In 1936–1937, a 400-acre artificial, man-made island was constructed in the San Francisco Bay. It was named “Treasure Island,” possibly because of the supposed gold to be found in its mud. Treasure Island was built following America’s Great Depression for the purpose of hosting the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition.
Located near the newly-built, glistening Golden Gate Bridge, the island was home to a forty-acre amusement park which boasted entertainment of all kinds. However, not all the entertainment was harmless, as one zone called “The Gayway” focused solely on debauchery. Treasure Island’s advertising proudly declared: “Here the milling thousands laugh and play.” The park’s overall ambiance was pleasurable diversion, heightened by visitors carousing and reveling in the midst of pagan gods. High above the island rose a lofty edifice, the “Tower to the Sun.” Before it stood an eighty-foot statue of “Pacifica, the goddess of the Pacific Ocean.” Lining the main courtyard were simulated Far Eastern pagan temples and stone carvings of grotesque gods and goddesses from previous centuries of idolatry. Totem poles lined the walkways. In all this man-made display and venues of mindless amusement, many considered Treasure Island to reflect a return to prosperity.
This touted creation was a false illusion of prosperity, multiculturalism, and vanity! The newsreels of the day proclaimed proudly, “When will men ever again create so lofty a thing?” The masses were drunk with pleasure and asleep to what was really happening in the world. Overseas, World War II had begun. Across the waters of the Pacific, Japanese warlords had invaded China and were plotting the slaughter of millions and the bloody conquest of Southeast Asia. While Americans danced and caroused on Treasure Island, Adolf Hilter was sending his Panzer tank divisions into Poland. Coming out of the Great Depression, undergoing a crisis in morality, and not knowing the grim realities of global turmoil, California was mired in a fog of unrealistic dreams.
Could the name of the one true God be found in such a place as Treasure Island? Would a man be willing to testify of God’s greatness in this Babylon of the 1930s?
A young pastor, assisted by a group of dedicated Christian businessmen from San Francisco, had built a large pavilion on Treasure Island. Through him, a faithful testimony to the truth of God’s eternal Word would be proclaimed in that place. The pastor, Irwin A. Moon, each day presented in the pavilion what he called “Sermons from Science.” Performing astonishing experiments for anyone who would take a few moments to listen, Dr. Moon gave several demonstrations every day, seven days a week, for nine long months of the exposition! Young people would gather around his display of cutting-edge scientific equipment. Most of his devices he had built himself, including over two tons of electromagnets, audio equipment, special cameras, chemicals, and electrical devices. The climax of Dr. Moon’s demonstrations was the same each time. Dr. Moon would stand atop a coil and allow one million volts of electric current to pass through his body and out through his fingertips! Unharmed, his presentation demonstrated the awesome reality of unseen power and the truth that Biblical faith is grounded in eternal, unchanging facts.
Who was Dr. Moon, the bold proclaimer of truth on Treasure Island? Irwin Moon was born in Grand Junction, Colorado on November 3, 1907. The scientific age was dawning. The Wright brothers had recently flown their gravity-defying invention—the airplane—at Kitty Hawk. Internal combustion engines were powering automobiles in a bid to replace horses and mules. Young Irwin had an early hunger to be a scientist and take part in this fascinating new world.
Irwin Moon went through a brief time in his teenage years when he doubted the existence of the God of the Bible. Putting God to the test, one day he cried out to God, asking that He might reveal Himself to his doubting heart. The young man told God, “If your Word is true, I will spend my life telling others.” God answered his sincere prayer. As Dr. Moon later shared with his audiences, “That’s why I am telling you: I know in Whom I have believed.”
Dedicating his life to Christ, Irwin Moon gave himself to the Gospel ministry. At a summer youth camp in California in 1928, he met Miss Margaret Snell, who would become his companion for half a century. They were married on January 30, 1930. Following his calling, Irwin Moon became the pastor of a small local church in Los Angeles, California. God blessed him and his wife with four children, two sons and two daughters. Pastor Moon began doing scientific demonstrations—his Sermons from Science—for his small congregation. Soon, invitations from other local churches came in for him to come share these special sermons with their congregations.
One day, William Houghton, the president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, observed one of Dr. Moon’s demonstrations. Seeing these science presentations as another way to present the Gospel, Dr. Houghton invited Dr. Moon to become a traveling evangelist with Moody Bible Institute. After praying with his wife regarding the invitation, Dr. Moon accepted the opportunity to take these demonstrations across the nation.
Throughout the 1930s, Dr. Moon traveled full-time as an evangelist, taking his Sermons from Science to college campuses, military installations, and large pavilions in cities across America. During this period, God led him to Treasure Island and the Golden Gate International Exposition. Dr. Moon spent nine months at that particular pavilion in the midst of godless amusement, testifying of God’s eternal truth to thousands of people who initially may have come to be entertained but left with the light of God’s truth shining in their hearts.
When the illusions of peace and prosperity were shattered by the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States began marshaling troops for war on a grand scale. Military training camps sprang up all across the country. Dr. Moon was asked to bring his demonstrations to these military installations. Before shipping out to war, thousands of soldiers, sailors, and airmen saw Dr. Moon’s testimony to God’s eternal truth and creative power. As a result, many of these men became believers.
After the war, Dr. Moon devoted his time and attention to reaching a wider audience by means of motion pictures. His work led to the founding of the Moody Institute of Science in 1945. Dr. Moon’s assistant, a former navy pilot named George Speake, assumed responsibility of the traveling ministry—eventually presenting the demonstrations from coast to coast as well as to all three military academies!
Meanwhile, Dr. Moon pursued creating motion pictures for sharing the majesty and intricacy of our Creator God. He set up a laboratory in his bathroom and turned his bedroom into a film studio. His films were among the first to use time-lapse photography, allowing audiences to view processes that happened too quickly or too slowly for the human senses. Dr. Moon attracted worldwide scientific attention when he invented a device called a “cardiac pulse duplicator” that could actually allow a person to see the chambers of a beating human heart! He eventually produced thirty-nine films. Each one was filled with fascinating scientific demonstrations, and every film closed with a sincere, personal message from Dr. Moon.
Only Heaven will reveal the eternal influence of Dr. Moon’s ministry. While many have been led to Christ or informed of the works of the Master Creator, one individual’s testimony involves Dr. Moon’s ministry. Under Dr. Moon’s direct influence, a young evolutionist named Henry Morris was convinced that God had indeed created the world in six days as recorded in the Bible. Dr. Henry Morris eventually founded the Institute for Creation Research and became a champion of conservative, literal interpretation of Scripture.
Dr. Irwin Moon suffered a stroke and went to be with the Lord on May 7, 1986. He left behind his faithful wife of over fifty years and his four children, ten grandchildren, and twenty-four great-grandchildren. Over a billion people across the world have seen Dr. Moon’s presentations either by film or in person. “Sermons from Science” has become “Wonders of Science,” and the ministry continues today in Whittier, California, under the leadership of Dr. Dean Ortner. God’s truth is eternal, and true science will always confirm the truth of God’s eternal Word.