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KRONOS Vol. I, Issue 4
For the Record. . .
More than twenty years ago, in Earth in Upheaval ( 1955), Immanuel Velikovsky first offered his novel and "radical solution of the problem" of the theory of evolution. With meticulous care, he disputed the Darwinian mechanism of evolution -- natural selection -- and exposed the inherent weaknesses of that concept, especially as it pertained to the creation of new species (See E in U, pp. 233-249). This was followed by a discussion of mutations and new species (pp. 249-255) which served as a foundational prelude to Velikovsky's own concise but cogent thesis -- "Cataclysmic Evolution" (pp. 255-259).
"Cosmic rays. . . arriving from outside the earth, are very strong per particle, averaging several billions of electron volts and sometimes carrying a potential of a hundred billion electron volts. . . it is conceivable that, where a cosmic ray or charge hits a gene of germ plasma, a biological mutation takes place, comparable to the physical transmutation of the elements. After all, the genes, like any proteins, are biochemical compounds composed of carbon, nitrogen, and a few other elements. Should a somatic chromosome be hit by a powerful charge, it might at worst cause disorganized growth and be the origin of a neoplasma; but if the genes of the germ plasma should be the target of a collision with a cosmic ray or secondary radiation, a mutation in the progeny might ensue; and should many such hits occur, the origin of a new species, most probably incapable of individual or genetic life, but in some cases capable, could be expected" (emphasis added).
The sources and consequence of excessive radiation were then elaborated upon. "Thus, increased radioactivity coming from outside this planet or from the bowels of the earth could be the cause of the spontaneous origin of new species. Should an interplanetary discharge take place between the earth and another celestial body, such as a planet, a planetoid, a trail of meteorites, or a charged cloud of gases, with possibly billions of volts of potential differences and nuclear fission or fusion, the effect would be similar to that of an explosion of many hydrogen bombs [Cf. Worlds in Collision, p. 368] with ensuing procreation of monstrosities and growth anomalies on a large scale.
What matters is that the principle that can cause the origin of species exists in nature.... In order for a simultaneous mutation of many characteristics to occur, with a new species as a resultant, a radiation shower of terrestrial or extraterrestrial origin must take place. Therefore we are led to the belief that evolution is a process initiated in catastrophes. Numerous catastrophes or bursts of effective radiation must have taken place in the geological past in order to change so radically the living forms on earth, as the record of fossils embedded in lava and sediment bears witness [Cf. W in C, pp. 17-18]....
The fact that the geological record shows a sudden emergence of many new forms at the beginning of each geological age does not require the artificial explanation that the records are always defective; the geological records truly reflect the changes in the animal and plant worlds from one period of geological time to the next. Many of the new species evolved in the wake of a global catastrophe, at the beginning of a new age, were entombed in a subsequent paroxysm of nature at the end of that age" (emphasis in this paragraph added).
". . .in catastrophic evolution, the simultaneous mutation of many genes could produce a new species at the first fertilization; all the offspring of a litter could be affected similarly....
The observation that healthy species of animals, like mammoths, with no sign of degeneration suddenly became extinct greatly troubled the evolutionists. This fact is unexplainable by natural selection or the principle of competition; not so by the catastrophic intervention of nature [Cf. W in C, "The Mammoths"]....
Natural selection had its role, too, but not in procreating new species; it was a decisive factor in the survival or dying out of new forms, in the struggle for existence, not only between individuals, races, species, and orders, but also against the elements. In natural selection all those forms were weeded out that could not meet competition or the rapidly changing conditions of a world in upheaval....
The theory of evolution is vindicated by catastrophic events in the earth's past; the proclaimed enemy of this theory proved to be its only ally. The real enemy of the theory of evolution is the teaching of uniformity, or the non-occurrence of any extraordinary events in the past [emphasis added]. This teaching, called by Darwin the mainstay of the theory of evolution, almost set the theory apart from reality.
Great catastrophes of the past accompanied by electrical discharges and followed by radioactivity could have produced sudden and multiple mutations of the kind achieved today by experimenters, but on an immense scale. The past of mankind, and of the animal and plant kingdoms, too, must now be viewed in the light of the experience of Hiroshima and no longer from the portholes of the Beagle."
The reception to Earth in Upheaval was relatively quiescent, though far from cordial, compared to the historians' "howls of anguish" that greeted Ages in Chaos and the bellicose excesses of the scientific and academic communities at the appearance of Worlds in Collision (Cf. The Velikovsky Affair, pp. 41-43). Nevertheless, Velikovsky's questioning of Lyellian uniformity and Darwinism was soundly based and of fundamenttal importance to an understanding of the creative and evolutionary processes which are responsible for the development of terrestrial life.
Moreover, it is now becoming glaringly obvious that scholarly research and thinking of the sixties and seventies both echoes and supports Velikovsky's contention in Earth in Upheaval that evolution is a cataclysmic process. What is regrettable and often unscrupulous is the fact that many (not all) of those who espouse similar ideas are quite familiar with Velikovsky's theories of evolution, yet never cite him.
In 1961, an article titled "Stress, the Adaptation Mechanism, and the Metamorphic Evolution of the Vertebrates" appeared in the November issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association (pp. 582-592). The author, Dr. Harold E. Lippman, also discussed the evolutionary process from the cataclysmic viewpoint. Unlike Velikovsky, however, Lippman ignored extraterrestrial phenomena as a factor responsible for terrestrial upheaval resulting in biospherical and biological change. Instead, Lippman endorsed Charles Hapgood's thesis that, owing to crustal shift, the surface of the Earth was subject to rapid changes -- a mechanism which the former considered plausibly sufficient to force evolutionary changes in life.
Lippman's incisive commentary on the subject of evolution both parallels and converges with that of Velikovsky; and it is indeed unfortunate that the name of Velikovsky or any reference to Earth in Upheaval is conspicuously absent from the abundant bibliography found at the end of Lippman's detailed presentation, since he is known not to be inimical to Velikovsky's work.
Here, now, are some relevant selections from Lippman's paper. As with the case of other authors quoted in this section, the reader is encouraged to refer back to the material in Earth in Upheaval for comparative purposes.
"The path of evolution has not always been slow and gradual. Modern embryology, endocrinology and neurology furnish much data to support the concept that the gaps in paleontology, the stark hiatuses in the geological record, represent real leaps in evolution. The facts of the biological sciences, interpreted correctly, mock the idea of 'missing links'.... Natural selection, Malthusian competition, so well known in the market place, are not the basic law in the world of nature. Much of the validity of the concept 'survival of the fittest' lies in the fact that adaptive intelligence enables survival."
Furthermore, Lippman maintained, "it must be concluded that adaptation rather than the natural selection of small chance variations is the central fact in evolution.... Rapid adaptation is metamorphosis. By rapid adaptation to new environments some animals survived the repeated great extinctions that have periodically depopulated our globe. New species resulted. So it is that fossils found at the end of one epoch differ profoundly from those found at the beginning of the next. These are the leaps that correspond to the so-called 'gaps' in paleontology."
Continuing, Lippman noted that "Man often tries to force data into molds that correspond to his actual experience. This is the basis of the gradualism of Lyell upon which Darwin based his hypothesis of evolution. This mode conformed to the philosophy of Newton, mechanical materialism. It held for a constant and invariable continuity of cause and effect. But, it omitted many facts, and did not settle the question of change itself. Change is intrinsically discontinuous."
Lippman then pointed out the shortcomings of Newtonian philosophy in the modern day fields of physics and chemistry where discontinuity and complex transformations are highly prominent. "Thus, at every level of science below that of life, metamorphosis is found. In each, discontinuous as well as continuous phenomena exist. Since life includes all the lower levels, should we not expect to find discontinuity in it? Why not metamorphosis in evolution?
The concept of metamorphic evolution is supported by much evidence of recurrent radical changes in the earth's crust.... The recurrent extinctions of species testify to abrupt changes in their environment.... These catastrophes and sudden inundations and glaciations destroyed multitudes of living things. The wonder is that organisms did survive the stress.... 'It must be said, however, that biology, as a whole, denies Catastrophism in order to save Evolution'."
A provocative comparison is then made by Lippman between embryological metamorphosis and evolutionary change. "From the egg to the adult, development is so full of transformations that leading embryologists have always noticed the metamorphic nature of their science.... [and] the so-called 'gaps' in the [paleontological] record correspond to the leaps that the embryos make as they climb up their ancestral trees."
Moreover, "paleontological investigations reveal that continents (land, lakes, and rivers) were often swept clean of almost all of their inhabitants. Then previously unknown forms underwent adaptive radiation upon the tabulae rasae.... The totality of the biological sciences can only make sense through this concept of evolution by metamorphosis adaptive radiation, and stability [while] there can be little doubt that the conditions during the great exterminations were those of cataclysmic change and catastrophe."
In his concluding remarks, Lippman showed that even a supposedly conservative uniformitarian as Loren Eisely, "has pointed out [that] 'the rapid fading out of archaeological evidence of tools in lower Ice Age times. . . suggests that the evolution of the human brain was far more rapid than that conceived of in early Darwinian circles. At that time it was possible to hear of Eskimos spoken of as possible survivals of Miocene men of several million years ago. By contrast to this point of view, man and his rise now appear short in time -- explosively short. There is every reason to believe that whatever the nature of the forces involved in the production of the human brain, a long slow competition of human group with human group or race with race would not have resulted in such similar mental potentialities among all peoples everywhere. Something -- some other factor -- has escaped our scientific attention'."
"In Darwin's day the paleontological 'gaps' were alleged to be due to the incompleteness of the record. In today's excavated world this excuse is rather lame. Today the facts indicate that evolution includes a series of leaps from the simplest animal to man.... Metamorphosis, adaptive radiation, and relative stability constitute the three phases of an adaptive evolution. The decisive basic changes in [biological] level could only result from the stimuli of catastrophic events [and] is it not [also] evident, that disease, metamorphic in a negative sense, is closely allied to the greatest advances in life?"
In spite of their sound arguments, copious documentation, and persuasive reasoning, the theories of both Velikovsky and Lippman failed to budge certain bastions of uniformitarian thinking. In 1963, for example, Norman D. Newell, then curator of the Department of Fossil Invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and professor of invertebrate paleontology at Columbia University, summarily dismissed the work of Velikovsky and Hapgood while not even giving Lippman so much as "dishonorable mention."
Writing in the February issue of Scientific American ("Crises in the History of Life"), Newell stated the following: "Now that we have learned that the earth is at least five or six billion years old, the necessity for invoking Cuverian catastrophes to explain geological history would seem to have disappeared. Nevertheless, a few writers such as Immanuel Velikovsky, the author of Worlds in Collision, and Charles H. Hapgood, the author of The Earth's Shifting Crust, continue to propose imaginary catastrophes on the basis of little or no historical evidence."
Additionally, Newell claimed that "although it is well established that the earth's crust has shifted and that climates have changed, these changes almost certainly were more gradual than Hapgood suggests. Most geologists, following the 'uniformitarian' point of view expounded in the 18th century by James Hutton and in the 19th by Charles Lyell, are satisfied that observable natural processes are quite adequate to explain the history of the earth. They agree, however, that these processes must have varied greatly in rate."
Thus, Newell attempted to deny catastrophic authenticity regarding extinction and evolution by propounding the concept of "gradual catastrophes" or "varying uniformitarianism," once again demonstrating how science can squeeze or stretch pre-conceived notions into a procrustean bed of its own design.
Newell could not accept violent and sudden global upheaval, whether terrestrially or extraterrestrially induced, as an extinctive mechanism, even though he was acutely aware of certain problems involving the subject of extinction. "It is striking that times of widespread extinction generally affected many quite unrelated groups in separate habitats. The parallelism of extinction between some of the aquatic and terrestrial groups is particularly remarkable" (emphasis added).... "Extinction is an evolutionary as well as an ecological problem."
In the end, Newell proposed diastrophism of the ocean basins as the key mechanistic cause of extinction. Yet, his concluding remarks convey the distinct impression that we are in the midst of a testimonium paupertatis.
The particular catastrophic position of Newell, concerning extinction and evolution, has not necessarily been sustained in other scientific quarters, however. Professor I. S. Shklovskii, a distinguished Russian astrophysicist from the University of Moscow's Sternberg Astronomical Institute, published a book titled Vselennaia, Zhizn, Razum (Universe, Life, Mind) in early 1963 as well. In it, he argued that whole species and genera of life on Earth may have been destroyed during certain periods of intense cosmic radiation, while simultaneously producing sudden bursts of mutation leading to the origin of new life forms -- the very view put forward by Velikovsky in Earth in Upheaval.
Shklovskii's work drew the positive attention of Carl Sagan and the two collaborated on an expanded version of the former's previously mentioned book. The result was a co-authored publication, Intelligent Life in the Universe, which appeared in 1966.
The following excerpts from the latter are especially germane to our present discussion:
"Mutations are caused by a variety of factors: the natural radioactivity of the soil, the waters, and the air; the cosmic ray flux; and a sizable remainder of causes, largely unknown, possibly random chemical changes in the hereditary material. All of the foregoing contribute to the 'spontaneous' mutation rate and are regarded as 'spontaneous' mutations. To some extent, the word 'spontaneous' is a cover for our ignorance of the ultimate causes of such naturally occurring, inheritable changes. An increase in the background radiation intensity will cause an increase in the mutation rate. The majority of mutations are random, and hence deleterious.... On the other hand, mutations provide the raw material 103 on which natural selection acts. If there were no mutations, there would be no genetic inventory of possible adaptations to future environmental changes" (emphasis added).
Shklovskii then reiterated his earlier suggestion, put forth with V. I. Krasovskii, that the extinction of the dinosaurs may have been the result of an increase in cosmic ray intensity, though the possible shortcomings of this hypothesis were also recognized. It was conceded, however, that "prolonged increase in the background high-energy radiation dose would not necessarily be fatal to all living organisms. Perhaps such an exposure would be favorable for the evolution of certain life forms and the origin of some life-related substances during the early history of the Earth" (pp. 99- 101).
A catastrophic end for the dinosaurs was also proposed by Harold Urey seven years later. In a letter to Nature of March 2, 1973 (pp. 32-33), Urey theorized that the termination of various geological periods may somehow be linked to past cometary collisions with the Earth, claiming that "very violent physical effects should occur over a substantial fraction of the Earth's surface" from such an event. Specifically, Urey felt it "possible and even probable that a comet collision with the Earth destroyed the dinosaurs and initiated the Tertiary division of geologic time. ' '
Then, at the end of his brief essay and almost in passing, Urey suggested -- "It seems likely that interesting studies could be made by biologists and palaeontologists in regard to the selection of survivors of such catastrophes."
That Urey failed to acknowledge either Worlds in Collision or Earth in Upheaval is more than disingenuous.
Recently, between late 1975 and early 1976, several highly significant items dealing with evolution have appeared in the scientific and general literature. The November-December 1975 issue of American Scientist (Vol. 63, pp. 673-680), for example, carried an article by J. W. Valentine and C. A. Campbell titled "Genetic Regulation and the Fossil Record." Some of the passages contained therein are quite telling, especially the opening comments:
"The abrupt appearance of higher taxa in the fossil record has been a perennial puzzle. Not only do characteristic and distinctive remains of phyla appear suddenly, without known ancestors, but several classes of a phylum, orders of a class, and so on commonly appear at approximately the same time without known intermediates. Darwin recognized that such gaps presented a major obstacle to demonstrating that evolution proceeded by the slow accumulation of change within lineages; he attributed the lack of antecedents to the incompleteness of the fossil record. Over a hundred years later, we still face the problem of missing ancestors of many higher taxa. Indeed, our present knowledge of the fossil record demonstrates even more clearly the episodic nature of the origin of new higher taxa. If we read the record rather literally, it implies that organisms of new grades of complexity arose and radiated relatively rapidly" (emphasis added).
The authors then proceeded to introduce certain earlier ecological explanations which had been proffered as a solution to the evolutionary problem, but recognized that "major problems still remain concerning the genetic mechanisms involved" (emphasis added).
Shortly afterward, Valentine and Campbell again referred to the fossil record, noting that "at some few times in the past conditions were particularly propitious for significant changes in the regulatory apparatus of animal genomes." Yet, they were quick to admit that "the conditions under which such important regulatory changes occur are not completely understood and indeed form a fundamental question in evolutionary biology."
A detailed discussion of evolutionary processes then followed and ultimately led the authors to an interesting question for which they provided an interesting answer: "Why did the major groups evolve just when they did, and why at times did numbers of lineages independently give rise to major novelties nearly contemporaneously? Perhaps an answer is furnished by the 570 million years or so for which there is a good fossil record. During this interval, major changes in the structure of the biosphere and major waves of extinction and diversification correlate with major changes in the environmental regime that are in turn due to continental drift."
Apparently, Wegener's theory of drifting continents has now replaced Hapgood's shifting crust theory, been given a cloak of respectability, and asked to perform a catastrophic duty in the service of evolution -- but gradually.
To demonstrate the weaknesses in Valentine's and Campbell's evolutionary reasoning, we need only juxtapose some of their own statements.
"The processes of global tectonics, now well established, have caused continents and ocean basins to enlarge, to shrink or fragment, and to radically change their geographic patterns, slowly but more or less steadily for the last billion years, and probably for twice that time.... In the fossil record, most species appear suddenly, because of the scarcity of intermediate forms. Their direct ancestry may be unknown, or even if an ancestor is suspected, descendants appear without known intermediates. Furthermore, many such species do not exhibit any significant skeletal changes during their known duration; eventually they simply disappear, perhaps to be replaced in the record by another species that also seems to appear suddenly.... It may be that the episodic morphological 'jumps' -- gradual but localized in time -- are commonly achieved by regulatory evolution" (emphasis added).
At this point, we cannot help but wonder how major life forms, without antecedents, requiring a "missing link" to explain their "sudden appearance," despite their being set against a background of "slow but steady" geological changes over a period of billions of years, could possibly have come about from "uniformitarian evolution." The entire premise collapses under the weight of its own empirical data -- a veritable reductio ad absurdum.
Also in late 1975, a recent book by Isaac Asimov -- The Ends of the Earth -- appeared on the scene. Needless to say, it once again reflected Asimov's ambivalent attitude towards Velikovsky's theories.
On the one hand, Asimov discussed the subject of evolution (pp. 279-283) in such a way as to give the informed reader the unequivocal feeling that a close paraphrase of Earth in Upheaval's section on cataclysmic evolution was being presented.
"The chief source of energetic particles capable of affecting life on Earth's surface generally is the cosmic ray particles. These are energetic enough to force their way through both the magnetosphere and the atmosphere and, in one way or another, to reach the surface of the Earth.
Occasionally, a cosmic ray particle, in passing through a living organism, may strike a nucleic acid molecule directly, or create high energy molecules which react with nucleic acid molecules, thus changing them indirectly .
In either case, the nucleic acids are changed [thereby ultimately altering] the chemical nature of the cell in which the nucleic acid is contained.... If the cell happens to be an egg cell or a sperm cell that goes toward the formation of an offspring, that offspring will have the chemistry of all its cells somewhat different from that of its parents."
Mutations would then be produced and while "most mutations produce changes for the worse. . . occasionally one happens, by chance, to produce a change that is useful under certain conditions, and the changed organism flourishes and produces many offspring which flourish in their turn [emphasis added].
It is mutation building on mutation in a random way -- and then the useful ones being culled out by natural selection that represents the driving force behind evolution [emphasis added].
Cosmic rays are not the only causes of mutation.... There is no question, though, that cosmic rays are an important cause and, in the long run, may be the steadiest and most important driving force behind evolution [emphasis added].
If, in other words, there were no cosmic rays, evolution would, at best, proceed more slowly, and the chances are that something with as highly specialized a brain and nervous system as man would not now exist on Earth."
The Sun and Supernovae are abundant sources of cosmic rays and "if, indeed, life evolves primarily because of mutations induced by cosmic ray particles we might say that the development of life depends on the death of stars." --
(As an aside, it should be noted that in the Spring-Summer, 1973 issue of Pensee, "The Pitfalls of Radiocarbon Dating," p. 13, Velikovsky stated his earlier belief that ". . . in the catastrophe of the Deluge, which I ascribe to Saturn exploding as a nova, the cosmic rays must have been very abundant to cause massive mutations among all species of life. . ." [emphasis added].)
On the other hand, strangely enough, only forty-five pages after Asimov's above remarks, he stated the following: "To shift the position of the axis [of the Earth] appreciably is more than the known gravitational effect of other bodies in the solar system can do. We might imagine some cataclysmic effect, the passing of some planetary body near the Earth, that might produce such results (effects such as those imagined by Immanuel Velikovsky in his popular but scientifically worthless book Worlds in Collision). There is no evidence, however, that such a thing has happened, and if it did, the results would be so cataclysmic as to leave drastic evidence in the fossil record" (emphasis added -- see Earth in Upheaval) .
Even Lewis Carroll's Red Queen would have been stupefied!
The January 22, 1976 issue of Nature (pp. 177-179) likewise contained material that inadvertently tends to support Velikovsky's proposed model for cataclysmic evolution.
In an article titled "Influence of ancient solar-proton events on the evolution of life," the four authors -- G. C. Reid, I. S. A. Isaksen, T. E. Holzer, and P. J. Crutzen -- state their basic position at the outset: "There is mounting evidence that past extinctions of faunal species have occurred in near coincidence with reversals in polarity of the geomagnetic field. Could the link lie in catastrophic depletions of stratospheric ozone caused by solar-proton irradiation over a reduced geomagnetic field?"
A detailed discussion then follows, parts of which, as quoted below, should prove to be most instructive.
"Uffen has suggested [Nature, 1963] that the surface of the Earth could be exposed to abnormally high fluxes of radiation during the periods of reversal of the polarity of the geomagnetic field.... During these geologically brief periods, the shielding effects of the magnetic field would be removed, or at least severely weakened, allowing galactic cosmic rays to have access to the entire Earth, instead of merely to high latitude regions, and also causing the radiation belts to precipitate." Furthermore, "this enhanced level of radiation could lead to increased mutation rates among living species, thereby explaining sudden appearances and disappearances of species from the palaeontological record."
These ideas of Uffen were studied in 1967 and found wanting. "Nonetheless, there is mounting evidence that a correlation does exist between major faunal extinction and geomagnetic polarity reversals. The validity of this correlation in fairly recent geological time seems to have been well established by studies of fossil species of radiolaria (single celled, marine microorganisms). Using deep-sea cores obtained from a variety of locations, Hays  has determined that during the past 2.5 Myr eight species became extinct, and that six of those disappeared in near coincidence with polarity reversals" (also see Worlds in Collision, Chapter 5; I. Michelson, "Mechanics Bears Witness," Pensee VII (Spring, 1974), pp. 19-20).
"During polarity reversals. . . the dipole component of the geomagnetic field probably weakens or disappears for periods of a few thousand years, allowing both solar protons and galactic cosmic rays access to much larger areas of the Earth, and leading to much more severe effects on the ozone shield than are possible at present. Biological species that had evolved over the preceding several million years of geomagnetic stability may be unable to survive the harsher ultraviolet environment, and would presumably be replaced by other species with more adaptability. "
". . . it is perhaps worth speculating that [solar-proton events] may have had the dominant role in some of the massive faunal extinctions that have occurred in the distant past. For example, roughly one-third of all living species became extinct at the close of the Cretaceous, which was a period marked by a resumption of polarity reversals, following a very lengthy period of normal polarity.
In conclusion, it seems that current concern about possible anthropogenic destruction of stratospheric ozone may be well founded, since it is possible that major ozone depletions occurring in the distant past have had a profound effect on the development of life as we know it. "
Finally, we come to the February 1976 issue of Harper's (pp. 70-75) which carried a provocatively titled article -- "Darwin's Mistake" -- by Tom Bethel, an editor of The Washington Monthly.
Initially intrigued by Norman Macbeth's recent book Darwin Retried, Bethel was drawn into a more intensive study of the problem of Darwinian evolutionary theory. A year later came the revelation of "Darwin's Mistake." Had Bethel read Earth in Upheaval (pp. 249-255), however, he would have realized that Darwinism had already been roundly challenged decades prior to the Darwin Centennial celebration of 1959 and long before the "important academic [Darwinist] debates of the 1960's."
Bethel's statement that "Darwin made a mistake sufficiently serious to undermine his theory" is true enough, but quite belated, while his observation that "that mistake has only recently been recognized" is Bethel's mistake.
Darwin's theory of natural selection has finally been recognized for what it is -- "The great tautology." Both Darwinism and neo-Darwinism were "only able to explain how horses and tigers became more (or less) numerous -- that is, by 'differential reproduction.' This failed to solve the question of how they came into existence in the first place" (emphasis added) . And therein lies the crux of the problem!
"What the theory [of natural selection] so grievously lacks is a criterion of fitness that is independent of survival." But, then the question arises as to what is meant by fittest. "One organism may indeed be 'fitter' than another from an evolutionary point of view, but the only event that determines this fitness is death (or infertility). This, of course, is not something which helps create the organism, but is something that terminates it. It occurs at the end, not the beginning of life" (emphasis in text). Thus the words of Bethel, who concluded his discourse on a somewhat sentimental note.
"Darwin, I suggest, is in the process of being discarded, but perhaps in deference to the venerable old gentleman, resting comfortably in Westminster Abbey next to Sir Isaac Newton, it is being done as discreetly and gently as possible, with a minimum of publicity."
All of this may be well and good. But, with Darwin
"discarded," is it not time to recognize the legitimate alternative -- Cataclysmic Evolution -- and properly credit its primary proponent -- Immanuel Velikovsky?
Since any reference to Earth in Upheaval was consistently omitted by all evolutionary discussants surveyed above, despite an obvious catastrophic propensity, it is only fitting that Velikovsky himself have the last word. Therefore, we quote from a recent speech of his, presented before that august body of science -- the AAAS -- in early 1974.
"The victory of Darwin's evolution by natural selection over a six day creation less than six thousand years ago made it appear that evolution, the only instrument of which is competition, is the ultimate truth. But by competition for survival or for means of existence, never could such different forms as man and an insect with many legs evolve from the same uni-cellular form, not even in the six billion years that replaced the biblical six thousand. Mutations were necessary, and today we know that by cosmic and x-rays, by thermal and chemical means -- conditions brought about in the catastrophes of the past -- massive mutations can be achieved" (1. Velikovsky, "My Challenge to Conventional Views in Science," Pensee VII (Spring, 1974), p. 11).
It is also worthwhile to quote a passage from the "Preface" of Earth in Upheaval:
"Did the earth change in a slow process, a year added to a year and a million years to a million, the peaceful ground of nature being the broad arena of the contest of throngs, in which the fittest survived? Or did it happen, too, that the very arena itself, infuriated, rose against the contestants and made an end of their battles?"
ADDITIONAL REFERENCES1 Scientific American, March, 1976, pp. 60D-61. "Catastrophe theory has been paniculaHy interesting in its applications to the biological and social sciences, perhaps because discontinuous and divergent phenomena abound there. For example, Thom suggests applications not only in embryology but also in the theory of evolution, in reproduction, in the process of thought and in the generation of speech. For the living cell and for the orgamsm as a whole life is one catastrophe after another" (emphasis added).
2. J. Eberhan, "Of Life and Death and Magnetism," Science News, Vol 109, March 27, 1976, pp. 204-205.
3. The New York Times, March 26, 1976, pp. I and 19.
4. Various articles by Stephen lay Gould in Natural History -- Feb., 1975, pp. 14ff.; March, 1975, pp. 20ff.- Oct., 1975, pp. 24ff.; Dec., 1975, pp. 4ff.; lan., 1976, pp. 32ff.; April, 1976, pp. 24ff. The reader should be particularly cautious of Gould, however. He is, by his own admission, "an unrepentant Darwinian" and shows it. Moreover, Gould is prone to making bald statements without documentary support. His cavalier treatment of Earth in Upheaval is a case in point.
5. The New York Times, April 18, 1975, p. 4.