Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 20 April |
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

The elusive faith of astronaut Neil Armstrong

NEIL ARMSTRONG

Public Domain

Paul Asay - published on 10/25/18

The new movie 'First Man' starring Ryan Gosling as the famous moon walker is a movie about faith, even though it lacks spiritual content.

Director Damien Chazelle’s First Man, a fantastic drama likely in the running for some Oscars, isn’t particularly religious, and that’s fine: The titular “first man” wasn’t particularly religious, either — at least not as far as we know.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling in the film) was an intensely private person. Though raised in a religious home, Armstrong called himself a “deist” (or, at least he did on a 1950s application to be a Boy Scout leader). He looked on respectfully when fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin performed a communion ceremony just before the two set foot on the moon. And while some conservative Christians and Muslims have tried to usher Armstrong into their respective folds, the truth of the astronaut’s faith remains elusive.

But the movie does make some allusions to the transcendent experience of space flight, and it sometimes points, however obliquely, to a divine Creator. After Armstrong returns from a successful moon landing and spends time in quarantine (just in case he caught a space virus), we see a pamphlet featuring a picture of the earth from space. “In the beginning, God …” the front of the pamphlet reads.

The views we see in First Man of the earth from space — and the moon, too, for that matter — are indeed stirring. For those inclined to believe in God, your mind can’t help but turn to just how marvelous His creation is. I’ve argued that First Man, despite its lack of spiritual content, is a story about faith. And even if Armstrong didn’t wax religious, many other astronauts did. Here’s a sampling.

Tags:
FaithMoviesScience
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Top 10
1
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
2
EUCHARIST
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
3
MASS
Philip Kosloski
5 Essential things used at Mass and their symbolism
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
5
COUPLE
Cerith Gardiner
7 Joys to be had from a lengthy marriage
6
OSORNO
Brett Salkeld
How to vaccinate like a Catholic
7
PRINCE PHILIP
Cerith Gardiner
The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.