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Open letter to science editors
Vol I, No. 1
In the Beginning--A Review
Over the years, anyone
who has followed the discussions and debates surrounding Immanuel
Velikovsky's vision of the solar system may have wondered, when, if ever,
his unpublished works would see the light of day. There are, indeed,
several books generally known to a fascinated Velikovskian audience, an
audience that has only surmised their existence through casual mention in
Velikovskian and related literature and whose appetite is whetted enough
that they want to know and see ever more. KRONOS, now either defunct
or on a long sabbatical, has presented excerpts from some of these
manuscripts to let the world know these works do in fact exist.
In my files, I have, over
the years, collected copies of many of these manuscripts, which I had hoped
would eventually be published to satisfy the long-felt hunger of individuals
with whom I have maintained an intermittent correspondence and who ask about
these manuscripts repeatedly. It is a pity that those to whom the rights of
publication were bequeathed have not seen fit to allow these treasures of
the Grand Old Man of 20th century catastrophism to be commercially printed.
In 1984, at the Canadian
Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, Clark Whelton presented a review of
Velikovsky's Light on the Dark Age of Greece. His work was
subsequently published in Catastrophism 2000, edited by Milton Zysman
and Clark Whelton. As yet, there is one other book by Velikovsky--of
historical importance-that ought to be reviewed: The Assyrian Conquest.
Hopefully, that book will be reviewed soon.
In the Beginning deals with
events that preceded those narrated in Worlds in Collision,
and, if the hue and cry against that first book is any indication of how the
intelligentsia respond to revolutionary concepts, one may possibly fathom
how much greater will be the outcry against this book, which is based
on the supposition that the great Noachian deluge was a reality. It was
thus, according to Velikovsky in his Introduction, "preferable to start from
the better known [catastrophe] and then proceed to the less known." What
Velikovsky meant, of course, was to begin with the better documented
catastrophes, especially Venus and Mars, and then to those that came
earlier, namely, the Great Saturnian debacle. But he also cautions:
As we seek to penetrate
ever deeper into the past, we can see the foregoing periods through the veil
of the catastrophes; dimmer and dimmer is the light behind every veil, till
our eye can distinguish no more behind the veil that hangs over the period
when the Earth was moonless though already inhabited by human life. We do
not know the beginning; we can only enter the theater at what may have been
the third or fourth act.
Velikovsky begins with Hebrew cosmology to claim that, prior to Genesis, the Earth
underwent earlier catastrophes and that, within human memory, there were
seven such creations. These were "sun ages" to be identified with the
"Moon, Saturn, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Mars" in that order, or are
more appropriately "planet ages." He discussed these ages in Worlds
in Collision as "The World Ages" and "The Sun Ages." Hence, his
view is that each of the seven planets affected the Earth at some time
in the remote past.
As a support for this
view beyond legendary religious and astrological texts, Velikovsky
points to the days of the week. They are well known to represent the
seven planets of ancient time--for example, the Moon represents
Monday; Mars in French is Mardi, in Spanish, Martes;
Jupiter (Jovis) in Spanish is represented by Jueves. But, more
importantly, Velikovsky discusses the "Deification of the Planets." It
seems extraordinarily strange that Saturn, which is difficult to see,
should ever have been held as superior to either the Sun or the Moon.
But the Sun was somehow subordinate to the planets. The same must also
apply even more to Mercury, which is rarely seen, even by present
observers. The question is, Why were these bodies not just worshiped,
but feared, by the entire human race? The answer to the question, of
course, is that very early man must have remembered major catastrophic
events connected with these bodies.
As a possible answer
to the question about the planetary deity, Uranus, that ruled prior to
Saturn, Velikovsky very tentatively offers that "[i]t is not unthinkable
that sometime before the age the record of ancient civilizations
reaches, Uranus, together with Neptune, Saturn and Jupiter, formed a
quadruple system that was captured by the Sun and from which the planets
of the solar system had their origin," but, Velikovsky hastens to add
"here nothing but imagination takes over where tradition based on
witnessing does not reach."
In discussing the
earliest event, the origin of the Moon (as originally proposed by Thomas
See) based on the capture method, Velikovsky is on reasonably safe
astronomical ground with established theory--except for his time
scale--which has always been one of the strongest negative
considerations with respect to his work. As Richard S. Lewis points out
in From Vinland to Mars (New York, 1976), p. 306:
One of the curious
consequences of lunar exploration so far is that in spite of the mass of
physical evidence accumulated about the Moon since 1964, there is not
enough to exclude any of the major theories of its origin.... Don L.
Anderson, of the California Institute of Technology, summarizes this
circumstance nicely: "All the theories of lunar origin are still with
us--capture, fission, and dual planet accretion". (Emphasis
A fourth theory has
recently been propounded, namely, that a Mars-sized body collided with
the Earth, knocking off a part of the crust that accumulated into the
Moon. This theory is greatly in vogue today among astronomers.
However, it is not without enormous drawbacks.
It is with Saturn
that Velikovsky attempts to analyze and untangle the information from
ancient literature regarding the memories of Earth history and
speculates on the possibility of visitations to Earth by
extraterrestrial beings. He also explains, however, that, in Mexico,
the natives believed that Cortes had arrived from the heavens.
Velikovsky declares: "A similar occurrence could have taken place in
prediluvial times when some invaders from a remote part of the world
came and were regarded as 'sons of God."'
Again we are left
with speculation, but Velikovsky might ask for an open-minded approach
to these seemingly difficult concepts--especially that of a universal
deluge. Like the Venusian myth, the deluge story is found in "all
ancient civilizations, and also by races that never reached the ability
to express themselves in the written symbols of a language." [Deluge,
literature, Velikovsky discusses William Whiston's theory that a comet
was the agent responsible for the great flood. Whiston, a Unitarian
(which at that time was similar to being a fundamentalist today),
accepted only one global catastrophe--namely that of the Noachian
flood. Velikovsky points to J. Heveluis' Cometographic and
Abraham Rockenbach's De Cometes Tractatus Novus Methodicus as
sources, among others, that a comet was related to the flood.
It is interesting
that, although Velikovsky does mention Edmond Halley, he was unaware of
the paper by Halley, in 1724, which suggests that the close passage of a
comet caused the flood. Of further interest, regarding comets and the
flood, is the work of Michael Kamienski, Director of the Observatory of
Vladivostok and then of the one in Warsaw. In 1962, he analyzed all the
intervals of Halley's Comet by a Fourier Analysis to see if this method
could prognosticate accurately the 1986 apparition of the comet, but his
prediction was nine months too late. He believed he had proven Halley's
Comet went back to 2320 B.C. As late as 1971, he concluded it was
associated with the flood of Noah, the birth of Abraham, the fall of
Troy, and the vision of Jeremiah of the angel of the Lord. He died in
1973, at age 93, with a table of Halley's appearances going back to 9541
Velikovsky's own analysis can, in part, be found in his chapter, "Khima." For a
presentation of this excerpt, one can read KRONOS III, pp. 19ff,
wherein Velikovsky offers Saturn as the god responsible for the flood.
As proof of the Saturnian planetary disruption, Velikovsky concludes that the Saturnian
family of comets are the remnants of that event. Here, again,
Velikovsky stands on sound astronomical grounds. He points to the late
S. K. Vshekhsviatsky of the Kiev Observatory, an authority on comets,
who has shown that the capture of comets by planets is without basic
support. This is also well documented in my book, Carl Sagan and
Immanuel Velikovsky, p. 90ff, where some of the evidence shows that
the capture theory, though popularly accepted, is fundamentally
incompatible with the known evidence.
To explain the cause of the disruption of Saturn, Velikovsky relates this event to a nova.
"The prevalent view... that a nova results from the interaction of two
stars in a binary system when the two members disrupt one another on
close approach. In such a case filaments of the disrupted star are
turned out of its body and hurled in great spurts, to be absorbed by the
companion star. The sudden transfer of matter is thought to set off the
star's cataclysmic explosion."
In this sense, Velikovsky views Saturn and Jupiter as stellar bodies and asks "If
Saturn was always as inconspicuous as it is at present, what could have
caused the races of antiquity, as if by common consent, to give to
Saturn the appellative 'sun' or 'the shining one"'? Dwardu Cardona has
documented this evidence of Saturn's brilliance ad infinitum.
One aspect of Saturn
discovered years ago by voyagers is that, beneath the cloud cover of the
planet nearer the core, Saturn apparently has an ocean 5,000 deep at
tremendous temperature and under enormous pressure. A disruption of
Saturn would undoubtedly discharge an enormous amount of water vapors
into the surrounding space.
In this regard, Velikovsky turns to the origin of the oceans and deals with the old
problem of accounting for the salinity of Sea Normal Ocean Water (SNOW),
which was originally suggested by Edmond Halley in 1694 and investigated
by John Joly in 1899. Based on the measurement of amounts of sodium
chloride, common salt, added to the oceans each year by all the world's
rivers, Joly determined that the Earth was only 100 million years old.
To date, the material contents of the oceans is still not explained, and
thus Velikovsky suggests that its chemistry is related to the Saturn
deluge, which remains to be considered.
Also, V. V. Belousov of the former Soviet Union and oceanographer in The Geological
Structure of Oceans (Moscow, 1942) states: "It may be asserted that
very recently.... even in the age of man, the Pacific Ocean grew chunks
of the continents which, together with their young ranges of mountains,
were inundated by it." If this is indeed the case, we are faced with
suppositions that, in earlier times, areas of the globe which are
presently ocean were continental, and this leads to the probability of
such highly disregarded concepts as Atlantis and Mu, as outlined by
Ignatius Donnelly and James Churchwood.
In this respect, N. F. Zhirov, a Soviet academician, marshalled the data in his book
Atlantis citing Belousov that the summits of mountains in the
Pacific were once a continent. Thus, a whole new study of oceanographic
questions arises. For example, in the Pacific, fauna that are unique
are located on islands separated by great distances from other islands
and continents. In the last century and in the early part of this
century, scientists suggested the existence of land bridges connecting
various parts of the world that gradually rose and sank to accommodate
these isolated biological faunas. If there was a flood of tremendous
dimensions, then these life forms lived on much broader land areas and
now survive only on the remnants of these former regions.
Catastrophism, in many respects, explains many of these kinds of
In 1987, S. Epstein did
an analysis of organic materials in the Murchison Meteorite which fell on
Victoria, Australia, in September of 1969, and found that the ratios of
nitrogen isotopes in the amino acids, as well as other compounds of a
nitrogenous nature, were substantially different from those generally found
on the Earth. Ongoing research that grew out of Epstein's work indicated
that the deuterium to hydrogen ratio of organic material in Murchison was
much closer to that of interstellar space than what is seen on Earth.
However, there is a unique exception to this hydrogen/ deuterium ratio on
Earth: Our oceans. Astronomers and geophysicists suggest that this finding
supports the conclusion that terrestrial water was brought to Earth by
comets, i.e., planetesimals, in the early solar system. Yet it is also not
unthinkable that our oceans may have had a recent addition from Saturnian
water. The hydrogen-deuterium ratio content of Saturn's oceans supposedly
would be similar to that of the Earth's since they accreted from the same
Also germane to this data
are the rings of Saturn. Velikovsky had assumed that these rings might
consist of water in the form of ice: "During the 1970's, Gerard Kuiper, Carl
Pilcher and their colleagues, used infrared spectroscopes to determine that
water ice dominates the ring particles' outer layers ... [and] curiously ...
the icy exteriors of Saturn's ring particles remain relatively pristine."
Although this is disputed, it has been known for about a century that
Saturn's rings were formed recently. They are descending to the planet and
cannot be ancient.
Those who have followed
the discussion in KRONOS and AEON know that the Saturnian domination
of the heavens was characterized by a golden age, and here I close my brief
The golden age of
interdisciplinary knowledge is left as a rich legacy to those who follow it
and is revealed in this book of immense sweep.