally go by airplane to other planets, but this they are unable to do. Having now given up their moon excursions, they are attempting to go to other planets, but without success."
- Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.22.8, purport:
"When we take into account that the moon is 100,000 yojanas, or 800,000 miles, above the rays of the sunshine, it is very surprising that the modern excursions to the moon could be possible. Since the moon is so distant, how space vehicles could go there is a doubtful mystery. Modern scientific calculations are subject to one change after another, and therefore they are uncertain. We have to accept the calculations of the Vedic literature. These Vedic calculations are steady; the astronomical calculations made long ago and recorded in the Vedic literature are correct even now. Whether the Vedic calculations or modern ones are better may remain a mystery for others, but as far as we are concerned, we accept the Vedic calculations to be correct."