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 VELIKOVSKIAN                                                                                                            Vol I, No. 1

In the Beginning--A Review
Charles Ginenthal

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and debates surrounding Immanuel Velikovsky's vision of the solar system may have wondered, when, if ever, his unpublished works would see the light of day.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 added.)

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, p. 40]

Reviewing the 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 B.C.

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 scientific enigmas.

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 cometary materials.

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 review.

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.

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