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For the Record ...

Don't Rock The Ark

In recent copies of Chemical and Engineering News a brief item appeared in the Newscripts feature by Kenneth M. Reese, followed in subsequent issues by comments from the readership.  Because of the interesting and amusing content of the exchange we are re-presenting it here.[1]

C&EN Newscripts Oct. 11, 1976:

Workers at the Dicalite division of Grefco Inc. have found the fossil skeleton of a baleen whale some 10 to 12 million years old in the company's diatomaceous earth quarries in Lompoc, Calif.  They've found fossils there before; in fact, the machinery operators have learned a good deal about them and carefully annotate any they find with the name of the collector, the date, and the exact place found.  Each discovery is turned over to Lawrence G. Barnes at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.  The whale, however, is one of the largest fossils ever collected anywhere.  It was spotted by operator James Darrah, and Dr. Barnes is directing the excavation.

The whale is standing on end in the quarry and is being exposed gradually as the diatomite is mined.  Only the head and a small part of the body are visible as yet.  The modern baleen whale is 80 to 90 feet long and has a head of similar size, indicating that the fossil may be close to 80 feet long.

The diatomaceous earth must be taken from around the fossil with great care because the bones are fragile and dis­integrate quickly when exposed to air.  As sections of bone are exposed, they are coated with a plastic cement, which hardens, and covered and reinforced with bandages of plaster and burlap.  The head and forepart of the whale required 2400 lb(s) of plaster and 700 yards of burlap 36 inches wide.

Another recent find at the Dicalite quarries was the skeleton of a small fur seal or sea hon, one of the few known specimens of the species.  Smaller whales have been found, too, as well as fish and birds.  On the whole, the discoveries are providing a valuable look at life along the coast of California 10 million years ago.  The fossils will be used for public display and research at the Natural History Museum [of Los Angeles County].

C&EN Letters Jan. 24, 1977:

SIR:     K. M. Reese made no comment concerning the im­plications of the unique discovery of a baleen whale skeleton in a vertical orientation in a diatomaceous earth quarry in Lompoc, Calif. However, the fact that the whale is stand­ing on end as well as the fact that it is buried in di­atomaceous earth would strongly suggest that it was buried under very unusual and rapid catastrophic conditions.  The vertical orientation of the whale is also reminiscent of observations of vertical tree trunks extending through several successive coal seams.  Such phenomena cannot easily be explained by uniformitarian theories, but fit readily into an historical framework based upon the recent and dynamic universal flood described in Genesis, chapters 6-9.

Larry S. Helmick, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry, Cedarville College, Ohio

C&EN Letters March 21, 1977:

SIR:     Dr. Helmick, how dare you imply that our geology textbooks and uniformitarian theories could possibly be wrong!  Everybody knows that diatomaceous earth beds are built up slowly over millions of years as diatom skeletons slowly settle out on the ocean floor.  The baleen whale simply stood on its tail for 100,000 years, its skeleton un­decomposing, while the diatomaceous snow covered its frame millimeter by millimeter.  Certainly you wouldn't expect intelligent and informed establishment scientists of this modem age to revert to the outmoded views of our forefathers just to explain such finds!  Why, even the people of Noah's own generation couldn't buy the idea of a uni­versal cataclysmic flood. (Of course, they missed the boat.)

 Harvey O. Olney III
Texas Tech School of Medicine, Lubbock

C&EN Letters April 25, 1977:

SIR:     The "whale of a tale" letter by Harvey O. Olney and the letters, quips, and quotes along similar lines which preceded it have, at last, gotten to me.  These sorts of letters appeal to "common sense" to support the Crea­tionist position, but "common sense" is possibly the least reliable guide to understanding science. (I think it was Einstein who remarked somewhere that common sense is "that collection of prejudices which one acquires up to age 18" or something to that effect.)

That's why it takes 10 years of school and work to train a reasonably competent chemist.  However, I can make you a Creationist in 10 seconds: Repeat after me, "God made it that way."

At the moment, I don't know why that damn whale is standing on its tail.  As a scientist, I'm going to wait un­til somebody with reasonable competence in paleonto­logy -- somebody who knows firsthand the pitfalls of interpretation in this area -- has a chance to look at it.  I do know this: "Polystrate" tree trunks, fossilized trees running through several layers, were accounted for by geologists decades ago in terms of natural forces, yet the Creationists keep bringing them up to "prove" the Flood of Noah.

I wouldn't rise to the bait in this whole area except for one thing: These Creationists want equal time in the text­books to "explain" the Grand Canyon in terms of Noah's Flood (ignoring thousands of feet of terrestrial sandstone between marine layers).  They want my kids and yours to believe that all of the fossil hominids, from the Australo­pithecines to Neanderthal, are merely degenerate sons of Noah (ignoring the fact that no combination of genetic, bacterial, or environmental disease will produce such beings today).  They want you to know the continents were pushed apart by the Flood (Noah again) rather than drifting.

Evidence?  Calculations?  Data?  Why none of these is necessary for a Creationist -- they merely appeal to your common sense!

By-the-bye:     I'm not making this up.  I have computer cross-indexed their major journal, the Creation Research Society Quarterly, back to the first issue.  Printouts are available at cost.

I'm the first person to defend free speech.  However, not everyone is entitled to equal time in the publications of the American Chemical Society.  Let Mr. Olney and whale-tale lovers and all Creationists everywhere subscribe to the Creation Research Society Quarterly to keep up with Noah's latest doings, but please, ACS - enough already.

  Don Weinshank
Natural Science Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing

Personal letter to Albert F. Plant, publisher of C&EN:

Dear Al: First there was the interesting, but relatively innocuous, Newscripts item by Ken Reese about the baleen whale, which was followed by Helmick's letter with a re­ply by Olney, and now we're getting into it in more depth and detail with Weinshank's polemic.  I'm not sure where it will all end, as fascinating as it is, but it's the sort of thing that would make a male chauvinist Italian throw up his hands, mutter something about cose di donne (women's stuff), and go down to have a biere with his buddies.

Anyway, Weinshank seems to have a bone to pick with the Creationists, with which I have no desire to become involved since it involves people's basic beliefs.  However, he seems not to have heard of secular catastrophism (as distinguished from the synodical experience), which has amassed some persuasive arguments and compiled compel­ling evidence that Earth was not always secure and serene throughout its long and colorful history, even down to very recent times.  And, perhaps the doyon of secular catastrophists of our own day is none other than Immanuel Velikovsky, whose heretical teachings of a quarter-century ago have been expropriated in current textbooks under someone else's byline as Prevailing Opinion.

Nevertheless, as such arguments, which almost con­tinuously rage over differences, make up the sum and substance of the history of science, it is most appropriate to read about them in the pages of a journal as C&ENews.

Frederic B. Jueneman
San Jose, California

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep ...

The case of the baleen whale is not unlike the discovery of hippopotami bones in the soil of Europe.  In Earth in Upheaval (pp. 28-30), Velikovsky devotes an entire section to the hippopota­mus.  We are reprinting it here for comparative purposes and to redirect reader attention to a most important subject which is treated with both keen perception and biting humor.

The Hippopotamus

The hippopotamus inhabits the larger rivers and marshes of Africa; it is not found in Europe or America save in zoo­logical gardens where specimens of it wallow most of the time in pools, submerging their huge bodies in muddy water.  Next to the elephant it is the largest of the land animals.  Bones of hippopotami are found in the soil of Europe as far north as Yorkshire in England.

Lyell gave the following explanation for the presence of the hippopotamus in Europe:

"The geologist . . . may freely speculate on the time when herds of hippopotami issued from North African rivers, such as the Nile, and swam northward in summer along the coasts of the Mediterranean, or even occasionally visited islands near the shore.  Here and there they may have landed to graze or browse, tarrying awhile, and afterwards con­tinuing their course northward.  Others may have swum in a few summer days from rivers in the south of Spain or France to the Somme, Thames, or Severn [river in Wales and England], making timely retreat to the south before the snow and ice set in."[2]

An Argonaut expedition of hippopotami from the rivers of Africa to the isles of Albion sounds like an idyll.

In the Victorian cave near Settle, in west Yorkshire, 1450 feet above sea level, under twelve feet of clay deposit containing some well-scratched boulders, were found nu­merous remains of the mammoth, rhinoceros, hippopota­mus, bison, hyena, and other animals.

In northern Wales in the Vale of Clwyd, in numerous eaves remains of the hippopotamus lay together with those of the mammoth, the rhinoceros, and the cave lion.  In the cave of Cae Gwyn in the Vale of Clwyd, "during the exca­vations it became clear that the bones had been greatly disturbed by water action." The floor of the cavern was "covered afterwards by clays and sand containing foreign pebbles.  This seemed to prove that the caverns, now 400 feet [above sea level] must have been submerged subse­quently to their occupation by the animals and by man.... The contents of the cavern must have been dispersed by marine action during the great submergence in mid-glacial times, and afterwards covered by marine sands . . ." writes H. B. Woodward.[3]

Hippopotami not only traveled during the summer nights to England and Wales, but also climbed-hills to die peacefully among other animals in the caves, and the ice, ap­proaching softly, tenderly spread little pebbles over the travelers resting in peace, and the land with its hills and caverns in a slow lullaby movement sank below the level of the sea and gentle streams caressed the dead bodies and covered them with rosy sand.

Three assumptions were made by the exponents of uni­formity: Sometime not long ago the climate of the British Isles was so warm that hippopotami used to visit there in summer; the British Isles subsided so much that caves in the hills became submerged; the land rose again to its present height -- and all this without any action of a violent nature.

Or was it, perchance, a mountain-high wave that crossed the land and poured into the caves and filled them with marine sand and gravel?  Or did the ground submerge and then emerge again in some paroxysm of nature in which the climate also changed?  Did the animals run away at the sign of the approaching catastrophe, and did the trespassing sea follow and suffocate them in the caves that were their last refuge and became the place of their burial?  Or did the sea sweep them from Africa, throw them in heaps on the British Isles and in other places, and cover them with earth and marine debris?  The entrances to some caves were too narrow and the caves themselves too "shrunk" (contracted) to have been places of refuge for such huge animals as hippopotami and rhinoceroses.  Whichever of these answers or surmises is correct, and whether the hippopotami lived in England or were thrown there by the ocean, whether they sought refuge in caves or the caves are but their graves, their bones on the British Isles, as also on the bottom of the seas surrounding these islands, are signs of some great natural change. (Reprinted from Earth In Upheaval, Doubleday & Co.)

                                                      A THIRD ALTERNATIVE

[The following letter, dated April 5, 1977, was sent to Professor Paul Kurtz, Editor of The Humanist, in response to an issue of The Humanist that cham­pioned uniformitarian evolution by natural selection as the only alternative to creationism.  The quotation at the very end of the letter is from Professor Kurtz' own statement on behalf of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal; see The Humanist, May/June 1976, page 28.  Other­wise, the letter is self-explanatory.  As this issue of KRONOS goes to press, the letter has not yet been published by The Humanist, but it is expected to appear in a future issue.]

In your "Evolution vs.  Creationism" issue (January/February 1977), you have once again tried to resolve a scientific controversy by means of authorita­tive pronouncements from members of the scientific establishment, rather than through evidence and argument.

Your signed "Statement Affirming Evolution" is frightening enough, with its claim that the uniformitarian principle of evolution by natural selection is "the only view that should be expounded in public school courses".

Even more appalling is Bette Chambers' boast that, of the hundreds approached, "No scientist objected to the factual content of the statement."  That is a damning indictment, for your statement is clearly not factual.  It is just not the case that there has been any "firmly established ... confirmation of the principle of natural selection" as "an essential part of the process of biological evolution", and it is just not the case that "there are no alternative theories ... that any competent biologist of today takes seriously".

There are increasing numbers of competent biologists and other scientists of today who are taking very seriously the alternative theory of cataclysmic evolution presented by Immanuel Velikovsky in 1955 in his Earth in Upheaval.   Velikovsky shows that newer species have indeed descended from older species, but in discrete and sudden leaps rather than in continuous and slow transitions.  The mechanism for the formation of new species is the massive mutation that results from global catastrophes when Earth has been in near-collisions with oth­er bodies.  These near-collisions and cataclysmic circumstances caused both the simultaneous extinction of numerous older species and the simultaneous proliferation of numerous new species.  Velikovsky's theory also explains why the "missing links" are absent from the geological record: such intermediate or transitional forms never did exist at all, for evolution has proceeded by discrete jumps from one species to another, rather than by continuous gradation through intermediate stages.

The article by Cloud struggles ineptly with the same embarrassing facts that faced Darwinians a century ago, and emerges with the same untenable re­sult: that uniformitarian evolution fails to fit the geological record only because that record is compressed and incomplete!  All those "Missing links" must have lived, because the theory requires it!  Wouldn't it be better to select a theory like Velikovsky's that does fit the facts, rather than to make up imaginary facts that are required by Darwin's theory?

The device of natural selection has long since been abandoned by competent evolutionists such as Kellogg, Osborn, Bateson, and More (see Earth in Upheaval, pages 250-252).  For natural selection has been found inadequate either to generate the sudden, numerous, and simultaneous new species indicated by the geological record or to explain the sudden, numerous, and simultaneous extinctions of older species indicated by that same record; furthermore, there is no indication of any Spencerian "survival of the fittest" rule here: "Fit and unfit, and mostly fit, old and young, with sharp teeth, with strong muscles, with fleet legs, with plenty of food around, all perished"

(Earth  in Upheaval, page 228).

The uniformitarian natural selectionists and the creationists are two of a kind.  They both make the same mistake, that of assuming that if they disprove the theory of the other side they thereby prove their own theory.  Actually, each side has disproved the other side's theory, and both sides are wrong.  The creationists are wrong in that newer species did evolve from older species; but the uniformitarian natural selectionists are also wrong in that evolution was not by natural selection, but was cataclysmic.

When you and the creationists finally tire of tearing each other to pieces, you may eventually appreciate Velikovsky's theory of cataclysmic evolution.  In the meantime, your own theory is already obsolete and untenable.  For you to react to the difficulties you face by censoring the creationists and by denying the existence of the Velikovskians is hardly a scientific posture.  It smacks more of "antiscientific and pseudoscientific irrationalism".

(Signed) Lynn E. Rose

[1] .  reprinted by permission of the American Chemical Society

[2] Charles Lyell, Antiquity of Man(1863),p. 180.

[3] .  H. B. Woodward.  Geology of England and Wales (2nd ed.; 1887), P. 543.

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