Apollo 13 and Creationism: The Unknown Tale

The aborted 1970 lunar mission of Apollo 13 is well known. But what isn’t known is the role played by the creation scientists of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom.

At the ICR website there’s a new and very illuminating article titled Conversion of a Rocket Man: Charles P. Morse. It’s about Charles Phillips Morse. We’re told he was “MIT-educated” and a “rocket scientist” and also a “devout evolutionist.” It’s written by his son, Charles C. “Chas” Morse. At the end of the article we’re given this description of the author: “Mr. Morse joined ICR in 2009, where he presently serves as Director of Church and Seminar Ministries.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a shocking speech before a special joint session of Congress describing his ambitious goal of sending Americans safely to the moon before the decade’s end. Little did Kennedy know that his space scheme was a cog in the Master’s plan to relocate my MIT-educated dad, with family in tow, to southern California to accomplish other purposes for His glory.

So that was the purpose of Kennedy’s announcement that we were going to land a man on the Moon! Now you know. But there’s more — much more:

As our nation raced toward space, God pursued rocket scientist and devout evolutionist Charles Morse. Through the ministries of godly men, my dad was confronted with his sin, realized his spiritually bankruptcy, and turned from his former life to trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. But he still held to an evolutionary view of the world.

Still an evolutionist? That means he wasn’t completely saved. What happened then? Let’s read on:

After suffering broken ribs from a sudden fall, my father spent a week confined to bed. The newly converted Charles Morse decided to read through the entire Bible in one week.

At the same time, my dad was providentially introduced to Dr. Henry Morris’ work and read The Genesis Flood. Living in the area, it was convenient for him to drive to San Diego, where he met with Dr. Morris and other creation scientists. All his questions were answered, and his conundrums vanished!

How wonderful — the rocket scientist had become a creation scientist! He had been transformed into a worthy instrument for the space program. The tale continues:

After long days designing spacecraft engine parts and other rocket gizmos, my dad glued himself each night to his brown leather reading chair, studying science and researching answers to questions like “Where did the water come from in Noah’s Flood?” and “Where did the water go?

Isn’t this thrilling? By day, Morse designed rocket “gizmos,” and at night he studied creation science. The space program was fortunate indeed to have such a man on the team. Pay attention now, because here’s where the story gets really good:

Most people are all familiar with the macabre transmission from outer space “Houston, we have a problem.” With that, the breakdown of Apollo 13 effectively ended my dad’s lucrative engineering job and left him permanently unemployed.

That’s a bit ambiguous, but young Morse leaves us with the clear impression that his “Rocket Man” father was terminated because of the failure of Apollo 13. That near-catastrophe was thoroughly studied. Wikipedia describes NASA’s Accident analysis and response. We’ve scanned some of the footnoted reports, but we don’t see blame assigned to any specific individuals. We’ll have to accept young Morse’s claim that the Apollo 13 misadventure caused his father to be “permanently unemployed.” Moving along:

At that point, God took over and hired Charles Morse as a full-time creation speaker, debater, and researcher. The ex-rocket man was free to study, research, and prepare for speaking engagements while living off the seven years of plenty accrued during his Apollo heydays. My dad would sometimes attend conferences with Dr. Henry Morris and Dr. Duane Gish and toured throughout California speaking at churches, schools, and colleges.

Isn’t this inspiring? If we’re reading this correctly, Morse the elder was dismissed from the space program because he was held responsible (at least to some extent) for the Apollo 13 incident. But then, having been forged by misfortune and disgrace, he was at last ready to be promoted by the Lord to an even greater assignment — a full-time career in creation science. Here’s another excerpt:

Honestly, my dad was largely unknown in the creation movement, but he was not unknown to his Creator.

Our guess is that he wasn’t unknown to those who investigated the Apollo 13 mishap either. The article ends on a high note:

Although my dad didn’t formally publish, he unknowingly inscribed his passion for creation and why Genesis matters on the heart of his only son and namesake, Charles (Chas) Morse. Because of this and for the glory of our Creator, I count it a blessing and privilege to now serve on staff at the Institute for Creation Research.

So there you are, dear reader. Now you know the rest of the story of Apollo 13.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “Apollo 13 and Creationism: The Unknown Tale

  1. So Chas’ message basically is “become a creationist and eternal unemployment will swiftly follow”.

  2. I wonder if a member of a previous generation of this Morse family helped pilot the Titanic, and if any members of the current one had a hand in designing the Fukushima Nuclear Plant?

  3. docbill1351

    There were four more Apollo missions after 13. Who knows about Morse, maybe he went all Coppedge on them!

  4. Charles Deetz ;)

    So it was god’s idea to move them to California, but Apollo’s fault that his dad was unemployed?

  5. I wonder if those who investigated the failure of Apollo 13 were looking for drool contamination?

  6. Apollo 13 failed. Morse was fired. Four successful Apollo missions ensued. Does this fact allow any tentative conclusions?

  7. It appears that both Morse the Elder and Morse the Younger are both literal lunatics. The former more directly connected to the original meaning of the word “lunatic” perhaps.

    From Wikipedia: “The Gizmo key is a key commonly found on the B foot joint of certain models of flute that closes the low B tone hole without closing the low C or C♯ hole. This facilitates the performance of a fourth octave C and makes *convenient fingering* for high C.” Would a creationist rocket scientist mistake this for something useful on a rocket or satellite? One has to wonder . . . . .

  8. Well, I read the entire bible too. It took me more than one week, but I wasn’t confined to bed. It was the summer after my senior year in high school, and I was busy swimming and playing tennis and trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to get some of the women on the beach to notice me.

    Anyway, reading the bible, and finding all the inconsistencies in it, started me on the road to atheism. And now I don’t think it’s even the most interesting of mythologies — I find the Norse, and Roman, and several others more entertaining.

  9. Charles Morse, Jr. writes of his father’s first encounter with Henry Morris—

    “All his questions were answered, and his conundrums vanished!”

    I’m afraid that account is somewhat lacking in propulsive force. Looks like Morse’s take-off is aimed at escape velocity but his reaction mass is ponderous and his orbit decidedly geostationary. The thrust of what he claims is single-stage and smells a bit of lox with a hint of kerosene. All of this launches the question whether he knows that David slew Goliath with a gravitational sling. His trajectory is towards splashdown without re-entry.

  10. The Apollo program was cancelled before it was complete, leaving at least two missions with all of the hardware built, crews available, but no money to launch them (#’s 18 and 19). Those missions account for the complete Saturn V rockets and other hardware on display at NASA centers today. Around the time of Apollo 13 large SoCal manufacturers were already laying off huge numbers of employees due to the fact that their contracts were either nearing completion or being terminated. One company I am very familiar with, who built the engines for the Saturn V, went from about 22,000 employees to 2,000 employees in a short order. Many of those engineers found work with various defense contractors, but it was a tough time for most. I suspect that Morse’s lay-off had nothing to do with Apollo 13 but was part of the general lay-offs that were occurring at NASA contractors throughout the Los Angeles area.

  11. Just part of a layoff? That’s what NASA said about Coppedge. We know he was expelled because his creo genius frightened them.

  12. Ed says: “I suspect that Morse’s lay-off had nothing to do with Apollo 13 but was part of the general lay-offs that were occurring at NASA contractors throughout the Los Angeles area.”

    That’s not the way young Morse explains it. He doesn’t mention funding problems. He clearly attributes his father’s termination to the Apollo 13 failure.

  13. Diogenes made me curious as to what happened to David Coppedge. I googled his name and the first hit is to a post on this blog 27 April 2013. He’s clearly slipped out of the news. However, he has his own page, http://davidcoppedge.com/index.html, where he talks about his recent fight with cancer. That would explain why he has not been more prominent lately.

  14. Coppedge can also be found writing the inexocerable CEH blog at http://
    crev.info

  15. @SC – and Morse Jr. further implies that the Apollo 13 failure was God’s final step in freeing Morse Sr. from such worldly pursuits as space exploration so he could become a towering intellect in the creationism movement. Proving that… a Morse is a Morse, of course, of course…

  16. BlackWatch

    Ed, I went to the David Coppedge cancer blog you posted. Mortality has a way of putting our differences in perspective. I wish David well.

  17. I remember as a kid of about 4 years I saw a bee land on a picked flower we had as the centerpiece of our deck table. A couple of days later the flower having been picked fell apart and disintegrated. I made the connection with the bee’s visit with killing the flower, though it was a consequence of the flower being picked–not the bee.
    Young Morse likely did the same thing correlating the infamous Apollo XIII near disaster and national trauma with his father’s unemployment. (I recall someone from the space coast area mentioned that real estate in the post Apollo depression was a great investment opportunity)
    I guess the lesson for all underemployed scientists/engineers with even the slightest connection with the Moon project or other high profile scientific endeavor is that you can always sell out and make a living pimping creationism.

  18. Interesting: In his official ICR bio he attributes it to the end of Apollo 17 not Apollo 13.
    http://www.icr.org/article/new-icr-director-events-charles-morse/
    As a good creationist he knows that the spin on your message is everything, even when it crosses over into deception.

  19. docbill1351

    “Proving that… a Morse is a Morse, of course, of course…”

    Thank you, Mr. Ed.

  20. I thought rocket scientists were supposed to be smart – the epitome of knowledge and reason. The creationist cult has just pointed out that this is a stereotype.

  21. It’s more likely that Morse Sr.’s layoff was due to the general downsizing of NASA after Apollo 11 had accomplished the mission of beating the Russians to the moon.

    It so happens that my father was a physicist who worked on the Apollo program, and he, too, lost his job then. He, however, pulled up his socks and went looking and eventually landed a job with the new Department of Energy designing solar power facilities. And when Reagan took an axe to that in the eighties, he went into teaching at the University of Texas, where he remained until retirement.

    He didn’t feel the need to prostitute his scientific skills in the service of people who hate science. (And before anyone asks, he was a devout Christian, though not a fundamentalist.)

  22. The lyrics to that famous Elton John song, written by Bernie Taupin, make sense now that I know Morse’s story.

    “And all this science I don’t understand,
    It’s just my job five days a week.”

  23. “…he met with Dr. Morris and other creation scientists. All his questions were answered, and his conundrums vanished!”

    It took just one visit with Dr. Morris to get rid of his conundrums? Wow! It took several trips to the dermatologist to cure mine.

  24. This is what I get from the last paragraph, being a summation of the whole article. To paraphrase,

    “Although mah daddy didn’t formally publish, he unknowingly inscribed his thugged-out lil’ [edited out] fo’ creation n’ why Genesis mattas on [edited out] of his only lil hustla n’ namesake, Charlez (Chas) Morse. Because of dis n’ fo’ tha glory of our Creator, I count it a [edited out] blessin n’ privilege ta now serve on staff all up in tha Institute fo’ Creation Research.”

    Amen.