Except for the
reference to the astronauts, this version of 'the Missing Day' story
has been around for nearly 30 years.
Harold Hill was a real person and he was the president of the Curtis
Engine Company in Baltimore, Maryland.
He had converted to Christianity
as an adult and became a popular speaker among Christian groups,
because he was a successful businessman, claimed to be a consultant
to NASA, and did presentations on science and the Bible.
One of his most popular presentations was the story of the Missing
Harold Hill apparently told the
story without much notice until October 1969, when a columnist for a
small American newspaper was told about one of his speeches and was
given some notes about the Missing Day.
She was so intrigued, that she wrote it up and it was published.
The columnist's name was Mary
Kathryn Bryan and her column appeared in the Spencer Evening World
in Spencer, Indiana.
According to the newspaper, the results of that particular column
were 'simply unbelievable'.
They started receiving requests from all over the world for reprints
of the article, and finally stopped counting when the number of
inquiries passed 1,500. The total number of cards, letters and telephone calls is now in the
From that article, the Missing Day
story found its way into untold numbers of magazines, newspapers,
gospel tracts, books and now emails.
Harold Hill himself included it in a Christian book which he wrote.
The story has several problems, however.
One problem is that apart from
Harold Hill, there is no known source for the NASA story.
For many years, whenever anyone wrote to him about it, he sent a
form letter which said he had misplaced the source of the
information, but would send everybody a copy when he found it.
The source never materialized. In his subsequent book, Hill
dismissed all skepticism about the story and said that no
substantiation was needed.
His attitude was that if people believed it and it drew them to
spiritual things, it was justified.
Another problem is that NASA has
denied that Harold Hill was ever one of its consultants.
James S. Lacy, from the Office of Public Relations for NASA, wrote
in a letter to a journalist that the only trace they could find of a
Harold Hill having any connection with NASA was a person who was
involved in contracting for the operations and maintenance of some
diesel engine operations.
Further, according to a letter I
have from the NASA Public Affairs office in Washington, 'There is no
truth to the recurring story that NASA uncovered a lost day in the
movement of the Earth.'
It is interesting to note
that an attempt to explain Joshua's long day from a scientific
standpoint was published many years before Harold Hill's NASA story.
In the 1930s, Dr Harry Rimmer wrote a book called 'The Harmony of
Science and Scripture', in which he drew from an 1890 book by Yale
professor C.A. Totten.
Using popular biblical
chronologies of the time, Totten concluded that the world was
created 4,000 years before the birth of Christ, on Sunday, September
22, 4000BC. However, he said that the calendar calculations showed
that September 22 was actually a Monday, and not a Sunday, and that
the error was probably because of Joshua's missing day.
Totten also makes reference to the
Hezekiah story in 2 Kings and argues that this accounts for another
missing 20 minutes or so. Totten's calculations sound suspiciously
familiar to the NASA story. The bottom line seems to be that there
is a lot still missing about 'the Missing Day'.